George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 10 September 1778

To Major General Horatio Gates

[White Plains, 10 September 1778]


The superiority of naval force, which the enemy at present possess over our allies, rendering it not improbable, that they may be tempted to undertake a co-operation, by sea and land, for the capture or destruction of the French fleet, in the Port of Boston, it appears expedient, that our dispositions, so far as is consistent with the other important objects of our attention, should be calculated as much as possible to afford succour in that quarter. In persuance of this principle and other motives of weight which will occur to you; You are to proceed with the division under your command towards Danbury, taking the route by Kings Street and Bedford, and making slow and easy marches. You will begin your march tomorrow morning, and halt at some convenient place within six or eight miles of this Camp. Intelligence may be received in the course of the day, which may decide the measure of your future progress; but, if you have no further advice from me, You are to continue your route by proportionable stages to the place of your destination.

For your supplies of provision, forage and other necessaries on the march, You will be pleased to make the necessary arrangements with the Quarter Master—and Commissary-Generals. Given at Head Quarters White Plains the 10th of Septemr 1778.

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW

At 9 p.m. on 9 Sept., GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison had written Adj. Gen. Alexander Scammell: “His Excellency desires, that you will issue Orders immediately to Generals Poor & Patterson & to the Officer commanding the Brigade, late Learned’s) to be in readiness to march at 9 OClock tomorrow morning, with their respective Brigades and all their Baggage. He also desires that you will communicate this to General Gates to night” (NHi: Gates Papers). On this date GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote Gates: “Orders were last Evening given to the Brigades of Poor, Patterson and Learned to hold themselves in readiness to march this morning. His Excellency would be glad to see you respecting their destination and Route” (NHi: Gates Papers). However, that movement was postponed. Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Gilbert of the 5th Massachusetts Regiment noted in his diary for this date: “Genl Gates Division had orders to march at 9 oClock in the morning but some dispute arising among the Genls they pitcht their Tents again in the after noon” (Symmes, Gilbert Diary description begins Rebecca D. Symmes, ed. A Citizen-Soldier in the American Revolution: The Diary of Benjamin Gilbert in Massachusetts and New York. Cooperstown, N.Y., 1980. description ends , 36).

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