George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Stirling, 24 September 1778

To Major General Stirling

Fredericksburg Sepr 24th 1778

My Lord

I have just received intelligence of the enemy having thrown a body of about 5,000 men over to Paules Hook, and of their advancing about five miles towards the English neighbourhood1—I have also intelligence (from Gen. Scott) that about 3,000 men with artillery &ca were advancing from Kingsbridge2—The design of these movements is probably a forage, and the gathering of Stock—&ca. It may also be something else, and as our posts on3 the highlands are of infinite importance to us, I desire your Lordship will immediately detach Gen. Clintons Brigade towards Peeks-kill with orders if the enemy continue to advance to throw himself into the pass of the highlands at the continental village, and defend the same,4 or be ready to support west point if occasion require it—If it should be only a forage, and he obtains certain information that the enemy are returned to their lines at the bridge, General Clintons brigade may remain somewhere in the neighbourhood of Cramb-pond; advanced however towards the village, and within such a distance of it as to have it in his power at all times to seize the pass before the enemy could possess themselves of it—He should keep up a communication with General Scott for the purpose of receiving early information of the enemys movements by land or water.5

With the other two brigades of your division,6 your Lordship will move on to this place in the morning and will be shewn your ground by the Qr master Genl—Lincolns division and the parke of Artillery are to precede you, and will have their ground pointed out as above.7 I am with great regard your Lordships most obt servt

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, PHi: Gratz Collection; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the addressed cover of the LS.

1For the launching of this British foraging expedition into northern New Jersey that lasted from 22 Sept. to 15 Oct., see George Baylor to GW, 23 Sept., and note 1 to that document.

2For these two pieces of intelligence, see George Baylor to GW, 23 Sept., and Charles Scott to GW, 23 September.

3The draft and the Varick transcript read: “in.”

4The Continental Village was about three miles north of Peekskill.

5Stirling replied to GW later on this date with a brief letter covering a copy of his instructions of this date to Brig. Gen. James Clinton, which convey very closely GW’s intelligence and directions contained in this paragraph, repeating the exact wording in many places. “If any thing further is Necessary,” Stirling says in his covering letter to GW, “your Excellency Will be pleased to send it to him [Clinton]” (ALS, DLC:GW). Stirling’s instructions to Clinton order him to begin his brigade’s march toward Peekskill “at Sun Rise tomorrow Morning [25 Sept.]” (copy, DLC:GW).

6GW is referring to Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne’s Pennsylvania brigade and the 2d Pennsylvania Brigade.

7Stirling wrote his letter to GW of this date from Thomas Birdsall’s house, which apparently was a few miles south of Fredericksburg. For GW’s previous orders directing Stirling to halt his column short of Fredericksburg until these further orders, see Alexander Hamilton to Stirling, 20 Sept., quoted in the source note to Charles Scott’s letter to GW of 20 September.

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