Worthy Partner: The Papers of Martha Washington

By Joseph E. Fields; Martha Washington | Go to book overview
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To Anna Maria Dandridge Bassett

Philadelphia August the 28th 1776

My dear Sister

I am still in this town and Noe prospects at present of my leveing it, - the General is at new york he is very well and wrote to me yesterday and informed me that Lord Dunmore with part of his fleet was come to General Howe at Staten Island, that another devision of the Hessians is expected before they think, the regulars will begen thare attack or as, some hear begen to think thare will be noe Battle after all - Last week our boats made another atempt on the ships up the north river - and had grapp a fire ship with the Phoenix ten muniets but she got clear of her; and is come down the river on satterday last. Our people burnt one of the tenders. 1

I thank god we shant want men - the army at New York is very large and numbers of men are still going there is at this time in the city, four thousand on their march to the camp and virginia is daily Expected 2 - I doe my Dear sister most relegiously wish thare was an End to the matter that we might have the pleasure of meeting again -

My Duty to my Dear mamma - and tell her I am very well - I dont hear from you so often as I used to doe at Cambridge - I had the pleasure to hear by Colo Aylett3 that you and all Friends were well and should been glad to have had a line from you by him - I hope Mr Bassett has got the better of his cough long agoe - please to present love to him my Brother and sisters my dear Fanny and the Boy 4 & Except the same yourself

I am my dear Nancy your
ever affectionate sister
Martha Washington


On July 12th the British ships, Phoenix of 40 guns, the Rose of 20 guns, and three tenders, were sent up the Hudson River to cut off supplies coming down the river for the Continental Army in New York City. General George Clinton was ordered to form a chain of craft at The Narrows at Fort Constitution, to serve as fire boats. The British ships proceeded up river forty miles to Haverstraw Bay. There a landing was attempted but was repulsed. Nevertheless, all water connections with Albany were cut, the British ships being too far out in the river to sustain serious damage from shore batteries. On July 26th they dropped down river eight or ten miles. On August 3rd they were attacked by Connecticut and Rhode Island galleys and moderate damage was inflicted. On August 16th two fire vessels succeeded in burning one of the British tenders. Another was grappled to the Phoenix for about ten minutes but was cut free. Writings, 4:446. On August 18th the Phoenix and Rose rejoined the main British fleet off Staten island. Writings, 4:452.
Sir William Howe had about 20,000 effective rank and file available for the attack on New York. On August 7th Washington declared he had 10,514 men fit for duty. Writings, 5:390. By August 19th enough militia had arrived to bring his force to about 23,000 men. Writings, 5:457.
William Aylett ( 1743-1781) was deputy commissary for the Continental Army. He died of "camp fever" at Yorktown. A brother, John, was the first husband of Mrs. Washington's younger sister, Elizabeth. Diaries, 2:108.
Frances Bassett ( 1767-1796), and John Bassett ( 1765-1822).


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