George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Nixon, 24 July 1778

From Brigadier General John Nixon

Camp White plains July [24]1 1778


On the 22d Instt I marched the Party under my Command (consisting of about 2000 Foot & 200 Cavalry) in the following Order.2

I detached Genl Parsons with Colo. Wylly’s Meiggs, Hazens & Grahams Regts together with One half the Cavalry under the Command of Lt Colo. Blagdon, to proceed on the East Side the Brunks down to East & West Chester, with Orders to make the best Disposition of his party, which would most effectually Answer to the driving in to our Camp all the Stock from that Quarter, ⟨w⟩hile I marched with Colo. Greatons, Putnam & Nixons ⟨Re⟩gts down on the West Side the Brunks to Mile Square, ⟨t⟩ogether with the remainder of the Cavalry under the Command of Colo. Shelden; and One peice of Artillery. And when Arrived I made a Disposition of the Troops under my immediate Command as follows—Ordered Colo. Greaton with his Regt & a party of Cavalry to Occupy the Road leading from Kings-Bridge to Phillips’s and to send off Partys on the Roads leading from thence to Dobbs’s Ferry and Saw Mill River Bridge,3 in order to collect all the Stock on the Roads. Colo. Putnam with his Regt & a party of Cavalry Occupyed the Road leading from Kings Bridge to Mile Square & to send a party on the Road leading to this place on the West Side the Brunks. I remained on Vollentines Hill with Colo. Nixons Regt; the Remainder of the Cavalry & the Artillery, after Detaching a party from that Regt on the middle Road to collect the Stock—Remained on the Ground till about Sun-rise at which time, I ordered the several Regts to take the same Routs on which they had detached their respective partys, in order to collect such Stock as might escape them.4

As to the particulars of Genl Parsons’s progress, I shall refer your Excellency to his Return to me, which I have enclosed.5

Seven Deserters from the Queens Rangers with their Arms and Accoutrements, joined me in the course of the Night, which I sent to Head Quar⟨ters⟩ the 23d Instt.

I send You by the Bearer John Johnston, James Pell, David Bonnet & Ned Pell a Negro, mentioned in Genl Parsons’s Return.6 Sir I am with great Esteem Your Excellencys most Obedt Humbl. Servt

Jno. Nixon B.G.


1Nixon left a blank space after “July,” but the letter is docketed 24 July, and his enclosures are dated 24 July.

2For Nixon’s orders, see GW to Horatio Gates, 19 July, n.2.

3The Saw Mill River enters the Hudson River about six miles below Dobbs Ferry and runs northward to pass about one mile east of that crossing.

4For a description of this expedition from the viewpoint of a private in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment, see “Vaughan Journal,” description begins Virginia Steele Wood, ed. “The Journal of Private Zebulon Vaughan, Revolutionary Soldier, 1777–1780.” Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine 113 (1979): 101–14, 256–57, 320–31, 478–85, 487. description ends 109.

5Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons’s report of his command, dated 24 July, reads: “On the 22d Wyllys, Meigs, Hazen’s & Graham’s Regiments with Two Peices of Artillery proceeded to Ward’s House, I then detachd 100 Men under the Command of Capt. Leavensworth to Weschester to remove the Stock from thence; with the other Troops I marchd toward Williams’s Bridge; posted Hazen’s Regt at the School House on the Road from East Chester to Mile Square; and Detachd Majr Taylor with 150 foot & 12 Dragoons to Williams’s and the main Body with the Artillery halted one Mile in the Rear on an advantageous Height back of Briggs’s—Patroles were kept constantly to the advancd Guard & to every Ford over the Bruns in the Vicinity of the Troops—The Enemy’s Advancd Post was discoverd to be near [Isaac] Voluntine’s about one Mile from our advancd Picket. Two Light Dragoons deserted from the Enemy; who are sent to Head Quarters. in order to execute the orders I receivd in the most effectual Manner I orderd Cols. Wyllys & Hazen’s Regiments with one Peice of artillery on the Road by Ward’s with the other Regiments I returnd by New Rochel We marchd from Williams’s a little before Sunrising having first beat the Troop & mounted Guard. The Enemy made no Movement from their Camp, not advancing a Patrole towards Us.

“We took from the Inhabitants 188 Head of Cattle 60 Horses 55 Hogs & 13 Sheep—By order of the General the Cattle Horses &c. have been deliverd to the Owners to drive in the Country & some few for the present Subsistance of their Families except 52 hornd Cattle 19 Horses & 5 Hogs which Still remain in the Custedy of my Brigade Quarter Master.

“We took Prisoners of the Inhabitants[—]Nat. Underhill and Three Negro Men of Weschesteraccusd of incouraging Horse Thieves[,] one Johnson & Pell Accusd of taking up Deserters & returning them to the Enemy[,] one Bonnet who has once been Committed for Misdemeanors & broke Goal at Marbel Town[,] a negro Accusd of Stealing Cattle[—]which are orderd to your Honor for your Direction” (DLC:GW).

Nixon apparently also enclosed his own return, dated 24 July, “of the Horses, Cattle &ca collected and brought into Camp agreeable to Genl Gates’s Orders to me of 22d Inst.,” which reported the stock gathered by Parsons and an additional 48 horses, 153 cattle, 27 sheep, and 145 swine “Collected on the West Side the Brunks” (DLC:GW).

6A James Pell, most likely of Pelham Manor, was among those who assembled at White Plains in April 1775 to declare their “detestation of all unlawful committees and congresses” and their support for the king (Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer, 20 April 1775). A David Bonnet of New Rochelle claimed that he fled to New York City in September 1776 because of persecution and that he was later involved in gathering forage for the British magazines (Coldham, American Loyalist Claims description begins Peter Wilson Coldham. American Loyalist Claims. Washington, D.C., 1980. description ends , 43–44).

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