George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 5 February 1779

To Major Benjamin Tallmadge

Head Quarters Middle Brook 5th Feby 1779

Dear Sir

I have your favr of the 28th ulto inclosing C—— No. 7.

Altho’ he does not at present purpose giving any further intelligence untill the middle of March, yet I hope if any thing of importance should come to his knowledge in the mean time he will communicate it.1 If you have an opportunity of letting him know this, be pleased to signify it to him. I am Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NNGL; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the cover of the LS, which is addressed: “To Major Talmadge 2d Regt Light Dragoons Durham.” On the address the name “Fairfield” is struck out and “Durham” is written below it. The LS is docketed: “Recd 14th Feby 79.”

1GW’s hopes for an earlier communication were fulfilled. In a letter of 26 Feb. from Setauket, N.Y., labeled “No. 8” and docketed in GW’s handwriting, Samuel Culper (Abraham Woodhull) wrote to Tallmadge: “Your No. 4. & 5 came to hand. The former forgot to acknowledge the recept of in my No. 7. in turn, the latter have carffully observed, and Shall follow your directions. I Shall now endevour to give you as an Authentic [report] of affairs and transactions that hath Past Since my No 7 (togather with the State of the Enemy) as I Possibly Can—The Troops with in there lines, have not bene augmented by any arrivals from Urope the Number consequentely remaining the Same Save two Companys of light Infantry from Rhode Island, Landed on Long Island, and marched imediately for Southhampton. About fifty came down to Newyork Said to be deserters from Genl Burgoins Army—The force of the Enemy on this, Staten, Powles Hook & York Islands, are as follows, And think you may very Safely rely upon it. as I have bene for Some time engaged to find out the true State of the Enemy. And to correct my former Accounts—44. 57—63 [three British regiments of foot] Colls Robinson & Emmerick with three German Regm. All Commanded by Genl Tryon—are cantond from Kings Brig. to and with in four miles of the City. From them Posts to and with in the City are two Battallions of Guards 23 Regm. Welch Fusileers, The Volunteers of Ireland Called Lord Rhoden’s [Rawdon’s] Regm. and four German Regm. Also in the City are Genls Clinton, Jones, Mathews, Delancy, Knyphousen, With one other German Genl I think his Name is Smyth [Martin Conrad Schmidt]—64 Regm. Powles Hook. 26. 37. [British regiments of foot] one German, Colls Buskarks [Abraham Van Buskirk’s] & Bartons with Genls Lesslie & Skinner on Staten Island—Long Island at Brooklin Ferry one German Regm.—33 [British regiment of foot] at Bedford. a Small Part of the 42 & 71 [British regiments of foot] With three Companys of Germans Commanded by Genl Vaughn are at New Town—One German Regm. Yaigers at flushing Qeen’s Rangers Coll Simcoe at Oyster bay Coll Ludlos Regm. under Gen’l Delancy New Levies at Loyds Neck. The 17 Regm. Dragons Coll Burch [Samuel Birch] & Lord Cathcarts Legion are at South Hampton. Togather with all the Granedeers & Light Infantry belonging to the Enemy within these lines, Except about two Hundred left at Jamacia—Their Several movements to South Hampton make that body about two ThouSand Men. They have lived upon the Miserabele Inhabitants of Suffolk County ever Since they have bene in it—And thers is a great Probability of the Inhabitants Wanting the necessaries of life. they give recepts for Cattle hay amp;c. but are not Paid they have bene out of Money nearly two Month. I compute the Whole force of the Enemy to be Thirty four Battallions Equil to two Hundred and fifty in a battallion, and beleive it to be a very Just Computation—I Saw a Private letter from London brought in the Packet that left Falmouth the 20 November. And arrived here the 24 Jany—Which I think you may rely on, that Spain & the two Sicilys, have followed the Steps of France in favour of Amarica, Which Compeets the whole Family of the House of Bourbone. The Duch have Demanded Satisfaction of his Brittanick Majesty of all damages Sustained on their Shiping by Seasure ever Since the year 1734; and his Majesty hath Complyed with their request. Burgoin is discarded, Lord & Genl Hows are both to undergo Parlimentary examination, 15 Privateer & 300 Sail of Merchantmen, & 2 Ships of War have bene lately taken by the French. no Prospect of any Troops being Sent to Amarica but a great Probability of the King giving up the Contest. this Sir agrees in Substance with the English Papers, which I have Seen up to the 3 of November. Other accounts Say his Majesty will Continue the War and that a large body of Troops will be Sent to Amarica in the Spring but I doubt if any Troops Comes. but begin to be fearfull that these Troops here will Stay Longer than Some time ago I expected. I Can Positively informe you that Genl Clinton had Liberty from his Majesty to leave Newyork the first of November last on which a Counsel Was held and concluded it was not for the Intrest of the Crown to do it. I think if it had not bene for the Sake of the Torys they Would have quit Amarica then. The Cannon that Was Taken from the Battery near fort George and Put on Board the Lord Townsend Transport was Some time ago relanded—On the first Instant a Cork Fleet Consisting of eleven Sail arrived with Provisions, but Brought no News. On the 8 Int Six Transports arrived from Hallifax under Convoy of the dellaware Friget. Same day Some Ships from Rhode Island with the Troops before mentioned. on the 14 Instant, his Majesties Speech was handed us from Jersy, it appears very mild, and not very Pleasing to the Enemy. it is all we have had from England Since the Novemb. Packet, it is Said the December packet is Taken, See the next Sheet S. C.

