George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 17 October 1778

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Quarters Fredericksburg 17th October 1778

Dear Sir

I have recd your favs. of the 6th and 11th instants.

The enemy have withdrawn themselves from Jersey and are now employed in making a very considerable embarkation. It is said to consist of ten British Regiments compleated to their full complement by the incorporation of the Regts they will have their Grenadier and Light Companies added to them and will therefore amount to between five and six thousand Men. Some accounts make the intended embarkation amount to five and some to seven Brigades. It is the currt report that they are destined for the West Indies, and I am of that opinion myself; but to be prepared, should their views be upon Boston, I shall immediately order a detachment to move slowly Eastward, as far as Connecticut River.1 I expect your next will inform me what appears to be the intention of sending the transports lately to New port. I am &c.

p.s. Yours of the 14th is just come to hand. Sir Henry Clinton was kind enough to forward me the offers of Grace and pardon some days ago.2 I made no scruple of communicating the Contents to the Officers of the Army, as I was sure they could have no ill effects at this time of day. I will not pretend to direct the line of conduct to be pursued by the Civil powers.

Be pleased to signify to Lt Colo. Smith that the Resignation of Lt Jeremiah Reed of the Regt under his commd is accepted from the 26th Sepr 1778 and that of Capt. Joshua Orne from the 1st October 1778. Their discharges are to be indorsed upon their Commissions, provided they have settled their Accounts with the public & Regt.3

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; copy (extract), MHi: Heath Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The extract in the Heath Papers, which includes all of the letter except the postscript, was enclosed in Sullivan’s letter to Heath of 19 Oct., which also is in the Heath Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

1For GW’s ordering of Gates’s and McDougall’s divisions to march as far as Hartford in order to be able to support the French fleet at Boston sooner in case of need, see GW to d’Estaing, 16 Oct., and note 2 to that document; GW to Gates, 18, 20 Oct.; General Orders, 19 and 22 Oct.; and GW to McDougall, 23 October.

2GW is referring to the British peace commissioners’ manifesto and proclamation of 3 Oct. (see GW to George Clinton, 8 Oct., and note 4 to that document).

3Jeremiah Reed, who had served as a sergeant in Col. John Glover’s Massachusetts regiment from May to December 1775 and as an ensign in the 14th Continental Regiment during 1776, had been appointed a lieutenant in Col. William Raymond Lee’s Additional Continental Regiment in January 1777. Joshua Orne, Jr. (1757–1805), of Marblehead, Mass., had left Harvard College in the spring of 1775 to become a second lieutenant in Glover’s Massachusetts regiment, and after serving as a first lieutenant in the 14th Continental Regiment during 1776, he had been appointed a captain in Lee’s regiment in January 1777. Orne was a member of the Massachusetts General Court in 1790 and 1797. He died on 25 Dec. 1805 from a fall down the steps of the American consulate in Bordeaux, France (see Papers, Presidential Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 17 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 6:88).

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