George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 13 January 1779

From Major General Stirling

Middle Brook [N.J.] Jany 13th 1779

Dear Sir

I have had the honour of receiveing your Excellency’s letter of the 8th Inst. I had before the receipt of it directed the Clothier to make out a Return of every article he has on hand which I expect in a day or two. I had also directed Returns to be made out of the defeciencies of every Corps that the whole wants may be seen at one Veiw, these last I have got all excepting one Regiment in Scots. I have ordered Nothing to [be] delivered but the defecient Shoes, they Could not do longer without them. the Officers are very presg for the blankets but I have told them must patience ’till your Excellency’s Return. I find it necessary indeed to Check, for they would many of [them] draw Six months Shoes before hand, ’tho’ they should the other Corps barefooted, a Strong Instance of it has Just appeared in the Pensilvania troops, they have each man two pairs & 700 pair on hand, and now put in their Return for 1500 pair More. a Similar trick <mutilated> discovered in another Corps.

Leiut. Col. North Marched this Morning <mutilated>0 Men Rank & file for Tinton falls in <mutilated>th County, I have furnished him with <mutilated> Instructions for the Several purposes <mutilated>ed by your Excellency and have wrote <mutilated> & Capt. Burrows to give him every Adv<mutilated> in their powers.1

I now enclose Several letters which I received last Night,2 and am your Excellencys Most Humble Servant


P.S. forageing goes on very well & without any discontent to the Country & excepting in one Instance I have not a Complaint & that was one of the Underforragers of his own mere Motion & without any order went & Seized all the forrage a farmer had. I have given him up to the Civil Authority.


1Stirling enclosed the following draft of his instructions of this date to Lt. Col. Caleb North: “1st you are to take Command of a party of Two hundred and fifty Men properly Officer’d and Equiped agreable to General Orders of yesterday which are to parade at Nine oClock to Morrow Morning at the Grand Parade, and proceed with them by the Nearest Route to Tinton Falls in the County of Monmouth in this State.

“2d One of the great Objects of your Command is to prevent any Intercourse between that County and the City of New York or any other place in possession of the Enemy. It is Certain that great quantities of provision of Various Species have dureing the last fall and this Winter been Carried from that County into N. York and that great quantities of Merchandize have been received from thence in Return; this trade so far as lyeth in the power of your utmost Vigilance must be Stoped. I am not so well acquainted where the Quarters of your Main body Should be, but I think it probable you will find Tinton falls & that Neighbourhood as proper as any, nor where your out Guards should be placed most effectually to answer the Above purposes, But Major Howel who is now at the last mentioned place, and whom I have desired (After dismissing his Guard) to Stay a day or two with you will give you all the Information & Advice in his power. not only with regard to Stationing your troops but of the people, who are to be trust’d & who may be employd in gaining Intelligence &c. Capt. Burrows who is at Middletown point I have also desired to give you his best Assisstance.

“3d After Obtaining the best Information you Can and haveing a Veiw of the Country yourself, you will post your troops in such manner as will best Answer the before mentioned purposes and the Security of the whole, for you must remember that as you will be a troublesome Neighbour to some of them, you may expect they will endeavour to get rid of you.

“4th You will then with the Utmost Vigilance endeavour to detect and prevent all Intercourse whatever between the people of that County & the Enemy; particularly to prevent any provision going in to them. In Case you detect any person attempting to Carry any provisions or any other Necessaries to the Enemy without leave in writeing from the Commander in Cheif you are to Seize the property and have it Condemned or Adjuged by a Magistrate for the benefit of your Self and party the person or persons Attempting to Carry it in is to be Secured if possible, and information as soon as possible to be given to the Commander in Cheif in this State thereof, who will get the Attorney General to prosecute. one half the fines will be for the benefit of yourself & party.

“5th In Case you detect any person bringing any Merchandize from the Enemy, you are to Secure the person or persons and the Goods and to Carry him or them before the next Civil Magestrate for Judgment, the person is to be Secured untill the Attorney Genl Can have Notice to prosecute or you may deliver him over to the Clerk of the peace for the County. the Goods you will not dispose of untill you have sent a list of them to the Commander in Cheif in this State and have his directions thereon.

“6th you are most Strictly enjoyned not to Suffer any property to be Seized or taken out of the hands of the Owner or possessor, but upon the Strongest probability of its Comeing within one or other of the above Cases. In Casses of Doubt you are to Cause the goods to be Secured with as little Inconvenience or damage to the possessor as possible, and Appelate to the Civil Magistrate for Judgment.

“7th You are not to Suffer any flag of Truce to go into the Enemy without the Commander in Cheifs order, nor are you to Suffer any flag to be received in that County from them, unless it be from a Vessel in distress and then she is to be Strictly Guarded and the people not Suffered to Mix or Communicate with the people of the Country.

“8th You are to have Officers & men Staitioned at proper places for observing the Movements of the Enemy’s Shipping wether going out from or into New York Harbour, who are daily to report to you whatever Occurences Come within their knowledge of which you are to keep a Journal, you are Also to gain whatever other Intelligence you can, and on any thing Material happening you are to transmit an Account thereof, to head Quarters with a Copy of your Journal, Major Howel & Capt. Burrow will inform you of proper places & persons for these purposes.

“9th In Case of any of the Enemy’s Vessels Comeing on Shore or being wrecked on the Coast of the County of Monmouth you are to Seize & Secure the Vessel & Cargo for the United States, and send the Most exact Account you can of the Same to the Commander in Cheif in this State. If you have reason to apprehend any danger of the Vessel falling into the hands of the Enemy, you are after takeing or Secureing the Sails Riging & Cables to Set fire to her. a proper Gratuity will be given to any party Concerned in Seizeing & Saveing such Vessel & Cargo the like encouragement will be given to any people of the Country who may Assist therein” (DLC:GW).

2Stirling enclosed a letter from Capt. Lewis J. Costigin to Col. Matthias Ogden, dated 28 Dec. 1778 at Staten Island, N.Y.: “The uncommon hard weather has prevented my geting to New York, and no boat has come from there so cannot say any thing regarding the Packet.

“Twenty One sail of the West India fleet are a shore at the Narrows on this Island, not more than four or five will be got off—The English fleet sail’d yesterday—No Appearance of the Cork fleet as yet—<I> have settled every thing here about person’s going from this side—however you must not stop your Boys at Once, but break them of[f] by degree’s” (DLC:GW).

Also enclosed was a letter from Costigin to Ogden, dated 30 Dec. 1778 at New York: “Herewith you will recieve the news Papers, which contain ev’ry public matter since the Arrival of the Packet.

“You can best judge the substance, I would only Observe that the Inhabitants in general are now confirm’d they will not leave this place.

“Great distress among the ships prepared, for England and the west India’s, upwards of Twenty are lost upon staten Island, and Eight or ten in this Harbour and on Long Island—many seamen Perish’d.

“There is very little flour or bread left for the Army, and they now make use of Pease in its place.

“Genl Vaughan is moving to the east end of Long Island not as yet got far, owing to the Extreme Cold, Infants having froze in the mother’s Arm’s on the March.

“It is reported that the seventh and sixty third Regts are to be sent as a reinforcement to staten Island, which they are in great concern for, as the river between it and Jersey is shut.

“Indisposition and want of conveyance prevented my writing sooner—the remainder of the fleet sail’d on Monday last” (DLC:GW).

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