Primary tabs

Letter from General Howe to Lord George Germaine



On the 11th of May I had the honour of your Lordship s despatches of the 28th March, by the Despencer packet, with duplicates of the 1st and 7th February, the originals of which were delivered by Captain Dickson, commanding the Greyhound frigate, on the 16th following.

I have suffered the most sensible mortification by being so long detained at this place; but the late arrivals of the provision ships, and the repairing of those included in the number requisite for transporting the troops (a return of which was forwarded to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury in my despatch of the 8th May) have made an earlier removal impracticable.

The troops, however, are at length embarked, waiting only for favourable weather to proceed to Sandy-Hook. In the early operations there, I shall have the closest attention to the reinforcements daily expected, and not hazard any


disadvantageous attacks. In this idea, I at present think it will be most advisable to make a landing upon Long-Island, in order to secure the passage of the shipping into the harbour, which can only be effected by the possession of a commanding height near Brooklyn, said to be fortified. Should the enemy offer battle in the open field, we must not decline it; and from the high order the troops are now in, I have every reason to flatter myself with success, which once obtained, and prosecuted immediately upon the arrival of the reinforcements, would not fail to have the most intimidating effects upon the minds of those deluded people.

When General Clinton joins the Army, to which purpose I have written to him consonant to the orders he will have received from your Lordship, (a copy of which you were pleased to transmit to me,) if we should not find our strength sufficient to afford a division of the Army previous to the arrival of the Hessians, we may nevertheless proceed to force the rebels from the island of New-York, or to such other operation as may be deemed most conducive to his Majesty' s service. But General Clinton must have a part of the Hessians with him on the side of Rhode-Island, and a personal communication with General De Heister will arrange their business more to the satisfaction of all parties than could be done separately or by letter, to meet him upon the coast. The Admiral, therefore, at my request, has sent orders to the cruisers not only off Rhode-Island, but to all others on the northern coast, to direct the troops from Europe to proceed to New-York, from whence they may more distinctly be ordered to their several destinations for the operations of the campaign. And that no time may be lost in disposing the troops for action after the arrival of the fleet at New-York, I intend to proceed in a frigate to Sandy-Hook, that I may have the advantage of communicating with Governour Tryon, for obtaining the best information of the state of the Rebel Army in the environs of that place, and that I may be ready to receive the Hessians, in case of their arrival before the fleet from hence.

My best endeavours shall be employed to engage the assistance of the Indians of the Six Nations, and I hope, by the influence of Colonel Guy Johnson, to make them useful.

Admiral Shuldham having sent me the copy of a letter he has lately received from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, relative to the transports being taken from under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the land forces, I beg leave to represent to your Lordship that I apprehend such a disposal of them will greatly impede the service, from the necessity the land officer must be under of making applications to the Admiral on every movement for the convenience of the troops, and for a variety of services needless to point out to your Lordship: wherefore, I am hopeful I may not receive any order for a change in the present command over them.

The advanced rank which the King has been pleased to confer upon the General Officers serving in this country is received by those here with the highest sense of the most dutiful respect for his Majesty' s Royal attention, and by no one more gratefully than myself. I shall not fail to communicate to Lieutenant-General Clinton his Majesty' s particular regard to the seniority of his rank, which would have placed him second in command in Canada, had he not been previously employed to the southward.

My last intelligence from that quarter was dated the 28th April, and as five or six transports had then arrived, I must conclude the whole force is collected there before this time.

The Forty-Seventh Regiment not being included in your Lordship' s distribution of troops destined for Canada, I shall presume it may now remain in the place of the Thirty-Third, but shall pay due obedience to the orders for Lord Cornwallis' s serving in that Army. The Sixth Regiment cannot be employed early in the campaign, as I shall not have it in my power to send transports for them until after my arrival at New-York.

The Rebel prisoners are returned in the Greyhound, and I shall use my endeavours to follow your Lordship' s directions respecting them, and others in the same predicament.

It is with concern I am to advise your Lordship of another ordnance store-ship, named the Hope, being taken in Boston-Bay. She had a large proportion of intrenching tools on board, and it is said fifteen hundred barrels of powder.

The appointment of Lord Howe to the chief command


in the Naval Department upon this extensive coast, is a circumstance that could not fail to give me the highest satisfaction; and I promise myself from his experience every assistance that can be given in the prosecution of the conjunct war we are now entering upon.