George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Mercereau, 2 June 1779

To John Mercereau

Camp at Middle Brook June 2d 1779


If you could fall upon some method to obtain knowledge of the strength and situation of the enemy on Staten Island & this in as short a time as possible, I shall thank you.1 after putting this business in a proper train for execution, I should be glad to see you at this place—if it could be tomorrow morning it would suit me best.2

I will pay the persons you employ, but wish the undertaking to appear as proceeding wholly from your own curiosity; for a surmise of its coming from me may defeat all I have in view—The particular Regiments that [are] on the Island—their exact quarters—whether at their forts, & if not at what distance from them—are matters I wish to be solved in—also whether any troops have been sent off or brought on the Island lately. Whether any Vessels lies in, or just out of the narrows—& whether any fleet has arrived lately? where from, & the contents of it. I am &c.


Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For other efforts to obtain intelligence from Staten Island, see GW to John Neilson, 2, 3, and 4 June, and Neilson to GW, 3 June.

2For GW’s decision to set aside a meeting on “business” regarding Staten Island, see GW to Stirling, 3 June.

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