George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 30 July 1779

To Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

West point July 30th 1779

Dear Sir,

Your favor of this date came duly to hand1—I shall certainly not undertake any thing (capital) without your knowledge—I wish for your opinion as a friend—not as commanding Officer of the light Troops—whether another attempt upon Stoney point by way of surprize, is eligible—(In any other manner under present appearances, and information, no good, I am sure, can result from it).2

Lord Cornwallis is undoubtedly arrived, and I have information that bears all the marks of authenticity that Admiral Arbuthnot with the grand fleet left Torbay the 26th of May, with (as it is said) 7000 Troops Hessians and British for America3—A deserter who left the City of New York on Tuesday last says, it was reported that a number of Transports had arrived at Sandy hook—Firing he himself heard4— I have not heard nor is it my belief that Lord Cornwallis supercedes Sir Harry.5 I am very sincerely and Affectionately—Dr Sir Yrs

Go: Washington

ALS, PWcHi; ADfS, DLC:GW; copy, PHi: Wayne Papers; Varick transcript, DLC: GW. GW signed the cover of the ALS, which is addressed to Wayne at New Windsor, New York.

GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton also wrote Wayne from West Point on this date: “Lt Col. Williams of the Pensylvania line has applied to the General on the subject of the inquiry into his conduct—You may recollect that the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry were ordered to be revised & your evidence together with that of Col. [Walter] Stewart, taken—The General would be glad to know whether what you may have to say will be material in the case; because the affair has now lain over so long, that unless there should be something to throw new light upon it, it may be best to publish the report of the court of inquiry in the first instance, without the trouble and delay of a revisal” (PHi: Wayne Papers). Wayne replied to Hamilton from Fishkill Landing, N.Y., on 31 July: “That affair of Colo. Williams’s is very old & I thought had been long drop’t—I can’t pretend to recollect the Circumstances & Charges laid against him—all I know of my own knowledge is that early in the morning of the Action of Germantown Colo. Williams came & took me by the hand & seemed pleased at the prospect of Immediate Action—but at the same time appeared to be much Intoxicated with Liquor too much so for serious buisness which might very probably be occation’d by taking but a little Spirits on an Em[p]ty Stomach and want of rest, to which cause I wish to attribute it. I remember that Colo. Stewart & some Others made the same Observations on his Situation that day—so much so that—had he not been a prisoner—I believe that he would have been put in arrest—you’d better Consult Colo. Stewart on the Occation who knows more of the Matter than I can pretend to—I wish for his own sake that Colo. Williams would let the Matter rest” (PHi: Wayne Papers). For the grievance of Lt. Col. William Williams against Wayne, and the earlier court of inquiry that investigated his case, see Williams to GW, 8 June 1778, and the general orders for 13 and 16 June 1778.

1This letter from Wayne to GW has not been found.

2For Wayne’s general thoughts on attacking the British at Stony Point, N.Y., after their reoccupation of that place on 19 July, see his letter to GW, 27 July.

3GW had received this intelligence from Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates (see Gates to GW, 25 July, and n.1 to that document, and GW to Gates, this date). GW expressed less confidence in this intelligence in his letter to Benjamin Lincoln of this date.

4For this deserter, who left New York City on 27 July, see GW to John Jay, 29 July (second letter).

5Gen. Henry Clinton retained overall command of the British army in North America.

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