George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, 12 June 1779

From Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons

We⟨s⟩t Point 12th June 1779

dear General

General Patterson joind his Brigade last Evening and is now on the Point;1 when the public Service will admit I shall be happy to join my Brigade at such Place as will most conduce to the general Welfare.

Your Excellency was pleasd to desire my Opinion of the Disposition to be made of the Army.2

Under all Circumstances I think 3000 Men should be assignd for garrisoning this Post, by which, I understand the Forts on the Point & Highlands near, the Heights near Rock Hill3 and the Island where Fort Constitution was.4

On the East Side the River a Force should be kept in the Highlands sufficient to prevent the Enemy’s occupying the Hills there which may cover works which will exceedingly distress this Post; the Advance of these Troops may safely be at or near the Village.5 this I think necessary because those Grounds cannot be held by this Garrison without new Works are constructed & the Garrison increasd. the Remainder of the Army will be well posted in or near Smith’s Clove with a Detachment advancd between Ft Montgomery and the Furnace.

As this Post or the Army are the only capital Objects the Enemy can propose, I do not know a better Disposition which can be made at present to defeat their Designs than what may be formd on the Ideas before expresd.

I have Nothing new this Day neither my Scouts or Boats are yet returnd—I should be obligd to Excellency to be informd what Congress have resolvd respecting an Aid De Camp for a Brigadier that I may recommend one, if allowd.6 I am with Esteem & Respect Yr Excellencys Obedt Servt

Saml H. Parsons

ALS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Parsons had been named commander at West Point while Brig. Gen. John Paterson was away on leave (see Alexander McDougall to GW, 4 June).

2For GW’s interest in these views, see his Circular to the General Officers, 13 June, and the “Contingency Orders” printed as an enclosure to that document.

3Parsons is referring to Rocky Hill, which rose above Fort Putnam to the west and extended southward.

4For an overview of the works at and near West Point, see GW to Alexander McDougall, 19 June, n.2.

5Parsons is referring to Continental Village, New York.

6Congress had passed a resolution on 18 Feb. that allowed each brigadier general “an Aid de Camp for the despatch of his orders. That he be taken from the Line under the rank of Captain, and hold the same rank as in the Line. This regulation not to be extended so as to injure the present Brigade Majors, who shall act as Aids de Camp to their respective Brigadiers, with their present rank, pay and rations; and those who have rank in the line shall not be deprived of their right of succession and promotion in their Regiments as usual. That each of such Aids de Camp be allowed subsistence and rations for himself and a servant and Forage for two horses” (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 13:198).

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