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Letter from General George Clinton to General Washington



Fort Montgomery, August 2, 1776.

DEAR SIR: I take this opportunity by my brother (now on his way to New York to settle some affairs of his regiment) to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency' s favour of the 26th ultimo, and of informing you of our present situation, and that of the enemy. On Thursday last the shipping and tenders fell down to the mouth of Croton' s River, where they have since continued at anchor near the east shore; since which, they have made one attempt to land on this side the river, with their barge, but were repulsed by our Militia. On Saturday last, the three hundred New England Militia left Peek' s Kill, &c˙, and returned home without giving me the least notice of it, though I believe they had the consent of the Committee of Congress, who expected in the new levies from West Chester and Dutchess Counties to supply their place. They did not arrive. The shore, of course, was unguarded, and the very same evening the enemy came up the river in their barges, above six miles from where their shipping lay, went upwards of a mile in the country and took off a yoke of oxen, a steer, a cow, and ten sheep, from the farm of one Baily, a noted Tory, who, it is said, is on board the Phenix, and I suppose was their guide.

On receiving this account, I thought it was my duty to send a part of our men to protect that shore, until the new levies in those Counties can be raised to relieve them, and have done so accordingly, though contrary to the resolves of the Provincial Congress, which fixes their station on this side the river; but trust the necessity of the case will justify my con duct in this; for to leave that side without protection would in a great degree render our care on this useless and idle. I have taken possession of the hill mentioned in my last, and the proper works are laid out there by Mr˙ Machin, and which shall be executed with the greatest despatch and economy.

The fire rafts are not yet completed. The difficulty of procuring the necessary materials has occasioned much delay. They are, however, in such forwardness as to be used to some advantage, should the shipping attempt passing us.

The gentleman from Philadelphia to assist our Secret Committee, was here yesterday, and is gone forward to Poughkeepsie. Think it not best to proceed on the rafts until he returns here, as he don' t altogether approve the method we have taken of fixing the combustible matter in them. The mode directed by your Excellency for drawing the Artificers' pay, &c˙, (with which I was entirely unacquainted,) will prevent any future uneasiness on their account, and answer better than money here.

I am, with the highest esteem, your most obedient servant,

To His Excellency General Washington, New York.