George Washington Papers

Council of War, 6 November 1776

Council of War

[6 November 1776]

At a Council of War held at Head Quarters White Plains Nov. 6. 1776.

Present. His Excelly Gen. Washington[,] Major General Lee[,] Puttnam[,] Spencer[,] Heath[,] Sullivan[,] Lincoln[,] Brigr Genl Ld Stirling[,] Mifflin[,] Nixon[,] McDougal[,] Parsons[,] Scott[,] Clinton.

The late Movements of the Enemy having made it necessary to consider what may be now proper for this Army to do the General proposed the follo[wing] Question viz.

Supposing the Enemy now to be retreating towards New York will it not be proper to throw a Body of Troops into the Jerseys immediately.

Unanimously Agreed in the Affirmative.1

It was then proposed whether it would not be proper to detach immediately all those Troops which have been raised on the Western Side of Hudson’s River.

Agreed but that in such Case those Regts belonging to the Eastern Side of Hudson’s River should remove to the Eastern Side if the movements of the Enemy & Circumstances of this Army will admit.

Upon the Question what Number of Men would be necessary to take Post at Peek: Hill & the Passes in the Highlands for the Defence of those Posts erecting Fortifications &c.

Agreed upon 3000.

D, in Joseph Reed’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to John Hancock, this date, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For accounts of General Howe’s withdrawal of his army from White Plains to Dobbs Ferry, which began the previous day, see GW to Hancock, this date, and notes 1 and 2. The council’s decision to reinforce New Jersey “immediately” was made on the supposition that Howe’s movement was a actual retreat rather than a feint designed to draw off some of the American forces from White Plains. GW amplifies the contingent nature of this decision in his letter to Hancock of this date and his letters to Nathanael Greene and to William Livingston of 7 November. Not until 8 Nov. when various intelligence reports indicated that Howe was preparing to invade New Jersey rather than turn back toward White Plains did GW begin “immediately” to implement the council’s decisions of this date (see GW to Greene, 8 Nov., and note 3).

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