George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Pray, 17 June 1782

Garrison Dobbs Ferry June 17th 1782

Dear General

Last evening I reciv’d a letter from Colonel Trumbull enclossing a Copy of a Representation made by a person lately up by land with a flag which I detained till I know the Gens. pleasure. The following is an exact account of every thing that passd between him & me at the time I met him.

The Eighth day of this Inst. I went to Tarrytown with one of my boats, Just before I landed at the dock I discovered a British dragoone on the dock with a White Hancker chief with one Corner of it tied to a Small Stick, it had by no means the apprance of a flag which made me suspect there was some decoye. with a great deale of Caution I landed. He immediately came to me and told me he had two letters for me. I asked him who they were from he Sayd he would fetch them and immediately went to his Horse which was Hitchd a few Yds off upon his presenting the letters to me, I saw who they were from I Imediately Return’d them to him again, and told him, I reciv’d no flags at that place and all flags was to Come to Dobbs Ferry by water. he Return’d for answer that he had been to the New Bridge where he was detaind two days. the Officer Commanding there discharged him, and told him it was His Excellencys Orders for him to Return to Tarry town and Enquire if Capt. Pray was there. if so to deliver them to him if not to proceed to Dobbs Ferry and make a Signal with his flag, and Capt. Pray woud Cum and Receive his dispatches. I did not know but What that might possably be the Case, and teak the letters again. and left a Corporal and one private with him to prevent his receiving any abuse till I knew the Truth of what he Said. I orderd the Corporal to proceed with him to the nearest house to Dobbs Ferry which he did I cros’d to the west Side of the River & Sent the letters to General Heath. The next morning about 7 oClock Capt. Totten with 25. Refuge Horse Came to the House asked the person who boar the flag (who said he was a Serjeant) what he was doing there. he told him he had been with two letters to General Washington to the New Bridge Saw him there, delivered the letters and took two from him to Carry to the General in York, and that I stoped him at Tarry town. toak the letters from him. and confind him under Guard and he Expected Capt. Pray Over Every moment to Hang him, upon which Capt. Totten took him from the Corporal, and told him he and his Guad ought to be made prisoners. The Corporal told him he did not think he had as he had Care of a flag upon that Capt. Totten went off and the Dragoone with him.

As to my presenting my peice at him and thinking to Shute him I did not for I had no [arms] out of the boat with me he Seamed to be Verry Insolent because I woud not let him Return to York which he Seamed Verry anxious to do.

If the General Had Reciv’d the letters I intended to Give him a Receipt for them when I discharg’d him. which I thought time Enough as matters was Circumstanced.

The Corporal and Guad which was with him I send for your Excellencys Examination as they heard every thing that pased between me and him Likewise did Capt. Daniel Martling who was with me. I have the Honor to be with every Sentiment of Respect and Esteem Your Excellencys most Obedient & most Humble Servant

Jno. Pray Capt.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

Index Entries