George Washington Papers

XV. George Washington to Captain Judah Alden, 23 November 1780

To Captain Judah Alden

Head Quarters 23d Novemr 1780


I impart to you in confidence that I intend to execute an enterprise against Staten Island to morrow night, for which reason I am desirous of cutting off all intercourse with the Enemy on the East side of the River. You will therefore tomorrow at Retreat beating1 set a guard upon any Boats which may be at the slot or Niack,2 and not suffer any to go out on any pretence whatever, till next morning—Towards evening you will send a small party down to the Closter landings,3 and if they find any Boats there, you will give orders to have them scutled in such a manner that they cannot be immediately used. but to prevent a possibility of it, the party may remain there till towards day light but are not to make fires or discovr themselves4 and then return to your post. I depend upon the punctual observation of this order, and that you will keep the motive a secret.

Acknowledge the rec[eip]t of this, that I may be sure you have got it.5 I am Sir Yr most ob. Servt

Go: Washington

LS (facsimile), in Tench Tilghman’s writing, Seth Kaller, Inc., Inventory #22650 (2012); Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which is addressed to Alden “or Commanding Officer” at Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. (from a photocopy obtained when the LS was in MTaHi).

1GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman, who also prepared the draft, first wrote “Morning” at this place. He then struck out that word and wrote “at Retreat beating” above the line.

2GW refers to Tappan Slote and Nyack, New York.

3For the upper and lower landings at Closter, N.J., see Thomas Clark to GW, 17 May 1779, n.2.

4GW inserted the previous nine words above the line on the LS.

5No reply from Alden has been found; for GW’s presumable withdrawal of these orders, see his letter to Stephen Moylan, 24 Nov. 1780, found at Document XVIII, source note.

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