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Letter from Colonel Joseph Reed to General Heath



New York, August 30, 1776.

SIR: The General desires you will detain the powder you have received till further orders at King' s Bridge, except


one ton to be sent down — the remainder to be produced occasionally.

The report of the evacuation of Long Island last night is true; it was a measure founded on the fullest necessity, after the surprise of our troops last Tuesday [27th,] by which the flower of our Army and some of our best officers were lost; add to this, that the constant rains upon troops without cover has so spoiled the ammunition and enfeebled the men, that had the enemy attempted to force our lines, they must have done it with great ease. The ships have also been trying to get up the whole week, which, if they could effect, our communication would have been cut off, and the whole Army must have surrendered at discretion. Under these circumstances the remaining General Officers were unanimously of opinion, that it was absolutely necessary to retreat, which was done so as to bring off all our ammunition and artillery, except the heavy pieces, and most of our provisions. Our situation is in all respects critical. Lord Stirling and General Sullivan are both prisoners; the latter was permitted to come out this morning on his parole with a message from Lord Howe. This is the substance of what has passed in this important week.

I am, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

To Major-General Heath.