George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General David Wooster, 2 March 1777

From Brigadier General David Wooster

Rye Neck [N.Y.] March 2 1777

May It please Your Excellency

Your Excellency’s favor of the 24th Ult. came to hand yesterday.1 I am sorry to inform that it was not in my power to persuade my Troops to continue at New-Rochelle, so near a much superior force of The Enemy: and having very good inteligence that about fourteen hundred from Long-Island had actualy landed on City-Island with design to surround and attack us. But a Storm prevented their landing on The Main and they returned leaving a strong guard on the last mentioned Island.

The Troops here are dayly inlisting into the Continental Army so that we are now rendered very weak, our whole strength not exceeding six hundred and fifty rank & file fit for duty, but have assurances of being reinforced from this State in a few days. In the mean time I send out every day all but my necessary guards to East & West Chester, in order to prevent the Enemy from foraging and to give every possible assistance to the Committee of Convention to bring off all they can.

We are informed that but few Troops are left in New-York; General Robinson sailed last week, (it is said), for England with twenty sail of Transports carrying off the Sick, wounded &c: General Pigot commands in his stead.2

I beg leave to inform Your Excellency that on Tuesday of last week two men,3 boatmen, belonging to East Chester, John & James Stanton ran off to New York and the very next day were honored with a Flag of Truce from Lord Howe to pass to Rye to carry a Widow woman and her effects to New York. They accordingly proceeded to Rye with a Flag at mast-head, and on their arrival there John Stanton went on Shore, travelled through the Country to New Rochelle, through my Camp and to my quarters without the least signature of a Flag or letter to any Officer commanding here, for which reason as well as their having no proper Officer with them, and as they say having never sworn allegiance to The King of Great Britain, I thought proper to detain them untill I could have Your Excellencys opinion on the Subject.

Your Excellency may be assured I shall exert myself and recommend it to all my Officers by all the ways & means in Our power. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servt

Davd Wooster

ALS, DLC:GW; Df, ViMtvL. The draft is dated 1 March.

1GW’s letter to Wooster of 24 Feb. 1777 has not been found.

2British major general James Robertson, who received permission to go back home in December 1776 but did not sail for England until late February 1777, returned to America in the fall of 1777 (see William Howe to Lord Germain, 20 Dec. 1776, Lord Germain to William Howe, 19 April 1777, and Lord Germain to the Lords of Admiralty, 12 May 1777, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution, 12:266–68, 14:69–71, 13:95, and Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:133, 139). Robert Pigot (1720–1796), who had entered the British army as an ensign in 1741, rose to the rank of colonel in May 1772. He was named colonel of the 55th Regiment in September 1775 and colonel of the 38th Regiment in December 1775. In the spring of 1775, Gen. Thomas Gage named Pigot a brigadier general in America only, and effective 1 Jan. 1776 he became a major general in America only. In August 1777 he was promoted to the permanent rank of major general, and in November 1782 to the permanent rank of lieutenant general. Pigot played a prominent role in the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775 and was the commander of Newport, R.I., in the summer of 1778 when a combined French and American force unsuccessfully tried to recapture the city.

3The previous Tuesday was 25 Feb. 1777.

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