George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Alexander McDougall, 2 June 1779

To Major General Alexander McDougall

Head-Quarters Middle Brook June 2d 1779


I have just received information from Col. Clarke that the enemy have landed at Kings ferry in considerable force—This day The Virginia division marched towards Pompton where General St Clair expected to arrive this evening. Tomorrow if possible, the Maryland division will move and we shall press forward & with all expedition.1

This will be delivered you by Brigadier General Du Portail, Chief Engineer whose knowlege of his professio⟨n⟩ and military qualifications in gener⟨al⟩ will render him very useful to you if he arrives in time—I recommend him to you as a Gentleman well worthy your confidence. He will chearfully afford his advice and assistance in the line of his profession; but it is also my desire that he may be vested with a command in the garrison according to his rank. To This the regulations of Congress for the Engineering department intitle him.2

It gives me pleasure that the forts at this critical moment are in hands where they may be safely trusted—I doubt not your principal attention will be directed to them as the object first in magnitude and importance and in all probability the real one of the enemy’s design. I am with great Dr Sir Yr Obedt servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, PPRF; copy, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1These movements were part of the American response to British operations then under way up the Hudson River (see William De Hart to GW, 30 May, n.1, and General Orders, 1 June, n.1. See also GW to Stirling, this date, and the source note to that document; to John Jay, 3 June [first letter]; and to Henry Knox [first letter], 4 June, source note).

2GW apparently is referring to a regulation that Congress adopted on 11 March. It ensured that engineers “shall take rank and enjoy the same rights, honours, and privileges, with the other troops on the continental establishment” (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 13:305).

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