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1781, March Date, Friday, Sept. 1, Day 77

Greetings all, Friends...

Please excuse the delay in this missive to you. You see, all has changed so very much in the days since last I wrote. In fact, dispatches were not sent for some very important reasons, as you shall soon learn. The secrecy of the thing is all consuming.

When last we spoke, I was telling you that we had just crossed the Hudson. Most of us thought that perhaps we would be setting up for an attack against the British, here in New York. Even more so, after we learned that the Generals Washington and Rochambeau had visited the Fort at West Point.... down here in the rank and file, we thought it t'would be headquarters for the much awaited action. Messengers were to be seen, coming and going, with much alacrity. Officer's Country had become a beehive of activity, with not much word filtering down to the troops..... until now that is.

Of course, by now, even we were aware that something 'else' must have been brewing for some time now, but we know not how long. For weeks the French army had marched from Newport/Providence, RI, through Connecticut, and into New York. The French met up with General Washington and the Continentals, as well as a large force of Militia, at New Castle, NY. You may recall that we camped in that vicinity for some six weeks before moving out to take a place in the line, against the British positions at the Town of New York. At least that is what WE thought was going on......

But every day brought more marching........yet not all added up just quite right. You may remember, the Bakers were sent about to build the bread ovens about New York town, for the provisionong of the troops. Then there was the rumor that General Washington had sent a mesage to Admiral de Barras, at Newport, for him to join with Admiral de Grasse, at the Chesapeake. We thought that perhaps de Barras, de Grasse, Wayne and Lafayette would give Corny (Gen. Cornwallis) a good spot of trouble, in the Virginias, while we would attack Clinton, here in New York. You may also recall that the Map makers, and some Engineers, under Duportail, had been sent South? Much to our consternation......Geez, the Brits were here, in New York, weren't they? Well, that was then, some days ago..

On the 28th of August, Washington sent a strong force of Light Infantry toward Staten Island, however not much came of it. That same force was then sent to Sandy Hook, but again not much came of it.... that was two days ago, on the 30th of August. As we look back on all of that now, we now know that was a 'feint'. Tis' only wanting the British to think that we would attack them there.

But, all that time, the army (we) were marching AWAY from New York. We went through, and camped at Pompton, then Whippany, then at Bullion's Tavern, and then at Somerset Court House. Yesterday we were at Princeton, and today will be Trenton, all in the Jerseys. We gather that this march will take us through Philadelphia in the next day or so, at the General's command. For sure, New York is no longer the center of our attention.

We now think, as the rumor has finally come through the army, that Admiral de Barras, has taken the SEIGE guns, from Newport to the south, we suspect, going to the Chesapeake. Indeed, that is where he was asked to go. We never saw the seige guns about New York, now we know why. And we have yet to stop marching, more and more to the south, and it is now certain, that we shall meet with the Seige guns about the Virginias, probably at wherever Corny is encamped. That will probably be either Yorktown or Gloucester, we will not know for any certainlty until we get there.

This has all been a secret, even some of the Officers were not aware of the plan that Washington and Rochambeau had come up with. It now looks like we shall take the Gawd awful, long, hot walk, for some hundreds of miles, to the Virginias, here in the heat of the waning summer. I can't believe that they think we are able to do this....... not only do they think we can do it, they are convinced of it.

The army is absolutely aglow with anticipation. The length of the march, the suspected fruit at the end, has us firm in step and molded with purpose. Tis anything to get us on the move, to get us into the fight, any fight....my God, how long we have been awaiting.....

So, here we have it..... the French navy, with fleets under the Command of Admirals de Grasse and De Barrasapparently are on the way to the Chesapeake, as I write. The army, too, is on the way, also in that direction. Tis more activity in Officers Country, and dispatches are coming and going......will write more as we learn the truth of the matter......soonest.

Oh, just one more note, a quick word from the camp.....it seems our spys have noted that a British fleet, of 14 war ships, under Admiral Hood, had, a fortnight ago, gone to the Chesapeake, to engage Admiral de Grasse, and the French fleet. It seems he found nothing and has headed North to New york..... where can de Grasse be?

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
At Homestead Headquarters,
For, 'AMtY'