George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 24 July 1780

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 24th July 1780—4 O Clo. P.M.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 7th instant came to hand this afternoon—Majr Murnan came to Stamford, worked there some time—the beginning of last week he came to me. On advice it was judged best for him to come to Connecticut River—to carry on the work at Chatham and Hadlime on the East side, and Chester on the West side the river—and orders were given to 979 of the militia raised for three months to march to those places, and proceed on the work to make fascines &c. under direction of the Majr till further orders.1 Some moved on the latter end of the week—the rest will go forward this day. The remainder of the 1520 men of the militia are ordered to rendezvous at Danbury.

The Marquiss De La Fayette and Mr Washington breakfasted with me yesterday morning—had a conference with him on the subjects of cloathing—arms, ammunition—and officer’s cloathing for the Connecticut Line—The substance of which he wrote Your Excellency, and was sent forward directly.2

You will observe that the powder is carried to the extent of what could possibly be collected in the State—Our powder mills, two of them, are at work—Col. Woodbridge’s on Connecticut River is exhausted of stock.3 This day sent to him to go to Springfield for sulphur and petre, if to be had there, otherwise to get sulphur, and send to Windham for petre, and to go on without delay. The Marquiss left me about noon—within half an hour after, had intelligence that 15 or 16 British ships appeared off, near Block Island friday afternoon.4 This morning received M. General Heath’s letter, dated 20th July 11 O. Clo. P.M. giving the following intelligence—viz.—“This afternoon fifteen or sixteen British ships of war have appeared off this harbour to the East of Block-Island; more than half of them are supposed to be ships of the line. From some late intelligence it is very probable that the ships under Admiral Graves have joined those under Admiral Arbuthnot, which will make the British fleet rather superior. Their design may be to block up Admiral De Ternay, and if possible, intercept the expected second division of our allies. From appearances just at sunset the fleet were coming to under Block Island.”5

The cloathing, arms and ammunition from the French Fleet must now be sent to Providence, and carted from thence.6

A letter of this day from Mr Shaw informs—That this morning Colo. Ledyard’s Boat arrived from Plumb Island7—brings intelligence that there was 100 sail of transports at White stone, and 10,000 troops ready to embark last thursday.8 I am, with every sentiment of Esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obedient humble Servant Jonth; Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW. GW acknowledged this letter in the postscript when he wrote Trumbull on 1 August.

1See Trumbull to GW, 12 and 18 July.

2See Lafayette to GW, 23 July. GW’s nephew George Augustine Washington was serving as an aide-de-camp to Major General Lafayette.

3Russell Woodbridge (1719–1782), of Hartford, operated a powder mill at Glastonbury, Conn., and had charge of the state’s store of flints and muskets.

4The previous Friday was 21 July.

5Maj. Gen. William Heath was stationed at Newport. The draft of Heath’s letter to Trumbull, dated 21 July, is in MHi: Heath Papers; see also Heath to GW, 21 July (second letter).

6For the previously proposed route, see Trumbull to GW, 18 July; see also GW to Trumbull, 14 July.

7Plum Island, in Suffolk County, N.Y., is in the north part of Gardiners Bay at the east end of Long Island. Nathaniel Shaw’s letter to Trumbull has not been identified.

William Ledyard (1738–1781), of Groton, Conn., commanded a militia artillery company before the Connecticut council appointed him commander of the forts at New London, Groton, and Stonington with the rank of major in March 1778. He became a lieutenant colonel in January 1780. As commander at New London, he had charge of guard boats cruising Long Island Sound to prevent illicit trade (see Conn. Public Records description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894–. description ends , 2:457–58, 512; 3:292). Ledyard led his 150-man militia garrison in an obstinate defense of Fort Griswold, Conn., on 6 Sept. 1781 during Benedict Arnold’s raid on New London. He was stabbed by an enemy officer and bayoneted to death by soldiers shortly after surrendering the fort (see Trumbull to GW, 13 Sept. 1781, DLC:GW; see also Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 321–22).

8For this British expedition, part of a design to attack the French army at Newport, see GW to Rochambeau, 27 July (second letter), n.3.

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