George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 7 July 1779

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] July 7th 1779

Sir

On the evening of the last Sabbath about seventy Sail of the Enemys Ships, transports &a anchored off against New Haven, and about six oClock next Morning landed a Number of Troops conjectured from two to four thousand a few miles West of the Town, and immediately proceeded towards the Town.1 this Descent was so sudden that but little force could be collected to oppose them in their progress, though every thing was done which could be expected from the few inhabitants of that place, who opposed them in a narrow defile, turned their Course, headed the March and soon entered the Town of which they are in possession.

The Militia of the Country are collecting. many had Assembled when the express set off.2 we hope at least they will check their progress into the Country—It is now the beginning of Harvest. The design of the Enemy no doubt is to alarm this State as to prevent its being secured, and to destroy as much of it as they can—No season of the Year could throw us into so great a distress—We are uncertain at present Whether the Enemy mean to make any stand at New Haven or only plunder, destroy and make off—though we rather think the latter.

We are informed that General Glover with his Brigade are under orders, and on their March to join the Main Army. We have requested he would make his Route through this Country not far from the course of New Haven which may at least have an effect on the Enemy, and produce an early evacuation of that place. We Wish and hope for your approbation, as it cannot make a Days delay of his Arrival at Fishkill.3

We have farther to apply to Your Excellency that General Glover with his Brigade be permitted to give their Assistance until the Enemy be dislodged from New Haven, which with his Aid, we trust, would soon be done. An Officer of General Glovers experience, may be of essential service—We hope for a speedy Answer as General Glover may be too far on his way before Your Excellencys Orders may meet him.4 I am with Esteem & Regard Your Excellencys Obedient humble sevt

Jon. Trumbull

Copy, DNA:PCC, item 152. For the decision of Governor Trumbull and the Connecticut Council of Safety on this date to send this letter to GW, and take other actions in response to the British raid on New Haven, see Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:355–56; see also GW to Trumbull, this date, source note. GW received Trumbull’s letter on 9 July (see the postscript to GW to John Jay, that date).

A letter from Brig. Gen. Jedediah Huntington to Trumbull, written at the Highlands, N.Y., on 5 July, in part reads: “His Excellency’s intention is to complete the works at West Point in the first place, that that post may stand alone; he will then operate as circumstances may require. I hope he will be able before long to form a camp in West Chester County to prevent the excursions & ravages of the enemy” (Trumbull Papers, description begins The Trumbull Papers. 4 vols. Boston, 1885-1902. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., vols. 9–10; 7th ser., vols. 2–3. description ends 3:398–99).

1The British raiders landed and attacked New Haven, Conn., on Monday, 5 July. For a contemporary account by a local resident of events on that date and 6 July, see Dexter, Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, description begins Franklin Bowditch Dexter, ed. The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, D.D., LL.D., President of Yale College. 3 vols. New York, 1901. description ends 2:351–57; see also Samuel Holden Parsons to GW, 31 July, n.1., and Peter Colt to Trumbull, 8 July, in Trumbull Papers, description begins The Trumbull Papers. 4 vols. Boston, 1885-1902. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., vols. 9–10; 7th ser., vols. 2–3. description ends 3:401–4.

2For the Connecticut militia response, see Andrew Ward to Trumbull, this date, in Trumbull Papers, description begins The Trumbull Papers. 4 vols. Boston, 1885-1902. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., vols. 9–10; 7th ser., vols. 2–3. description ends 3:400–401.

3For the march of Brig. Gen. John Glover’s brigade from Rhode Island, see GW to Horatio Gates, 27 and 30 June; see also Gates to GW, this date. For GW’s anticipation of this request to have the brigade take a route near the Connecticut coast, see his letter to Glover of 8 July.

Apparently before the arrival of this letter, Col. William Shepard, who commanded Glover’s brigade on its march, wrote a letter, which Connecticut officials received on 9 July, stating “that he wôd willingly alter his rout … but as his orders are will deviate so far as to come thrô Lebanon instead of Andover &c.” (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:356). In response, Trumbull and the Connecticut Council of Safety prepared a letter, also on 9 July, pressing the brigade commander, then at Plainfield, Conn., “to take his rout thro’ N. London &c.” (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:356). During that “P.M.,” Connecticut officials read a letter from Shepard “informing he has received orders from Genl Glover to direct his march to Norwich and N. London, agreeable to Gov. Trumbull’s request to him &c. sent yesterday, and requesting supplys of provisions &c.” (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:357). Shepard wrote another letter, which Connecticut officials read on 10 July, indicating “that he is arrived at Norwich, proposes to halt till 2 o’clock to-morrow morning &c. &c.” (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:357). Shepard again communicated with Connecticut officials on 14 July, reporting “that he had got over Saybrook ferry before the Governor’s letter, and received orders from Gen. Parsons to push on to the westward, and was proceeding with all speed &c.” (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:361).

4For GW’s decision to halt Glover’s brigade in Connecticut, see his letter to Glover, 9–10 July; see also Glover to GW, 15 July.

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