George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Samuel Holden Parsons, 22 February 1781

To Major General Samuel Holden Parsons

Hd Qrs New Windsor Feby 22d 81


Capt. Walker has communicated to me some discoveries made of a plot among the tories of Stratford and Fairfield Counties of which I have directed him to give you the particulars.1 It seems a clue has been found to it which if rightly improved will enable us to detect the affair in all its extent and punish the principals and their accomplices. I need not observe to you of how dangerous a tendency combinations of this nature are nor of how much importance it is to put an effectual stop to them.

Your knowlege of the country and characters of the people will enable you best to conduct the investigation, and as you live in one of the counties, where it seems to originate, you may do it with the less risk of suspicion.

I am therefore to request you will undertake the affair in the manner you think most likely to succeed and will set about it immediately. You may want a party of men, when you have matured the discovery, to seize the persons concerned. These you may take from the Connecticut line as a guard to the part of the Country where they will be necessary; in the present state of our force they cannot exceed a subalterns command.

The two points most essential will be to detect any characters of importance who may be concerned in it; and if possible to get into our hands the register of the associators names.

The person who will serve you as a spy must be assured of some generous compensation such as will be an object to his family and secure his fidelity. This I leave to you to manage.2 I am with great regard Sir Yr most Obedient servant.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; copy (fragment), CtHi; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Only the first and last pages of the copy are extant, and portions of those are mutilated. Hamilton docketed the draft: “Inclosed is a narrative of discovery of certain matters relative to a Tory combination by Capt. Walker.”

The probable enclosure is dated 22 Feb. at New Windsor and reads: “About the 8th Instant came our Informer, to Mr Rexford in the Parish of New Stratford & told him; that the Tories were carrying on such a Plot as he could not in conscience join with them; although he had for two years past, sustained that Character; Would therefore wish to make the discovery to him which was as followeth:

“That the Tories were taking every step in their power, to purchase the Provisions in the Country, & transport to the Enemy by the way of Long Island; what could not be done by day, was done by Night, & what could not be done by Night, was done under pretence of going to the French Army. Where it is generaly secreted & taken from; in Fairfield County is; the West Part of Stratford called Old Mills—By this move they say our Army will be distressed; & also the poor People, who will rise in opposition to the County.

“The Tories have a Proclamation now out, from Sir Henry Clinton; which they carry round amongst the timid Wigs—read & ask them if they approve of it, if so; to induce them more strongly to accept it; they offer them Twenty pounds. or more in hard Mony, Also Connecticut State money counterfeit as much as they please; this they tell them to take and make such use of as they please; Whoever accepts the Proclamation, puts his Name upon a clean piece of paper. (for fear of accident) & it is transmited to Newtown; where is kept the grand Register of all the Tories, by one Glover[.] The Counterfeit Money is kept by one Bostwick in Stratford.

“The Tories are also Enlisting Men for the Enemy not only in the State of Connecticut, but the other States extending up as far as Albany. They are piloted down to Old Mills & Stratford, where they are secreted till an opportunity of crossing to the Island—Our Informer saith Thirty or forty are now Inlisted in Fairfield County—Who has those Enlisting Orders, is not yet known.

“They expect in April Fifteen Hundred Refugees from Long Island, to make a Lodgment at Stratford, Fairfield, or Black Rock; which of These is not known; at which time all the Tories are to be collected, in & about Fairfield County & to Kill, destroy & drive all before them; till they form a Junction with the Fifteen Hundred.

“Our Informer further said that as he had a Famely to maintain; his indigent circumstances would not permit him to travel about amongst the Tories, to get so much knowledge as he could wish—but upon being assured his Famely should not Suffer; he set out the 19th Instant to make furthar discovery” (DLC:GW).

1Capt. Joseph Walker was an aide-de-camp to Parsons. Stratford was a town, and not a county, in Connecticut.

2On 14 March, Parsons sent GW a preliminary report on the results of his investigation up to that date (DLC:GW).

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