George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Richard Butler, 24 June 1779

To Colonel Richard Butler

Head Quarters New Windsor June 24th 1779


I have received your two favours of the 22d and 23d1—I am obliged to you for your observations on the country and on the movements you conceive it possible for the enemy to make.

My letter of the 21st contained general directions for your conduct in case of a movement against the forts,2 which is the main object of your present disposition. Your own judgment must point out to you the particular measures it will be proper3 to take in the variety of operations with which the enemy may attempt their reduction. With respect to any enterprises against them, if you find a good opportunity to strike some little stroke you have my permission to improve it. I would wish you to be cautious to prevent desertion, by employing as much as possible your most trusty men in the parties advanced nearest the enemy. I know it is difficult to discriminate but it may be done in some degree without appearing to do it.

I approve the proposal for erecting a be[a]con; you will give notice to General Putnam & General McDougall.

You may have as many tents brought down as you think absolutely necessary; but as they will be an incumbrance and somewhat in danger in case of action, you will have as few as possible. I shall direct a boat to be sent you.4 I shall endeavour to have you as well supplied with rum as our stock will permit5—Doctor Cockran shall be directed to furnish surgeons.6

I think I desired you in my last to give instant intelligence to General Putnam in the Clove and General McDougall at West Point of the movements of the enemy.

General Smallwood with his brigade was to march this morning, to the Forest of Deane7—You will communicate & cooperate with him— and agree upon the piquets to be furnished to prevent an unnecessary number of Men being sent on duty.8 I am with regard D. Sir Yr Most Obedt servt.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s and Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1These letters have not been found.

2GW is referring to the fortifications at West Point. For an overview of these works, see GW to Alexander McDougall, 19 June, n.2.

3At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton initially wrote “possible.” He then struck out that word and wrote “proper” instead.

4For these orders, contained in a letter from Robert Hanson Harrison to Nathanael Greene, 24 June, see GW to McDougall, that date, n.2.

5For the army’s rum shortage, see GW to McDougall, 28 June, and n.1 to that document.

6Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne, who upon his arrival took over for Butler as commander of the light infantry corps, apparently renewed Butler’s request for surgeons in a letter to John Cochran of 2 July (see Saffron, Cochran, description begins Morris H. Saffron. Surgeon to Washington: Dr. John Cochran, 1730-1807. New York, 1977. description ends 55).

8Harrison wrote the previous nineteen words on the draft manuscript.

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