George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General George Clinton, 31 March 1777

To Brigadier General George Clinton

Head Qrs Morristown March 31st 1777.

Dear Sir

A Captain [ ] who escaped from New York on Saturday Evening and who arrived here this morning, informs, that about Three Thousand Troops (British & Hessians) were embarked from the City & Staten Island when he came away.1 It was generally said, they had in contemplation an expedition to Chesepeak Bay and to make a descent on the Eastern Shore. There were some who conjectured, they mean to go up the North River and to take the Highland fortications if possible—How far this latter opinion may be well founded, is difficult to determine, However I have thought it proper to communicate the Hint, that you may be on your guard and prepared in the best manner that circumstances will admit of for their reception, should such be their Object.

I congratulate you most cordially on your late appointment to a command in the Continental Army; I assure you it gave me great pleasure when I read the Resolve,2 and wishing that your exertions may be crowned with a suitable success, I am Dr Sir with great esteem Yr Most Obedt Sert

Go: Washington

P.S. As the Forts in the Highlands are of infinite importance & the security of the passes a capital Object, I think it will be well and prudent to call in immediately a reinforcement of Militia—their detention will not be but for a short time, for most probably the design of the embarkation will be known in a few days & the execution of it attempted, if it is up the River. I wrote upon the return of the Massachusets Militia to Govr Trumbull requesting that he woud immediately send about Two thousand to Pecks Kills—By a Letter received the Other day he informed me he had issued Orders for the purpose and I trust they are on their march.3 Yrs


LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, CSmH; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Harrison addressed the cover of the LS: “To The Honble Brigadr Genl George Clinton,” and GW franked it.

1GW is referring to Benjamin Dashiell, the master of the American ship Farmer, who escaped from the British on Saturday, 29 Mar. (see GW to Hancock, this date, and note 1).

2Congress on 25 Mar. appointed George Clinton as commandant of the forts in the Hudson highlands with the rank of brigadier general (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 7:203).

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