George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 4 December 1776

To John Hancock

Trenton December the 4th 1776


Since I had the honor of addressing you Yesterday, I received a Letter from Genl Lee. On the 30th Ulto he was at Peeks Kills, and expected to pass the River with his division two days after. From this intelligence you will readily conclude, that he will not be able to afford us any aid for several days. The report of Genl Sinclair’s having Joined him with Three or four Regiments, I believe to be altogether premature, as he mentions nothing of it. It has arisen, as I am informed, from the return of some of the Jersey & Pensylvania Troops from Ticonderoga, whose time or service is expired. They have reached Pluckemin where I have wrote to have ’em halted and kept together, if they can be prevailed on, till further orders.

The inclosed, is a copy of a Letter which came to hand last night from Major Clark, to which I beg leave to refer you for the intelligence it contains.1 The Number of the Enemy said to be embarked is supposed to be rather exaggerated. That there has been an embarkation is not to be doubted, it being confirmed through various Channels. By Colo. Griffin who went from Brunswic on Sunday Morning with a Captn Sims to pass him by our Guards, and who was detained by Lord Cornwallis till Monday Evening on account of his situation,2 the amount of Genl Clintons force from what he could collect from the Officers, was about Six Thousand, as to their destination, he could not obtain the least information. By him I also learn, the Enemy were in Brunswic, and that some of their advanced parties had proceeded two miles on this side. The Heavy rain that has fallen, has probably checked their progress, and may prevent their further movement for some time.3 I have the Honor to be with great esteem Sir Your Most Obedt St

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 5 Dec. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 6:1006).

2The draft reads: “till yesterday morning on account of the situation of his Army.” The previous Sunday was 1 December. Samuel Griffin had been adjutant general of the flying camp before the expiration of its term of service on 30 November. Although Richard Symes was a captain in the British 52d Regiment at this time, the prisoner whom Griffin escorted through the lines on 1 Dec. apparently was Lt. James Symes of the Royal Highland Emigrants, a Loyalist regiment that had been raised in Nova Scotia (see GW to Richard Peters, this date). James Symes became an assistant aide-de-camp to General Howe a few days later, and on 30 Dec. he was appointed a lieutenant in the British 5th Regiment (see John Cadwalader to GW, 15 Dec., and Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:432).

3The draft reads: “the Heavy rain that has fallen and the weather that may succeed, may delay their progress, if not prevent their moving farther for some time.”

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