Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM. 1 INSTRUCTIONS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM. 1 INSTRUCTIONS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.1
The Congress having been pleased to signify a desire that I should repair to Philadelphia, in order to advise and consult with them on the present posture of affairs, and as I am on the point of setting out accordingly I have to desire that you will cause the different works now in agitation to be carried on with the utmost expedition. To this end I have written to the Provincial Congress of this Colony for tools, and have hopes of obtaining them. Apply, therefore accordingly, taking an exact account of what you receive.
The works upon Long-Island should be completed as expeditiously as possible; so should those in and about this town and upon Governor’s Island. If new works can be carried on without detriment to the old, (for want of tools,) I would have that intended at Paulus Hook set about immediately, as I conceive it to be of importance. In like manner I would have that at the Narrows begun, provided Colonel Knox, after his arrangement of the artillery, should find there are any fit pieces of cannon to be spared for it; otherwise, as I have no longer any dependence upon cannon from Admiral Hopkins, it would be useless.
The barriers of those streets leading from the water are not to be meddled with, and where they have been pulled down are to be repaired, and nearer the water, if more advantageous.
As it does not appear to me improbable that the enemy may attempt to run past our batteries in and about the town, and land between them and the woody grounds above Mr. Scott’s, I would have you employ as many men as you can in throwing up flushes at proper places and distances within that space, in order to give opposition in landing; but if there are not tools enough to carry on the other more essential works and these at the same instant, you are not to neglect the first, but esteem this as a secondary consideration only.
Delay not a moment’s time to have the signals fixed for the purpose of communicating an alarm upon the first appearance of the enemy. Let them be placed in such a manner, and at such distances, as to be easily discovered, day or night. If this was continued upon the Long Island shore for some distance, good consequences might result from it, as nothing can be attended with more signal advantages than having timely notice of the enemy’s approach, whilst nothing can add more to the disgrace of an officer than to be surprised; for this reason I have to beg that the same vigilance and precaution may be used as if the enemy were actually within sight, as a brisk wind and flowing tide will soon produce them when they are once on the coast. The officers and men, therefore, should be constantly at their quarters, the guards alert, and every thing in readiness for immediate action.
As I have great reasons to fear that the fortifications in the Highlands are in a bad situation, and the garrisons, on account of arms, worse, I would have you send Brigadier Lord Stirling, with Colonel Putnam, (and Colonel Knox if he can be spared) up there to see, report, and direct such alterations as shall be judged necessary for putting them into a fit and proper posture of defence.
Open any letters which may come directed to me upon publick service whilst I am absent; and if any very interesting advices should be contained therein, either from the eastward or northward, forward them to Philadelphia, after regulating your conduct thereby.
I must again beg that your particular attention be turned to our powder magazines, to see that that valuable article is properly placed and secured. I also beg that no time or means be neglected to make as many cartridges as possible.
I have reason to believe, that the Provincial Congress of this colony have in contemplation a scheme for seizing the principal Tories and disaffected persons on Long Island, in this city, and the country round about; and that, to carry the scheme into execution, they will have recourse to the military power for assistance. If this should be the case, you are hereby required during my absence to afford every aid, which the said Congress or their Secret Committee shall apply for. I need not recommend secrecy to you, as the success, you must be assured, will depend absolutely upon precaution, and the despatch with which the measure, when once adopted, shall be executed.
General Greene will, though not in person perhaps, have a principal share in ordering the detachments from his brigade on Long Island; of course he will be a proper person to be let into the whole plan. I would, therefore, when application is made by Congress, have you and him concert measures with such gentlemen, as that body shall please to appoint, and order the execution with as much secrecy and despatch as possible, and at the same time with the utmost decency and good order. Given under my hand at Head-Quarters, in the city of New York, this 21st day of May, 1776.1
[1 ]As the oldest major-general in the army at New York, General Putnam was left in command during Washington’s absence at the call of Congress.
[1 ]The machinations of disaffected persons, or Tories, as they began universally to be called, in the lower counties of New York, had for some time excited serious apprehensions, as to their effects on the army, and particularly when the British forces should arrive on the coast. Governor Tryon was at the head of this party, and by his talents, his former popularity in the province, and his emissaries among the people, he was maturing designs, which it was found necessary to take speedy and efficient measures to counteract. The Provincial Congress had appointed a secret committee of their number to confer with General Washington, from time to time, on all such matters as required the cooperation of the civil and military powers for the common safety. The subject of the Tories had occupied their deliberations, and it was agreed that a strong and decided course ought immediately to be pursued in regard to them. General Washington had promised military aid for carrying into effect any resolves, which might be adopted to attain this object. The following is an extract from the proceedings of the Congress on the 19th of May: