George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General William Maxwell, 6 May 1779

To Brigadier General William Maxwell

Head Quarters Middlebrook 6th May 1779.


I was duly handed your favor of the 5th Inst. this morning.

When the pay masters come up here, they will be ordered to be paid up to the 1st of April. I have taken measures with the quarter master general, to prevent any delay in the execution of my orders of march.1

I inclose you answers to the questions; which you will put into the hands of your spy. He may be instructed to say, that he sent the questions to a friend of his near this camp, and received from him the answers. This occurs to me as the most eligible plan. However you will judge yourself on the occasion, I think you had better have them copied in an indifferent hand, preserving the bad spelling at the same time.2 I am sir &c.

G: W——n

P.S. I congratulate you on the success of an enterprise against Onondaga commanded by Col. V. Schaik. He has by a rapid and well conducted march from fort Schuyler surprised that settlement⟨,⟩ taken 33 pris: and killed 12 chiefly warriors—burnt all their provisions—destroyed their cattle and carryed off a great quantity of arms &ca. The whole was performed in five days (180 miles) and without the loss of a single man on our part.3

Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2The enclosed undated list of false answers for a spy, with the answers written by McHenry and the questions in another hand, reads: “No. 1. Where is Mr Washington and what number of men has he with him. No. 2. What number of cannon has Mr Washington with him and what general officers. No. 3. Whether there is to be a draft of the militia to join Mr Washington & how the inhabitants like it. No. 4. Whether there is any discontent among the soldiers. No. 5. Whether the inhabitants would resort to the king’s standard provided a post was taken in Jersey & civil government establish’d. No. 6. Your Account of the situation of the army with ev’ry other matter you can collect.

“1st. Cant tell the number exactly—some says eight thosand and very knowing havs ten thosand. I dont think he has 8000 with himself, besides the Jersey brigade, and another brigade which I hear is at Paramus.

“Gen: Washington keeps head quarters at Mrs Wallis’s house four miles from Bandbrook.

“2d. There is about sixty cannon in the parke at Plukemin, and not more than 8 or 10 with his troops at Bandbrook camp. The general officers is General Starling And Gen: Greene (Gen: Howe is at Philadelphia I am told and coming on to camp) Genl de Kalble and Gen. Stuburn French generals—Gen: Sullivan (General Gates I hear is ordered here) Genl Woodford, Gen. Mulimburg, Smallwood Gist and one Genl McIntosh.

“3d. The militia all ready to come out when signals is fired, which is placed up in all places in Jersey. They seem very angry with the British and curse them for keeping on the war many of them brag that the wold take revenge if they could get but a good opportunity, and General Washington to back them.

“4th. I cant say theres much discontent among the sodgers, tho’ their money is so bad. Th[e]y get plenty of provisions, and have got better cloes now than ever they had. They are very well off only for hatts. They give them a good deal of rum and whiskey, and this I suppose helps with the lies their officers are always telling them to keep up their spirits.

“five. The people talk much as they used to do—Some seem to get tired of the war—But the rebels seem to have a great spite against our friends and want to get their estates. I have heard some of these say—they would be glad to see the Inglish again in Jersey; but I have heard some again say, that the Inglish come into the country a little while, and then leave it and get their friends into trouble and then they loose their estates. I dont know whether many would join.

“Mr Washingtons army is in three parts, two of them General Starling and Gen. Kables are upon the mountain over Bondbrook and Generals Sintclairs men on this side of Van wikters bridge on high ground. They all seem to be all getting ready for something. The waggons at the artifishers are getting ready, and they are bringing in all the horses from the country—No body knows certain what they are going to do. A frien⟨d⟩ who keeps always with them, te⟨lls⟩ me, that he cant tell. (I must n⟨ot⟩ tell you his name just now) he thinks something very grand if it could be known he thinks for he heard a servant of Lord Starlings say, that he heard Lord Starling tell another off⟨icer⟩ that he hoped they would ha⟨ve⟩ New-York before long and sa⟨id⟩ the New England militia wer⟨e⟩ all coming to help them.

“I would write you more but you have not given me tim⟨e.⟩ remember me to our friends in York—and dont forget to bri⟨ng⟩ what I wrote for when you were last out.... dont send your next lettre by the same hand, for I have reason to be suspitious. I would no⟨t⟩ send this by him. When he left me he we⟨nt⟩ strait to Washingtons head quarters” (DLC:GW).

3For the details of this expedition, see Philip Schuyler to GW, 27 April, n.1.

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