George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Paterson, 16 May 1781

West Point May 16th 1781

Dear Genl

The inclosed I have this moment received It is all the information I have. beg Your Excellency will send me some instructions respecting Colonel Bedlams tarrying below. I am with perfect Esteem Your Excellencys Obedient Servant

John Paterson

N.B. This moment is arrived a return of the killed wounded and missing in the unhappy affair on the lines the fourteenth instant, accompanied with a letter from Colonel Scammell which I have also inclosed to Your Excellency.

Colonel Bedlam upon information he received at Kings ferry has thought proper not to proceed further.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


N.H. Village May 14th 1781.

Dr Sr

I marched all our men fit for duty a few miles on the first Report, in order to be in a position to protect the Rhode Island Hutts in case the enemy should make them an Object. But on Information that the enemy had returned, I marched back the party. As there had been an Order for no ammunition to be issued till the Inspection was over, We were not able to furnish our Recruits with but 12 rounds a man. In consequence of which I wrote by our Conductor, for a quantity of Ammunition at west point. I hope he has obtained it. I have sent my Surgeon to the Lines. But as he is in a very bad state of health, I wish you would order a Surgeon or mate from the Massachusetts or Connecticut Line to the Lines to take care of such of the wounded men as may have escaped or been left by the enemy. I believe it will be necessary that a capital set of Instruments should be sent-- Dr Eustis can furnish them --I should not have requested a Surgeon, had we any to spare in the Brigade. There is only one in the R. Island Regt who has a number of sick to attend. We have had a Surgeon & Mate in the N.H. Line one an Invalid, and the other has a number of small pox patients to attend.

I do myself the honor of sending you an Extract of a Letter this moment received from the Lines-- "The enemy attacked the Majors Quarters. Killed Major Flagg in his bed-- Colo. Greene I believe is killed-- Lt Macumber taken from his Bed-- Greenman (or Greerman) on Guard at the Bridge with his men fell into their Hands-- Capts. Hughes & Brown we are uncertain of their Fate-- Killed and most inhumanly butchered about Fifteen-- Wounded several—Heads-- Arms-- legs-- all went to pot --Lt [   ] & Dr Henry both wounded and taken--" This letter wrote at the request of Major Morril-- I send you enclosed a Letter from Capt. Olney. I have ventured to permit the Officer he mentions to go on to R. Island-- And urged Expedition-- As Colo. Olney’s presence will be very necessary with the Regt-- I long to retaliate. I feel unhappy at the Fate of so many brave officers-- but more so on Account of the Surprize-- I fear it was a complete one-- I have long urg’d the propriety of guarding the Lines by patroles only. & supposed it was the case, till the unhappy event took place. I have the Honor to be Yr Obedt & very Humble Servt

Alex. Scammell


Stony Point May 16th 1781

Dear Genl

In consequence of the information wich the Bearer of Capt. Prays Letter gave me, I immediately sent down an officer, with directions to gain me, some certain information of the Enemys situation he returned last night at Ten & Informs that He went down within about half a mile of Fort Lee, & Landed on their return landed about a mile above spiten devil Creek, their they were informed that about two hundred refugees, had march’d up to pines bridge since no information from them.

The information that a Party was out this side the river of about 200 refuges continues and that they are between Bargan & Fort Lee, that the Shiping which appeared proves to be only eight or Nine cheifly Sloops & Schooners, only three square riged Vessels and not One Ship, they Lye near Bulls Ferry.

Capt. B— of the Militia had marched towards Fort Lee with about 200 Men. I am with the greatest respect yours at Command

E. Selden Capt. Comy at Stony Point

N.B. I send you a Deserter from the Enemy who came out from New York Last Sunday. E.S.

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