George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Isaac Ledyard, 27 September 1780

From Isaac Ledyard

Barracks Fish Kill [N.Y]. 27th Septr 1780


Upon the reception of your Commands I examined the papers that were in the hands of young Mr Smyth & found them as I expected to be papers of Joshua Smyth.1 They being of such a nature I thought it advisable to send both them & himself down with a Guard which Lieut. Colton has furnished me.2

I know of nothing more against the young Gentn but his first endeavouring to conceal these papers under his own name (as your Excellency will see by the indorsment on the ruled paper which incloses them) and afterwards being anxious to recover them.

The Mate, I can assure your Excellency is entirely innocent. he kept the papers very faithfully ’till I shew him my Authority to take them. altho: they were frequently calle⟨d⟩ for by Mr Smyth—When they were handed to him the last named informed him that they were to go to Genl Arnold, It was not then known that Genl Arnold had absconded, so it was thought Mr ⟨D⟩uffle (a Generals name being mentioned) would not hesitate to recieve & restore them when called for.3

The papers are inclosed to your Excellency just as they were found except the Seal being broken.4

There was no Commissioned Officer at this post except Lieut. Colton, so I am obliged to entrust this Charge with a Searjt for whose fidelity Mr Colton vouches. I have the honor to be with the most perfect respect Your Excellency’s most Humbl. and Obedt Servt

Isaac Ledyard


1See Document III.

2John Colton, a lieutenant in the Massachusetts militia, was in a Hampshire County regiment that reinforced the Continental army in summer and fall 1780 (see Mass. Soldiers and Sailors description begins Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. 17 vols. Boston, 1896–1908. description ends , 3:846).

3The man apparently named Duffle has not been identified.

4Joshua Hett Smith’s papers that Ledyard enclosed have not been identified; see also Document V, and The Discovery of Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 25 Sept.–24 Nov., editorial note.

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