George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 11 October 1779

From Major General Horatio Gates

Providence, 11th October 1779. 5 o’Clock Monday Morning


An Express from Brigr General Cornell, has just delivered me the inclosed Letters. Every means are taking, to know whether The Fleet therein mentioned, are our Friends, or Enemies: The instant that can be determined with precision, I shall dispatch another Express to Your Excelly.1 This goes from hence by him who brought Your Letters of the third Instant;2 my Letter in Answer thereto,3 went from hence Fryday the 8th at noon, and was Ordered to be delivered to the Stationed Expresses, as directed by Your Excelly.4 I am, sir, Your most Obedt Hume Servt

Horatio Gates

ADfS, NHi: Gates Papers.

1The enclosures have not been identified but may have been a copy of Brig. Gen. Ezekiel Cornell’s letter to Gates of 10 Oct. forwarding an intelligence report from Lt. Col. James Williams to Col. John Topham, dated 10 Oct. at “Little Compton.” Williams reported that at five o’clock that afternoon he had seen a fleet to the west of Block Island standing in toward Point Judith “all, or near all Squar Riggd Vesils I can Number about fifty Sale But that is not Near the whole of them for they are So Doubled that they Cant be numbred with any certinty.” “Just as the Sun Set” he had spotted another fleet near the west end of Block Island that appeared large “But So far off I can give now account of thir Number” (Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ). In his next letter to GW, Gates made no mention of a fleet but enclosed another intelligence report indicating the possible evacuation of British troops from Rhode Island (see Gates to GW, 13 Oct.).

2Only one letter of 3 Oct. from GW to Gates has been found; GW’s letter of 3 Oct. enclosed a copy of John Jay’s letter to him of 26 September.

4For the stationing of this chain of express riders between Providence, R.I., and Fishkill, N.Y., see GW to Gates, 3 Oct., and n.9 to that document.

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