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Instructions and Orders to General Putnam



As there are the best reasons to believe that the enemy' s Fleet and Army, which left Nantasket-Road last Wednesday evening, are bound to New-York, to endeavour to possess that important post, and, if possible, secure the communication by Hudson' s River to Canada; it must be our care to prevent them from accomplishing their designs. To that end I have detached Brigadier-General Heath, with the whole body of Riflemen, and five battalions of the Continental Army, by the way of Norwich, in Connecticut, to New-York. These, by an express arrived yesterday from General Heath, I have reason to believe arc in New-York. Six more battalions, under General Sullivan, march this morning, by the same route; and will, I hope, arrive there in eight or ten days at farthest. The rest of the Army will immediately follow in divisions, leaving only a convenient space between each division, to prevent confusion and want of accommodation upon their march.

You will, no doubt, make the best despatch in getting to New-York. Upon your arrival there, you will assume the command, and immediately proceed in continuing to execute the plan proposed by Major-General Lee for fortifying that city, and securing the passes of the East and North Rivers. If, upon consultation with the Brigadier-Generals and Engineers, any alteration in that plan is thought necessary, you are at liberty to make it; cautiously avoiding to break in too much upon his main design, unless where it may be apparently necessary so to do, and that by the general voice and opinion of the gentlemen above-mentioned.

You will meet the Quartermaster-General, Colonel Mifflin, and the Commissary-General, at New-York. As they are both men of excellent talents in their different departments, you will do well to give them all the authority and assistance they require; and should a council of war be necessary, it is my direction they assist at it.

Your long service and experience will, better than any particular directions at this distance, point out to you the works most proper to be first raised; and your perseverance, activity, and zeal, will lead you, without my recommending it, to exert every nerve to disappoint the enemy' s designs.

Devoutly praying that the Power which has hitherto sustained the American arms may continue to bless them with His divine protection, I bid you farewell.

Given at Head-Quarters, in Cambridge, this 29th day of March, 1776.