George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 7 June 1777

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Quarters Middle Brook 7th June 1777

Dear Sir

I have yours of the 5th:1 I agree with you that Colo. Blands Men being natives are more to be depended upon than Colo. Moylans, but the Virginia Regiment of Horse has been so detatched the whole Winter, that I could not deny Colo. Bland his request to draw them together that they may be properly equipped, which they have never yet been. In point of opportunities of deserting there is full as much if not more here than from princetown, for the Moment you leave the Mountain, the Country is intirely open to all the Enemy’s posts from Brunswic to Amboy. By paying off the Troops and keeping them well supplied with provisions &ca desertions have become much less frequent. A Story has got into our Camp which has a happy effect. It is that the East India Compy purchase all deserters of the Crown and send them out. It is beleived by the Soldiers here and I wish you could circulate it in your Quarter. This should be done seemingly with indifference. drop it at table before the Servants[.] Desertion from the Enemy has prevailed much of late, for some days past, we have had four or five day. By Letters from Genl Gates I learn that the Alarm of the Enemy’s approach to Ticonderoga was groundless.2 A Deserter from the 37th this morning says that yesterday orders were given for his Regt and ten more to hold themselves in readiness to embark from Amboy. And that the Inhabitants of Amboy, Brunswic &ca capable of bearing Arms were ordered to garrison New York.3 How true these things are a little time will shew. I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. An intelligent person who left New York the 5th says many Vessels were fitted up for Horses and that some were embarked. That the Transports were prepared for Troops and that some that were to go on Board had come over from Staten Island.4 If so the Fleet is near sailing. therefore desire Genl Forman to keep a look out and when they leave the Hook see which way they stand.

Yours of this date just come to hand.5 As Mrs Funk is at princetown it is a pity to prevent her going further, if therefore she appears an honest well meaning Woman you may let her go on. Another Deserter confirms the Acct of the order to embark6—If you write to Genl Arnold be kind enough to desire him not to permit any more Ladies to go towards New York just now.

G: W——n

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NhHi: Sullivan Papers. Tilghman addressed the cover: “To The Honble Majr Genl Sullivan at Princetown Light Horseman.”

1This letter has not been found.

3Richard Harrison, a soldier of the British 37th Regiment who had deserted from Bonhamtown, N.J., on the afternoon of 6 June, says in his responses to the American interrogation of this date that it had been “Given out in orders the 5th instant that the Troops should hold themselves in readiness to embark at a moments warning. Their shipping come to Amboy & 2 ships allotted to each regiment—to go to New England or South Carolina[.] all the heavy baggage and sick have been sent away & orders given to send off all the tents.” Harrison also gives a detailed account of the strength of the British and Hessian troops posted at various places in New Jersey (DLC:GW).

4See the examination of Enoch Willis which is quoted in GW to Hancock, 6 June, n.4.

5This letter has not been found.

6Several deserters in addition to Richard Harrison (see note 3) were interrogated by the Americans on or about this date. David Burn of Gov. Montfort Browne’s Loyalist regiment (the Prince of Wales American Regiment), who deserted from Amboy on 6 June, responded that the troops at Amboy expected “to move in two Weeks for Philada” and that he had “heard there ware bridges & boats ready” (DLC:GW). Frederick Hansbury of the British 55th Regiment, who also deserted from Amboy on 6 June, says that he had joined his regiment six weeks earlier after arriving with 300 recruits from Portsmouth, England, and that “they are to move Soon for Philada by Water” (DLC:GW). Another deserter from Amboy, Robert English of the 17th Regiment of Light Dragoons, says in his responses of this date: “orders for 3000 yesterday to march to Spang-Town [Spanktown, N.J.]—Orders issued on thursday [5 June] to hold the[m]selves in readiness to embark—no shipping come to Amboy—fifteen sloops fitting up to take horses in—heavy baggage & sick sent from Amboy[.] talk of pushing to Philadelphia” (DLC:GW). John Lowen, a Hessian jäger who deserted from New Brunswick on this date, says that he “hears they intend to move in eight days, by Water” (DLC:GW).

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