George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Matthias Ogden, 13 November 1780

From Colonel Matthias Ogden

Chatham [N.J.] 13th Novr 80


Col. Dayton requests me to enclose the within from Major Williamson—Your Excellency will observe the information comes from a Person in the service of the enemy; of course very little weight will be given it, Colonel Dayton, supposes, unless it should agree with other accounts.1

Col. Dayton desires me to present his best wishes, & to inform your Excellency that he is gaining strength tho very slowly. I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s humble servt

M. Ogden


1Col. Elias Dayton requested that Ogden forward a letter from Maj. Matthias Williamson, Jr., to GW written at Elizabeth, N.J., on Sunday, 12 Nov.: “Mr Lenox an Assistant to Mr Sproat Comy of Naval Prisoners mentioned to me yesterday that Genl Philips was to embark in a few days with a force sufficient to take Possession of some Heighth on the Delaware which was to be fortified in such a Manner as to put an effectual Stop to the Navigation of that River; I think he mentioned Wilmington Heighth.

“He also acquainted me that a hundred Naval Officers & a few Privates had been put on board the Yarmouth which sailed for Great Britain on Thursday last, that in a few days three frigates are to sail with a considerable Number of other Prisoners, this Method, Lord Rodden supposed would put a total Conclusion to the Trade and Privateering of this Continent.

“Mr Lenox was very inquisitive where the Light Infantry of our Army lay, adding, that they were expected on Staten Island, & that on friday Night the Troops lay on their Arms there—Whether the above News may be relied on or not, I cant say as Mr Lenox is sometimes extravagant—If you think the above Information of any Consequence, you can make what Use of it you please—as I am now exchanged” (ALS, DLC:GW; see also Lafayette’s second letter to GW, this date, and notes 13 and 14). British captain John Peebles wrote in his diary entry for Thursday, 9 Nov.: “The Yarmouth … a 74 going home with a fleet, expect to saild on Sunday” (Gruber, Peebles’ American War description begins Ira D. Gruber, ed. John Peebles’ American War: The Diary of a Scottish Grenadier, 1776–1782. Mechanicsburg, Pa., 1998. description ends , 416). New York City printer Hugh Gaine tracked the Yarmouth in his journal entries, 13–15 Nov., and noted its departure on 15 or 16 Nov. (see Ford, Journal of Hugh Gaine, 2:104).

David Sproat (c.1734–1799) came to Philadelphia from Scotland in 1760 and prospered as a merchant. He left for New York in 1777 and served as British commissary of naval prisoners after his appointment in October 1779. Sproat returned to England in December 1783 (see Banks, Sproat and Naval Prisoners description begins James Lenox Banks. David Sproat and Naval Prisoners in the War of the Revolution: With Mention of William Lenox, of Charlestown. [New York], 1909. description ends ).

William Lenox (c.1752–1781), Sproat’s nephew, became deputy commissary of naval prisoners in May 1780.

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