George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, 29 March 1779

From Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons

New London [Conn.] 29th March 1779

Dear General

I was last Week on my return from this Place to Camp; but on receiving Inteligence of the Enemy’s moving toward this Place have returnd.1 the Commander in Chief of the Enemy’s Forces is said to be at Southampton, a Fleet of Thirty Sail of Ships and other Vessels have arrivd at Sagg Harbour through the Sound. Thirty Ships have arrivd Yesterday at Newport; a Fleet of Twenty five Vessels left Newport last Week for Sagg Harbour about One half which were lost in a Storm. the Enemy’s Forces at Southampton, Sagg Harbour & the Country about that Place amount to about 2500 Men; Troops are said to be on Board the Fleet, the Numbers variously reported from 2000 to 6000 Men; on Long Island the Object in their View is New London.2 under these Circumstances I have concluded to remain here with the few Troops orderd to this Post by General Putnam until I receive further Orders from him.3

the Continental Troops here are about 200 Rank & File the Militia will be orderd in; your Excellency’s Information will better enable you to judge of the Designs of the Enemy and their Strength at these & other Places than I can possibly be possesd of; and whither so great a Part of their Troops are now imployd in this Quarter as will indanger their capital Post if a Mov’ment should be made against it is Subject I cannot judge of; but I would propose to your Excellency whither some Progression towards New York, will not tend to prevent any Descent on our Coast; and as Genl Clinton is here in Person, whither General Putnam with his Troops ought not to be orderd to this Post.4 I am with Esteem & Regard yr Excellencys Obedt Servt

Saml H. Parsons

ALS, DLC:GW. Parsons noted on the cover: “To be left with Genl Putnam.”

1For GW’s displeasure with the continued absence of Parsons on leave, see his letter to Israel Putnam of 10 February. Major General Putnam delayed demanding that Parsons return to camp from New London, Conn., because intelligence reports suggested that the British planned to raid that seaport. Parsons did not rejoin his brigade until early April (see Putnam to GW, 28 March and 1 April, and Jedediah Huntington to GW, 7 April).

2For the threatened British attack that was abandoned because of inclement weather, see William Maxwell to GW, 10 March, and n.3 to that document, and 25 March, and n.2 to that document; and GW to Putnam, 27 March.

4GW replied to Parsons from Middlebrook on 12 April: “I have only to acknowlege the receipt of your favor of the 29th Ulto as the enemy at least for the present seem to have laid asside their supposed expedition as appears from Gen. Putnams’ last letter I imagine this will find you at Reading” (Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). GW is referring to Putnam’s letter to him of 1 April.

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