WASHINGTON, George. Letter signed ("G:o Washington"), as Commander in Chief, to Gen. William Woodford, New Windsor, 21 July 1779. 1 page, folio, matted and framed (slight matt burn at edges).
"FROM INTELLIGENCE JUST RECEIVED...THE ENEMY MEAN TO EVACUATE THEIR POSTS AT STONY AND VERPLANKS POINTS"
A dramatic wartime letter in which an over optimistic Washington passes along faulty information: "From intelligence just received it would seem that the Enemy mean to evacuate their posts at Stony and Verplanks points. If you have not removed the baggage of the two brigades from Sufferans [Suffern], you will let it remain till further orders. The body of the Enemy, that was moving up has fallen down again." Five days before, on the night of the 15th-16th, "Mad" Anthony Wayne led his brilliant assault on Stony Point. In the daring, bayonet-only charge, the Americans killed 20 British defenders, wounded 74, and captured almost 500. But just across the river, at Verplank's Point, the British still held Fort Lafayette. British commander General Henry Clinton rushed reinforcements up from the Kingsbridge garrison in the Bronx, and sent several warships up the Hudson. Washington realized that Wayne's force could not hold out against a counter-attack and decided to withdraw after burning Stony Point and removing the 15 captured cannon. In his 24 July report to Congress, Washington is no longer talking about a British withdrawal: "the enemy...seem to have repossessed Stony Point in earnest and have since been fortifying with great industry" (Fitzpatrick 15:471). Yet in spite of this he remained elated about Wayne's victory. It "will have a good effect upon the minds of the people," he told Congress, "give our troops greater confidence in themselves and depress the spirits of the enemy proportionably" (Fitzpatrick 15:451). Lack of good intelligence continued to frustrate him. There were reports of a sizeable landing of Redcoats at Tarrytown, and of 41 British ships sailing past Norwalk, Connecticut. Where were they going? What was the enemy's intention? Until it became clear, he decided to hold his force in a strong defensive position at West Point, which as of 3 August, was now in the capable hands of General Benedict Arnold. Clinton's decision to finally abandon both Stony and Verplank's Point in October 1779 may have been connected with his ripening plans to win control of West Point. Published in Fitzpatrick 15:454-455.