George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 11 June 1777

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Quarters Middle Brook 11th June 1777

Dear Sir

I have yours of yesterday with Colonel Formans letter inclosed.1 If the Ships that went out are intended for Delaware Bay, the Troops at Brunswic and Amboy will either follow immediately by Sea or wait till they hear of their arrival in the Bay and then make a sudden march to meet them.2 The Flag upon the Tree was seen yesterday, but if you will hoist it about half way up the Body, it will be more distinct.3

If there was any firing yesterday between Brunswic and Amboy, it was the Enemy exercising which they frequently do.

Be pleased to keep a good look out upon the land side that if they move that way we may endeavour to come up with them. I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Be pleased to write to Genl Mifflin and desire him to give you notice if the Ships arrive in Delaware.

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NhHi: Sullivan Papers.

1Sullivan’s letter to GW of 10 June 1777, enclosing David Forman’s letter to GW of the same date, has not been found.

2Shortly before midnight on this date GW instructed his aide-de-camp Robert Hanson Harrison to inform Sullivan of intelligence that had just arrived at headquarters indicating that the British troops planned to move for the Delaware early the next morning: “12 o’clock at Night. I am commanded by his Excellency to inform you, that we were this moment advised by a person sent down towards Bonam Town to day, that Gen. How came from Amboy to Brunswick this evening with a number of troops, wagons, and a few pieces of Artillery. This information was communicated to our agent and friend, by several women whom he saw at Metuchin, and whose husbands are now in the hands of the Enemy. They had been at Bonam Town and saw the last of the troops pass by about four o’clock. The troops there had orders to have seven days provision cooked against night, and they heard several officers tell the people there, who had gone in to them for protection, they wished they could move to some place of security; for that all their troops would evacuate that post and Staten Island. They were busily employed in dressing their provision, and they understood they were to join the other forces to night at Brunswick, from whence they were to push for Delaware immediately or early tomorrow morning.

“This intelligence, his Excellency thought it expedient to transmit to you, and he wishes you to have every thing in such a situation, that they can be moved, on the earliest notice, out of the Enemy’s way, and that you will do all in your power to impede and annoy their march whenever they attempt the enterprise, till we can come up with them.

“The General has ordered the most likely place to be pitched on here, from which signals may be given of their moving. They will be such as have been understood; but it is uncertain whether they will be as discoverable as yours from their situation. You will give the earliest advices of any approach &c.” (DLC: Peter Force Papers).

3GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade wrote Sullivan on 10 June concerning the hoisting of the signal flag: “At Five OClock this Evening the Genl desires you’ll hoist your flag, if blue can be had it is easier discover’d than another colour, raise it about Two thirds of the way from the Ground to the limbs so that we shall be able to distinguish plainly” (DLC:GW).

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