George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Arthur St. Clair, 10 February 1780

From Major General Arthur St. Clair

Spring Field [N.J.] Feby 10. 1780


The Author of the enclosed Letter to yourr Excellency has been waiting at Elizabeth Town for some time past in Expectation of receiving Permission from New York to go in1—He is tired out, and wishes to run all hazards rather than be longer detained—His Permission from Governour Reed I have seen.

My Messenger that went in to New York is not yet returned2—The easterly Storm that happened two Nights ago swelled the Tide so much in New Ark Bay that it was impossible to cross—which is what, I hope, has delayed him—I am just now setting out for New Ark to meet him and any Intelligence he brings shall be immediatly communicated—I have the Honour to be Sir Your most obedient Servant

Ar. St Clair

I have heard that the Ice is broken in the North River for some Distance up, but the Sound is still fast as eve⟨r⟩.


GW, at headquarters at Morristown, replied to St. Clair on this date: “I am favd with yours of this date. If Mr saxton has Governor Reeds permission to go to New York, I have no objection to his going immediately over to the Island to see whether they will receive him” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

On 26 Nov. 1779, the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council granted Loyalist John Saxton, a resident of that state, a pass to go into New York City after he gave security not to return again (see Pa. Col. Records, description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends 12:181). In May 1781, Saxton joined the Royal Garrison Battalion detachment in New York as an ensign, and in September 1782 he became a lieutenant. After the war, he settled with his family in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

1Saxton’s letter to GW has not been found.

2St. Clair had been waiting for the return of this spy since 7 Feb. (see his letter to GW of that date).

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