George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Arthur St. Clair, 1 October 1780

1 October 1780


You will repair forthwith to West Point and take the Command of that Post and its dependencies, till further orders The Troops under your command will consist of the Pennsylvania Division Colo. Meig’s and Livingstons regiments of Continental Troops and a body of Massachusetts and New Hampshire Militia—The inclosed is a copy of the instructions left for the commanding Officer which you will please to observe. Unless you should think it necessary for the immediate security of the Post to draw the first Pennsylvania Brigade nearer West Point, I should wish it to remain somewhere in its present position, as it may then at the same time serve the purpose of reinforcing the main Army in case of a movement against it—but on the first appearance of the Enemy coming in force up the River, that Brigade should have previous orders to march to your succour.

Orders have been given in the case last mentioned for the Posts at Verplanks and Stoney Points to be evacuated with all the Cannon and stores, and the Garrison added to that at West Point; but I would not wish this step to be precipitated, as in case of an attempt to surprise you these Posts will not only be useful to give the alarm but they will probably in all cases gain you time, as the Enemy would hardly venture to pass them with transports full of Troops—The baggage and extra stores may be sent off at the first aspect of a serious movement but the Troops should not evacuate till the Enemy are in a situation to invest the Posts.

Dobb’s ferry may also serve you as an out Post; but care must be taken to distinguish the firing against a single Vessel passing from that against a number, which will of course be more continued.

Great vigilance should be used in patroling on the East side of the River, as it will otherwise be easy for the Enemy to land a body of men below and surprise Verplanks.

I must intreat your particular care of the Boats on the River—to keep them in repair and as much as possible collected—All those at King’s ferry more than are wanted for the necessary service of the communication should be removed up the River—A part of the Militia at Verplanks and Stoney Points may also be drawn to the main Garrison.

Go: Washingon

MHi: Heath Papers.

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