George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Richard Butler, 21 June 1779

To Colonel Richard Butler

[Smiths Clove, N.Y., 21 June 1779]


I have received your letter of yesterday.1 I imagine the complement of infantry has been completed since you left this, and have directed a proportion of drums and fifes to be sent you.2

On a more particular examination of the fort and its dependencies,3 I find that the forest of Deane is not an eligible post for your main body; but that it will be better stationed somewhere at4 A in the inclosed map5—as the convenience of incampment may admit. You will be better situated here to oppose a movement of the enemy against the forts, as it is most probable they would land at Fort Montgomery and at B—to march by the River road with a strong flanking party on the heights that overlook it for the security of the main column in its march. This situation will enable you to possess every advantageous piece of ground before them and fall upon their front or left flank as circumstances may point out, preserving constantly a communication with the forts—But in order to prevent your right flank being turned, it will be proper to have a pretty strong6 picket at the Forrest—a smaller one at Rowe’s house7 and another at Fort Montgomery⟨,⟩ one at the landing B will also be essential. From these, patroles should be continually going on the different roads leading to the enemy—to gain timely notice of any movement from below.

The inclosed map is from actual survey and is intended for the use of the Commanding officer at the post—No copies of it are by any means to be taken lest by any accident one of them should fall into the enemys hands to whom it would be of the greatest utility. Just that part of it which will probably be your immediate scene8 of action may be communicated to the principal officers with you, with a caution to take the most particular care of it. I am with great regard Yr most Obed. servt.9

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The Varick transcript supplies the comma in angle brackets. The right edge of the draft manuscript is torn at that place.

1This letter has not been found.

2GW is referring to the organization of the light infantry corps, which Butler temporarily commanded pending Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne’s arrival (see General Orders, 12 and 21 June, and GW to Wayne, this date, source note and n.1).

3GW is referring to Fort Arnold and its supporting fortifications at West Point. For an overview of these works, see GW to Alexander McDougall, 19 June, n.2.

4At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote “near.” He then struck out that word and wrote “at” above the line.

5The enclosed map has not been identified. For its transfer to Wayne, see Instructions to Wayne, 1 July (printed as an enclosure to GW to Wayne, that date), and n.5 to that document.

6At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote “good.” He then struck out that word and wrote “strong” instead.

7Rowe’s (Rose’s) apparently was a home and farm just under two miles southeast of the Furnace of Dean on the road toward Fort Montgomery, which was roughly two miles further away. For the significance of Rowe’s in Wayne’s later plan of attack on Stony Point, see his letter to GW of 15 July.

8Hamilton inadvertently wrote “scence” on the draft manuscript.

9At the end of the draft manuscript, Hamilton summarized a postscript added to this letter. The summary reads: “There was a post[s]cript informing him that Head Quarters were to be removed to New Windsor and desiring him to give intelligence of the enemys movements to General Putnam—and the Commanding Officer at West Point.”

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