George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Jedediah Huntington, 8 April 1780

From Brigadier General Jedediah Huntington

Springfield [N.J.] 8 April 1780

Dear Sir,

I inclose a Letter from the Officer commanding at Elisabeth Town respecting Prisoners,1 should not the Commissary of Prisoners know from Head Quarters whether his Prisoners may have a Flag, before they arrive upon the Lines, as they will be able by staying a Day or two there to collect Intelligence of our Affairs. I am, dear Sir, with the greatest Respect—Your Excellencys most Obedt Servant

J. Huntington

P.S. I inclose a Letter from Dr Burnet about some Boats2—I should think best to take the Boat of Kennedys.3

ALS, DLC:GW. Huntington may have misdated this letter, as both enclosures are dated 9 April.

1The enclosed letter from Maj. Ames Walbridge to Huntington, written at Crane’s Mills, N.J., reads: “The Commissary of prisoners Desired me to enform you that he has recieved information from Philadelpha that there is sixty prisoners to be here Wednesday Next, and there is one now in town Wanting to be sent over, he wants your Derections where they shall be put if a flag should not be granted to send them immediatly over” (DLC:GW).

2The enclosed letter from William Burnet to Huntington, written at Newark, N.J., reads: “Captain Shipman informs me that there are a Number of Boats upon Passaick River which, as they are under no Guard, may easily be made Use of, to give Intelligence to the Enemy, carry on the London Trade & bring over the Enemy if they should come out, & therefore they are highly dangerous to this Post & worthy the Attention of the Commanding Officer—If the Owners wanted them for their private Use, they might use them in the Day Time if they would bring them & put them under the Care of the Centinel every Night—The Captain desired me to write to you upon this Subject & I think you ought to be informed of every Circumstance, which may affect the Safety of the Inhabitants or the Troops He is willing to take Charge of them, if you think it best to give him Orders to do it—It is I confess a tender Point. Private Property ought not to be touched, unless the Public Safety requires it—You Sir, are to judge of this Matter & if you think, there is Danger in leaving them scattered about in the Manner they are at present, you will without Doubt give Directions concerning them.

“Lieutt Tiffany tells me, that he is informed, there is a fine Boat on the other Side of the River suitable for him as a Guard Boat—It is in Capt. Kennedy’s Barn, but it may easily be drawn into the River & in my Opinion it would be best to give him Orders to go & view it & if he thinks it better, than those he has, to take it—Capt. Kennedy is in England & dont want to use it & if it was not so the Public must always be preferred to private Interest—If you have any Public News, I should be much obliged to you for it—Please to present my best Regards to Major [Roger] Alden” (DLC:GW).

3GW replied to Huntington from Morristown on 10 April: “I have recd your favr dated the 8th. Be pleased to give directions to the Officer commanding at Elizabeth Town to send over a Flag with the prisoners as soon as they arrive there. It may sometimes happen that prisoners who come from a distance may arrive at Elizabeth Town before the Commy of prisoners can have previous notice, in that case, there will be a necessity for their waiting untill a Flag can be applied for and obtained.

“You will take such steps respecting the security of the Boats upon Passaick River as you may think conducive to the safety of the posts, without unnecessarily distressing the owners. But I would not wish Capt. Kennedy’s Boat to be taken, while another can be procured for the purpose of a guard Boat. It is true he is in England, but he went thither by permission of the State” (LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW, ser. 9; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). For the departure from New Jersey of Archibald Kennedy, Jr., former captain in the Royal Navy, see GW to Kennedy, 20 Jan. 1778, and n.1 to that document.

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