George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Thomas Clark, 4–7 December 1778

To Colonel Thomas Clark

Elizabeth Town [N.J.]1 4th[–7] Decemr 1778.


As the Convention Troops will have passed above you by the time this reaches you, the object of your Station at the Clove will have been effected. You will therefore be pleased to move down to Paramus with the Carolina Brigade and quarter your Men in as compact a manner as the situation of the Buildings will permit. You shall, upon my arrival at Middle Brook receive more particular instructions. I would recommend it to you, as soon as you have taken post, to make yourself acquainted with the Roads leading to the North River and have pickets established upon them at proper distances from you. You are in no danger from any other quarter. Should the Enemy, move up the River in any considerable force, you are immediately to fall back to your former position at Sufferans and send your Baggage to Pompton—Colo. Morgan furnished Mr Erskine at Ringwood Iron Works with a guard of a serjeant and 12.2 be pleased to send the like number to releive them. They are to remain there during the Winter, as Mr Erskine will be compleating some valuable surveys for the public; Be pleased to make use of all means to cut off the intercourse between the Country and New York. You are upon no account to permit any inhabitant of the States of New York or New Jersey to pass to New York without permissions under the hands of their respective Governors—Upon your arrival at Paramus you are to send the inclosed to Colo. Febiger at Hackinsac. It directs him to join his Brigade, as soon as you have taken post.3 I am &c.

Paramus [N.J.] 7th Decemr 1778


The Enemy having gone down the River, you will immediately proceed to put the foregoing into execution. Be pleased to let the 200 Men under Colo. Mabane,4 if they are not already withdrawn, remain near Kings ferry until they are relieved by a party, which will be sent over by Genl McDougal. I must beg you to be particularly careful to prevent the Soldiers from burning the fences of the farmers & committing other disorderly acts. I am Sr Yr Mo. Obet


If colo. Mabane should have been withdrawn from Kings ferry be pleased to leave an officer & 50 Men at Kakiate until you receive further orders.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s and Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; Varick transcript (not including the postscript), DLC:GW. Meade wrote the draft of the postscript.

1Pvt. Elijah Fisher of GW’s guard wrote in his diary on 3 Dec.: “We left Romepawe [Ramapo] and after twenty miles March we Come to Mr. Goods in Prequannackit [Pequannock].” On 4 Dec. he wrote: “We left Mr. Goods and after twenty miles March we Come to Mr. Lott’s in Troy and Pitcht our tents” (Godfrey, Commander-in-Chief’s Guard description begins Carlos E. Godfrey. The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard: Revolutionary War. Washington, D.C., 1904. description ends , 287). GW was on the road to Middlebrook, N.J., where he arrived on 11 December.

2The Ringwood Iron Works was established in 1742 on the north branch of the Pequannock River at Ringwood in what is now Passaic County, New Jersey. Robert Erskine took over operation of the works in 1771 and became a major supplier of iron to the United States during the Revolutionary War, producing, among other things, chains to fortify the Hudson River. After Erskine’s death in 1780, his widow Elizabeth assumed control of the works; Robert Lettis Hooper, Jr., managed them after he married her in 1781.

3GW’s letter of this date to Col. Christian Febiger reads: “Colo. Clarke will give you notice of his arrival at Paramus with the Carolina Brigade. You are immediately upon the receipt thereof to repair to Middle Brook and join the Brigade to which you belong” (DLC:GW).

4Robert Mebane (c.1745–1781) was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 7th North Carolina Regiment in November 1776, transferred to the 1st North Carolina Regiment in June 1778, and transferred to the 3d North Carolina Regiment in June 1779. He was captured at the siege of Charleston, S.C., in May 1780 and exchanged in the early summer of 1781. Mebane was killed by a Tory near Cape Fear, N.C., in October 1781.

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