George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Israel Shreve, 23 May 1779

From Colonel Israel Shreve

Elizabethtown [N.J.] May 23rd 1779


Col. Van Dyke a Sagooned1 Officer of the Refugees Came out of new york yesterday to meet his Wife agreeable to a promise from Gen. Maxwell.

She was Conducted Hither by Col. Henry Van Dyke of the Somerset Malitia, and Brother to Mrs Van Dyke,2 who upon a Conference with the tory Col: was informed by him that the Enemy had Collected their whole force, Except their out Guards, he Says to the Number of five thousand, who were under marching Orders, and that Gen. Clinton had Lately Got Intillegence that ten of Our Regiments had marched from head Quarters to the Southward, that it was Rumered in New York that Sir Harry meant to Come to this State, to take the Advantage of the Weakness of Our Army &c. This Intillegence I Send Just as I Got it, But from Several other Channels I have Reason to beleave the Enemy are Actually prepareing for an Expedition Some where, as they are fixing the tholes3 of their flat Boats with Spun Yarn &c., to prevent Noise in Rowing.4

By order of Gen. Maxwell, tents for my Regiment was Drawn at Morris town, and yesterday Sent to this place, But not a Single waggon at my Command to Move Baggage or any thing Else Should any thing Happen. I have wrote to Gen. Green on the Subject.5 But thought Best to Just mention it to your Excy, Should the Enemy Attempt to Land near this place. we have No Alarm Guns to fire, But Shall Send the Earliest Intillegence, Possable. I am with Great Respect your Excys Most Obedient Humble Servt

I. Shreve Colo:

ALS, DLC:GW; copy (extract), enclosed in GW to Alexander McDougall, 24 May 1779, CSmH. The letter was sent “per Express.”

1Shreve apparently meant to write “dragoon”; Lt. Col. John Vandyke commanded the Loyalist West Jersey Volunteers, or West Jersey Cavalry, which was later merged into the King’s American Dragoons.

2Lt. Col. John Vandyke had married his first cousin, Rebecca Vandyke, in 1761; her brother, Hendrick Vandyke (1743–1817) had been appointed colonel of the 2d Battalion of Somerset County, N.J., militia in September 1777.

3A thole is “a vertical pin or peg in the side of a boat against which in rowing the oar presses as the fulcrum of its action; esp. one of a pair between which the oar works; hence, a rowlock” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray et al., eds. The Oxford English Dictionary: Being a Corrected Re-Issue with an Introduction, Supplement, and Bibliography of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. 12 vols. 1933. Reprint. Oxford, England, 1970. description ends ).

4Gen. Henry Clinton was preparing his troops for an expedition up the Hudson River; see William De Hart to GW, 30 May, n.1.

5Shreve’s letter of this date to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene concerning wagons is in PPAmP; see also Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 4:72.

Index Entries