George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 21 October 1779

To Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

Head Quarters [West Point] Octor 21st 17791

Dr Sir,

Since writing to you this morning I have received accounts from deserters which seem strongly to indicate a speedy evacuation of Verplanks & Stoney Points—There is some reason to think that Verplanks was left last night. The deserters add that the Grenadiers were embarked and laying off against Fort Washington and that two other regiments were under orders to Embark at a moments warning.2 If this be true, we should suppose that they have some meaning by the maneuvre—perhaps an attempt to strike you and the Troops in your neighbourhood, or Genl Howe with those under him upon the East side, after having joined the force of the Garrisons to those before mentioned. This is mere matter of opinion, founded upon what may turn out false information, but I have thought it proper to put you upon your guard—And you will be pleased to communicate this to Lord Stirling, if he has joined his division or the Commanding Officer, if he has not. I am Dr Sir Yr Mo., Obet, servt

Go: Washington

P.s. Should the Enemy evacuate Stoney Point you will take possession of it, with the necessary caution.3

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, PHi: Wayne Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which is addressed to Wayne at Haverstraw, New York. GW sent this letter by express, and Wayne received it at 11 P.M. (see Wayne to GW, 22 Oct. [PHi: Wayne Papers]).

1The draft is dated this date at “2 oClock P.M.

2The British evacuated both Verplanck Point and Stony Point, N.Y., on this date (see Wayne to GW, 22 Oct., PHi). A British officer stationed at New York wrote in his journal entry for 24 Oct.: “The 42nd, 63rd. & 64th Regiments, the loyal Americans, Kings American Regiment, Ferguson’s Corps, the Light Companies of the 82nd. came down from Verplank’s & Stoney Point” (Ritchie, “New York Diary,” description begins Carson I. A. Ritchie, ed. “A New York Diary [British army officer’s journal] of the Revolutionary War.” New-York Historical Society Quarterly 50 (1966): 221–80, 401–46. description ends 441). Gen. Henry Clinton, British commander in chief, later claimed that the importance of the forts “ceased the moment I gave up offensive operations on the Hudson, which was the chief purpose that induced me to lay hold of them” (Willcox, American Rebellion, description begins William B. Willcox, ed. The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative of His Campaigns, 1775–1782, with an Appendix of Original Documents. New Haven, 1954. description ends 147).

3Wayne’s light infantry occupied the fortifications at Stony Point on this date (see Wayne to GW, 22 Oct., PHi). GW inspected the fortifications at Stony Point and Verplanck Point on 23 October. See GW to William Heath, 22 Oct. (MHi), and GW to Wayne, same date (PHi).

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