George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Ebenezer Gray, 21 September 1778

From Major Ebenezer Gray

Norwalk [Conn.] Sept. 21st 1778


By Capt. Daviss who returned from the Iland this morning I have Recd the following Intelligence which he received from two credible Persons who left N. York last Saturday in the afternoon1 viz. that a Day before yesterday all the Light Horse were ordered to the City in order to Imbark2 that many of the Transports had Arm[i]ngs built for the Conveyance of Stock,3 and that Genl Jones was to Imbark this Day eithir for the West India or Canada, (this Infermation is from his Family) and that 8 or 10 Thousand Troops were soon to be imbarked, (and sent into winter Quarters as it is rumoured in the City,) To one of the Above named Places;4 That Genl Tryen is marching again to the East End of the Iland but with what Force I can’t learn he is this Day to be at Islip, the South side of the Iland nearly opposite this Place. he hath summoned the militia of Suffolk County to Attend him—a large Number of Teams are ordered to be this Day at Loyds Neck, and a Fleet of Transports are hourly expected at the Neck to take the Wood &c. collected there;5 there is also a large Fleet off the Hook, but who they are is not known, ’tis supposed by the Citizens to be either French or Spanish as no Person attempts to go down to see who they are.6

This is All the Intellegence that I have been Able to collect. I shall send again this Night, and if any thing material should Come to hand, shall give your Excellency the Earliest Information—I have also sent by the Bearer Three News Papers being the last I could obtain.7 I am with due respect Your Excellencys most Obedt & Humle Sert

Ebenr Gray Major

All the Party on Loyds Neck have Ordered to New York (except about Twenty) but have returned before I was Able to get Intelligence of it.


1The previous Saturday was 19 September. Capt. John Davis (d. 1782) of the 4th New York Regiment, a former resident of East Hampton on Long Island, was treated as a spy by the British after he was captured at Sag Harbor, Long Island, in November 1781.

2During the latter part of 1778 the remnants of the 16th Regiment of Light Dragoons were drafted into the 17th Regiment of Light Dragoons, and its officers were sent home.

3Armings were protective coverings.

4The West Indies expedition commanded by Maj. Gen. James Grant sailed from Sandy Hook on 3 November. Maj. Gen. Daniel Jones wrote George Germain on 15 Oct. requesting leave to return to England, which he did in the summer of 1779 (see Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 13:364; 16:131).

5For the cutting of firewood on Lloyd Neck, Long Island, see Caleb Brewster to GW, 15 Sept., and note 1 to that document.

6This fleet probably was the one commanded by Lord Howe, which had arrived at New York on 11 Sept. (see Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:162, and Laughton, “Journals of Henry Duncan,” description begins John Knox Laughton, ed. “Journals of Henry Duncan, Captain, Royal Navy, 1776–1782.” The Naval Miscellany 1 (London, 1902): 105–219. In Publications of the Navy Records Society, vol. 20. description ends 164).

7Neither the bearer of this letter nor the enclosed newspapers have been identified.

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