George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 14 October 1778

From Major General Stirling

Hackensack [N.J.] Octobr 14: 1778. one oClo’ p.m.

Dear Sir

I received your Excellency’s letter of the 12th yesterday Evening, I deferred writeing ’till the Motions of the Enemy was reduced to a Certainty. I have two parties of horse following their Rear, who send me word they had been at fort Lee where the Enemy had been Embarking all Night, the light Infantry, Granadiers, & horse are gone to Powles hook, their Rear was near Bergen about two hours ago.1 I enclose a letter from Col: Dayton, and another I have Just received from Govr Livingston.2 by every Circumstance I can Collect a grand embarkation will immediately take place at New york, but I have within these two hours obtained some particulars which may be depended on vizt that the ten Regiments so long talked of as under Orders to Embark, were really ordered by Ministry four or five Months ago, but the Expedition (as its Called) remonstrated against, however a frigate arrived last Saturday with possitive Orders for its takeing place, and the embarkation is to be Compleated on friday. some talk of its being against S. Carolina, but belived more generally to be for the West Indies.3 A Brigade of Hessians and two Regiments of New Levies are actually embarked for Hallifax,4 with the remainder of troops they to keep possession of New york & Rhode Island and to do all the Mis[c]heif they can by detachments along shore & by sudden incursions, their own expression among the facetious ones is “we are to turn it into a Buccanering War.” their Next they say is to be at Eliza. Town & New Ark the 10th 44th & 52d are intirely drafted & the Officers gone home, the 10 Regiments to be Compleated to 56 Rank & file a Company. I have sent Col: dayton to Elizabeth Town with two Regiments the other two will follow to morrow Morning, Genl Woodfords Brigade will go to New Ark, Col. Spencers Regiment with 12 light horse to Hackensack where he will be able to Collect Intelligence. Moylans horse to Westfeild where there is plenty of forrage Collected. If your Excellency approves this disposition, it will be proper to order the Baggage of Genl Woodfords Brigade to Come forward, as they have Nothing with them; their Artillery would be Usefull, but I know not how to get it down unless some troops are Comeing this way. I hear Col. Baylor is in a fair way of recovering. I am your Exeys Most Obt Servt



1For other accounts of the withdrawal of this British foraging expedition from New Jersey to New York City between 13 and 15 Oct., see William Woodford to GW, 13 Oct., and note 1 to that document.

2Both of these enclosures are in DLC:GW. Col. Elias Dayton wrote Stirling on 12 Oct. from Second River, N.J., that “I was last night assured by a person from New York who is conceived to be a great friend to the British, that it might be relied upon, an expedition with the fleet was now in view—that a great number of persons had been impress’d and put on board—and that negroes (who were said to be hands) were embark’d. My informant really believes their design to be against South Carolina or the French fleet at Boston.

“Part of the army, posted near Hackinsack had return’d to New York and the remainder was hourly expected. “I this minute receiv’d your lordship’s letter of this day[.] the order for a command to Elizabeth town, shall be duly executed[.] I could wish the march of the Regts would take place, as this circumstance of the enemy’s movement from New bridge makes the prospect of a visit thither more clear.”

Gov. William Livingston wrote Stirling from Ten Mile Run, N.J., on 11 Oct. that “I informed your Lor[d]ship last night, that I had preferred your orders for the Troops in the vicinity of Trentown or Princeton marching to Egg harbour to those for their march to Camp on account of the advice I had of the Enemy’s motions in the former region. But I forgot to give you the Intelligence I had; which is this. That they were about 2000 strong. That they had 5 Ships 1 Brigg 4 sloops 2 row gallies 5 quarter gallies, & 11 boats that carry 25 men each. That they had burnt the buildings at chesnut neck the saltworks at osborns & Faulkenbridge Island; and that they give out they have Instructions to destroy all the salt works on that shore. That they have also burnt the buildings at the mouth of Bass river, and returned to their shipping with what stock they could get. That in the Evening of the 8th instant 5 sail of their vessels went into great Egg harbour—I am surprized from the early intelligence I transmitted to those parts of the Enemy’s intended Enterprize, of which I had an account from Staten Island that our people have not made a more vigorous Defence.

“By a resolve of Congress of the 6th Instant, I am requested to use my utmost diligence in obtaining the best information upon Oath of the treatment of Lieut. Collo. Baylor and his party by the Enemy which attacked them. If it should fall in your Lordship’s way to be able to direct any good Intelligencers to me for that purpose I shall take it as a favour.

“The affair of the Fornication has been fully observed upon in the Letter which I had the honour to write to you last night.” Livingston’s letter to Stirling of 10 Oct. has not been identified. For other accounts of the British expedition to Little Egg Harbor, N.J., see Stirling to GW, 7 Oct., and note 2 to that document, and Stirling to GW, 22 Oct., and note 2 to that document. For Congress’s resolution of 6 Oct. directing Livingston to investigate the British treatment of Col. George Baylor, see Livingston to GW, 13 Oct., and note 4 to that document. For Stirling’s passing of Livingston’s request for assistance to Dr. David Griffith, see Stirling to GW, 16 Oct., and for Griffith’s report of his findings in his letter to Stirling of 20 Oct., see Baylor to GW, 19 Oct., n.1. For the British attack on 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.

3The previous Saturday was 10 October. The following Friday was 16 October. Maj. Gen. James Grant’s West Indies expedition, which consisted of ten British regiments, embarked between 25 and 28 Oct. and sailed from Sandy Hook on 3 November. For the British ministry’s previous orders regarding this expedition, see Secret Instructions for Henry Clinton, 21 Mar. 1778, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 15:74–76; Clinton to George Germain, 23 May 1778, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 15:126; and Germain to Clinton, 5 Aug. 1778, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 15:177–78.

4The 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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