George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 28 August 1780

From Major Benjamin Tallmadge

Bedford [NY.] Augt 28th 1780


I have the Honor to enclose a Letter from C——Senr & one from Lt B——r which have just come to hand.1 I have also recd a letter from C——Junr of which the following is an Extract.

N.Y. Augt 23d 80

“C——Senr was in Town & wrote You by the last Conveyance2—The present offers nothing material—Clinton seems now preparing to act on the defensive—He is fortifying on L.I. opposite Frogs Point, the Heights of Haerlem, & the Island eastward of Hellgate. However some of our most knowing Politicians say that R. Island is still the Object, & that he is only waiting the arrival of three Regts that are expected from Carolina, & some Hanoverian Troops that are expected some time in Septr, & that Arbuthnot is to keep off N. Port ’till that time. Others think that this Garrison will be put in the best State of Defence, & that Arbuthnot will go to the W. Indies.3

A Fleet of Transports, Victuellers, & some Private Vessels under Convoy of the Renown will sail for England in a few days4—The 22d—76th—Robinson’s, & two Hessian Regts do Duty in Town5—Forty two pieces of Cannon are mounted on the Battery.

C—— Senr will furnish You with the Situation of the Troops on L. sland” &c.

I was obliged to decypher6 C——Junrs letter, as I was convinced it refered to the future mode of our Correspondence—After his next arrives, I hope to have no further Occasion to decypher his letters, as I hope by that time our Plan will be finished. After sending several times across the Sound to open a new Communication with C——Junr witho⟨ut⟩ Success, I have finally refered the whole matter to him, who I expect will appoint such Place, & pitch on such Persons for his Confidential friends as will best answer our Purpose, & inform me thereof.7

Lt B——r informs of several Boats, with Contl Crews being along the Sound, which were appointed by Genl Officers—Possibly Major Humpreys knows more about this matter—If they are not wanted on their Present duty, one of them would be of very great Service to Lt B——r.8 I have the Honor to be, with great Regard Your Excellency’s most Obedt Hble Servt

Benja. Tallmadge

ALS, DLC:GW; copy (partial), NjP: Benjamin Tallmadge Collection. Tallmadge wrote “Private,” “P. Express,” and “Bedford Monday morning [this date] 6 oClock” on the cover of the ALS. For a similar letter, see Tallmadge to William Heath, this date (MHi: Heath Papers).

1The enclosure from Samuel Culper (Abraham Woodhull’s alias) to John Bolton (Tallmadge’s alias), written at Setauket, N.Y., on Sunday, 27 Aug., reads: “I have now to acknowledge the recept of yours of the 22d Instant—And one of an earlier date As also 10 Guineas. The day I wrote my last before had time to deliver it Was taken very ill with the camp disorder—but am now better—Though very low—My disorder hath put it out of my power to make any enquiry about the enemy—in these parts. Genl Clinton hath returnd to New York Some days ago. The 17th Regt D[ragoons] is in Setauket14 Companies of Lt Infantry are at Smith Town. Q[u]eens Rangers & Fannings Regts are yet East of here. Where know not—The whole number is about 1500—It appears Probable they will continue in these parts Sometime—Their Wanton waste of the necessaries of life (Which will occasion people to Perish for Want of Subsistance unless can be procured else Where) hath given rise to a prevailing oppinion that this is the last visit we Shall ever have from them; And that they will leave New York Soon I Was Told So When at New York—but could See nothing that looked like it—I here the Same accounts in New York—from England—As mentioned in your letter hope the flame begun may increase, And fill with horror all those cursd destroyers of Mankind—The Refugees keep up a constant communication with your Courts, And carries large Sums of counterfeit paper currency of every emetion and puts it into the hands of the Torys, for to Pay their Taxes with, This I do assure you from undoubted Authority is their practice. I Shall at a more convenient time write you farther on the Subject of treacheary, and Some discoverys that I hope Soon to make—Inclosed you have a blank from C. Jur Just Come to hand and yours inclosed to him Shall be deliv[er]ed into his hands on Wednessday next—On the 2d Septemr let Brewster Cross again” (DLC:GW; underlines signify decoded text). For the code, see Tallmadge to GW, 25 July 1779.

