George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Francis Barber, 29 January 1781

From Lieutenant Colonel Francis Barber

Ringwood [N.J.] Jan’y 29th 1781


I have only to inclose the within letters for your Excellency’s reading. As it was supposed General Howe was at or near this place—they were first directed & forwarded for him.1 I am very apprehensive of disagreeable consequences to the Jersey brigade should the enemy land & there be no troops for either a terror to our malcontents & countenance to the Militia. I am with great respect your Excellencys most obedient very humble servant

F. Barber Lieut. Col.


This letter likely accompanied Maj. Gen. Robert Howe’s second letter to GW of this date. Both letters refer to the same enclosures.

1Barber enclosed three letters: Col. Elias Dayton to Barber; Barber to Howe; and Dayton to Howe. The letter from Dayton to Barber, dated 27 Jan. at Chatham, N.J., reads: “I have certain accounts that General Robinson landed yesterday upon Staten Island about 3000 men, with full intent of vissiting the Jersies, I am of opinion he will attempt us as he publicly reprobates Gl Clinton’s conduct in not attempting to assist the Pensylvania revolters.

“The enemy appear to have an eye on our Stores at Morris Town and express a great desire of burning that place, if 500 men could be advanced as far as Troy or Crane-Town I think it would cover this part of the country this you can Suggest to General Howe if you think proper.

“I wrote you yesterday respecting the confineing a number of our worst fellows perhaps as the enemy is likely to come out it will be best not to Secure any but Such as you can give out you expect to prove are detirmined to joyn the British as that is the case with some of the ring leaders I expect to make appear at a proper time” (DLC:GW).

The letter from Barber to Howe, dated at Ringwood on 28 Jan. at 10:00 P.M., reads: “I expected to have waited on you at this place. The inclosed from Col: Dayton will express my errand & his request. If your command were within reach of Morris Town or Chatham, I know it would be [of] infinite importance for you to command & your detachment to support & give countenance to the Militia of the Country. The Militia in the quarter of Chatham & Morris are exceedingly good, but require countenance & support. If you will determine to return, you can make any use of the Jersey troops you think proper. But I must declare that altho I immagine the spirit of mutiny is effectually destroyed, yet I am apprehensive of bad consequences, should the enemy make any progress in th[e] state.

“I wish, if your detachment should not be ordered for Morris town, the Jersey Brigade might be ordered for that place. The troops will be among better whigs & have an opportunity of doing more good service. … P.S. I Shall remain at this place until 7 or 8 in the morning of tomorrow” (DLC:GW).

The letter from Dayton to Howe, dated 27 Jan. at Chatham, reads: “I have this moment received certain intelligence, that Lieut. General Robinson landed yesterday upon Staten Island with about three thousand troops, he appears determined to land in Jersey, in expectation of great part of our revolters joyning him. I am apprehensive Genl Robinson will certainly attempt something, as he publicly condemns General Clinton’s conduct in not landing here to support the Pennsylvania mutineers. several emissarys were sent from New York three days since to drop papers in the Jersey Camp containing offers from Genl Clinton of large rewards to all soldiers who will repair to the British troops upon their landing at Elizabeth Town.

“I have my fears, as things are situated at this time, the enemy may attempt our stores at Morris Town, especially as they express a great desire to burn that place. I should do myself the honor of waiting on you in person would my health permit” (DLC:GW).

British lieutenant general James Robertson did go to Staten Island on 25 Jan. (see Dayton to GW, 24 Jan., n.7).

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