George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel David Henley, 23 November 1778

From Colonel David Henley

Bedford [N.Y.] 23th Novemr 1778


I receivd your Letter of the 20 Inst. and one Inclosed for Sir Harry Clinton, which I forwarded by a flag—I now inclose to your Excellency the Information from some Deserters, which accounts seem to agree, that part of the British Fleet under Admiral Byron has return’d to York, and that they have sufferd greatly in a Storm: that they have relanded part of their troops again on Long Island, and are Building Hutts for their Winter Quarters.1

I expect daily some information that may be particular, and of Consequence. I am with all due Respect Your Excellencys most Obdt Hum. Servt

David Henley


1The enclosed, undated report of the “Enemys, strength, situation, Magazines, in and about New-York” lists “Regiments 8th Corps” as follows: the 57th and 17th Regiments of Foot at King’s Bridge; the 44th and 26th Regiments of Foot “Opposite Ft Washington”; the 7th Regiment of Foot “Betwixt the 9 & 10 mile Stones”; the 63rd Regiment of Foot and the Guards at “Bleaumandel’s”; “Ld Rawdney’s Corps” at “The Entrance of the City”; and “Emmericks Corps” at “This side K. Bridge.”

The report also indicates that Fort Washington contained “a small number of Hessians,” with one 18-pounder cannon; that Fort Independence contained “British[,] Hessians and part Robertson Corps—about 100 men,” with four 18-pounders and two field pieces; and that “Redoubt No. 6” contained a “Few Hessians.” It notes two magazines of forage, one at St. Paul’s Church and one at King’s Bridge, each nearly empty and supplied from Long Island. The report further indicates that provisions were on board transports, with no fresh food and only scarce supplies of salt provisions and bread.

The report also lists British shipping. The following ships were stationed in New York harbor: the 64-gun Ardent, “Admiral Gambiers Ship”; the 64-gun “Monthmouth”; the 74-gun Bedford, “dismasted by the late Storm”; the Richmond, “Main & Mizen Mast carried away when off the Capes Virginia”; the 14-gun Bowen, “Condemnd her Masts put on board the Amazon for jury masts, and She bound to England”; the 50-gun Roebuck, “Bound to England, with the Comiss[ioner]s”; the 28-gun Virginia, the 32-gun “Raileagh,” the 32-gun Emerald, the 36-gun Diamond, and the 16-gun Notlas, all “Bound on a Cruize.” The 20-gun Daphney was at Lloyd’s Neck; the 20-gun Unicorn was at Staten Island; the 50-gun Experiment was on the Hudson River with the 20-gun “Lyoness an Indiaman,” which was a “Guard Ship”; the 12-gun “Zæbra” was on the East River; “Two Ships of the Line . . . Reported both lately Dismasted,” were at the “Hook”; the 36-gun Apollo was at New York, “Dismasted sometime agone in the Action with Ct de Estaign”; the 28gun Lizard was also at New York, “near the Kings Yard and will not bare heading down,” along with four row gallies and a “Hallifax Brig”; the 18-gun New Broom, a former American privateer, was at New York; about eighty “Privateers and Tenders” were on the East River; and nine transports that “have returned since the late storms and are full of troops” were at the “Hook.”

The report continued: “Transports that fell down to the Hook, after laying there Eleven Days went to long Island, at which the troops landed, Brigade Major <Water> relanded at York with his Baggage, and guarded by me through the City.

“A small Fleet Man of War and Transports returned from Sea. All the Marines on Staten Island Embarkd the 18—Novr.

“The above is the Information of one Kingman, an American, belonging to the Bucks County Corps, and detached to the Kings Guards—He deserted from the Enemy the 19 Inst.

“The Yagers marched from the lines to Quarters at Long Island—A Regiment of New Levies were to march from the Lines, to their Quarters, and its reported that all the New Levies are to march to Winter Quarters—The 17844 British Regiments are to guard the lines, they now releive from these Corps, those at the lines every forty Eight Hours—A party of the Train lays at F. Washington from which they releive those of the Train at F. Independence.

“The above the Report of one Thoms Brown, who de<ser>ted from the 14 Virginia Regimt, when at Valley Forge, now from the Enemy<’s> 18 he is <mutilated>.

“Nine of the Transports that went out with the late Fleet return’d to the Hook with the troops—Great Confusion in the City, Constantly exchanging and removing troops from York to Staten and Long Island—Great Complain<ts> in the Army & Navy, for being reduced to two thirds Allowance, the reason for this short Allowance—many of their Victualing Transports taken by the French—they are often served with Rice in lieu of Bread—We are certain that no Cannon has been shipt from York—Twenty seven Transports have Orders to take on Board Sixty one Days provision for troops, many Reports where these are bound. But the General one is the West Indies.

“This is the Information of two intelligable Seamen, that was taken sometime agone in the Ship Hancock Capt Manly, and have made their Escape the 18 Inst.

“23—Since the above an Old Man an Inhabitant of the State came from York.

“He saw about six Hundred Co[r]d of Wood at the East River, about half that quantity at a Wharf on the N. River in a direct line from St. Pauls Church—He also says Seven Hundred Waggon Loads of Hay was sent to the Magazine near Kings Bridge, and that the troops are making there, in the City, and on long Island, every preparation for Winter Quarters.

“The General Officers that remain since the Embarkation at York—is Genl Clinton who quarters in York at White Hall, General Nephausen he quarters near Fort Washington—General Tryon betwixt the 9 & 10 Mile Stones in a large White House Genl Matthews he Commands the Guards” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries