George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 11 October 1778

From Major General Stirling

Aquackanoc [N.J.] Octobr 11: 1778 3 oClo’ p.m.

Dear Sir

I omitted writeing to your Excellency yesterday as I was in hourly expectation of receiveing Intelligence from Sandy Hook, Capt. Burrows whom I sent for that purpose is Just returned and brought the two enclosd letters from Major Howell,1 and on further examining he says that yesterday Morning at Nine oClock there were Six Capital Ships at Anchor on the out side the Hook, two more Ships of war & 14 transports within the hook. the Report among the troops on the hook that they are going to the West Indies and to Sail very soon,2 the rest of the Men of War & transports Still within and About the Narrows, that no Capital Ships have Sailed lately. That he has it from a person he can depend on that Governor Livingston has received an Express informing him that General Skinner with 500 Men and some Ships of force Entered Eggharbour this day Week, and burnt every Vessel or house for fifteen Miles up the River, that a very Valuable Cargo of a large prize lately brot in was destroyed. the Vessels which draw less Water went higher up the River and Poulaski’s Horse arriveing put a Stop to their progress and the Enemy thought proper to reimbark & go down the River.3 I am the more Surprized at their takeing them so much at Surprize, as Notice of this Expedition was at least a fortnight ago sent to Governor Livingston by General Maxwell, and as soon as I knew of it I put it in the Govrs power to make use of what troops were at prince Town & trentown on this Occasion. Two Classes of the Militia of Monmouth County are Now Out, they were to Assemble Yesterday, they will serve at least I hope to quiet Major Howels fears and give him an Oppertunity of Affording us some what better Intelligence. The Burning and destroying humour of the Enemy makes me Apprehend they will endeavour to give Eliza: Town a Stroke, the Moment I see I can with Safety do it, I will move some troops into that Quarter.

I have great reason to belive the Enemy are on the point of leaveing Bergen County, the deserters that have Come in this day & yesterday all agree that two Regiments embarked on the 9th Instant, the other Eight for the West Indies were to have embarked this day, but I suppose the Storm will prevent them,4 the deserters within these three days are about 18. Cheifly from the light Infantry & Granadier Companies of the Regiments ordered to embark the Officers of those Regts Baggage all on board, what little Baggage the Officers of the Army in Bergen County had with them was sent of[f] Yesterday, 100 flat Bottomed Boats at the landing near fort Lee. all the forageing Vessels gone down Hackensack River, only three or four Armed Vessels remain in it. most of these Circumstances are Confirmed by others who have been among them. some say ten, others fifteen Regiments are going to the West Indies, others speak of some Regiments going to Halifax.5 I am your Excellency’s Most Humble Servant



1One of these enclosures may have been Maj. Richard Howell’s letter to Brig. Gen. William Maxwell of 9 Oct., which contains a concise version of the intelligence that Howell conveyed to GW on that date (DLC:GW). The other enclosure has not been identified.

2Maj. Gen. James Grant’s West Indies expedition sailed from Sandy Hook on 3 November.

3For other accounts of the British expedition to Little Egg Harbor, N.J., which was led by Cdr. Henry Colins of the Royal Navy and Capt. Patrick Ferguson of the 70th Regiment of Foot, see Stirling to GW, 7, 14, and 22 Oct., and the notes to those documents.

4The ten regiments for Major General Grant’s West Indies expedition boarded their ships between 25 and 28 October. British captain John Peebles wrote in his diary entry for 10 Oct.: “Showery & blowy in the forenoon & heavy rain in the afternoon from the N.E.” In his entry for 11 Oct., he says that “it blew & rain’d hard all last night & today, could not keep ourselves dry; lay in bed 18 hours” (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 , 225; see also Krafft, Journal description begins Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft. 1882. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 65–66; Burgoyne, Diaries of Two Ansbach Jaegers description begins Bruce E. Burgoyne, ed. and trans. Diaries of two Ansbach Jaegers: Lieutenant Heinrich Carl Philipp von Feilitzsch and Lieutenant Christian Friedrich Bartholomai. Bowie, Md., 1997. description ends , 47; and Burgoyne, Eighteenth Century America description begins Bruce E. Burgoyne, trans. and ed. Eighteenth Century America, As Noted in the Diary of Chaplain Philipp Waldeck (1776-1780): A Hessian Report On the People, the Land, the War. Bowie, Md., 1995. description ends , 85).

5The Hessian Garrison Regiment von Seitz and the King’s Orange Rangers, a Loyalist corps commanded by Lt. Col. John Bayard, sailed to Halifax on 18 or 19 October.

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