George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel David Henley, 19 November 1778

From Colonel David Henley

Bedford [N.Y.] 19th Novemr 1778


I have forwarded to your Excellency the intelligence of Capt. Walls and Lieut. Williams, and what they observd of the Enemys movements, could wish it more particular and satisfactory, I will endeavour to gain the best information and take proper pains in this important Business.1

General Huntington has wrote to Col. Sherman, informing him as the arrangement is now taking place in the Connecticut line—[h]is presence is necessary with the Regiment he’s annexed to—Col. Shearman has applyed to me for leave to go to the Brigade—But as there is no other Field Officer to that Regiment he now Commands, think proper to detain him till he is relievd.

I beg to know if the General Orders Issued for Furloughing of Officers extends to this Command, as some have applyed for furloughs.2 But not having receivd a Copy of such Orders, I refered these Gentlemen for an Answer from your Excellency—I receivd your Excellency’s Letter of the 18 Inst. last Night, and your Excellency may be Assured, I will pay the Strictest attention to it in every Instance, and as this may be a time that requires the greatest deligence and good Conduct—I will be active in discovering every movement; or any design the Enemy may attempt—And for this purpose think proper to detach Major Stewart of Col. Parkers Regimt with a hundred Men to Claps Tavern, about Eleven Miles in my front, to have him well officered, that he may send out scouts on every Road, to pay every attention to the movement of the Enemy, particularly Hudsons River, to take up all Deserters from the troops of the Convention, and to keep a constant Communication with Col. Enos at Horse Neck—I shall give him Orders to move his position as often as he may think proper, and particularly to draw off at some distance in the rear at Night—I shall continue to relieve this Detachment till the troops of the Convention have crossd the North River, or till I receive your Excellencys Instructions to the Contrary. I am with all due Respect Your Excellencys most Obdt and Hum. Servt

David Henley


1The enclosed intelligence report reads: “Lieut. Williams of Colo. Graham Regimt returnd from towards the Enemys Lines Tuesday th[e] 16 [17] Inst. and Reports—

“That on Thursday the 11 [12] Inst. he sent into New York, a man of Confidence, who informs he was told when there, a number of Hessians to as many as three Regiments embark’d, and that on Fryday and saturday last; he saw the Cannon taken from the Fort at Bunkers Hill (alias Byards) Carried to the landing place, from thence he heard they were to be shipt, the Destination of these; and the Hessian troops unknown.

“Lord Rawdneys Regiment which lay at the sign of the Dove, he heard were under marching Orders for New York, himself saw some of the Baggage on its way there—a Hessian Regiment afterwards march’d to relieve Lord Rawdney.

“Col. Robertson Regiment lay encamped at Harlems heigths—a Regiment of British troops lay just beyond Kingsbridge, these have the charge of Fort Independence—The troops this side Kings Bridge remain in their former position consisting of Emmericks, Sincove, and Worms Corps. Col. Worm was pressing Waggons last sunday; to remove his sick to New York, some Transports fell down to the Hook last Wednesday—He had an Opportunity of seeing Lord Cornwallis Baggage go on Board a Ship, and he heard his Lordship was to sail with the Commissioners soon—he Observd the troops Hutting, and building stables for Horses near Kings bridge and was inform’d they had provided large Magazines of Forrage, and large quantitys of Wood.”

The next portion of the report is dated 18 Nov.: “Capt: Walls of Col. Gist Regiment Returnd from Burgin Reports—On Monday 7 OClock a Regiment marchd from above the Bridge, Two Regiments from the Ground near Fort Washington; with their Baggage, to as many as Twelve or Fourteen Waggons; towards New York they Conducted their march; and in silence without beat of Drum—they burnt their straw and some of their Hutts as on their march.

“He observd the situation of their Camp to this strength and disposition. Two Regiments above the Bridge, one on spruce Hill, another about a Mile below Fort Washington, Two at Bleaumandolls, which is the whole Encampt on the Island, the 64 Regimt Guards Powlars Hook. He Observd a small Encampment on staten Island to as large as a Regiment.

“A Guard Ship of Twenty Guns was anchor’d near the Island—The Fleet at North River Consists of a 64, which is Admiral Graves, Two Fifty Guns Ships, three Frigates and Nineteen Transports, He saw a large Number of Vessels in the East River—a Twenty Gun Ship came up the East River Monday 11 OClock and came to an Anchor of Morrisany—Two Twenty Guns Ships came up the Narrows which he thinks are the same that Conveaoyd the Fleet that saild on Thursday, one with her Masts carried away, the other her Riggen much Damaged, they went into the East River, and fired, after which three large Ships of War, which lay below the Narrows came to sail, and fir’d as they went out.

“He had a pœrfect View of Fort Washington, and is certain there is no Cannon, or any Men in it: But in all their Redoubts about the Bridge they keep Guards, and he plainly saw their Sentries—He observd the troops Hutting and building Stables for Horses, he also saw large Quantitys of Wood, and some Forage” (DLC:GW).

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