George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 23 August 1779

To John Jay

Head Quarters West Point August 23d 1779


I have the honor to inclose your Excellency Major Lee’s report of the surprise & capture of the Garrison of Powles Hook.1 The Major displayed a remarkable degree of prudence address enterprise and bravery upon this occasion—which does the highest honor to himself and to all the officers and men under his command. The situation of the Post rendered the attempt critical and the success brilliant: It was made in consequence of information that the garrison was in a state of negligent security, which the event has justified.

I am much indebted to Major Genl Lord Stirling for the judicious measures he took to forward the enterprise, and to secure the retreat of the party.2

Lieut. McCalester who will have the honor of delivering these dispatches, will present Congress with the standard of the garrison which fell into his possession during the attack. Major Lee speaks of this Gentlemans conduct in the handsomest terms. I have the honor to be With perfect respect and esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obet servant

Go: Washington

P.s. The report not having been received till this day prevented a speedier transmission. Major Lee mentions twenty men lost on our side—Capt. Rudulph informs that since the report was concluded several of the missing had returned which will lessen the supposed loss near one half.

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 27 Aug. and referred it to the Committee of Intelligence and also a committee consisting of William Paca, Samuel Atlee, and John Dickinson (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 14:1003).

1See Henry Lee to GW, 22 August. GW also enclosed Lee’s “Order of march and disposition of battle” and his return of prisoners, which Lee had enclosed in his report.

2On the draft, which is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton, this paragraph was added after the closing and marked for inclusion at this point.

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