From Major Henry Lee, Jr.
Haverstraw [N.Y.] July 22d  8 O’clock P.M.
Four deserters from the army encampped opposite Dobbs ferry, who left camp yesterday noon, & arrived here this moment, mention the embarkation of the British forces.
They belonged to Lord Rodans [Rawdon’s] Corps, the orders for embarkation were not general, as that Corps was not included.
They say it was rumoured among the troops that Baltimore is the place of destination.
They report that five regiments from Genl Tryon have Joined; that Genl Clinton is in person with this army, & that Commodore Collier is with the Navy.
Since the examination of these deserters I have heard from Tappan. The intelligence received confirms the embarkation of the troops & mention that the fleet weighed anchor this day at two O’clock, & stood down the river. The troops which did not embark moved down also.1
The deserters say that the officers often converse concerning Westpoint fort, & they suggest that this southern expidition is found⟨ed⟩ on the same principles of the eastern; viz. to draw the grand army from the protection of the fort.
Three of these persons have formerly gone over to the enemy.2
They belong to the Maryland troops & claim the pardon offered in your Excellys proclamation.3
I mean to send them on to join their regiments.
The garrison at Stoney point labor very hard & have thrown up a line of works already. They seem to have adopted a new plan of construction.4 I have the honor to be sir with perfect respect your Excellys most ob. hum: servt
Henry Lee Jun⟨r⟩
ALS, DLC:GW. The cover of this letter indicates that it was sent by express.
1. Lee is referring to a letter from Lt. Joseph Eggleston to him, written at Tappan, N.Y., on 18 July, 5:00 P.M.: “I have just reached this place, and thought it necessary to transmit you the Intelligence communicated to me by Judge Herring [Haring], which he tells me may be relied on. The Enemy have this Day marched from below, and encamped on the East Side of Dobbs’s Ferry, with a large Train of Waggons. The Body thus encamped consisted of Horse & Foot, the people say to the Number of 5’000 Men. Besides this Body, a Number which lay Yesterday at Tarry Town have embarked on Board their Vessels, which Vessels at about 3’O Clock were just above Tarry Town, making very slow Way. Abou⟨t⟩ 30 Men have been on this Side today at Closter, a place about five Miles from this. Their Object was Cattle. They have retired. It is likewise said here, that a person who came from New York Yesterday at ten O’Clock, informed that all the Troops were out of New York; the Militia being as high up as King’s Bridge; and that this caused much Consternation in the Town. I shall proceed on to learn certainly the Truth or Falshood of what I have mentioned, and shall transmit you the earliest Intelligence of whatever I can collect of Importance to you to know” (DLC:GW).
British officer Archibald Robertson, in camp at Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., wrote in his diary for this date: “At 9 this morning all our Army return’d to their old Ground at Philips’s. Sir Henry [Clinton] immediately went to New York” (Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries, description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends 200–201).
2. GW ordered troops to Suffern, N.Y., on the basis of this intelligence, only to realize subsequently that it was false (see GW to Stirling, 24 and 28 July).
3. See Proclamation to Deserters, 10 March and 22 April; Board of War to GW, 13 April; and GW to Board of War, 22 April. The later proclamation had set 1 July as the end date for returning deserters to receive pardons.
4. In his diary entry for 20 July, Robertson reported the British determination to fortify Stony Point, N.Y., “for 300 men” in 22 days (Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries, description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends 200).