George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 20 August 1780

From Major Benjamin Tallmadge

North Castle [N.Y.] Augt 20th 1780


Since my last1 I have made several attempts to open a Communication with C—— Junr by the way of Oysterbay or Cow Neck. The Person whom I mentioned to Your Excellency as the properest Man to engage, & secure C——’s Services,2 was once from home at N.Y. & last monday night3 I sent over an Officer who formerly resided at Oysterbay, but the Person in question was then too ill to be seen. I shall still pay attention to this matter, tho’ the Reffugee boats which frequently pass up & down the Sound makes ⟨c⟩rossing very dangerous.4

Enclosed is a Letter from the Person who has for ⟨mutilated⟩ long time bro’t dispatches from the C——’s—Your Excellency will perceive he has been attacked by some of the Ruffugee Boats. He requests more men, as may be seen by the enclosed5—Your Excellency will please to direct me in the matter—There are several Continental Crews at Stamford & Horseneck, whose Duty I am unacquainted with—Perhaps one of these can be spared.

I am sorry Lt B——r was drove from L.I. so suddenly as Dispatches from C——Junr were then waiting for him. I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s most Obedt Servt

Benja. Tallmadge

ALS, DLC:GW. The cover is marked “Private.” A note on the cover reads: “P. Express.”

GW replied on 21 Aug. from headquarters at Orangetown, N.Y.: “I recd yours of yesterday morning last evening. It is unfortunate that Lt B—— could not bring off C—— juns. dispatches, as I imagine they were of consequence. You will therefore endeavour to procure them as soon as possible.

“I have information from another quarter, that Sir Henry Clinton had gone towards the East end of Long Island, and that the troops at Whitestone were again embarking. Should the last peice of intelligence reach you, well authenticated, you will be pleased to transmit it immediately to Genl Heath at Newport, as well as to me, as you will always do any thing which seems to interest the French Army and Navy.

“If there are any other Continental Crews upon the sound besides those under Lt B——’s directions, they are there without my knowledge. You will therefore desire him in my name to take what hands he wants from them, and to report who the others are and what business they are upon” (LS [photocopy], in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NN: U.S. Presidents; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

3The previous Monday was 14 August.

4Tallmadge is referring to Loyalist privateers patrolling Long Island Sound.

5The enclosed letter from Lt. Caleb Brewster to Tallmadge, dated 18 Aug. at Fairfield, Conn., reads: “I Came from Long Iseland this After Noon but have got Now [No] Dispches[.] Culper has bin Down to Newyork I Wated till this Morning and he Was to Sent them by two Aclock but before he Sent them I Was Attackd by Glover and Hoyght[.] I Left one Man taken and one Wounded[.] We killed one on the Spot[.] The Man that Was takin Went After Water[.] I Shall Want Two Men before I Can Cross Agin[.] I have got Tow [Two] boates in fine order[.] I wish you Send Me Seven Men and I Engage to take Som of their boates[.] Mister ⟨Murison⟩ Will give you A perticuler Account of our Cruse[.] Austin [Roe] Told Me that Sir Henry Clinton Went Down to the East Eand of the Island on the Sixteenth. Dont fail to Let Me have two Crewes if you Can of Continental Soldiers” (DLC:GW).

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