George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 11 June 1779

To John Jay

Head Quarters Smiths Clove [N.Y.] June 11th 1779


I am honored with your Excellency’s favours of the 4th & 5th, to which due attention shall be paid.

The enemy’s situation remains much the same as mentioned in mine of the 6th—One body of about 5000 Men is on Verplanks point and another of about 1000 on stoney point—They continue fortifying & no doubt mean to keep possession of those posts—The natural strength of the ground with very little help of art will make them inaccessible to us in our present circumstances—The advantages of holding them will be important to the enemy—the inconveniences to us great. It is a step to further operations against the forts1—Our communication by Kings ferry, far the easiest, is at an end—The extent and difficulty of land transportation considerably increased—a new resort and sanctuary afforded to the disaffected in these parts of the country—and a new door opened to draw supplies distress and corrupt the inhabitants—Reasons which need not be explained put it out of my power to prevent it before hand or to remedy it now it has happened.

We have taken post for the present with the main body of the army in this Clove where we are as well situated as we could be any where else to succour the forts in case the future operations of the enemy should be directed against them.

The troops mentioned to have returned down the river on the 5th are said to be principally the detachment that went to Virginia, which immediately on its arrival at New York has been hurried up the river and is now gone back to repose.2

I devoutly wish a confirmation of the Southern news though I cannot but say my fears predominate so much time having elapsed.3 I have the honor to be With the highest respect & esteem Yr Excellency’s Most Obet servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy (extract), MdAA; copy (extract), Nh-Ar; copy (extract), R-Ar; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Congress read GW’s letter on 16 June and referred it to a committee consisting of Elbridge Gerry, John Armstrong, and Henry Laurens, who that same day reported a resolution that reads: “Whereas the Enemy availing themselves of the Delays that have happened in filling up the continental Battalions, have taken post on each Side of the North River & are fortifying the same … it be earnestly recommended to the several States by the most decisive & vigourous efforts forthwith to fill up their respective Battalions agreable to a resolution of Congress of [  ] that the present favorable oppertunity may be improved for annoying & dislodging the Enemy” (DNA:PCC, item 19; see also 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 14:739–40).

1GW is referring to the forts at West Point, New York.

2The draft manuscript, which is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton, continues at this place with struck-out text that reads: “Lord Rawdons corps returned with it—propably from its composition the enemy were unwilling to keep it where the men might have opportunities of deserting.”

GW is referring to forces involved in a British raid on Virginia that embarked from New York City on 1 May and returned to Sandy Hook, N.J., on 29 May (see William Maxwell to GW, 3 May, and n.2 to that document; see also Alexander McDougall to GW, 4 June, n.17, and 5 June, n.2).

3See Jay to GW, 4 June, and n.2 to that document.

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