Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. V (1776-1777)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. V (1776-1777) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. V (1776-1777).
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
General Greene’s Quarters,
Since I had the honor of addressing you last, an important event has taken place, of which I wish to give you the earliest intelligence. The preservation of the passage of the North River was an object of so much consequence, that I thought no pains or expense too great for that purpose; and, therefore, after sending off all the valuable stores, except such as were necessary for its defence, I determined, agreeable to the advice of most of the general officers, to risk something to defend the post on the east side, called Mount Washington. When the army moved up in consequence of General Howe’s landing at Frog’s Point, Colonel Magaw was left on that command, with about twelve hundred men, and orders given to defend it to the last. Afterwards, reflecting upon the smallness of the garrison, and the difficulty of their holding it, if General Howe should fall down upon it with his whole force, I wrote to General Greene, who had the command on the Jersey shore, directing him to govern himself by circumstances, and to retain or evacuate the post as he should think best, and revoking the absolute order to Colonel Magaw to defend the post to the last extremity. General Greene, struck with the importance of the post, and the discouragement, which our evacuation of posts must necessarily have given, reinforced Colonel Magaw with detachments from several regiments of the Flying Camp, but chiefly of Pennsylvania, so as to make up the number about two thousand.
In this situation things were yesterday, when General Howe demanded the surrender of the garrison, to which Colonel Magaw returned a spirited refusal.1 Immediately upon receiving an account of this transaction, I came from Hackinsac to this place, and had partly crossed the North River when I met General Putnam and General Greene, who were just returning from thence, and informed me that the troops were in high spirits, and would make a good defence; and, it being late at night, I returned. Early this morning Colonel Magaw posted his troops partly in the lines thrown up by our army on our first coming thither from New York, and partly on a commanding hill lying north of Mount Washington, (the lines being all to the southward). In this position the attack began about ten o’clock, which our troops stood, and returned the fire in such a manner as gave me great hopes that the enemy was entirely repulsed. But at this time a body of troops crossed Haerlem River in boats, and landed inside of the second lines, our troops being then engaged in the first. Colonel Cadwalader, who commanded in the lines, sent off a detachment to oppose them; but they, being overpowered by numbers, gave way; upon which, Colonel Cadwalader ordered his troops to retreat in order to gain the fort. It was done with much confusion; and the enemy crossing over came in upon them in such a manner, that a number of them surrendered.
At this time the Hessians advanced on the north side of the fort in very large bodies. They were received by the troops posted there with proper spirit, and kept back a considerable time; but at length they were also obliged to submit to a superiority of numbers, and retire under the cannon of the fort. The enemy, having advanced thus far, halted, and immediately a flag went in, with a repetition of the demand of the fortress, as I suppose.1 At this time I sent a billet to Colonel Magaw, directing him to hold out, and I would endeavor this evening to bring off the garrison, if the fortress could not be maintained, as I did not expect it could, the enemy being possessed of the adjacent ground. But, before this reached him, he had entered too far into a treaty to retract; after which, Colonel Cadwalader told another messenger, who went over, that they had been able to obtain no other terms than to surrender as prisoners of war.1 In this situation matters now stand. I have stopped General Beall’s and General Heard’s brigades, to preserve the post and stores here, which, with the other troops, I hope we shall be able to effect. I do not yet know the numbers killed or wounded on either side; but, from the heaviness and continuance of fire in some places, I imagine there must have been considerable execution. The loss of such a number of officers and men, many of whom have been trained with more than common attention, will, I fear, be severely felt; but, when that of the arms and accoutrements is added, much more so; and must be a further incentive to procure as considerable a supply as possible for the new troops, as soon as it can be done. I am, &c.2
[1 ]Colonel Magaw returned the following answer to the British adjutant-general, who sent him the summons to surrender the fort:
[1 ]General Howe in his public despatch stated, that Colonel Rahl had brought his column within one hundred yards of the fort, when he summoned it to surrender, and a treaty was acceded to by Colonel Magaw.
[1 ]They were required to surrender as prisoners of war, giving up their arms, ammunition, and stores of every kind; but the men in the garrison were allowed to keep possession of their baggage, and the officers to retain their swords.
[2 ]Read in Congress November 9th.