George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Pierre Van Cortlandt, 10 June 1780

Head Quarters near Springfield 10th June 1780


By accounts, tho’ not official, I am informed that the party under the command of Sir Jno: Johnson have made a precipitate retreat, upon the approach of His Excellency the Governor. Should this have been the case, I do not apprehend that there will be any occasion for General Clinton to advance with his Brigade beyond Albany. Under present circumstances and appearances that force is most essentially necessary at West Point—General Knyphausen with the greater part of the troops remaining at New York landed last Wednesday morning at Elizabeth Town seemingly with an intention to penetrate the Country, but after advancing five or six miles, in which distance he was warmly opposed by Maxwells Brigade and the Militia hastily assembled, he returned the same evening to Elizabeth Town point and the next day threw over his Waggons, part of his Artillery and some of his Horse to Staten Island from which we concluded he meant to return with his whole force to his former positions. But contrary to our expectations, he still remains on Elizabeth Town point and has brought back some Cavalry—Artillery—and Stores—It is difficult to determine with precision the intent of this manoeuvre. By some it is conjectured, that it is meant to amuse us here, while the whole, or part of the force from the Southward is to return and operate against the posts upon the North River, the Garrisons of which are exceedingly reduced by the expiration of service of the Men alloted to them. This carries with it the greater air of probability, as we have too much reason to think that Charles town has fallen to Sir Henry Clinton. West point with the addition of General Clinton’s Brigade would be tolerably secure against any Coup de Main, and except it can be carried in that way, it may be relieved by reinforcements from the Neighbouring States. From this short view of matters, you will see the necessity of bringing down the New York Brigade unless the cause of sending it up should still exist. Should you therefore be of opinion that their service may be dispensed with at present, you will be pleased to forward the inclosed by Express to Genl Clinton, which contains an order for his return to West Point,—and which I hope nothing short of the most urgent occasion for his stay above, will prevent being sent to him. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Yr Most Obt Servt

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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