George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Maxwell, 12 May 1779

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

Elizth Town [N.J.] 12th May 1779


I have the pleasure to inform Your Excellency that the first Regt set off Yesterday in high spirits about 8 o’clock, they would have gone the day before but the Paymaster had not finished paying them till evening. Agreeable to lots drawn on the receipt of Your order for one Regt to March, it falls to the 3d to march next, shall the Artillery go with them, and what is to become of Furmans little Corps. There is no Militia arived yet, the refugees and others are pleasing themselves much, with the prospects of the plunder they expect to obtain shortly in those parts. I will give You what intiligence I got this morning Just as I received it. Viz. General Jones is going to England, General Leslee is to command New York.1 General Sir Wm Erskine is come from the E. end of Long Island to the part Opposite to N. York, with two thousand Troops.2 General Mathews commands the Expedition that is gone out, with what was generaly called 4,000 Troops, but they are supposed to be considerably less. All accounts agree, they are gone along the Suthern shore they say they have accounts from them that some of them was in Cheasapeake Bay already; their design is to land and plunder at every place they can, between the last mentioned place and Charles Town; and take or destroy all our Vessels on that coast.3

There is no Fleet arived from England yet with Troops, but they are still expected; though not so strongly as they were some time ago, for they say that should they not come, there will be no Campaign opened this Summer but they will go on with their scouting and plundering from place to place I inclose You a late New york Paper and sends by the Express Your Boots.

I have heard that 22 of the Robers, and house breakers, has been taken lately near the Clove and that Buskirks people have murthered several of the Inhabitants and burned a number of Houses and Barns at a place called the Closter in Bergan: and carryed off every thing they could.4 I am Sir Your Most Obedt Humble Servant

Wm Maxwell


1Gen. Daniel Jones sailed from New York City, bound for England, in early July; his eventual replacement as commandant of the city was Gen. James Pattison.

2For the purpose of this movement, see Samuel Holden Parsons to GW, 8–11 April, n.2.

3The British expedition had landed at Portsmouth, Va., two days earlier; see Maxwell to GW, 3 May, n.2.

4The New-Jersey Gazette (Burlington) of this date published an extract of a letter of 10 May from Closter in Bergen County, N.J.: “This day about 100 of the enemy came by the way of New-Dock, attacked this place,” and captured, wounded, or killed several of the inhabitants, as well as burning barns. “They attempted to burn every building they entered,” the letter continued, “but the fire was in some places extinguished. They destroyed all the furniture, &c. in many houses, and abused many of the women. In their retreat they were so closely pursued by the militia and a few continental troops, that they took off no cattle. They were of Buskirk’s corps, some of our Closter and Tappan old neighbours, joined by a party of negroes. I should have mentioned the negroes first, in order to grace the British arms.”

On 19 May the same newspaper published an account from Fishkill, N.Y., of 13 May: “The end of last and the beginning of this week, thirty of the noted Clove gang of villains were taken up and properly secured. One of them was killed, and another badly wounded: They made some useful discoveries. Some of their stolen goods are found. We learn that fifteen of the same kind of fellows, friends to order and government, as they are termed in New-York, are taken up at the Nine-Partners, in order to make them yet more orderly and friendly to government.”

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