George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Arthur St. Clair, 12 February 1780

To Major General Arthur St. Clair

Head Quarters Morris Town 12th Feby 1780

Dear Sir

I received yours of yesterday, late last night. I am pleased to find that the Vigilance of your Guards and patrolls disappointed the enemy whatever might have been their intentions. I have taken precautions to guard against an attempt by such a party as might be reasonably supposed to be able to reach this in the course of a night, and I hope that a short continuance of this Weather will make the Ice impassable by Horse—from Foot there is no danger at this distance.1

If you still think an attempt upon Buskirks Corps practicable, yo⟨u are⟩ at full liberty to try the experiment. I am c⟨onfid⟩ent you will undertake nothing but what wil⟨l⟩ be justified by appearances and a probability of success. I am with great Regard Dear Sir yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. As the enemy have made an incursion with their Horse by the way of Hackensack, will it not be prudent in you to extend your patrols of Horse more to your left while the Ice is passable. Whenever persons apply for liberty to go within the Enemy’s lines having the permission of the Executive of any of the States—Congress or Board of War, you may suffer them to pass without an application to me.2 Monsr Thierry will call upon you for a passport either by Staten Island or Paulus Hook as he may find admission—you will be pleased to grant it to him.3

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, CSmH; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The text in angle brackets, where the LS is mutilated, is taken from the draft.

1GW recorded that at Morristown on 11 Feb., the weather conditions before noon were “very lowering & dropping rain—Snow much softened & beginning to dissolve.” In the afternoon, conditions were “clear & pleasant.” On 12 Feb., though it continued “Clear & pleasant.” GW noted it was “rather cooler” but the “Snow dissolving a little—Frost at Night.” And on 13 Feb., he wrote that the snow continued to thaw “a little in the middle of the day” (Diaries, description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends 3:345).

2In his letter to GW of 10 Feb., St. Clair had applied for authorization to allow a person holding such a permission to pass the American lines into New York City.

3Charles Lavage Thierry held a pass from the Board of Admiralty granting him permission to go into New York City to seek the release of his father, Robert Thierry, a Frenchman held prisoner in the city. A copy of the board’s letter of this date directing John Adam, commissary of prisoners at Elizabeth, N.J., to assist Thierry is in DNA:PCC, Miscellaneous Papers, Marine Committee Letterbook.

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