George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Sullivan, 20 December 1778

From Major General John Sullivan

Providence Decemr 20th 1778

My Dear General

I have the Honor of Inclosing Your Excellencey a Letter from Lieut. Brownigg at New Port which will give your Excellencey the Number of Forces which went from New york also a Return of the Commissary at Newport which with making the proper allowances & Deductions will give their Numbers on Rhode Island which I have Calculated & think their Rank & File to amount to 59491—Mr Browniggs Letter will Show the Number of Regiments Left behind Their Numbers may Easily be Conjectured from one of Clintons orderly Books he mentions the Regiments in making his Arrangements for March which proves Mr Brownigg to be Right as to the Number of Regiments The Number of Each Company with General Grant being Compleated to 56 Rank & File will Render the Number with him Certain The Regiments Left behind must be weak but they far Exceed any Calculation we have Ever made—I have Ever Supposed their Numbers to Exceed the Common Conjectures & I think the Inclosed papers will warrant the Supposition. Those papers were taken in two vessels one of which with 13 Men on Board was taken by Lieut. Chapin of Colo. Sherburns Regt with 6 men in a Whale Boat the other was wreckd on the South Shore with a British Captain 3 Lieuts. & about 40 Seamen & Soldiers on Board as I have not time to Copy I beg your Excy to Direct a Copy of Browniggs Letter & the Return to be forwarded to Congress2 I Inclose your Excellencey the Return of Browns or the Prince of Wales Regt by Comparing the Numbers of that with the Comys Return you can find a Medium for Calculating the Strength of the other Corps I have the Honor to be Dear General with the most profound Respect your Excellys most obedt Servt

Jno. Sullivan

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 160.

1An extract of a letter of 27 Nov. from Lt. John Studholme Brownrigg to an unknown recipient, along with an “Abstract of provisions issued from his Majesty’s stores at Rhode Island from 28 Novr to 4 Decr 1778,” by Daniel Wier (d. 1781), who had been appointed commissary general to the British forces in North America in February 1777 and sailed to America the following month, is in DNA:PCC, item 59.

2Congress read this letter and its enclosures on 6 Jan. 1779 and resolved to return it to GW (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:29).

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