George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Alexander McDougall, 29 April 1777

From Brigadier General Alexander McDougall

Peeks Kill [N.Y.] 29th April 1 P.M. 1777


The wind blowing Fresh Northerly on Monday,1 and likely to continue for Two or three days, whenever I received a litle provission for the men I marched at 10 at Night, with about 1200 and one Field piece towards Bedford, in hopes to fall in with the Enemy there from the intelligence contained in No. 8 of the inclosure.2 At Ten the next Morning I arrived at the South End of the Town, at the Road leading from Ridgfield; which is Ten Miles from Bedford. I had but Just arrived there when two expresses came in and informed me, that the Enemy had left ridgefield that morning at day brake and Marched towards Norwalk, which is but 17 Miles from the Former; and that they had met with no opposition all the morning, This intelligence deprived me of all hopes of Coming up with them, in that distance as they had rested at ridgfield the night before, and we had marched 21 Miles thro very ruff ground without Sleep or refreshment. Altho I hoped the Public and my Superiours would Justify my risquing this Post when there was some prospect of advancing the Service, Yet I considered it madness to risque it, in a Fruitless pursuit of the Enemy; and therefore returned here this moment; after a very fatigueing march which the Troops endured with great Patience. Your favor of the 26th found me at Bedford and that of the 28th two miles South of Croton Bridge. The inclosures will give all the intelligence I am poss[ess]ed of. I am Your Excellency’s Humble Servant

Alexr McDougall

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 30 April, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

1The previous Monday was 28 April.

2McDougall enclosed eight letters that various persons had written to him on 27 and 28 April about the British raid on Danbury. Having numbered the enclosures sent with his letter to GW of 27 April as 1, 2, and 3, McDougall began numbering the enclosures with this letter at 4. The manuscripts of these enclosures in DLC:GW are mostly unnumbered, but the copies that GW sent to Hancock on 30 April (in DNA:PCC, item 152) are numbered as follows: no. 4, from John Campbell, 11 A.M. 27 April, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.; no. 5, from John Campbell, 2 P.M. 27 April, Salem, N.Y.; no. 6, from John Field, noon 27 April; no. 7, from Jedediah Huntington, 6 A.M. 27 April, West Redding, Conn.; no. 9, from Hugh Hughes, 9 A.M. 28 April, Saugatuck Bridge, Conn.; from Jedediah Huntington, “Sunset” 28 April; and no. 11, from Benedict Arnold, 6 P.M. 28 April, “Saugatuck 3 Miles E[as]t [of] Norwalk.” McDougall enclosed another letter from John Field of 27 April in his letter to GW of 30 April.

Enclosure no. 9, the letter that Arnold wrote to McDougall at 10 P.M. on 27 April at West Redding, Conn., reads: “On Friday evening last [25 April] the Enemy landed abt Two thousand Men at Campo 8 miles W[es]t of Fairfield, & on Saturday, at 2 OClock P.M. reached Danbury which was abandoned by a handfull of our Troops[.] the Enemy imediately began, burning & Destroying Our Magazines of Provission &c.—last night at half past Eleven, Genl Woostur, Genl Silliman & my Self with Six hundred Militia Arrived at Bethel 3 Miles from Danbury, the Excessive heavy rains, rendered their Arms useless & many of the Troops, were much fatigued haveing Marched thirty miles, in the Cours of the day without refreshment—At 6 this morning we divided the Troops into two Divissions, being, uncertain if they would return Via Fairfield or Norwalk, one Divission was Stationed on each road, on a Cross road, Where they could support each other—we have this minute Information that at 9 this morning the Enemy Set fire to the Meeting house & most of the buildings in Town & had taken the Rout to Newburg leadg Either to Peaks kill or Tarry Town, we imagine they are destined for the latter as we hear they landed eight horse Men there yesterday morning—we propose Following them imediately in hopes of comeing up with their rear, & hope you will be Able to take them in front, our loss at Danbury is great, but I hope not irreparrable” (DLC:GW).

At 6 P.M. on 28 April, Arnold wrote McDougall from Saugatuck: “Soon after I wrote you yesterday I found the Enemy were on their March for Ridgefield, at 11 o’Clock[.] we arived there abt one hour before them, with 500 Men—we had little time to make a disposition of our Troops, when a smart Action began which lasted abt one hour, our Troops were obliged to give way to Superior numbers, I found it impossible to rally them, & ordered a Stand to made at this place, at 11 OClock this morning we met the Enemy with 500 Militia abt Two miles from this place when a skirmishing began betwen the Flanks & soon became general which Continued untill five O’Clock, when the Enemy gained a high hill Under cover of their Ships, & embarked before Night, at the begining of the Action Colo. Huntington Joined me with abt 500 Men, & before it was over a small Number of Genl Wadsworths Brigade—General Wooster whose Conduct does him great honour was mortally wounded yesterday. Lt Colo. Gold [Abraham Gould] killed, & Colo. [John] Lamb wounded, our Loss otherwise is not great. abt Twenty killed, & wounded[.] Many of the Officers & Men behaved well, the Militia as usual, I wish never to see another Of them in Action—the Enemies Loss is Uncertain as they caried of most of their killed & wounded, several Prisoners have fallen into Our hands, as soon as the Troops are embark’d the fleet got under way & stood to the Eastward” (DLC:GW; for British accounts of these events, see Lydenberg, Robertson’s Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 127–29; 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 , 1:116–17; “A British Officer’s Account of the Danbury Raid,” 21–28 April 1777, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 12 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 8:455–57; and the New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, 5 May 1777).

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