George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 25 December 1780

From Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

Mount Kemble [N.J.] 25th Decr 1780

Dear General

The accounts from New York are so complicated & Contradictory that very little Credit is to be given to anything we hear, the present—or late embarkation (for it is yet a moot point) is the fourth alteration of Corps & Commanders, within these three Weeks, which Induces me to believe, that they only wish to amuse us by some trifling Manoeuvre, in order to mask the Grand Operation.

Upon the rect of the Inclosed letters, which was the Evening before last,1 I dispatched Majors Moore & Fishbourn to Elizabeth Town, to Endiavour to come at the Certainty of the Fleets sailing, they returned late last Night, & report that Twenty transports with three frigates, fell down towards the Hook the 20th, that Cols. Simcoe & B. Robinson with the Caitiff Arnold went on board in the same boat the morning of the 20th—but as I have not yet rec’d any Intelligence from Amboy, where a Constant look-out is kept, I am at aloss to Determine whether they have saild or not. if they have their Numbers are but few & those composed of Simcoes—(who Commands in chief) Robinson’s & some drafts from the Other New levies.2

Arnold was Certainly in New York a Saturday afternoon i.e. the 23rd—a person who was present when he Inlisted three refugees from Bergen, that day at 3. OClock, came out the same evening, with some Queries, to which he recd the Inclosed Answer & Directions.3 I promise myself some Advantage, not from his fidelity or Virtue, but from his Villainy.

I don’t know where the boats are but have directed Colo. Shreve to secure them in his rear, if not already in a safe position.

I am endeavouring to form a chain of Intelligence, & will succeed if practicable, you may be Assured of recg the earliest Information of any move of the Enemy either by Land or Water that I am able to Obtain.

Permit me to wish you the Complements of the Season, may you see many Chrismasses, none less happy than the present, & if possible equal to that of 1776. Yours Most Sincerely

Anty Wayne

my best wishes to Mrs Washington Colo. Tilghman & the Gentn of the family, with a Cheerful Christmas.4

ALS, DLC:GW; ADfS, NNGL. A sketch of a pointing hand, or manicule, draws attention to the postscript on the ALS.

1The enclosed letter from Lt. Col. Jacob Crane to Wayne, written at Elizabeth, N.J., on 22 Dec., reads: “I Write to Let you know that I am in Tolerable health tho I have a Troblesome post here. I have just Recevd Some Intelegen⟨ce⟩ from the Enemy. that their is Some Alteration in the imbarkation to What we Last heard, but it is as followeth Viz. the Whole of the 80th Rigment of Beverly Robretsons New Rais’d Core, all Simcoes horse & foot. with Ten men out of a Company of the forty Second Rigment. all on board Except Simcoes horse who was fixing to go abord, in Eighteen Transports with thre⟨e⟩ Ships of war. to Convoy them. also Genl Arnold went on board wednesday the 20th but Simcoe is to be the main Commander to this Expedition, and the Conjecture is that they are bound to the Southward and the Report is that they would Sail Next Sunday—I have Sent the New York papers of the 18th & 20th—the Enemy ⟨illegible⟩ they Expect a fleet in to york Every Day—with five Thousand Troop on board, Last Monday Night a party of the Refugees from Stratton Island Landed at or near halsted point and Took their Rout Round by Mr Benjamin in Winans following thier Old Trade of Robing hen R[oo]sts & Returned back Down Tomsons Creek. one of our guards fired upon them near the Creeks Mouth but unfortenatly Did not kill any of them.

“the party was Commanded by Cornelious Hetfield. Last Night Some Traiders Going out of Elizth Town Creek fired upon our Sentry at the point & Shot of his Right fore finger & throught his Right thigh Near his body[.] three or four of the guard Returned the fire but Do not know the avent So I Conclud wishing You well I shall Give you Every Assistance in Leting you know any thing that Comes to my hand … N.B. by Intelegence the Enemy is fixing an Expedetion against this Town. & Intend to put it in Execution Very Soon. therfore beg your Assistance if possible. Emmedeatly. as I am very weak. Their force will be About Two hundred” (DLC:GW).

