George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Commander Andrew Sutherland, 18 July 1779

From Commander Andrew Sutherland

Vulture Haverstraw bay [N.Y.] July the 18th 1779


I am to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date; & tho’ not regularly authoriz’d, conceive, myself warranted, as well from principles of humanity, as a thorough knowledge of His Excellency the Commander in Chief’s disposition, to accept your terms.1

I shall therefore send Boats; & in order to put the Men to as little pain as possible, shall order a Transport up to receive them; to which I flatter myself you will have no objection.2 I have the honor to be Sir Your most obedient H:ble Servt

A. Sutherland


Andrew Sutherland (d. 1795) became a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in December 1770. Promoted to commander, he captained the Vulture, a 14-gun sloop completed in March 1776, which during 1779 and 1780 often patrolled the lower Hudson River. During Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s attempted betrayal of West Point to the British in September 1780, Sutherland and the Vulture transported Maj. John André to his conference with Arnold and carried the fleeing Arnold to New York. While performing these exploits, Sutherland received a wound when his sloop exchanged fire with a battery at Teller’s Point, New York. After his promotion to captain in December 1780, he commanded the Belliqueux, a 64-gun ship, and contributed to the British victory at the Battle of Saintes in the West Indies on 12 April 1782. Sutherland remained in the naval service after the war and died at Gibraltar, where he had been appointed commissioner in 1794.

1Sutherland apparently received a letter from GW with this date that GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison had drafted initially for Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne on 17 July. That draft, written at Stony Point, N.Y., and addressed to “The Commanding Officers of the British Ships lying below Stony point,” reads: “I transmit you the Copy of a Note received from Doctor Auchmuty. I have no objection to sending the Wounded Officers and Men on board the British Ships lying below this post—on Condition that a like number of Officers and Men belonging to our Army now in the hands of Sr Henry Clinton, be released on demand, in exchange for them. I have no Boats to convey them and therefore am under the necessity of requesting that you will send a proper number to receive them. They amount to about Forty” (DLC:GW). The original letter from Richard Auchmuty, assistant surgeon at the British hospital in New York, to Wayne, dated 17 July, reads: “The situation of the Wounded belonging to his Majesty’s Service, is such, that I must request your Interposition in ordering them to be forwarded to our Lines” (DLC:GW).

2For these wounded prisoners, taken during the successful American attack against Stony Point, see GW to William Woodford, 22 July, n.1, and Stephen Payne Adye to Dr. Morris, 18 July, in Pattison, “Letters,” description begins “Official Letters of Major General James Pattison.” Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1875, 8 (1876): 1–430. description ends 227; see also Wayne to GW, 17 July, and GW to John Jay, 21 July.

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