George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 11 July 1778

To Major General Horatio Gates

Pyramus Church [N.J.] July 11th 1778


I am now as far advanced as this place from whence the left wing of the Army marched to day about Four miles. According to my present Ideas, it will move tomorrow morning, under the Baron de Kalb towards the north River, with a view of passing it, at Kings Ferry. The right wing and second line, which form the remainder, being greatly fatigued by their march and the intensely hot weather, will halt here when they arrive for a few days in order to refresh themselves; as from the latest accounts and such as seem to have come through a pretty direct channel, the Enemy are reposing themselves at new York and on long & Staten Islands, without there being any preparations like a new expedition. These are my present intentions, but I confess, that I am under some difficulty, as to what should be our movements, or what precise disposition to make of the Army, & therefore shall be exceedingly obliged by your advice as soon as possible, on the subject. It is said by the Quarter Master & Commissary General, that it will be much easier to subsist it, i.e., the Troops with me, on this side the river, both with provisions & forage, than on the other, which is a point of material importance; and besides, that we shall drain the disaffected of this Country of those supplies which the Enemy would otherwise get.1 after considering the state of the fortifications—water defences and other matters necessary to be attended to, I request to be favored with your opinion, whether the whole or a principal part of the Army with me, can remain on this side the river and be in a condition to act properly & in time, in case the Enemy should direct their operations up the river & against those places; and if it can, what place will be most suitable for it to occupy as a Camp.

There is one circumstance, I would recommend to your particular attention, which is the care of the Boats. After Baron Kalb has passed with the wing under his Command, if not before, I think it will be more adviseable to send them up to some of the fortifications, as a place of greater security. When they are wanted, they can be easily had—but if they should be destroyed by the Enemy on any sudden enterprize, the consequences might be extremely injurious, & we should be subjected to a thousand difficulties.

We have had it reported from New York, that there is a French Fleet on the Coast. Just as I was about closing my Letter, I received one from Genl Arnold containing an account which countenances the report. You have an extract from it upon the subject.2 I dont know whether this intelligence should be made Public for reasons which will be obvious to you. I am Sir Your Most Obet Serv⟨t⟩

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1At this point on the draft, Robert Hanson Harrison wrote and crossed out the following text before inserting the language that finishes this paragraph in the LS: “However, essential as this is, I would not wish you to make it a governing principle in your opinion independent of all others, but you will take the matter up, upon a large and extensive scale; weighing and balancing every convenience and inconvenience, and particularising, whether the whole or only a part & what proportion of this Army should cross the river or remain on this side, and the several positions, that it should take. The state of the fortifications and the water defences on the river will be a material consideration and the number of men sufficient for their security.”

2GW is referring to Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s letter to him of 8 July. The extract has not been found.

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