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General Washington to Governour Livingston



White-Plains, 7th November, 1776.

SIR: On Tuesday morning the enemy broke up their encampments which were in front of our lines, after having remained there several days without attempting any thing. They have gone towards the North River and King' s Bridge. This sudden and unexpected movement is a matter of much speculation. Some suppose they are going into winter quarters, and will sit down in New-York, without doing more than investing Fort Washington. I cannot subscribe wholly to this opinion myself. That they will invest Fort Washington is a matter of which there can be no doubt; and I think there is a strong probability that General Howe will detach a part of his force to make an incursion into Jersey, provided he is going to New-York. He must attempt something on account of his reputation, for what has he done as yet with his great Army?


Persuaded that an expedition to the Jerseys will succeed his arrival in New-York, with a detachment of his Army, as soon as I can be satisfied that the present manoeuvre is a real retreat and not a feint, I shall throw over a body of our troops, with the utmost expedition, to assist in checking their progress. At the same time, I beg leave to recommend to your consideration the propriety and necessity that some measures should be taken to place your Militia on the best footing possible, and that a part of ' em may be in readiness to supply the place of the troops (denominated new levies) from your State, whose time of service will presently expire. Your vigilance and attention I know will not be wanting in any instance; yet there is one thing more I will take the liberty to mention, that is, that the inhabitants contiguous to the water should be prepared to remove their stock, grain, effects, and carriages, upon the earliest notice. If they are not, the calamities they will suffer will be beyond all description, and the advantages derived to the enemy immensely great. They have treated all here without discrimination. The distinction of Whig and Tory has been lost in one general scene of ravage and desolation. The article of forage is of great importance to ' em; not a blade should remain for their use. What cannot be removed with convenience should be consumed without the least hesitation. These several matters I thought it my duty to suggest to you, not doubting but you will give ' em such attention as they may seem to deserve; and that your own good judgment will point out many more necessary regulations adapted to the exigency of our affairs.

I do not know the state of the barracks about Elizabeth-Town, Amboy, and Brunswick. They may be exceedingly necessary to cover our troops. I think it will be advisable to have them examined, and that you should direct such necessary repairs to be made as they may require.

I have the honour to be, with sentiments of respect, your most obedient servant,


To Governour Livingston, New-Jersey.