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Liveblogging the Revoutionary War: November 20, 1776: The "Battle" of Fort Lee

Liveblogging the American Revolution: November 19, 1776: Washington to Congress

NewImageThe writings of George Washington:

Hackensack, November 19, 1776

To the President of Congress:

Sir: I have not been yet able, to obtain a particular account of the unhappy affair of the 16th, nor of the Terms on which the Garrison surrendered. The Intelligence that has come to hand, is not so full and accurate as I could wish. One of the Artillery, and whose information is most direct, who escaped on Sunday night says the Enemy's loss was very considerable, especially in the attack made above the Fort by the Division of Hessians that Marched from Kingsbridge, and where Lieut. Colo Rawlings of the late Colo. Stevenson's Regiment was posted.

They burnt Yesterday one or two Houses on the Heights and contiguous to the Fort, and appeared by advices from Genl. Greene, to be moving in the evening, their Main Body down towards the City. Whether they will close the Campaign without attempting something more, or make an incursion into Jersey must be determined by the events themselves.

As Fort Lee was always considered, as only necessary in conjunction with that on the East side of the River, to preserve the Communication across, and to prevent the Enemy from a free Navigation, It has become of no importance by the loss of the other, or not so material, as to employ a force for its defence. Being viewed in this light, and apprehending that the stores there, would be precariously situated, their removal has been determined on, to Boundbrook above Brunswick, Prince Town, Springfield and Acquackinac Bridge, as places that will not be subject to sudden danger in case the Enemy should pass the River, and which have been thought proper, as repositories for our Stores of Provisions and Forage.

The Troops belonging to the Flying Camp under Genls. Heard and Beal, with what remains of Genl. Ewing's Brigade, are now at Fort Lee, wher they will continue till the stores are got away. By the time that is effected, their term of inlistment will be near expiring, and if the Enemy should make a push in this Quarter, the only Troops that there will be to oppose them, will be Hand's, Hazlet's; the Regiments from Virginia that lately Smallwood's, the latter greatly reduced by the losses it sustained on Long Island &c. and sickness, nor are the rest by any means complete. In addition to these, I am told there are a few of the Militia of this State, which have been called in by Governor Livingston. I shall make such a disposition of the whole at Brunswick and at the intermediate Posts, as shall seem most likely to guard against the designs of the Enemy and to prevent them making an Irruption or foraging with detached Parties.

The Inclosed letter from Cols. Miles and Atlee, will shew Congress the distressed situation of our Prisoners in New York, and will become greater every day, by the cold, inclement Season that is approaching. It will be happy, if some expedient can be adopted by which they may be furnished with necessary Blankets and Cloathing. Humanity and the good of the service require it. I think the mode suggested by these Gentlemen for establishing a credit, appears as likely to succeed, and as eligible, as any that occurs to me. It is probable Many Articles that may be wanted, can be obtained there and upon better Terms than elsewhere. In respect to provision, their allowance perhaps is as good as the Situation of Genl. How's Stores will admit of. It has been said of late by deserters and others, that they were rather scant.

By a letter from the Paymaster General of the 17th he says there will be a necessity that large and early remittances should be made him. The demands, when the Troops now in service are dismissed, will be extremely great, besides the bounty to recruits requires a large supply and he adds, that the Commissary Genl. has informed him, that between this and the last of December he shall have occasion for a Million of Dollars.