George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Lieutenant Caleb Brewster, 14 February 1781

From Captain Lieutenant Caleb Brewster

Fairfield [Conn.] February 14th 1781


My appointment on the 6th Inst. was frustrated untill the 9th (by bad weather) when I cros’d, & from informatio⟨n⟩ found I could not accomplish my buisines⟨s⟩ without endangering particular persons, as there were several crews of Reffugees scatter’d in the town, which made it impossible for me to see the persons I wish’d.1

I thought it most prudent to return immediately, and take with me an additional boat when I cros’d again, both for my own safety, & to annoy them if they fell in my way. On the 12th at night I cros’d again with three boats, & effected my purpose, & on the morning following just as we were embarking to return I discover’d a boat rowing from the eastward[.] I lay conceald till she came opposite to me when I detach’d one of my boats in pursuit; she discovering our Strength immediately came on shore, & prov’d to be a cruising Reffugee boat carrying Eight men, a list of their names & characters I have the honor to inclose to your Excellency.2

The interest of my country induces m⟨e⟩ to inform your Excellency that there is a constant communication kept up (for trade & intelligence,) by the enemy boats, bringing over goods & takeing p⟨ro⟩visions in return, & in such force that renders it impossible, & many times mak⟨es⟩ it dangerous for me to transact my buisiness with my present command.

An addition of one or two boats will make my appointments certain, & when not on command should be able to keep the coast clear from any enterprise they could form.3 I am with Respect your Excellency’s most Ob. Humble Servant

Caleb Brewster

ALS, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote on the docket: “with return of prisoners sent to Provost at Fish kill.”

1As part of the chain that delivered the Culper spy ring reports, Brewster, who commanded Continental boats operating on Long Island Sound, picked up the letters on Long Island, carried them across the sound, and delivered them to a dragoon on the Connecticut shore (see GW to Benjamin Tallmadge, 21 March 1779, n.2; see also Tallmadge to GW, 20 Aug. 1780).

2The undated enclosure, signed by Brewster, gave the names of eight prisoners. Three were “from New Haven & have been condem’d to the Mines for illicit trade but broke Gaol.” One was a captain “of the Kings Militia Volunteers.” Four were from “the block House on Tredwells Bank.” Brewster sent the prisoners to GW “under a Corporal & six men” and asked “directions” on what to do with their equipment (DLC:GW; see also Pennypacker, General Washington’s Spies description begins Morton Pennypacker. General Washington’s Spies On Long Island and In New York. Brooklyn, 1939. description ends , 274, and Samuel Holden Parsons to GW, 17 Feb.).

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