George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, 24 December 1779

From Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons

E[lizabeth] Town [N.J.] 24th Decr 1779

Dear General

I am inform’d that the Fleet which had fallen down to the Hook Saild Yesterday at 2 o’Clock P.M. and consisted of near 100 sail under Convoy of 1 Ship of 74 Guns & 1 of 40 Guns & one of 36 Guns bound to Europe, No Troops on Board1—The Fleet with Troops are still at the Watering Place ’tis expected this Fleet will fall down to the Hook about the forepart of next Week2—The Horse on Staten Island, are to embark to Day—those already embark’d are said to have only fourteen Days Forage on Board, but this I am not certain of.

The Galley & Sloop Stationd at Decker’s Ferry saild for New York Yesterday Morning at which Time General Skinner set of[f] for New York—Part of Buskirk’s Regiment at Decker’s Ferry are endeavoring to Strengthen that Post, by placing two Rows of Pickets around a Stone House, making loopholes for small Arms &c. my Informant says it is undoubted that Genl Clinton & Ld Cornwallis are going in the Fleet.3 I am with the greatest Respect yr Obedt Servt

Saml H. Parsons

ALS, PHi: Dreer Collection.

1See Parsons to GW, 23 Dec., and n.1 to that document.

2GW communicated this intelligence when he wrote Thomas Jefferson on 25 December.

3The diary entry for 25 Dec. of a British officer stationed in New York City reads: “The Troops intended for the Expedition being all embarked & the Men of War & Transports fallen down to Sandy Hook, Sir H. Clinton, Lord Cornwallis with the Staff embarked this Morning and immediately proceeded to the Hook” (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 446; see also Anthony Wayne to GW, 26 Dec., source note).

For GW’s eagerness to confirm reports of a major British detachment from New York, see his letter to Samuel Huntington, 29 Nov., and n.1 to that document; see also Henry Lee, Jr., to GW, 30 Nov., n.4.

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