George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 8 October 1780

From Major General Nathanael Greene

Ver Planks Point [N.Y.] Octr 8th 1780


The enclosed is an account given by a deserter just come to this Post.1 It is probable; if the person is a spy, he will be in Camp to day, and perhaps to morrow, as the army will be on the move, and uncertain where it is marching to. To fix that, may detain him a day longer & I have thought it of sufficient importance to send an Express; as the detection of spies is an interesting matter to the safety of an army: and the more hazardous the business is rendered, the more difficult it will be for the Enemy to obtain intelligence.

The troops under my command encamped last night at Haverstraw; and this morning marched for West Point. Part of the baggage is gone up the river, and the rest will go this evening. Most of the covered waggons are over the river, and by to morrow morning the whole of the waggons will be over.

Genl Wayne marched last evening from Haverstraw. Genl St Clair with the other brigade will march in the morning; but perhaps not until late, as it will be difficult for me to give the order this evening, not knowing with certainty whether the troops will arrive at West Point until the morning.2

Mr Arthur Lee crossed King’s Ferry last evening; he purposes calling at Head Quarters on his way to Philadelphia.3 I am with great respect your Excellency’s most obdt huml. Servt

Nath. Greene M. General

LS, DLC:GW; ADf, NjP: De Coppet Collection.

GW replied to Greene from headquarters at Preakness on Tuesday, 10 Oct.: “I recd yours of the 8th from Verplanks point. Inclosed is an extract from the General Orders of this day. You will be pleased to have it communicated as expeditiously as possible to the Corps at Kings Ferry and to Colo. Sheldons Regiment that the Returns called for may, if possi⟨ble,⟩ be all here by saturday next” (LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MiU-C: Greene Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). The enclosure has not been identified, but see the general orders for 10 Oct. regarding returns related to soldiers engaged for the war. For Greene’s compliance, see his orders for 12 Oct. 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 , 6:370.

1The enclosure has not been identified.

2The troops arrived at West Point the next morning (see Greene to GW, 13 Oct.).

Greene’s draft included two more paragraphs at this point: “Upon conversing with Colonel [James] Livingston respecting the Posts under his command; and making enquiry concerning the time it will take to get off the Cannon and Stores as well as the time it will take for the Enemy to run up to the posts after he gets intelligence I am almost of opinion that it will be best to put the Posts in a condition to hold out as long as they can.

“If the Enemy have any movement of a serious Nature against West Point a few Armed vessels will precede the transports about an hour or two and will pass the works without difficulty which would prevent the Stores from being got off in any other way than by Land; and [to] hold teams in readiness for this service will be very expensive.”

3This sentence appears only in the LS. The Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia) for 17 Oct. printed an item reporting the departure from Boston on 23 Sept. of Arthur Lee, “late a commissioner of the United States at the courts of Versailles and Madrid” (see also James Bowdoin to GW, 17 Aug.). Congress resolved on 19 Oct. that Lee present “all the information in his power relative to our affairs in Europe” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 18:953).

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