George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 25 December 1778

From Major General Stirling

Middlebrook [N.J.] Decemr 25th 1778

Dear Sir

I received your Excellencys letter and Instructions of the 21st which you may be Assured will have my Strict Attention. Dr McHenry will forward to your Excellency a letter he received for you from Major General Reidesel.1 I have sent Capt. Tilton of the 9th Pensilvania Regiment to Accompany the General to the place of his destination in Virginia.2 and have ordered a Guard to Escort him from Sussex Court house to Sherards ferry, where an Another Composed of reinlisted Men going to Virginia will releive them. Teams will Also be at that place to Carry them all the Way thro’ which will Save Trouble Time & Expence.

I shall herewith send the last New York News papers, the distress of the Tories is Evident from their publications, that the Army is out of bread is Confirmed by the lesser Z whom I saw yesterday, he says there has been none Issued for the last fornight Rice is Issued in leiu of it and that growing Scarce, they depend for a relief or rather Supply of flower on the Arrival of some Ships which are said to have Sailed Upwards of three Months ago from England.

Lady Stirling Joins me in the Compts of the Season to yourself & Mrs Washington and in the Most Sincere Wishes that you may enjoy Many & happy years. I have the honor to be your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servt


P.S. I hear General Phillips is also on the Road to Virginia, I shall send another officer with Similar Instructions to Accompany him & the like orders as to Waggons, it will prevent his being under any Necessity of Stoping or Sending here for those purposes.

In place of Capt. Tilton, Capt. Brown of the first Virginia State Regiment goes to Accompany Genl Reidesel.3


1James McHenry wrote to GW from Middlebrook on 26 Dec.: “A messinger from Governor Clinton going to Philada gives me an opportunity of transmitting two letters from Major Genl Riedesel to your Excellency with the stepts which have been taken to accommodate the Brunswick Genl and Madame de Riedesel.

“I also have the honor to inclose some information of the enemies corps at New-York and its dependencies” (MdAA: McHenry Collection).

The first enclosed letter from Maj. Gen. Riedesel to GW is undated, and concerns the transportation of himself and his wife from Boston to Charlottesville, Va., with the rest of the Convention Army. It reads: “Les Soins et attentions que Votre Excellence a eû pour les Trouppes de Son Altesse Serenissime Monseigneur le Duc de Bronswic, Sous mes Ordres, m’oblige de lui en faire mes Sinceres remercimens, je pleigne seulement que l’arrangement de Comptes a Cambridge, m’a deprivé de la Satisfaction de lui Temoignes personnellement mes respectueuses Egards a Fischkill comme des autres Officiers ont eû ce plaisir.

“Commes les Affaires ci devant mentionné, m’ont obligé de rester en Arrierre, et de faire le Voyage seul, avec Ma famille, et les Personnes appartenantes au General Staff Bronswicais, le Major General Gates, qui commande maintenant a Boston, a eû l’attention pour Madame de Riedesel qu’Elle m’accompagne et pour moi, de nous donner auci Sur le Voyage, Son Aide de Camp le Colonel Troupp, pour nous garrantir contre tout desagreable Evenements, de nous assister en procurent Sur le voyage touttes les comodites de meme que la quantite des Chariots accordé du Major General Gates pour le Transport de mon Equipage et celle des Personnes attaché a ma Personne.

“Plus que nous nous eloignons de l’Endroit ou le Major General Gates commande moin l’authorite du Colonel Troup a du Poid, de meme que des Affairs particuliers retiennent le Colonel Troup a Morris Town, de sorte que Ses Circonstances m’obligent d’implorer les bontes de votre Excellence, et j’ose bien prier Votre Excellence, de m’envoyer un Officier pour accompagner Madame de Riedesel et moi jusqu’a dans la Virginie a l’Endroit de notre destination, munîe de l’authorite et plein pouvoir de Votre Excellence, de nous procurer les Memes Comodites, et les Voitures accordé, comme le Colonel Troup a eû jusqu’ici.

“J’envoi<e> avec ma tres humble requisition mon Aide de Camp le [ ] qui pourra revenir avec l’Officier que Votre Excellence m’accordera pour cet Effet, me retrouver a Sussex Court Haus, ou je m’arretterais jusqu’a leur retour.

“La Generosite et Politesse publiquement, connûe de Votre Excellence, ne me laisse pas douter un moment qu’Elle accordera ma tres humble prierre, pour là qu’Elle S’aurais Toutte la reconnoissence possible” (Nieders. Staatsarchiv in Wolfenbûttel Archivbezeichnung, Germany).

Another letter from Riedesel to GW, written on 19 Dec. at “Newburry,” referred to two soldiers from his regiment in American hospitals: “Le Capitain Pölnitz qui commande Mon Regiment d’Infanterie me fait le Rapport, qu’il a eté obligé de delivrer dans l’hopital de Fish Kill, deux Soldats de mon Regiment nomme <Rohd> de la Compagnie du Lt Col: Spe<lt> et Keyenberg de la Compagnie de Pölnitz.

“Comme Notre Station en Virginie est Si eloignée de Fish Kill, qui Sera impossible que Ses deux Soldats apres leurs retablissement pourroit nous rejoindre je le regarderois comme un Effet des bontés de Votre Excellence, si Elle voulait donner Ses Ordres, que Ses deux Malades, et si peutetre des Autres ont eté <blessé> sur la marche dans des Hospitaux Americains qui seront apres leurs retablissement envoyé New York, ou ils seront echangé, contre un nombre pareille ou en Cas qu’un echangé ne pourroit pas etre effectué, ils doivent etre envoyé en Virginie, sur les Vaisseaux Canadiennes qui ameneront notre Equipage de Rhode Island en Virginie, Nos Malades laissé en Arrierre a se trouvent de meme Sur Ses Vaisseaus, et seront transporté par cette facon en Virginie.

“Je reconnaitrais l’aprobation de ma demande pour un Effet de Votre bonte” (Niedersachishen Staatsarchiv Wolfenbutter, Germany).

A copy of Stirling’s reply to Riedesel, written at Middlebrook, N.J., on 24 Dec., reads: “In the Absence of His Excellency General Washington I have had the Honor to receive your Letter to him by your Aid De Camp Lieutenant Cleive. I have in Consequence thereof given every Order I can think off to make the Journey of Yourself your Family, and Staff as agreeable and as comfortable as Circumstances will possibly admit off—It would have made me happy to have done more, and to have had the Pleasure of entertaining you and Madam Ridessell at my Quarters. But the Season of the Year and the Necessity of your Proceeding on your Route forbids me giving you that Invitation—With every Wish for the Happiness of your self and Family” (DLC:GW).

2William Tilton of Philadelphia had entered the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment as a first lieutenant with a commission dating from July 1776; he was promoted to captain-lieutenant in October 1777 and resigned in January 1779.

3Windsor Brown (Robert Windsor Brown; d. 1785), a native of Ireland who lived in Alexandria and Williamsburg, Va., among other places in that state, was appointed a first lieutenant in the Virginia state marines in June 1776 and served until the end of the year. In February 1777 he was appointed a captain in the 1st Virginia State Regiment, and he served in that capacity until January 1781. He subsequently held a series of different commands, including as captain of a company of Dinwiddie County, Va., militia, in 1781; as Virginia commissary of military stores in 1781; and as captain of a company of Col. Charles Dabney’s Virginia State Legion from 1782 until April 1783.

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