George Washington Papers

I. George Washington to Major Samuel Darby, 17 November 1780

To Major Samuel Darby

[Passaic Falls, 17 Nov. 1780]


You will take charge of the Boats with the Army, and see that they are provided with Oars & held in the most perfect readiness for instant use.

You will try them in the Water to see if they are quite tight, when full loaded; and you will ascertain the number of Men that each Boat will carry with tolerable convenience, & make report thereof to me.

You will number the Boats, & put them into three divisions—each division to contain about the same number of Men; and to be under the care of an Officer. each boat is to have five Watermen in it, that is, four Rowers & one to Steer. these Men are always to have their Arms—Accoutrements—& a sufficient quantity of Ammunition with them.

They are to be always with the Boats, because the call upon them may be sudden. and for the sake of experiment, I wish it to be tried, what number of Men it will take to carry (on their Shoulders or otherwise) in uneven and difficult ground, one of the largest siz’d Boats. I wish it to be tried also, in how short a time these Boats can be mounted on Carriages from the Water—and put into the Water from the Carriages—each noted seperately.

You will also see, that the carriages on which the Boats are placed, are good, & so constructed that the Boats will be as little wrecked as possible in their transportation; and that they sustain no injury from the fore wheels of the Carriages, in turning short.

You will apply to the Qr Master General for Sheepskin’s and Nails to Muffle the Oars; which is to be done as much undiscovered as possible.

Keep these instructions to yourself, for some days to come—but do not delay a moment in complying with everything therein required.1

Given at Head Qrs this 17th day of November 1780.

Go: W——n

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Other preparations for the offensive also apparently began at this time. Ensign Jeremiah Greenman wrote in his diary entry for 20 Nov.: “we are informed the Grand army sent away all their heavy bagage two or three days ago & exspect to have Sum Suding Movement” (Greenman, Diary description begins Robert C. Bray and Paul E. Bushnell, eds. Diary of a Common Soldier in the American Revolution, 1775-1783: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal of Jeremiah Greenman. DeKalb, Ill., 1978. description ends , 186).

1For additional instructions and Darby’s activities, see Documents IX and X.

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