Wayne also enclosed a letter from John Hendricks to Maj. Benjamin Fishbourn written at Elizabeth on 22 Dec.: “I Recivd yours of the 16 Without the Receait of two News Papers, I Supose the Horse Man has Neglectted giving them, as he Did In Returning in three Days.

“Since that I Recivd a Letter Witch I had an oppertunity of Sending to Colo. Dayton and had none to you, Witch I Desird he might forward to Genll Wayne If he thought Proper, It Was from a Person that formerly had been In our Intrest but I believe he is now bought from it, as the biger part of Our Spyes are.

“I have this Minute a Person From the Other side that Saw Genll Arnold go abord yesterday[.] He says their Is 18 Transports now Ready to Sail With two Convoys the Whole of the 80 Regt ten men of A Company of the 40th with Robisons & Simcoes Hors & foot & Simcoe is Ceartainly to Command them. they are all to Act as Light Infantry I Believe on Some Secret Expedition—This Appears to be a Considarable of a Contridiction from the Last When Knphausen were to Command and two Battalions of Granidr & one of Infantry.

“For My Part I Cant think they are going Very far Southword I am More Apt to believe Some Stroke on Jersey, As they Expect five thousand Troops from England soon.

“I Send two papers of the 18th & 20 it Would be very Nesesary to have persons Imployd for this purpose from Different Quarters, for My Part I Will Do every thing that is possible I Can Do but for fear of Deception you had better Agree to My Proposals” (DLC:GW). Hendricks probably sent The New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury for 18 Dec. and the Royal Gazette (New York) for 20 December.

2A fleet with Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers, Col. Beverly Robinson’s Loyal American Regiment, the 80th British regiment, some Hessianjagers, an artillery company, and 100 pioneers sailed from New York Harbor on 20 December. Bad weather kept it within Sandy Hook, N.J., until the following day (see Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 255, 258). For the British expedition under Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold, see GW to Samuel Huntington, 27 Dec., and n.2 to that document.

3New York City printer Hugh Gaine wrote in his journal entry for 19 Dec. that Arnold had boarded a ship on that date (see Ford, Journals of Hugh Gaine description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed. The Journals of Hugh Gaine, Printer. 1902. Reprint. [New York] 1970. description ends , 2:106).

The enclosed undated document reads: “Queries[.] 1st Head Quarters—where & what troops about it 2nd Places troops are Hutted at & numbers as near as you can with the Officers Commg 3rd Their Cannon where posted their number & Size 4th Their boats number & where 5 an acct of the French & Expedition to Canada, & the best accts from the Southward[.] the last laws in Jersey past this fall … Answer[.] 1st Head Quarters N. Windsor covered with a Considerable number of troops 2 Main army W. Point & its vicinity. 3 Jersey Brigade German Regt & other troops in Smiths Clove & Ringwood Clove 4th Boats—Secreted[.] Pennsa. troops near Morristown Commanded by Genl Wayne, about 3600 men[.] three Redoubts with a Citidal in which are 6 pieces of Cannon Six & twelve pounders on strong Commanding Ground[.] Guards & Sentries so Vigilant as to render it dangerous & Difficult to approach. Officers Haughty & men Insolent[.] The french & Rebels have some Capital Operation in view—but can’t determine where.

“Qrs[.] The Regiments & Corps, together with the Numbers that Compose the present Embarkation, their Destination & Commander.

“The Corps & Number of troops on Staten Island, the Guards whether Judicially posted & Vigilant? if any landing or Avenue is left unguarded & when.

“The Number of troops that Camp on the Garrison of Paulus Hook—a Sketch of the Works Number of Cannon & where the Sally ports.

“Try to put the Enemy upon attempting the Pennsa Line, by giving out that they are remiss in duty, badly Clothed, Injudiciously posted, discontent &ca.

“Give notice of their approach, to the end that measure may be taken, to prevent any possibility of the Enemy effecting a retreat” (DLC:GW).

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