George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 1 May 1779

From William Livingston

Trenton [N.J.] 1 May 1779

Dr Sir

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency’s two favours of the 28th & 29th ultimo. The British lately in Monmouth behaved, by all Accounts, in the most dastarly manner, running for one while from about 75 of our Militia, and continuing their retreat to their Very boats before less than one quarter of their number, to which all our reinforcements did not amount.

If Mr Franklin means to take possession of Amboy, they might doubtless by the sound on one side, and proper intrenchments, secure a lodgement.1 But I have reason to think that the Bailiwick of his Sherif of Middlesex will not extend far beyond his Encampment.2 Indeed I could wish that every villain in the State would join him, or in any other manner deliver us from his company; as I have no conception that they can injure us so much by such a step, or by any other, as by that of staying among us.

I have hitherto deferred calling out the Militia in hopes the Assembly would raise their wages, which I submitted to their consideration the moment I received your Excellencys Letter on the Subject of withdrawing your troops from Monmouth Elizabeth town &c. and without which I am persuaded they will not come out to any purpose in the monthly service—As I was daily flattered with a resolve on that head, I thought it best to sacrifice a few days (precious as the time is) for the sake of that stimulus, & the greater number it will probably produce. This afternoon I shall at all events issue the orders.3 But having hitherto delayed them from the above prospect, if your Excellency, can, consistent with your plan of operations continue the Troops a few days longer than you purposed, I am confident you want no other motive to induce you to do it, than your feelings for any of our Inhabitants that are more immediately exposed to the incursions of the Enemy. I have the honour to be with great esteem & regard Dear Sir Your Excellencys most humble Servt

Wil: Livingston

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, in private hands.

1For the former royal governor William Franklin’s activities in New Jersey, see GW to Alexander McDougall, 28 April.

2Franklin’s friend Isaac Bonnell (c.1738–1806) served for several years as high sheriff and barrack master of Middlesex County, N.J., before being removed from office in 1776 for his Loyalist views. Apprehended by the state authorities and then placed on parole, Bonnell fled to New York City. Much of his property around Perth Amboy, N.J., was meanwhile confiscated, and after the war he relocated to Digby, Nova Scotia.

3Livingston wrote to the New Jersey assembly on 24 April proposing a raise in pay for the state militia, and on 1 May the legislature voted to raise pay by five shillings per day (Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 3:69–70, 80; N.J. Gen. Assembly Proc., April–June 1779 sess., 82, 84; N.J. Legislative Council Proc., Oct. 1778–Oct. 1779 sess., 43). On the same day, Livingston ordered out one class of militia from each county to be stationed in Bergen, Essex, and Monmouth counties (Bernstein, N.J. Privy Council Minutes description begins David A. Bernstein, ed. Minutes of the Governor’s Privy Council, 1777–1789. Trenton, 1974. In New Jersey Archives, 3d ser., vol. 1. description ends , 3d. ser., 1:114).

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