George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 9 September 1780

From Major Benjamin Tallmadge

North Castle [NY.] Septr 9th 1780


The inclosed Dispatches from C—— have this Moment come to hand, which are forwarded1 ⅌ Line of Expresses2—C—— Writes with great Sollicitude for Troops to be sent from this side to attack those Lying at Setauket—I need not repeat to Your Excellency how exceedingly happy I should be to assist in such an Expedition, should it be tho’t adviseable.3

I expect Genl Parsons will be here this afternoon to take the Command of the Troops at this Post. I have the honor to be with great Regard, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servt

Benja. Tallmadge


1Tallmadge inadvertently wrote “forworwarded” for this word.

2Enclosed was a letter from Samuel Culper (Abraham Woodhull’s alias) to John Bolton (Tallmadge’s alias) written from Setauket, N.Y., on 1 Sept.: “When C. Jurs last dispatch came to hand He directd me to wait on him at Jerico yesterday But my present state would not admit—Therefore Sent the Express which handed him your inclosed—But he hath returnd without any answer. The reason is he had not the counterpt with him. And in regard of the state of affairs in general He assured the Express they remaned as heretofore or as when wrote you last nothing new every-thing appeared to be at a Stand. And the Enemy much embarssed expecting an attack—I am sorry you have to wait so long for an answer, that Judge is of importance. But it must Still unavoidably be lenghtend untill the—10th—As C. Jur Said he could not be in New York before the 8th.

“Since my last the Infantry have marchd to Huntington and incamped there, Fannings Regt to Loyds Neck, Simcoes Rangers to Oyster bay. And thers in Setauket the 17 Regt Dragins, Some Huzzars Some Rangers. About 20 Waggons 300 Horses 250 Men go Mounted. They are encamped round about Capt. Nathan Woodhulls House and Parsons Lyons’ The former is the Coll Quarters The officers mostly lodge in Camp. at night Thers every appearance of there continueing here Some time And they appear quite easy and off their guard—Am fully of an Oppinion that 500 good Men Would make Prisoners of them all, if Secretly conducted on your Shore as well as here. If you intend to attack direct Brewster to cross the night before. And will meet him and further advise at all hazzards—George Howel of Southhampton is now on your Shore. And positively an Agent for the Enemy. he hath bene a long time serviceable in that way. And this is his Second embassy, I know it to be true. And have lately had a perfect knowledge of his conduct for this three years past. And have bene Solicited by his friend as an assistant—A Little time Past a Boat from New Haven, Loaded with Provisions met a number of Refugees here—one of the Mens Names was [Joseph] Trowbridge an intimate acquaintance of John Clark—And you may depend the refugees land on your Shore and hide their boats—The other day I Saw a man that had the appearance of a Gentleman, Told me had bene three Weeks conceald in Middletown and Heartford—the former being his Native Place—but could not find out his Name. He Told me had left 20 od Thousand Pounds of Counterfeit Money—of your late emetions in the hands of the Torys—to Pay their Taxes with—Youll Doubtless take Some notice of this information—And anxiously wait for the arival of our deliverers. … N.B. The Enemy are now collecting all the forage they Possibly can the Whole will be very little certainly not half enough for the winter” (DLC:GW; Culper’s code misdated the letter as 1 Aug.; underlines signify decoded text). For the code, see Tallmadge to GW, 25 July 1779.

Tallmadge also enclosed Culper’s letter to Bolton written from Setauket on 5 Sept.: “My letter not being forwarded as could have desired on account of bad Weather I have to informe you of the arival of the Packet, but cannot lerne any news Coll Birch is at Setauket and like to continue there very Probably untill Winter he haveing now Just Sent for Field Pieces, but the number before mentiond is lessend by the departure of the Rangers yesterday, in number thirty four which may be deductd—for Gods Sake attack them, youll certainly be Successfull, if you are Secret about it. Trust not to Small Boats at this Season, You have three Strong vessels on your Shore that will be Sufficient to bring five hundred Men. Setauket is exceedingly distressd, Pray afford Some Releaf” (DLC:GW; the underline signifies decoded text).

3GW later authorized Tallmadge to lead a raid against the British on Long Island, N.Y. (see GW to Tallmadge, 11 Nov., DLC:GW; see also Tallmadge to GW, 10 Aug.).

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