George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elias Dayton, 9 May 1781

Chatham May 9th 1781


I have received your Excellency’s letter of the 1st Instt and shall do every thing in my power to comply fully with the requisition contained in it, altho’ I have of late experienced much greater difficulty in gaining good intelligence from the other side than formerly. I am in daily expectation of having an interview with the person mentioned lately, when I have effected which, I hope to be able to communicate many interesting and important matters.

I have just received accounts that the British fleet consisting of ten ships of the line, and containing between three & four thousand troops, sailed yesterday, but am not entirely satisfied with respect to their destination—This comes from a person in whom I do not place the most implicit confidence, and I have my doubts whether they have so great a number of ships or troops as he reports. I hope they have it not in their power to injure the French at Rhode Island; should the fleet at that place be unguarded, I would suspect that there was their object. They have industriously given out that they are going to Wilmington, which causes me to suspect that they are steering another course.

I have now at this place prisoners of war Majr De Meibom & Ensign De Meibom of the Brunswick troops who were lately taken from Long Island by a party of men from New Brunswick—As they had been lately released from a long captivity are very desirous of going in upon parole and since Colonel Ogden & Capt. Dayton were indulged by the enemy I should be much obliged to your Excellency to permit me to shew them the like indulgence.

Inclosed are the proceedings of a court martial upon Simon Kent a soldier in the first Jersey Regiment who is a deserter and a great thief & who, I believe, justly deserves death; but as he is the son of a good whig who begs that we would only spare his life, perhaps if your Excellency could order him on board a frigate, it might answer as good a purpose as to execute him he is so great a villain that I am confident he never will be of any service in the army.

At the request of Colo. Stewart Comy General, a party w[as] last week sent to guard the stores at Sussex court house—The number of men now on detachment amounts to 494 [from] the two Regts which makes it difficult to relieve our guar[ds.] If our men were relieved from Sidman’s & Pompton it would strengthen us considerably. I am your Excellencys most Obedient & vry Hbl. Servant

Elias Dayton

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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