Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MAJOR-GENERAL LINCOLN. INSTRUCTIONS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IX (1780-1782)
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL LINCOLN. INSTRUCTIONS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IX (1780-1782) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. IX (1780-1782).
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL LINCOLN.
The object of your present command,—consisting of two regiments, (formed into four battalions,) under the command of Colonel Scammell and Lieutenant-Colonel Sprout, of a detachment of artillery under the command of Captain Burbeck, of the corps of watermen under the command of Major Darby, and the waterguard under the command of Captain Pray,—is to attempt the surprise of the enemy’s posts upon the north end of York Island.
My ideas, as to the most probable mode of attaining this object, have been minutely detailed in the several conversations which we have had upon the subject, and you have been furnished with such papers as I have been able to collect, and upon which my judgment has been formed. But it is not my wish, or desire, that these should be any restraint upon you. Your own observation and the circumstances of the moment must in a great degree govern you.
The success of your enterprise depending absolutely upon secrecy and surprise, it will be wrong to prosecute it a moment after you are discovered, unless the discovery is made so near the works, that you may, by a rapid movement, gain them before the enemy have time to re-collect and put themselves in a posture of defence. Fort George, upon Laurel Hill, ought to be your primary object, because success at that place will open a communication with the main, afford an asylum to the troops, who may be disappointed in other attacks, and secure a retreat in case of necessity to the main body of the army.
Should you carry Fort Knyphausen and Fort Tryon only, you cannot without infinite risk hold them, as we shall not be in a situation to support you from without. I would therefore recommend your damaging them as much as you possibly can upon a sudden and relinquishing them. The artillery-men will be proportionably divided to the three attacks; each party will be provided with two lanterns and two rockets, one of which is to be fired in each work as soon as it is carried.
If complete success should attend the enterprise, not a moment’s time should be lost in drawing the boats across the Island from the North River into Haerlem Creek, and securing them under the guns of Fort George, if circumstances will admit of it. But in case of a disappointment, and being obliged to retreat by water, and not being able to pass the enemy’s ships and boats, the dernier resort must be a push over to the Jersey shore, and an abandonment of the boats, if they cannot be drawn up the bank and carried off on carriages. It will be very essential, that I should be made acquainted as early as possible with your success, and the extent of it. If complete, you will announce it by the firing of thirteen cannon, at one minute’s interval, after all lesser firing and confusion have ceased. If Fort George only is carried, six cannon are to be fired in the same manner. For Fort Knyphausen, Tryon, or both of them, you need not give signals, because you are, as before directed, immediately to relinquish them.
The foregoing is upon a supposition, that the principal object, the attempt upon the works on York Island, is carried into execution; but, should you, upon reconnoitring the enemy to-morrow, find it unadvisable to prosecute the plan, or should you be obliged to give it over on account of an early discovery by the enemy’s shipping or boats, I would then have you turn your attention to the support of an attempt, which is also to be made on the morning of the 3d by the Duke de Lauzun upon Delancey’s corps lying at Morrisania. To effect this, you will land your men at any convenient place above the mouth of Spiten Devil Creek, and march to the high grounds in front of Kingsbridge, where you will lie concealed until the Duke’s attack is announced by firing or other means. You may then dispose of your force in such a manner, in view of the enemy, as to make them think your party larger than it is, which may have the double effect of preventing them from coming over the bridge to turn the Duke’s right, and also of preventing any of Delancey’s party from escaping that way. Your further operations must depend upon the movements of the enemy and other circumstances.
I expect I shall be myself in the neighborhood of Kingsbridge early in the morning of the 3d, with the remainder of the army. I shall as soon as possible open a communication with you, and give you such orders as the general state of matters may require. If you land, send an officer and small party up the main road to meet me. In case you land upon the east side of the river, above the mouth of Spiten Devil Creek, you will send your boats up along the east shore. If Major Darby receives no particular directions from me, he will proceed with them to King’s Ferry. Given at Head-Quarters, near Peekskill, this 1st day of July, 1781.1
[1 ]“Count Fersen will do me the favor to deliver this to your Excellency. The operations of this day are over, and I am sorry to say, that I have not had the happiness to succeed to my wishes, although I think very essential benefit will result to our future operations from the opportunity I have had, in a very full manner, to reconnoitre the position and works of the enemy on the north end of York Island. The particular events of the day I shall do myself the honor to communicate, when I have the pleasure to join your Excellency.