George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Charles Scott, 25 September 1778

From Brigadier General Charles Scott

Lyons hous on the Bedford Road [N.Y.]1 Sept. 25th 1778


I rcd Your Excellencys Favors of the 24th Through Colo. Tilghman at 2 oClock this morning.2

on tusday last a Considerable Number of the Enemy imbarked and fell down with the tide towards the Hook. their disteny is not Yet known3—By two deserters I am told that when the detachment (I mentiond in my last)4 Marched the whole of their bagage as well that below The bridg as above was carryed to a large Stone hous Near Kings Bridg where the flat bottom boats Lay. I think it must have been taken there in order to Send off while they Amused us—on tusday Last there was a meeting of the Refugees from Long & York Islands Held in the City by a Genl order. Colo. Robertson attended the meeting and Laid the Business before them, which as Yet I am not able to know.5 Part of their Cavelry is Certainly imbarked on Wednesday Last, but it is possable they may Be going to the Jerseys. the enemy that came out Last Wednesday having taken post on Gil Volentens Hill6 & Within Striking distance of my Camp I thaught Prudance Dictated a move of my Corps, which was don This morning at 3 oClock, Leaving the picquets and Some Horse to watch their Motions, untill we could reach Our new position. there are Still remaining at Wrights Mills Some Onions and Damaged Flower, which will be got off this day, if the enemy Should not be advancing. I must Confess that it dos not admit of a doubt with me that they Will advance Ither this day or tomorrow, from every Acct That I am able to git my Partie is their Object. I have The pleasure to inform Your Excellency that my Preasant Position is very strong with an impassable country on my Right and left at least for Several miles, that I am perfectly Secure against Surprize. I have at last With much Difficulty procurd a proper person to Stay In York for the purpose of Intillegence, this togather With the person I mentiond to You, on York Island I Hope will be able to give us every possable intilligence Respecting the enemys movements. Should the enemy direct Their Course up the North river I will agreable to Your Orders Acquaint Genl Putnum of it with all possable Dispatch. I am Your Excellencys Obt Servant

Chs Scott

p.s. Since writing the above I am informd by a Horse Man of Colo. Blands that the enemy are advancing on The Albany road, he thinks not less than 3000 when he Left them they wear about four miles below tarry Town moving Briskly on. I have a number of good officers out Reconnoitering them, if they should Continue to advance (which I shall soon hear) I will Dispatch a messenger to Your excellency and another To Genl Putnum. particular attention shall be paid To Your orders of Yesterday respecting my falling back To the Hylands above Kings Ferry.7 my Camp is in Full view of the Sound for Near forty miles we Discover in it about twenty Sail they appear to stand For New York. Your Excellency may rest assurd that every thing possable shall be don not only for the Security of my own Camp but the armey at large.

½ past 1 oClock


1Among the prominent supporters of the American cause living in the North Castle area of Westchester County were Justice Peter Lyon (Lyons; 1745–1824), Maj. Samuel Lyon (Lyons; 1747–1819) of the Westchester County regiment of minutemen, and Lt. Gilbert Lyon (Lyons; 1751–1819) of the 2d Regiment of Westchester County militia, who was promoted to captain in September 1780. All three of these men were taken prisoner by Lt. Col. James De Lancey’s Loyalist corps in December 1780 (see Philip Pell, Jr., to Robert Benson, 22 Dec. 1780, in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 6:513–16).

2For the two letters that Tench Tilghman wrote to Scott on 24 Sept., see the source note to Scott to GW, 23 September.

3The previous Tuesday was 22 Sept., the same date that Cornwallis’s foraging party landed in New Jersey, which raised the possibility that the troop movement reported by Scott was connected with that expedition (see GW to Scott, 27 Sept.). Scott was not subsequently able to clarify the exact destination of that movement (see Scott to GW, 26 Sept. [first letter] and 28 Sept.).

5This meeting of the Loyalist refugees from various states who had sought sanctuary in New York City and its environs was held at 3 p.m. on 22 Sept. “at the house lately kept by Mrs. Montaigne, in the fields, near the New Bridewell, . . . to consider of matters in which they are highly interested” (Royal Gazette [New York], 19 Sept.; see also the New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, 21 Sept., and the New-Jersey Gazette [Trenton], 30 Sept.). The assembled refugees authorized a committee to meet at the same place on 24 Sept. to prepare and distribute for signing a petition to the British peace commissioners, offering to take up arms against the American rebels in exchange for a promise that the British would continue to prosecute the war and specifically would continue garrisoning New York City (see the Royal Gazette [New York], 23, 26, 30 Sept.; see also the New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, 28 Sept., and the intelligence memorandum for 2–4 Oct., in Scott to GW, 6 Oct. [first letter], n.2; for the refugees’ petition, see Scott to GW, 15 Oct. [second letter], and note 2 to that document).

6Gilbert Valentine was one of the freeholders of Westchester County, N.Y., who declared their support for the king in April 1775. He apparently was the Gilbert Valentine who is listed in the 1790 census as living in Yonkers, New York. For the recent British and Hessian advance into southern Westchester County, see Charles Scott to GW, 23 Sept., and note 9 to that document.

7See Tench Tilghman’s second letter to Scott of 24 Sept., which is quoted in the source note to Scott to GW, 23 September.

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