George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Arthur St. Clair, 23 March 1779

To Major General Arthur St. Clair

Head Quarters [Middlebrook] 23d March 1779

Dear Sir

For the more speedy assembling of the Militia upon an emergency I have agreed with the Feild Officers in this and the next County to erect Beacons1 upon the most conspicuous Hills, the firing of which is to be the signals for the⟨m⟩ to repair to their different alarm posts.2 You will be pleased therefore to order a party from your division consisting of an Officer and 24 Men with Axes and four days provision to be ready tomorrow Morning at 8 OClock to proceed to a remarkable Hill near princetown to erect a Beacon there. One Burrel will attend as a Guide.3 The Beacon is to be constructed of Logs in form of a Pyramid 16 or 18 feet square at Bottom and 18 or 20 feet high. The inner part to be filled with Brush. I am Dear Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, ICU; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Tilghman addressed the cover of the LS: “To Major General St Clair or Officer commanding Pennsylvania Division.”

1At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote “signals.” He then struck out that word and wrote “Beacons” along the line to the right.

2Militia officers from Middlesex and Somerset counties participated in consultations that led to GW’s decision to construct beacons in New Jersey. For additional information, see Stirling to GW, 20 and 22 March; GW to Stirling and to William Livingston, both this date (see also GW to Henry Knox and to William Smallwood, both this date).

3The site of this beacon was just west of Princeton and about fifteen miles south of the Pennsylvania camp in the southwestern portion of the Middlebrook encampment. The guide has not been identified.

Index Entries