George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Stirling, 24 July 1779

To Major General Stirling

West point July 24th 79

My Lord,

Having received intelligence (though not in so precise a manner as I could wish) of a pretty considerable imbarkation at Dobbs’s ferry, and that the Transports which received the Troops had fallen down the River,1 I think it advisable that your division should remove to Suffrans.

By the time you reach that place some further information of the Enemys movements and designs may point to the expediency of your remaining there, or advancing to Pompton &ca—The latter is to take place upon well grounded information, or strong appearances of the enemys operating in the Jerseys, in which case, or rather actual invasion, the force of the Country is to be called out, agreeably to the plan already fixed with the Governor and the Militia Officers of that State.2

I have ordered Captn Bedkin with his Troop of Horse to join your division being perswaded that your Lordship will not suffer them to be used improperly3—a contrary practice has worn down our horse and dismounted more than half the Dragoons.

I need not recommend vig⟨i⟩lence, because I am sure your Lor⟨d⟩ships caution & prudence will see the necessity of it, and will use the means to guard against surpriz⟨es⟩.4 I am with esteem & regard Yr Lordships Most Obedt Hble Se⟨rvant⟩

Go: Washington

ALS, NHi: Stirling Papers; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Obscured letters on the ALS are supplied in angle brackets from the ADfS.

2See John Neilson to GW, 5 June, and n.1 to that document, and William Livingston to GW, 8 June, and n.2 to that document.

3GW, then at Middlebrook, had ordered Capt. Henry Bedkin and his independent troop of light cavalry to join the army moving toward the Highlands in a letter of 3 June: “You will be pleased immediately upon receipt of this letter to march the horse under your command, to the army by the way of Morristown—You will make no delay, and come as light and unencumbered of baggage as possible.

“Should your clothing be at Philadelphia, you can leave a careful person to bring it forward with your light baggage” (Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC: GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

4GW provided additional directions to Stirling in a letter written at West Point on 25 July: “My letter of yesterday has, no doubt, reached you before this— To it I refer—I have only to add, that it is my wish, that the division should not be moved beyond Suffrans till further orders except in the cases mentioned in my last.

“As the enemy are in respectable force at Stoney point and may wish for an oppertunity to retaliate; your line of march through the clove should be conducted with much caution—I therefore advise a light Regiment or two, to lay upon the Road from Junes’s to Haverstraw (pretty well advanced) till your Baggage arrives at Slotts, & then to join by the nearest rout—This will effectually secure your left flank, and be the best guard to your Baggage” (ALS, NHi: Stirling Papers; copy, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

For GW’s realization that he based his orders on false intelligence, see his letter to Stirling, 28 July.

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