“There is a fleet of Victiallers and Private Adventurers Prepareing for Georgia. It is Said Some Troops will go in the Fleet I think it very likely. their Convoy will certainly be weak, I do not know but three or four Ships of War in and about the City their Ships of War are all gone to the West Indies Six Ships of the Line Could now very easily block up the Port and reduce Newyork—It is reported fifteen Hundred Troops have Sailed from Rhode Island for Georgia, but it wants Confirmation. On the 15 Int a fleet Saild for Ireland consisting of about ten or fifteen Sail The Enemy will Shortly be in great Want of forage. I think they will endevour to get a Supply from the Jersys before Long. their flat Boats in the Kings yard have lately bene put in good repair. I frequently See Genl Clinton amongst the Carpenters, in Particular vewing the Boats, thers upwards of Seventy Privateers & Letters of Marque from this Port and have bene very Successfull a large french Ship arrived here on the 15 with upwards of 500 hhd of Sugar and 5 Tons of Indigo With Some Specie and other articles—Sir William Erskine is a fortifieing at and about Southhamton and building flat Boats, Probably they intend to Cross and do you Some damage. on the 17 it Was Said a fleet Was at the Hook from England but being oblidged to leave the City that afternoon, I Can give no further account about it, their mœnuvers Puzsels the greatest Polliticuans and I am at a loss to Judge Wheather we Shall have Peace or War this Spring. I think upon the Wholl there is a greater Prospect of War than Peace I beleive now that the King will endevour to See if his fleets can get the better of the french fleets. if they Shoul not he will then make Peace with France and quit amarica. I dont doubt not but by the next appointment we Shall Know the determination of Partiment, and give a better gess—Their Success in Georgia Under Cambell [Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell] and as they Say Adml Byron blocking up Count D’Estang in Martineco. and Genl Grant defeating the french with great Loss at St Lucea, Hath given the Enemy fresh Spirits. I Cannot bear the thoughts of the War Continueing another year as Could wish to See an end of this great distress—Were I to undertake to give an account of the Sad destruction that the enemy makes with in there lines I Should fail. they have no regard to age Sex Whig nor Tory—I Lament to hear the depreciation of your Money, and in Particular the civil dissentions among you at Philadelphia. I think them very alarming. it Sinks the Spirits of our Suffering freinds here And Pleased the Enemy, Cannot the disturbers See that they are working their own ruin, Is [If] thers no remidy to apply, Better had they be Cut of[f] from the land of the liveing than to be Sufferd to go on thers nothing will give the Enemy greater courage, than Civil dissentions, And as long as thers any hope they will endevour. Thus Sir I have Wrote you as fully and clearly as is in my Power at this time, and Pleas exuse any imperfections that you may discover Coll [Benjamin] Floyd returnd on his Parole the 16 I earnestly wrote you for his discharge I repeat it again, I anxiously desire you would not forget. I am very likely to Stand in need of his Services. I desire you will Send me one Hundred Pounds, by the next appointment with out fail. as I have Spent already forty Pounds more than I have received from you Board is £3 pr week in Newyork besids other necssary expencs Postage and Cetara.

“I now conclude with my Sincere regard and desire for your health and Safety” (DLC:GW). The first few sentences of the second paragraph regarding the limited number of British ships at New York and the detachment of troops being sent to Georgia were slightly reworded and put in an extract that was enclosed in GW’s letter to John Jay of 6 March (see n.3 to that document).

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