George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 2 October 1779

To Major Benjamin Tallmadge

Head Quarters West Point 2d October 1779

Dear Sir

I have recd yours of the 30th Sepr by Mr Helmerharsen to whom I have granted a Warrant for 5000 dollars to be accounted for by Colo. Sheldon.1 The State of the military Chest will not allow of a further sum at this time. When this is expended, be pleased to make a Return of the Names of the Men inlisted, and you may draw a further Sum. I am anxious to hear what effect the Count D’Estaings arrival to the southward will have upon the politics of New York, be pleased therefore to forward C—— letters or any other intelligence the momt you obtain them.2 I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS (photocopy), in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. A purported LS was sold by Sotheby, Parke-Bernet on 25 Jan. 1977, item no. 215.

1GW’s warrant book entries for this date included $5,000 “To Heny Frederick Helmerharsen for recruting 2d Regt Dragoons to be accounted for by Colo. sheldon” (Revolutionary War Warrant Book 4, 1779–1780, DLC:GW, Ser. 5).

2GW’s spy Robert Townsend (“Samuel Culper, Jr.”) first mentioned the reaction in New York to reports from Georgia in his letter to Tallmadge (“John Bolton”) of 9 Oct., which Abraham Woodhull (“Samuel Culper”) forwarded to Tallmadge with a covering letter dated 10 October.

The letter from Culper, Jr., to Bolton, dated 9 Oct. and numbered “No. 10,” reads: “In my N. 9 I informed you that the first division of Troops had returned—They disembarked on Long & Staten Island that day—The next morning about 100 of the Inhabitants went on Governers Island, and began to repair the old works there, and have continued going every day since—The works are now nearly compleated. About that time the Garrison was much alarmed, as by a number of coroborating accounts, they had great reason to expect De Estaing. All the Men of War and a number of arm’d Transports were order’d down to the Hook; with several old Hulks to sink in the Channel in case De Estaing should appear—They had also two or three fire Ships prepairing; and are building a very strong Fort at the Light House. The Ships &c. still continue there, tho’ their fears are now in some measure abated. The Transports distin’d for New port are still at White stone; and its now thought quite uncertain whether it will be evacuated this Fall. The Vessels belonging to private people sailed this day, and are to stop at Huntington to join the Wood Fleet, and proceed from there immediately—From this circumstance I think it will not be evacuated. It is now said that the first division of Troops are to re-embark immediately; and its generally believed that they are destin’d for Georgia. The last accounts from the West Indies say that Byron was at Barbadoes about a month ago—There positively is a letter from his Secretary to a Gentleman in this place dated the first of september which says that Byron was going home, and that the Fleet was taking in Water, and preparing with all expedition to go down to Jamaica, expecting that De Estaing h⟨ad⟩ gone against it. A Vessel from Tortola which left it the 11th of September the Capt. of which says that it was reported there, and generally believed that De Estang had come to this Continant. He likewise says that the English Trade in the West Indies, is almost ruined by the number of French & Spanish Cruisers. Tortola has already been plunder’d, and its expected that all the rest of the English Islands will share the same fate in the course of this winter—The Spaniards, he says, are even fitting out privateers at St Thomas’s & St Croix—Some say that Pensicola is invaded by the Spaniards.

“Accounts from England via of Rhode Island, as late as the 10th of August, say that there had been no engagement between the French & English Fleets. No late accounts from Georgia; some begin to fear that all is not well there. A considerable number of Troops are on the West end of Long-Island—The 17th Dragoons at Heamstead—The mounted Legion & Queens Rangers at Jericho, and the Foot belonging to the Legion are at Oyster Bay. No arrivals of any consequen[c]e since my last, except those mentioned. The Spirits of the Torys Flags much; but still some flatter themselves that there is yet a probability of Englands rising superior to all her enemies—There does not appear the least prospect of this place being evacuated this fall, Tho’ I believe they would be glad to have them at home, as from the best accounts they are in a very critical situation—If we were only to judge from sir Joseph Yorks memorial presented to their High Mightinesses, they are low enough.

“Large Magezines of Hay is already collected, and more collecting. The expence of transporting letters has already amounted to the money sent; I am therefore under the necessity of requesting that you will send me 20 Guineas by next conveyance” (DLC:GW).

Abraham Woodhull’s covering letter to Tallmadge, dated 10 Oct. and marked “No. 25,” reads: “I[n]closed you have S. C. Junr Letters which wish Safe to hand he desired me to Send for Some more of that Stain—It is two great a resque to write with ink in this Country of Robbers—I this day just Saved my life Soon after I left Hempsteat Planes and got into the Woods I was attacked by four armed men, one of them I had frequen[t]ly Seen in N. york they Serched every Pocket and lineing of my Cloth, Shoes, and also my Saddle Where the inclosed was in but thank kind Providence they did not find it I had but one dollar in money about me it was So little they did not take it and So Came of[f] Clear, dont mention this for I keep it a Secret for fear it Should intimedate all concer[ne]d here” (DLC:GW).

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