George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain John Ogden, 11 November 1780

From Captain John Ogden

Newark [N.J.] 11th Novr 1780

Being appointed to the command at this place think it my duty to communicate to your Excelency every inteligence of importance that comes to my knowledge—I am well informed the Enemy intends to make a push into our salt Meadows in order to take of all the Sa[l]t hay they can come at; if such a thing should take place it will greatly distress the inhabitants of this place & the adjasant country who are much dependant on the Salt Hay, since they have spared So much Forrage to our Army.

If my information be true they mean to come next week on this excurtion, & if your Exelency thinks proper to afford us any Assistance we Shall gladly axcept it I am ready to think the Militia will turn out very generally on Such an occation—if your Exelency should have any instructions to Send shall gladly except and obey them.

I hereby send a N. York Paper of the 8th instant1 I expected to have sent a mess of Fish by the bearer but was disappointed by the fishes2 being robed two or three days past if possible shall Send some tomorro.3 I am Sir Your Excelencys most & very Humble Servt

John Ogden Capt.


The writer likely was John Ogden (1743–1815), who lived in Newark, fought in the Revolutionary War, and held the title of captain until his death. He presumably served with the Essex County, N.J., militia.

1Ogden probably refers to The Royal Gazette (New York), which published an issue on 8 Nov., but see n.3 below.

2Ogden wrote “Fikes” for this word.

3GW replied to Ogden from headquarters at Passaic Falls on 12 Nov.: “I have recd your favr of yesterday. If you can get certain intelligence of the time the enemy mean to come out, and can give me sufficient previous notice, I will send down a detachment from the Army to prevent the execution of their plan. You must, if possible ascertain the force that they mean to bring over.

“The person who delivered your letter said he had no Newspaper given to him, as mentioned in yours (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

Ogden replied to GW from Newark on 13 Nov.: “Yours of Yesterday came ⅌ express & have nothing to return in answer, only that a person is gone over for inteligence this day who will not be back again untill Tomorrow evening & if he brings any inteligence of importance Shall communicate it to your Exelency as soon as possible we hear about sixty Sail of the Cork fleet Arivd yesterday & the day before. The rest which is about half, is given over as Taken. Admiral Rodney has taken out all the Europeans & some Americans from the Prison Ships Says they shall serve his Majesty.

“Should be glad of some instructions how to proceed in case I suspect some Houses between this place & Bergan of harbouring disaffected persons & concealing counterband goods which am well inform’d is done we have Laws but not Sufficient in Such cases” (ALS, DLC:GW). For the arrival of the British supply fleet from Cork, Ireland, see Lafayette to GW, 14 Nov., and n.1 to that document. For British admiral George Rodney’s impressment, see Lafayette to GW, 11 Nov., and n.3. GW included orders for Ogden when he wrote William Crane on 23 Nov. (see Document XVI with The Aborted Attack on the Northern Approaches to New York City and the Feint on Staten Island, 9–24 Nov., editorial note).

Index Entries