George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Woodford, 13 October 1778

From Brigadier General William Woodford

Paramis [N.J.] 13th Octr 1778

Dear Genl

The Enemys Rear left the New Bridge this morning after seting Fire to their Redouts & Hutts, they took with them several of the Inhabitants, some by force, & others voluntarily went with them, I have had partys of Horse round them all Day, they are Just return’d & report that they are incamp’d in the English Neighbourhood, their Rear about three & a half Miles from the New Brid[g]e1—Lt Fauntleroy took two of their stragling Refugees, & Genl Grays Waggoner, who was returning to his quarters for a large Cheese of the Generals that had been left behind—I have only seen two Deserters to Day. I had ten in Yesterday, & expect a number have gone in to Clarks Town & it’s Neighbourhood—they generly agree in the same story, Vizt of 10 Regiments going to the West Indias immediately—one only contradicts that acct & says they are going to attack the Forts up North River—they likewise give out that they are to cut a quantity of wood near Burgen before they leave the Jerseys—a Number of flat Bottom Boats at Fort Lee were carrying over Troops last Night, & I have good reason to believe that they have been imploy’d in the same service to day. I shall imploy the Dragoons in the morning to gain Inteligence of their situation & designs, & if any thing worth communicating to your Excellency is discoverd, it shall be forwarded without Delay—I am sorry I omitted keeping an acct of the Deserters since I came over, but to speak within Bounds, I have given passes to upwards of Fifty at this post.

I took the liberty of conveying the inteligence of this move of the Enemy with out waiting for Lord Sterlings commands, as I thought your Excellency would wish to have the earliest notice of it.

I inclose your Excellency the New York paper of the 12th2—I am respectfully Your Excellencys Most Obedt humble Servt

Wm Woodford

ALS, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp John Laurens wrote on the third page of the manuscript: “Answd 15th—thanking him for the intelligence—and desiring instant advice of every interesting event—as every day brings us nearer to an important juncture.” That letter has not been found.

1Having finished its business, the British foraging expedition in New Jersey began withdrawing toward New York City on this date (see André, Journal description begins John André. Major André’s Journal: Operations of the British Army under Lieutenant Generals Sir William Howe and Sir Henry Clinton, June 1777 to November 1778. 1930. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 99). British captain John Peebles wrote in his diary that on 13 Oct., “we (the troops in Jersey) march’d between 7 & 8 by the left & carried our straw with us to the ground betwixt the main road & Fort Lee[.] the Gr[enadie]rs. occupied that ground where the Rebels were Hutted two years ago—

“Wednesday 14th. we march’d again in the morning to the ground near Bergen & some cross’d over from Powlis hook—some desertion in the Battn. these two days past 8 gone off—NB New Bridge & the two Redoubts near that were destroyed the evening befor we march’d—Maxwell with about 700 at Aquackinack & the Lord Stirling with 2 Brigades at Pyrhymas [Paramus].

“Thursday 15th. The troops crossing over all day from Powlis hook to Brooklyn we the Gr[enadie]rs. got over about 2 o’clock & march’d to our old ground” (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 , 226; see also Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 184, and Stirling to GW, 14, 15 Oct.).

2Woodford apparently enclosed a copy of the New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury for 12 October.

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