George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Maxwell, 26 March 1779

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

Elizth Town [N.J.] 26th March 1779


Your Excellency Favour of Yesterday with the Commissions for the Brigade I recd. I have noted the contents of the letter and will send you my observations on what you have requested; as soon as I can.1 There is a French Man sent to New York by the Imbassdor in the Carractor of a Commissary of Prisoners, to effect an exchange for the French Prisoners; he is also authorised by the Board of War, with dirctions to apply to the Commanding Officers at the out posts for every asistance to forward them to Boston, or Philadelphia. The asistance of our Commissary of Prisoners is likewise required. He purposes if he effects the Exchange, to send the Prisoners by watter to Boston, and in that case he purposes to send to my Commissary for 26 hundred weight of bread, & Bisquet, and about 1000 weight of Salt meat and an Ox, to be sent into New York for their provision on the way to Boston.

I did not think my self fully authorised to send the Provisions to N. York without Your Excellencys permission, for that purpose; which may be sent me if agreeable time enough before he settles his business; more especialy as Admiral Gambier is gone.2

There is but one Man of War with in the Bay at N. York, the Capt. of her acts as Admiral till the return of the Fleet, all the Privateers are Presse’d and sent up the Sound with the Transports Supposed to take off Troops from the East end of long Island. I mentioned to you before, that Genl Clinton was gone; he went on Long Island under pretence of visiting the Troops in their different cantoonments.3

The Vessel that is left to guard the Harbour of New York Saild out of the Hook last week with Admiral Gambier, when he returned in again he kept firing off his Cannon all the way up the narrows which give the rise to a Fleet coming in. I had information last evening that news had come to New York that Admiral Gambier was arived at Rhode Island. I have not the least doubt of their being gone there.4 I will take every method in my power to procure the most certain intiligence though there will [be] scarcely any body [to] under take the Bussiness, from the treatment they meet with from the civil authority. The Vessel I mentioned is the Rose with her tender & there is 3 or four Merchant Men come in since the Fleet wen out.5 I am Your Excellencys Most Obedt Humble Servant

Wm Maxwell


1No reply from Maxwell has been found related to GW’s request for information to help plan an expedition to check the Indians in western New York and Pennsylvania, but see his letter to GW of 6 April. For Maxwell’s earlier, unsolicited suggestions for campaigning on the northwestern frontier, see his second letter to GW of 27 January.

2The French minister to the United States, Conrad-Alexandre Gérard, had directed Ambroise-Thomas de Boubée, a French naval officer, to negotiate the exchange of French prisoners at New York (see d’Estaing to GW, 23 Oct. 1778, and n.1 to that document, and Henry Laurens to John Beatty, 22 Oct. 1778, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 11:97–98; see also GW to Maxwell, 28 March, and Maxwell to GW, 31 March). John Adam served as deputy commissary of prisoners at Elizabeth, N.J.

3See Maxwell to GW, 25 March, and n.2 to that document.

4See Maxwell to GW, 10 March, n.4, and 17 March, n.1.

5James Reid captained the twenty-gun Rose, which went south later in 1779 and was sunk on 20 Nov. near Savannah (Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 15:65 and 17:142, 244).

Index Entries