George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman, 18 September 1780

From Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman

Head Quarters [Bergen County] 18th Sepr 1780


Mercerau arrived late last night with the inclosed.1 He says the Fleet lay yesterday morning within the point of the Hook, he beleives taking in both Wood and Water. It is most certainly Rodney. The passports for the Flag came out last Evening, that from the Navy is signed in the following particular manner:

Geo: Gayton senior Officer in the absence of Sir Geo: Rodney who is at sandy Hook.2

A deserter from the Fleet says they came from Antigua where they left five sail of the line. He knows nothing of Walsingham with the remainder. He most probably is gone down to Leeward as the paper mentions.3 Genl Greene has communicated the substance of Merceraus intelligence to Congress, and I shall inform Govr Jefferson, by the post, of what information we have gained since your Excellency’s last letter to him.4

Be pleased to let the Marquis know, that agreeable to his desire, I informed the Chevr de la Luzerne of the certain arrival of Rodney.5 I have the honor to be &.

T. Tilghman

Rodney had 18 days passage. Fleet healthy and well-manned. only one frigate came from the West Indais.


1Tilghman likely enclosed an undated letter from “L——D” (John Vanderhovan’s alias): “I am So Sick that I Could not procure what you wanted As well as I fain would I Can Only tell you that the army is all Drawing nearer the town Down to flushing and brooklin Clinton’s Quarters are Near Kniphousen’s at King’s Bridge the Imbarcations Seems to Be put of[f] On Accompt of Some thing I Be[t] it is On Acct of Rodnies Arrival who is Arrived with ten Sail of the [line] all Seventey fours wheather these Ships are to Convoy these five thowsand troops to the west Indies Or to Boston Or to the Sutherd Is a mistery to Mee All Seems to Be in Confusion hear. … I have Some Littel things But my head will not promit me to write any farther this is all Report as I Am Still Confined to my Bed” (DLC:GW; Tilghman docketed the report: “10th Septemr 1780—from Mercerau”).

2George Gayton (1724–1797) served as a British naval officer in the French and Indian War. He escorted a British expedition from New York City to Virginia in October 1780 and became vice admiral after the war.

3Tilghman probably enclosed The Royal Gazette (New York) for 16 Sept., which reported the arrival on 13 Sept. of Adm. George Rodney at Sandy Hook “with Ten Sail of Line of Battle SHIPS. … Commodore Walsingham is arrived with several Thousand Land Forces at Jamaica” (see also David Forman to GW, 14 Sept.). The information about Jamaica was erroneous.

Robert Boyle Walsingham (1736–1780) served as a naval officer during the French and Indian War. Promoted to captain in 1757, he took a squadron to the West Indies in July 1780 and perished in a hurricane that sank his ship.

4See Nathanael Greene to Samuel Huntington, this date, in Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 6:294–95, and Tench Tilghman to Thomas Jefferson, 21 Sept., in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 3:654. GW last wrote Jefferson on 11 September.

5Major General Lafayette traveled with GW to Hartford (see The Hartford Conference, 20–22 Sept., editorial note; see also Lafayette to La Luzerne, 17 Sept., in Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 3:174–75).

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