Nathanael Greene's letter to George Washington Aug. 31, 1778

Augt 31 Camp Tiverton

I wrote the foregoing and intended to have it sent by express that went off in the morning but while I was writing I was inform'd the Express was gone and the change of situation and round of events that have since taken place has prevented my forwarding what I had wrote, as matters seemd to be coming to a crisis.

On the evening (eve) of the 29th the Army fell back to the north end of the Island. The next morning the enemy advanced upon us in two Columns upon the East and West road. Our Light Troops commanded by col Livingstone and Vol Laurens attacked the head of the Columns about seven oClock in the morning but were beat back. They were reenforced with a Regiment upon each road. The Enemy still provd too strong. General Sullivan form'd the army in reeder of battle and resolved to wait their approach ion the ground we were encamped on, and sent orders to the Light troops to fall back. The Enemy came up and formd upon Quaker Hill, a very strong piece of ground within about one mile and a 1/4 of our Line. We were well Posted with strong works in our rear and a strong redoubt in front partly upon the right of the Line.

In this position a warm Cannonade commenced and lasted for several hours with continual Skirmishes in front of both Lines. About two oClock the Enemy began to advance in force upon our right as if they intended to dislodge us from the advance redoubt. I had the command of the Right Wing. After advancing four Regs and finding the enimy still gaining ground I advanced with two more Regiments of regular Troops and a Brigade of Militia and at the same time Gen Sullivan ordered Col Livingstone with the Light Troops under his command to advance. We soon put the Enemy to the rout and I had the pleasure to see them run in worse disorder than they did at the battle of Monmouth. Our Troops behavd with great spirit and the brigade of militia, under the command of General Lovel advanceed with great resolution and in good order and stood the fire of the Enemy with great firmness. Lieut Col [Henry Brockholst] Livingstone, Col Jackson, and Col Henry B[eekman] Livingstone did themselves great honor in the transactions of the day. But it is not in my power to do justice to Col Laurens who acted both the General and the Partizan. His command of regular Troops was small but he did everything possible to be done by their numbers. He had two most Excellent officers with him, Lieut Col Flaury [Fleury] and Major Talbott.

The enemy fell back to their strong ground and the Day terminated with a Cannonade and skirmishes.Both armies continued in their position all Day yesterday, cannonading each other every now and then. Last night we effected a very good retreat without the loss of men or Stores.

We have not collected an account of the kild and wounded, but we judge our loss amounts to between two and three hundred and that of the Enemies to much more.

We are going to be posted all round the Shores as a guard upon them and in that state to wait for the return of the Fleet which, by the by, I think will not be in a hurry.

It is asserted that Lord How arrivd last night with his fleet and the reenforcement mentioned in your Excellencys Letter to General Sullivan. If the report is true, we got off the island in very goos season.

The Marquis went to Boston the Day before the action and did not return until last night just as we were leaving the island. He went to wait upon the Admiral, to learn his further intentions and to get him to return again and compleat the expedition if possible.

I observe your Excellency thinks the enemy design to evacuate Newyork. If they should, I think they will Newport, also; but I am perswaded they will not neither for the present.

I would write your Excellency a more particular account of the battle and retreat but I immagin General Sullivan and Col Laurens has done it already and I am myself very much unwell, have had no sleep for three Nights and Days, being severely afflicted with the asthma. I am with great respect your Excellencys most obedient humble Servt



Greene, Nathanael. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. Edited by Richard K. Showman, et al. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Rhode Island Historical Society, 1976--. Vol. 2 pg 501-502

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