To Major General John Sullivan
Saturday June 21st 1777
From every information lately received, there is reason to believe the Enemy are evacuating Brunswick by sending One Brigade after Another. It is said they are transporting their baggage both by Land & Water to Amboy with the greatest Industry.1 If this fact be true, I should suppose it highly expedient that you should detach a Number of Militia well acquainted with the Country South of Amboy, if you have any such, to take post along the Rive⟨r⟩ at & near what are called the Roundabouts. If they go there and the Enemy are conveying their Stores down the River, which I believe is the case, I am persuaded, by a spirited exertion and vigilant conduct, they will intercept and possess themselves of a great part of it. This is a matter of considerable importance to effect, and which not only interests them greatly, but will much distress the Enemy. If there are Militia, who are fit for the business, proper parties cannot be too early sent down. You will take the Subject immediately into consideration, that such measures may be pursued as the circumstances of the Militia may seem to point out. I am Dr Sir Yr Obedt Sert
LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, NhHi: Sullivan Papers. The text in angle brackets is mutilated.
On this date GW sent Sullivan another letter, only part of which has been found, and which is in the writing of his aide-de-camp, Tench Tilghman: “As the Enemy have taken their old Station between Brunswic and Amboy I think you had better resume yours at Rocky Hill to which place I shall order the Continental Troops of your Division tomorrow morning. You will take your Tents and Baggage with you and your Feild peices if you think proper. As I expect Genl Dickinson here every moment I have delayed discharging the Militia till he arrives, as I want to settle some certain mode of assembling them at proper places upon the shortest Notice.
“From the latest advices the Enemy seem moving toward Amboy, this must be with an intent to embark either up the North River or for Philada You must therefore endeavour not only to procure intelligence from South Amboy and that Quarter by your scouts, but agree with some of the inhabitants who are constantly upon the Spot to keep a look out and give you information of the arrival of Transports in the Bay of Amboy, the embarkation of Troops or Stores, and their sailing either towards the Hook or up the River towards New York. It will be of the greatest importance for us to get early intelligence whether their intentions are northward or southward.
“A person was apprehended some little time ago near Ticonderoga, he had an anonymous letter for you, giving information of the Strength of the Enemy in Canada and their intentions; upon searching him strictly, a pass was found upon him from a Major Kirkland of the British Army, of so suspicious a Nature, that he was told the letter which he shewed must be only a cover, but that he must be upon some other errand, and was threatned” (MB).
GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman also wrote Sullivan on this date: “Yours of this morning is come to hand. His Excellency desires that where the remainder of your Division joins you, you will leave your baggage in your rear and advance towards Brunswick as if with intent to fall upon it. Take a good post and keep out scouts that the Enemy may not advance upon you unperceived. Gen. Maxwell has gone down this afternoon upon their flank between Brunswick and Amboy with fifteen hundred men, which with some other movements that will be concerted, will look like a general attack; and in the situation which they now are in, will not fail of disconcerting them a good deal. When you leave Rocky Hill, leave word where you are gone; and when you take post, inform [GW] where it is” (DLC: Peter Force Collection).
1. British officer Archibald Robertson confirms that the British army began to evacuate New Brunswick, N.J., on 20 and 21 June 1777: “Embark’d the Stores Provisions, etc., at Brunswick and Sent them away” (Lydenberg, Robertson 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 , 138).