George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 5 October 1778

From Major General Stirling

Aquakanock [N.J.] Octobr 5th 1778 one oClock

Dear Sir

About Eight oClock this Morning we were Alarmed with Accounts of the Enemy’s Advanceg, thro’ugh Hackensack. soon after that about 300 of them were on the heights behind Arent Schuylers house.1 both Accounts prove true. that Body which Come thro’ Hackensack halted on the heights near the head of the polyfly about one Mile S.W. from Hackensack and about four miles N.E. from hence, and there remain by the last accounts; the party at Schuylers were there an hour ago.2 These Movements may be, to Cover their forrage Boats going down the River, as they have been grossly Insulted within these two or three days. I have sent for Colonel Dayton to Come up to the heights near Second River with the 3d & 4th Regts & what Militia is at Elizabeth Town, which I have reason to belive are very few. I wrote your Excellency Yesterday that the Militia here are reduced to a very small Number, and of my Application to Govr Livingston for some means of Supplying me with a larger Number, yet I have but little hopes of any reinforcement ’till it will [be] too late to prevent them at least forageing this Side of Hackensack River, and perhaps of pushing further, into the Country. I am your Excellency’s Most Humble Servt


ALS, DLC:GW. Stirling apparently sent Gov. William Livingston a copy of this letter (see Livingston to Stirling, 6 Oct., which is quoted in Stirling to GW, 9 Oct., n.2). If so, that copy has not been found.

1Arent Schuyler’s house was on New Barbadoes Neck about eight miles southwest of Hackensack. Although Schuyler had been chosen a member of the Bergen County committee of observation and correspondence in 1775, he was arrested as a Loyalist sympathizer in the summer of 1777 and spent some time in jail.

2British captain John Peebles says in his diary entry for this date: “two Battns. Light Infantry 1st. Grenadrs. one Battn. Guards, 33d. Regt. & 2d. Battn. 42d. all the Dragoons except an offr. & 20 & the Volunteers of Ireland—march’d this morng. & took post on the heights of Hackensack & about the Village while the Waggons were employed in carrying off the forage—staid there till the eveng. witht seeing any of the Enemy & return’d to our respective Encampments—they brot. off 240 waggon load of fine Hay” (Gruber, Peebles’ American War description begins Ira D. Gruber, ed. John Peebles’ American War: The Diary of a Scottish Grenadier, 1776–1782. Mechanicsburg, Pa., 1998. description ends , 224; see also William Woodford to GW, this date, and Stirling to GW, 6 Oct.). Arent Schuyler (1746–1803), a political moderate who had served on the Bergen County, N.J., committee of correspondence 1775–76, was arrested as a suspected Loyalist by order of the New Jersey council of safety in July 1777. He apparently was later released and returned to his house on New Barbadoes Neck near Second River (now Belleville), N.J., about eight miles southwest of the town of Hackensack.

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