George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Robert Howe, 17 July 1779

To Major General Robert Howe

Stony Point [N.Y.] July 17th 1779

Dear Sir

It is thought from a view of the fortifications on Verblanks point that there is a ⟨g⟩ood prospect of possessing our selves of the Garrison. You will therefore march down your troops and open a battery against their Block House as soon as possible. After beating the block House about their Ears if you can find any apprehensions in the Garrison for their safety, You will make a disposition of your Troops and a shew of storming the place, and then send in a flag1 and demand a surrender of the Garrison; but as the works are enclosd, it will not be proper to attempt a storm in the day time.

These opperations are to commence and be carried on, subject to the following restrictions. If the Enimy are marching up in force on the other side, after they pass Croten River your situation will become ineligible.2 Therefore in such case3 you must fall back to Bald Hill or the Conl village.4 There are two places where the Enemy can pass Croten River. One on the old Post Road from York to Albany. The other by the way of New Castle & Crumpond.5 These two roads must be carefully wa[t]ched with parties of Horse & foot. Should you be deficient in Horse you will send to General Heath for a party.6 Your Battery and Cannonade should be pushed with the greatest vigor. It will be prudent to place double Guards on the Two roads I have mentioned, at about a mile’s distance from each other for your greater security. Yrs

G. Washington

Df, in the writing of Nathanael Greene and Robert Hanson Harrison, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Harrison wrote the previous two words above the line on the draft manuscript.

2The Croton River flowed about six miles to the southeast of Verplanck Point.

3Harrison wrote the previous three words above the line on the draft manuscript.

4At this place on the draft manuscript, Greene first wrote “Peeks Kill.” These words then were struck out, and Harrison wrote “Bald Hill or the Conl village” above the line.

5The Albany Road ran less than a mile from the eastern bank of the Hudson River both south and north of its passage over the Croton River. The road between North Castle (which Greene erroneously called New Castle) and Crompond, N.Y., crossed the Croton River some four miles to the east.

6Greene’s writing ends at this place on the draft manuscript.

A letter from Howe to Maj. Gen. William Heath written on this date, 9:00 P.M., reads: “As I am in great distress for a party of Horse, and am directed by the General to apply to you & request the favour that you would send with all possible Expedition a Party of fifty, or more, if they can be spared—in which you will oblige me, and render the Service the greatest Benefit” (MHi: Heath Papers). Heath’s reply, written at Crompond on 18 July, 10:00 A.M., reads: “I was honored with your favor of the last Evening at half Past Two this morning as the Horse were then on different Commands, I could not Send the number you requested—I ordered one Troop forward to take your orders the remainder are Sent out on the Several roads on my left from Bedford to Pines Bridge on Croton River, I shall be with you in a few hours the Troops are now halted to rest & refresh themselves” (MHi: Heath Papers).

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