George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain William Helms, 4 August 1780

From Captain William Helms

Hacketts Town [N.J.] 4th Augt 1780


Have hitherto had a Guard of twenty five men at this place, likewise an equil number at the post at Sussex Court House, the greatest part of the flower is now forwarded,1 have reduced the Guards to a Serjt & twelve at each post, thinking since the capture of Moody I had little danger to apprehend.2

The Milittia continues on duty without grumbling, the hurry of their work being over, I think my presence here unnecessary any longer, would therefore beg for premission to join my Regiment. I Have the Honor to remain Your Excellencys Obdt Servt

Wm Helms Capt. 2d Regt Jersey

ALS, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote on the docket: “Ansd[;] leave to join his Regt.” No letter from GW to Helms on this subject has been found.

2While leading a party of thirteen men, Loyalist raider Ens. James Moody was captured on 21 July during Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne’s attack on the Loyalist out-post at Bull’s Ferry, New Jersey. After being confined in various locations, Moody was taken to West Point, N.Y., on GW’s orders and imprisoned (see Moody’s Narrative description begins Lieut. James Moody’s Narrative of His Exertions and Sufferings in the Cause of Government, Since the Year 1776. 2d edition. London, 1783. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 22–24; see also Garret H. Van Wagenen to William Malcom, 7 Aug., DLC:GW). For the attack on Bull’s Ferry, see Wayne to GW, 21 and 22 July.

Writing to New Jersey governor William Livingston on 12–13 Jan. 1782 regarding a later attempt to capture Moody, GW stated that “It is a pity but that Villain Moody could be apprehended lurking in the Country, in a manner that would bring him under the description of a Spy. When he was taken before [in July 1780], he was in Arms—in his proper uniform—with a party—and had his Commission in his pocket—It was, therefore, a matter of great doubt whether he could be considered otherwise than a prisoner of War—It was said he had been inlisting men in the Country but no proof of the kind ever appeared” (PWacD: Sol Feinstone Collection, on deposit at PPAmP).

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