George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Israel Putnam, 29 September 1778

From Major General Israel Putnam

Highlands [N.Y.] 29th septr 1778

Dear Sir

Inclosed is the Examination of some Deserters who have Just come in. The intellegence they bring I thought to be of some importance, and therefore send it to Your Excellency—The Deserters seem to be verry intelligent men.1 I likewise inclose your Excellency a Letter I last night Receiv’d from General Woodford, with one inclos’d from Col. Cooper to Col. Hay.2 I thought it most advisable for General Woodford to cross; as there is Boats enough at Kings Ferry to bring all his men over at once, if it should be found necessary; and he may be a great Assistance to the Inhabitants, if the Enemy should not advance.

I Believe the information Genl Woodford has, of the Enemys having detach’d a party to take possession of the Clove, is without foundation. I have however directed him to use his own Judgement about crossing the River, and to regulate his conduct by the information he receives. I am with great Respect Dear Sir Your most Obedient Servant

Israel Putnam

P:S: I have detach’d a party under a major of Col. Malcom’s Regt to the Clove to take possession of it, if the Enemy have not already done it.3 I have also sent two Boats down the River to reconnoitre, & give the earliest information.

I don’t think it would be amiss, if we had a few Lt Dragoons here, as we have no person to send Express on any occation.4


1The enclosed intelligence report of this date reads: “Francis McCarny 37th British Regt Deserted the Evening of the 27th Inst.—says the Regt lay at the Liberty Pole when he left it—That they was order’d to March Just before he came away—That he came off and inform’d Col. [Gilbert] Cooper of the Militia, that the Enemy were about Marching to surprize him, and Col. Baylors Regt—That Col. Cooper retired with his Militia, without giving any information to Col. Baylor, the consequence of which was, that the Enemy surprised and took near all the Regt—That there is the 15th 17th 27th 33rd 37th 44th 46th and 64th British Lord Rodens [Rawdon’s] Corps, 2 Battns of Granideers, two of L[igh]t Infantry and two Regts of Horse at the Encampment on the other side the River—That there is a number of Troops laying in their Rear of what Corps he cannot tell—That Lord Cornwallis Commands—That he was informd Sir Henry Clinton was to Join them with a large Reinforcement—That he lay at Kings Bridge with a Body for that purpose, when the other Troops cross’d the River. That it was a General talk among them, that they was coming up to attack the Forts on N. River.

“George Motisher, 37th British, deserted at the same time and from the same place of the above says—That there is the 15th 17th 27th 33rd 37th 42nd 44th 46th and 64th British Lord Rodens Corps—2 Battns of Granideers 2 of Lt Infantry and 2 Regts of Dragoons—That it was the universal talk among them, that they were coming to Attack the Forts on N: River” (DLC:GW). For the British attack on Col. George Baylor’s 3d Continental Light Dragoon Regiment on 28 Sept. near Old Tappan, N.J., see Israel Putnam to GW, 28 Sept., and notes 1 and 2 to that document.

2The enclosed letter that Brig. Gen. William Woodford wrote to Putnam on the night of 28 Sept. from Peekskill, reads: “Before I got here I mett Doctr [David] Griffith who returnd from the other side Kings Ferry, by his acct & from several other Hands, the Enemy were advanced as far as Clarks Town, & part of them within three Miles of Colo. Hays House—I inclose you a Letter I took from an Express going to Head Quarters—Colo. Spencer has cross’d & advanced three or four Miles, but what purpose so small a boddy of Men will answer I cannot see—& I am in pain least the Colo. should meet poor Baylors fate. I met the bals [balance] of his Regt with their baggage going they knew not where, I have order’d them to the continental Village, & what few could be mounted & made fitt for service to Join me in the Morning—when I shall proceed to the Ferry, & enquire into the state of Matters before I cross—I cannot see any purpose it will answer for me to cross, & should think Spencer had better be recalled, however I will be guided by your directions & the inteligence I get in the Morning—some Field officers from Philadelphia say they were inform’d as they pass’d from Paramus to Day that the Enemy had detachd a party to take possession of the [Smith’s] clove in order to prevent the country people retireing that way with their Stocks” (DLC:GW).

Lt. Col. Gilbert Cooper says in the enclosed letter that he wrote to Col. Ann Hawkes Hay on 28 Sept. from Green Bush, N.Y.: “This morning at 7 o’clock we were alarmed by the enemies’ landing a large body of men from about 100 flat boats, at the slats [Tappan Slote] about two miles from Orange Town. A party of light Horse came up as far as Orange Town & paraded on the Green. This moment we have information that there are three ships, a sloop & a galley at the Tappan meadows” (DLC:GW). Tappan Slote or Tappan Landing (now Piermont), N.Y., is on the west side of the Hudson River about two miles northeast of Tappan, New York. The Tappan meadows or salt marsh extend along the west side of the Hudson below Tappan Slote for about two miles. Gilbert Cooper (Cuyper; 1741–1815) of Haverstraw, N.Y., was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Orange County, N.Y., regiment of militia levies in July 1776 and lieutenant colonel of Col. Ann Hawkes Hay’s Haverstraw Precinct regiment of the Orange County militia in May 1778. Cooper also was named in April 1778 as one of the New York commissioners for detecting and defeating conspiracies.

3Albert Pawling served as major of Col. William Malcom’s Additional Continental Regiment from 1777 to 1779.

4This sentence is written in the left margin of the manuscript.

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