West point April 14. 1781. 9 o’clock P.M.
I have just received the inclosed from Capt. Pray, by which it seems the fleet has returned from the southward, but whether with or without troops, does not yet appear. There certainly are several movements which require critical observations. Simpson the deserter (or whatever he may be) who I sent up this afternoon, says a large number of four and two horse waggons had been brought from Long island to West Chester, as was said, for a grand forage—their numbers being upwards of one hundred. By Capt. Pray’s letter the militia of West Chester county have been called in for some purpose—and if his information is true, the 42d regiment, at least, has returned to New York. The collecting of forage may be a necessary step preparatory to the embarkation; especially if the 17th Dragoons are to embark—and the waggons may be designed for no other purpose, or they may have another object. I have cautioned Colo. Greene and Capt. Pray, if possible to develop their motions and designs, to guard against a surprise and to give me the earliest intelligence they obtain.
By the gazette extraordinary it seems the flames of war are likely to spread, if the accounts are to be credited.
I wish the musket cartidges may be ordered down as soon as possible—and give me provisions, are at present my only request. I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellency Most obedient servant,
DLC: Papers of George Washington.