George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General John Neilson, 4 June 1779

To Brigadier General John Neilson

Morristown [N.J.] 4th June 1779


I have duly received your two favors of yesterdays date;1 and am obliged to you for the intelligence they contain.

The fort which Armstruther2 alluded to, was a small detached work on the East side of Kings ferry with about 50 men. It surrendered on the 2d instant.

It is not yet perfectly evident, what are the enemy’s real intention in this movement. We however are in motion towards the North River, to take such3 measures as may seem best calculated to conteract their designs.

You will have the beacons and every thing else in your power that can give facility to the collecting the militia, in the utmost state of readiness, should it be found necessary to call them out.4 I am sir, your most hble servt

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, Bibliothèque Municipale, Nantes, France; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS.

1Only one letter from Neilson to GW on 3 June has been found.

2Neilson signed flag orders at Elizabeth, N.J., on 3 June to allow a family “to pass to Deckers Ferry at Staten Island.” They were returned with a response that reads: “Captn Anstruther presents his Comp[limen]ts to Col. Neilson and is sory he can not permitt the poor Man and his Family, to land on Staten Isle, having possitive Orders to the contrary and being found fault with for allowing the Flag to pass yesterday to New Yor[k]” (NjR: Neilson Family Papers).

Capt. William Anstruther (d. 1807) obtained a commission as lieutenant in the 26th Regiment of Foot in 1757 and became captain in that regiment in 1766. Taken prisoner at St. Jean, Quebec, in early November 1775, he was exchanged and joined the Royal Garrison Regiment. Anstruther was commissioned major in this Loyalist unit in late 1779. He returned to the British Army after the war and became colonel of the Royal Invalids in 1795.

3At this place on the draft manuscript, McHenry first wrote “to take such positions and.” He then struck out those words and wrote “towards the North River to take such” above the line.

4For Neilson’s response to GW’s request concerning beacons and the militia, see his letter to GW, 5 June, and n.1 to that document.

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