George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 14 November 1780

From Major Benjamin Tallmadge

North Castle [N.Y.] Novr 14th 1780


I have the honor to forward the enclosed Letters, whi[c]h have this moment come to hand.1 I am, with the most profound Respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s most Obedt Hble Servt

Benja. Tallmadge

ALS, DLC:GW. Tallmadge wrote “private” and “P. Express” on the cover, which is addressed to GW at Totowa.

1One enclosure was a letter from Samuel Culper (Abraham Woodhull’s alias) to John Bolton (Tallmadge’s alias), written at Setauket, N.Y., on Sunday, 12 Nov.: “Your favour of the 5—Instant is received—And observe the contents—In answer to your first question, I again informe you, That I was at New York—about the 20d of last Month, I their with the advice of C——Jur [Samuel Culper, Jr.] and others, transmitted you the most accurate account of the embarcation under Genl Mathews, That could possibly obtain, And assured you of their going to Virginia, As also of another embarcation bound to the Southward, then Just in embryo—Which were possitively to Sail three days ago Said to amount to 1300 Men, I then informed you of the severity and, And watchfullness of the Enemy Several of our dear freinds, were imprison’d, In particular one that hath bene ever Serviceable to this corespondence, This Step So dejected the Spirits of C. Jur that he resolved to leave New York for a time, I earnestly endevourd to prevent it but Could not, So that I have no person there now that I can Send the Experess to that can rely upon—In respect to the different Corps and numbers that have embarked—and those within these Lines, I cannot ascertain nither do I think it can possibly be done perfectly—for this reason, The Enemy make it a rule to Supply every embarcation almostt with draughts from every Regt in their Army, The before mentiond reasons togather with Some other dificulties that Attend me at this time, prevents me from makeing the attempt to give you a returne of the Enemy—And hope youll excuse my non complyance Austin Roe returd from New York two days ago, The Cork Fleet Was not then arrived, The Enemy in great fears about them, I think they must fall into your hands for the want of provision If the Fleet Should miscary, The last accounts from England Say that 23 line of Battle Ships belonging to the Russians and Danes were at Spithead—What can this mean The 17 Dragons is at Heampsteed, The Hessian Yaugers at Jerico and Oysterbay, Theres Troops at Jamaica and Flushing Which is all I can Say—Last Thursday thers was a hot press in New York to Man Admiral Rodneys Fleet Which is about to Sail Said for the west Indies Thers now 13 Sail of the Line besides Frigets Laying in Gardners Bay at the eastward—Thers a very Intelligent Person gone to New York now on the Same account have taken the liberty to direct C. Brewster to cross again on the 19—Instant When Shall hope to hear from you, After that Shall make one more appointment, as I intend to visit every quarter of the Enemy if Possible and write you fully as I expect the Winter will Soon prevent the communication And in the Spring if needs require by Some means or another will if possible open it again on a better footing, depend my endevours Shall continue, as I hope never to lose Sight of our Cause truly Sensible our all is at Stake I greatly desire to See you but little hop⟨e⟩ of it at present” (DLC:GW; underlines signify decoded text; see also GW to Tallmadge, 4 Nov.). For the code, see Tallmadge to GW, 25 July 1779. Bolton’s letter to Culper dated 5 Nov. 1780 has not been identified.

Another enclosure was a letter from Lt. Caleb Brewster to Tallmadge, written at Fairfield, Conn., on Monday, 13 Nov.: “Returnd this Evening from the Iseland I ⟨le⟩ft on Saterday Culper Was Not at home and ⟨I⟩ had to Weight till this Morning for him ⟨He⟩ has Not Made the Appointment With Me ⟨The⟩ forrage is at Coram yet in Stack Wheir ⟨a⟩ tavern is kept their Remains About ⟨s⟩ixty Ruffigeas yet at Mastick on Mr ⟨S⟩mith place they have Now Cannon Nothing but Muskets I took A prise A Coming Across to Day A fine Large boat from New haven Which had bin to Carry passingers over We Run up Long Side of them and Made ⟨them⟩ believe We Came from Lloides Neck th⟨ey⟩ Enformd Me Who Secreted the persons in New havin four Weaks and their Connections and I Wrote it all Down before they found out their Mis Stake We up Sail and Came of together and they Engaged to pilet us to A gard on the West Side of New haven harbour to take them We got two thirds Across the Sound befour they found out their Mistake and I got them Safe under gard” (DLC:GW; Brewster wrote “P. Express” on the cover, which he addressed to Tallmadge at Bedford, N.Y.; see also Tallmadge to GW, 7 Nov., notes 1 and 7).

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