The enclosure from Lt. Caleb Brewster to Tallmadge, written at Fairfield, Conn., on 27 Aug., reads: “I Returnd this Morning from the Iseland I Crosst on 22d Instnt and Was Detaind by Culper ’till Last Night I Did Not See C—. he is Sick he Did Not Appoint any Time for Me that I know of it Was With Great Diffikulty that I got the Dispaches the Troops are Very thick their at Millers place and Coram Setolket and the branch [Village of the Branch] and are Like to S[t]ay Some time and the Ruffigeas boates are With them Glover and Hoyt has bin to Drownmedo and Disarmd them all on friday Last and I Was Ablided Li[e] Still for the Want of Another boates Crew there is A fine boate at Stanford that roase With Eight oars that belongs to the publick under Ca[p]t. John Suttin With A Crew of Continental Soldiers that Was ordered by Ge[n]l How and I belive that Jabus fich has one or two boates at horese Nesck but I am Not Sertain that publick property and Continental Soldiers their is A fine Time to Take Some of the offisers their out With their hounds Every Day I Lay up back of Esqr. Strongs yesterday and their Came A Lieut. of 17th Regt With in gun Shot of us Looking for Esqr. Strongs hounds Afoot but he beged Sow hard I thought it Not best to Take him as it Was Sow Nigh his house they are Riding Continually from one Stag hun[t] to the orther the Troops are all Come from the East ward as far as Millers place Sir Henry Clinton gone to New york and the Brittish fleat has Saild from Garners bay” (DLC:GW; Brewster wrote “P. Express” on the cover, which was addressed to Tallmadge at Pound Ridge, N.Y.).

2Samuel Culper, Jr. (Robert Townsend’s alias), probably means a letter Culper, Sr. (another alias for Woodhull), wrote Bolton from Setauket on 16 Aug.: “I have this day returnd from New York City. And am happy to informe you, that C——Jur hath engaged to Serve as heretofore. I have nothing to inclose from him to you. as thers not a Word of Intelligence Worthy of notice in New York City. I have the Satisfaction to assure you that the Judicious Torys in New York City are more dejected now than ever I knew before—On account of the neutrality enterd into by the Powers of Urope A few victualling Ships Were to Sail yesterday to the Fleet now laying in Gardiners Bay. Clinton With about 7000 Thousand men are cantoned from White Stone to Jamaica for this ten days Past have bene orderd to hold themselvs in readiness togather with the Fleet—that Still lays at White Stone. Common reports Say they are about to Proceed to Rhode island but it is very uncertain no Person can tell, but by all meanes be upon your Guard thers in this County the Q[u]eens Rangers three Comps. of Q[u]eens County Militia Troop Coll Fannings Regt the 17 Dragons German Huzzars all Marching to the Eastward, also three Regt More were orderd to March reports Say they are to imbark at the east end of this Island. We have a report that the Second division of French hath arived hope it may be true—Tryon—Patterson [Pattison] & Mathews are about to Sail immediately in the Packet for Urope—The Person I depended on to Procu[r]e a very accurate account of L. Neck is taken very ill and hath Put it out of my Power to forward it now I have orderd Brewster to returne here again on the 24. Instant and intend to Send you as frequent disPaches as Possible as long as things are in Such motion. … N.B. Next opportunity you’ll have the Papers regular as heretofore Should have Sent them now but lost them out of my Pocket on the road.

“I forgot to mention in the run of my letter that Genl Clinton in Person Was escortd through the Town yesterd. by the Mounted Rangers 17 Dragons & German Huzzars in All about two Hundred & forty Horse” (DLC:GW; underlines signify decoded text).

3Vice Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot’s British fleet did not depart for the West Indies (see Heath to GW, 19 Sept., n.2).

5Hessian lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft wrote in his journal entry for 19 Aug. that “the 22nd English regiment and Hessian Body regiment and Landgrave left their Long Island camp in boats and crossed over to New York” (Krafft, Journal description begins Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft. 1882. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 118).

6Instead of this word on his copy, Tallmadge wrote “put on the Counterpart to read,” referring to the reagent for invisible ink.

8See Tallmadge to GW, 13 Sept., and n.3 to that document.

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