George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, 29 August 1778

From Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons

[White Plains] 29th Augt [1778]

Dear General

By my Son from Long Island, yesterday, I learn that Genl Clinton’s Baggage arrivd at Flushing last Wednesday.1 he was expected there last Thursday; about forty Field Peices had arrivd at Flushing from New York: that the Hessians at Huntington had marchd for Jamaica: that the Dragoons at Huntington had receivd Orders to march to the Narrows; but when they were ready to march were Orderd to wait for further Orders—that Orders were sent to Genl Tryon to hasten his March Westward, that his Troops were incampd Yesterday at Satacket on their Way Westward. That he heard the English Fleet saild last Wednesday, this Acct he recd from Col. Webb, and others, of our Prisoners, that the Inhabitants are anxious to have Arms & a few Men sent to them and they will Answer for Govr Tryon & his Command—That All the Vessells near the Harbour & Bay of Huntington were orderd to the Bay under Convoy of their Ships of war, whither they had loaded or not—that there were Yesterday near Seventy Sail of Vessels in Huntington Harbour mostly Square rigd Vessels.2

Mr Scudder, exchangd, left New York last Saturday Says he Saw from the Provost Guard a considerable Number of Small Peices of field Artillery which were removd toward Eastward which he was informd were removd to Long Island—that the British Fleet returnd much Shatterd after the late Storm; he Saw a Ship, Said to be a 50 Gun Ship dismasted lying in the East River, that most of the Artillery which was on the Fields near the Provost Guard was removd—that the Flour in the City is very musty & the Inhabitants not well supplied even with that—That Some Troops are incampd at Bushwick, a large Camp at the Fly; No English Fleet arrivd before he left the City.3 I am yr Excelle[n]cy’s h[umbl]e Servt

Saml H. Parsons


1The previous Wednesday was 26 August. William Walter Parsons (1762–1801), Samuel Holden Parsons’s eldest son, served under his father as a fifer in the 6th Connecticut Regiment from May to December 1775. He became a midshipman on the Continental frigate Warren and was captured by the British during the Penobscot expedition in the summer of 1779. Moved to New York City in 1780, he escaped in April of that year. After going back to sea later in 1780, he was again captured and again escaped, from the island of Saint Eustatius in the fall of 1781.

2Most of this intelligence is also contained in a letter from Maj. Ebenezer Gray to Parsons of 27 Aug.: “The Reports from the Island this morning are that by the best Accounts from NewYork the Enemy are making every Preparation Necessary for a Removal, and probably to New Port. The Horses in N. York and are all Shod and shewing as fast as possible. the Hessians as I mentioned Yesterday have marched and were seen at Hemstead Marchg Westward, the Light Horse at Huntington are ordered to march but had not marched Yesterday morning, their Baggage was then loaded Sir Henry Clintons Baggage was Yesterday sent to Flushing and he is to follow this Day—The shipping are all ordered from the Harbours of Long Island into the sound ready to Sail—Eight or Nine Transports have gone to Setocket supposed to take in Genl Tryon. I can’t learn that he hath moved yet all the Inhabitants from 15 to 50 years of Age are stopped & detained at Huntington Fort The Wood Cutters on Loyds & Eatons neck are stopped, and the Guards are all Called of from them Necks—Lt Brewster is not yet returned from Setocket, Capt. Allen who was on the Island last Night and by whom I have the Above, will Inform you more particularly. … N.B. The Brittish Fleet of about 20 sail went from the Hook Yesterday supposed for New Port. They Indeaver to keep every thing as secret as possible” (DLC:GW).

3“Mr Scudder” may have been William Smith Scudder (1739–1804) or possibly Henry Scudder (1743–1822). William Smith Scudder, who had been a private in the 2d New York Regiment in 1776 and later a whaleboat captain, was captured by Loyalists while raiding Long Island in March 1778 (see Royal Gazette [New York], 7 Mar.), but he was released before 30 Oct. 1778, when the New York council of appointment made him captain of the privateer Ranger, a commission revoked in 1781. Henry Scudder, a lieutenant in the Suffolk County, N.Y., militia, was taken prisoner at Long Island on 27 Aug. 1776. After his release, he was reputedly active in raiding Long Island to gather supplies and information about British movements. Bushwick, now within Brooklyn, is in the northeast part of Kings County, near the Queens County boundary. The Head of the Fly was located at the southern end of what was then the town of Flushing near the border of Newtown.

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