George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Richard Humpton, 1 December 1776

To Colonel Richard Humpton

Brunswick [N.J.] Decemr 1. 1776.


You are to proceed to The Two ferry’s near Trentown1 and to see all the boats there put in the best Order with a sufficiency of Oars and poles and at the same time to Collect all the Additional Boats you [can] from both above and below and have them brought to those ferry’s and Secured for the purpose of Carrying over the Troops & Baggage in most expeditious Manner: & for this purpose you will get every Assistance in the power of the Quarter Master General & any person in his Department. you will particularly attend to the Durham Boats which are very proper for the purpose.2 The Baggage & Stores of the Army should be got over the River as soon as possible and placed at some Convenient place a little back from it. I am Sir Yr Most Obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, owned (1984) by Mr. Harry Kels Swan at Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville, N.J.; copy, PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90; copy, WHi: Draper Collection, Brady-Wetzel Papers.

1The old Trenton ferry, which had been established in 1726 by James Trent and was operated at this time by Thomas Janney, crossed the Delaware River at its lower falls about a mile south of the town. The new Trenton ferry, which had been established in 1773 by Elijah Bond and was operated at this time by Thomas Harvery, was a half to one mile farther down the river (see the Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 3 Jan., 8 May, 10 July, and 31 July 1776, and Colles, Survey of the Roads description begins Christopher Colles. A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America, 1789. Edited by Walter W. Ristow. Cambridge, Mass., 1961. description ends , 159).

2The Durham boats, historian Alfred Hoyt Bill says, were “devised to carry iron ore and freight between Philadelphia and the northern counties of New Jersey. Ranging from forty to sixty feet in length and eight feet wide, they drew only twenty inches when fully loaded. The largest of them could carry fifteen tons and were capable of transporting the whole of some of Washington’s little regiments in a single trip. They had heavy steering sweeps that could be fitted at either end and were equipped with two masts and sails and with poles to drive them against contrary winds and currents” (Bill, Campaign of Princeton description begins Alfred Hoyt Bill. The Campaign of Princeton, 1776–1777. Princeton, N.J., 1948. description ends , 28–29).

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