George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 3 July 1778

To Major General Horatio Gates

Brunswick [N.J.] 3d July 1778. [ ] OClock


My last to you was upon the 29th June. I have the pleasure to inform you, that the loss of the Enemy, in the action of the 28th, was more considerable than we at first apprehended. By the Returns of the officers who had charge of the burying parties, it appears, that they left 245 non commd and privates on the Feild, and 4 Officers, one of whom was the Honble Col: Monkton of the Grenadiers. Our loss was 7 officers and 52 Rank and File killed and 17 officers and 120 R. & f. wounded. Among the former were Lt Colonel Bunner of pennsylvania and Major Dickinson of Virginia, the only Officers of Rank. There were several fresh Graves and burying holes found near the feild, in which, the Enemy put their dead before they quitted it. These were exclusive of the 245 before mentioned. We have made upwards of one hundred prisoners, including forty privates and four officers left wounded at Monmouth Court House. The number of their wounded we can only guess at, as they were employed in carrying them off during the action, and untill midnight, when they stole off, silent as the grave.1 Finding that the Enemy had, during the Action, pushed their Baggage to Middle town, and that they, by marching off in the Night after the engagement, would gain that place before there was any possibility of overtaking their Rear, I determined to give over the pursuit. From the information of General Forman, and several Gentlemen well acquainted with the Country, I found it would be impossible to annoy them in their embarkation, as the neck of land, upon which they now are, is defended by a narrow passage, which, being possessed by a few men, would effectually oppose our whole force. Besides this consideration, I thought it highly expedient to turn towards the North River. I marched from the English town the 30th last month, and arrived here yesterday with the whole Army, except Maxwells Brigade and Morgans Corps, who are left upon the Rear of the Enemy to prevent their making depredations, and to encourage desertion, which still prevails to a considerable degree.

The march from English Town was inconceivably distressing to the Troops and Horses, the distance is about twenty Miles thro’ a deep sand, without a drop of Water, except at south River, which is half way. This, added to the intense heat, killed a few and knocked up many of our Men, and killed a number of our Horses.2 To recruit the former upon the airy open Grounds near this place, and to give the Qr Mr General an opportunity of providing the latter, will occasion a short halt, but you may depend that we will be with you as soon as possible.

My present intention is to cross the North River at King’s ferry, but should you be of opinion, that it will be in the power of the Enemy to hinder our passage, be pleased to inform me, as it would be loosing much time to be obliged to turn up from thence and march thro’ the Clove. The Rout by King’s Ferry is so much the shortest and best, that if the passage could be kept open by throwing up Works and mounting some Cannon upon them, I think it would be worth while having it done. But this I leave to your determination. I am Sir Your most obt and hble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. A “Copy of Letter Genl Washington to Gen. Gates,” dated “Camp Wite Plains July 6th 1778,” exists as a manuscript in M-Ar: Revolution Letters, 1778, and variants were published in contemporary newspapers, such as the Continental Journal, and Weekly Advertiser (Boston), 16 July. That document was apparently derived from this letter, although it is not a verbatim copy. As Gates was at White Plains on 6 July and GW was not, the dateline evidently refers to the date of copying and not to the date of the letter.

1On the draft, which is in Tilghman’s writing, the preceding two sentences were added in the left margin, and the second is in GW’s writing.

2Lt. Thomas Blake of the 1st New Hampshire Regiment recorded the effects of the weather in his journal for 1 July: “the weather being so excessively hot (the road being for the most part through Pitch pine plain) … near one-third of the men were so overcome that they were obliged to stop; many were not able to march until the cool of the evening, and some so overcome they were obliged to be conveyed in waggons” (Kidder, History of the First New Hampshire Regiment description begins Frederic Kidder. History of the First New Hampshire Regiment in the War of the Revolution. Albany, 1868. description ends , 43).

Index Entries