George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 29 August 1778

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Quarters White Plains
Aug. 29th 1778 9 oClock P.M.

Dear Sir,

I wrote to you yesterday, informing you, that a number of transports were in the sound. Last night they got under way and proceeded Eastward as far as opposite to Oyster bay; where they seem to have been stopped by the wind being contrary. There were from sixty to seventy sail. From every intelligence it appears certain, that a considerable number of troops have crossed over to Long Island; and different reports say, that they have been embarked on board the transports in the Sound. One account mentions, that Sir Henry Clinton himself is with them, with five thousand men.1 But however these particulars may be, there can be no doubt, that every exertion is making to relieve Rhode Island. I am with great regard Dear Sir Your most Obedt Ser.

Go: Washington

P.S. About 50 of the above transports were topsail vessels.

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, NhHi: Sullivan Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1In a letter of this day dated “Saturday Morng 5 oClock,” Elisha Boudinot wrote Alexander Hamilton, “The Person I mentioned to you came over last Night and informs me, that General Clinton with his whole Army has set off for Rhode Island—they are gone up the Sound and across to the East End of Long Island—there are only a small Guard left in the City—not a Canoe is suffered to pass up the East River—least it should be known, they moved with the utmost Secresy—As it might be you have not heard of this movement I send this by Express” (DLC:GW). The intelligence was generally accurate; British officer Archibald Robertson noted in his diary for 27 Aug.: “I embarkd at Whitstone Point in Long Island along with the Commander in Chief with about 4000 men under the Command of General Grey to relieve Rhode Island” (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 , 181; see also André, Journal, 84–85).

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