George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Otho Holland Williams, 9 June 1779

To Colonel Otho Holland Williams

[Smiths Clove, N.Y., 9 June 1779]


The detachment you command is intended to relieve Colo. Stewart—& will be relieved in turn three days hence—You will proceed with it to the furnace of Dean, where you will make your head Quarters and from thence you are to send Picquets on the roads leading to Fort Montgomery—Kings Ferry &ca—and to use every precaution which your force will permit and the utmost vigilance requires, to prevent surprises & oppose any troops which may be moving against this Army or our posts at west point.1

To obtain knowledge of the proper places for fixing your Picquets you will be pleased to consult Colo. Stewart; but in a more especial manner Colo. Malcom if with him (on account of his superior knowledge of the grounds & passes.) You will keep in view that from the Forest or furnace of Dean there is a road, which leads to your right from the enemy at Kings ferry—distant not more than ten miles, by which, if not attended to they may turn your right flank.2

You will lose no time in giving me an account of every occurrence of moment3 & in case, as is before directed, the enemy should move either against this Army or the posts at West point in front flank or rear, you will to the utmost of your power, dispute every inch of ground & every advantageous pass.4

The Virginia Division is directed to send a party on the road leading from Junes to Kings ferry5—it may be usefull for your advanced parties to have a communication with this.

You will give a certified copy of these orders to the Officer who shall relieve you with any information you may have acquired. Given at Head quarters in the Clove June 9th 1779.

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, MdHi: Otho H. Williams Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The first three paragraphs of the draft manuscript are in GW’s writing.

1For the composition of the detachment placed under the command of Williams, and its relief, see General Orders, this date and 13 June.

2For roads leading southward from the Furnace of Dean at the Forest of Dean, including the one to Stony Point, the western terminus of King’s Ferry, see Map 1 in this volume.

3GW showed his concern for rapid communication in a letter to Williams written at Smith’s tavern in Smiths Clove on 11 June: “Notwithstanding I sent you some Dragoons for the purpose of transmitting intelligence, I could wish you from the roughness of the Country to select 2 or 3 active footmen for the same purpose—these you will exempt from all other duty, & keep in the utmost readiness for this business—If any thing extraordinary should happen during your command at the forest, it may be well to communicate it, both by a horse and footman, when the most expeditious way will be discovered, & may be used on other similar occasions” (LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, CSmH; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). Williams conveyed intelligence to GW in a letter of 11 June.

4At this place on the draft manuscript, there is a struck-out extension of this sentence in GW’s writing that reads “in the best manner you are capable.”

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