George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel John Cadwalader, 15 December 1776

From Colonel John Cadwalader

Bristol [Pa.] 15th Decr 1776


I recd your Dispatches to day & have sent Capt: Alexanders Company to Philada.1

Mr Symes (Lt in R. H. Emigrants who now acts as Asst A. De Camp to General How) came over from Burlington this Morning with a Number of Officers & privates to be exchanged—he says that General Lee was taken by Surprize last Friday Afternoon by about 30 Light Horse. Capt: Murray one of the Prisoners, informs me that Capt: Montresure told him the same Story at Trenton, & he has no Doubt of the Fact2—Symes tells me that a considerable Body of the Enemy are near Burlington, & will march in about Noon—Capt: Murray confirms this, but cannot certainly ascertain the number—but gives the followg acct of the arrangment of the Enemy’s Army for the Winter—That the main Army was at or near Trenton, a large Body had prepared to march to Brunswick yesterday for the Winter—wch place was to be head Quarters, 500 men at Burlington, 500 at Bordenton, 500 at Trenton; & a number to each Town in that part of the Country equal to its size—This was the Conversation at Trenton among the officers & Inhabitants who have submitted & joined the Enemy—I have sent several persons over for Intelligence, & last Night sent Capt: Shippen with 20 good men3—One of the men, sent yesterday Morng to Mount holley to enquire whether the Enemy had gone that way—he there conversed with a man well known for his attachment to our Cause, who informed him that 600 lay last Night at the Black Horse, about 9 miles from Burlington[.] he saw them on their march in the followg order—The advanced Party of 200 near the blk Horse, 200 at Mansfield Meeting, 200 at the Rising Sun, or Square—This Line extended about three Miles—but the whole were to march to the Black Horse—They had five Brass Field Pieces—On his return, he came through Burlington & was there informed that the Troops seen at Black Horse were the adv: Party of about 2,000 Hessians—General Ewing informed me yesterday, that upwards of 2,000 Hessians were seen going into Bordenton in the Afternoon4—I have sent off the man who came over this Morning to ascertain the Facts—If there is not more than 5 or 600 men in Burlington to night, & no Body to sustain them if attacked, I shall attack them about Day-light to-morrow Morng—The Person sent over to Day is a very intelligent spirited Officer in the Jersey Regulars—&, I hope, will give me information time enough to make the necessary Preparation—I have ordered two Officers to go up Neshaminy & make the Observations you recommended—& shall transmit the Report to you as soon as possible.

General How is certainly gone to New York, unless the whole is a scheme to amuse & surprize5—I shall, from time to time, inform you of every material piece of Intelligence. I am, with the greatest respect your Excellency’s most obt very hble Servant

John Cadwalader

P.S. Messrs John, Andrew, & Wm Allen are at Trenton—Capt. Murray saw them.6


William Grayson wrote Cadwalader on this date from GW’s headquarters at Keith’s house: “His Excellency has desired me to acquaint you, that by advice received last night from a Prisoner (who was servant to Capt. [Lt. Bryan] Bell Aid de Camp to Genl Vaughan) he is inform’d that the Enemy intend to return back; indeed the number of waggons which have been moving down towards Borden Town, seems to favor this intelligence; His Excellency thinks they have a design of sending their Forage waggons and Baggage by the route of South Amboy, and that they present us a front on the River for the purpose of effectually covering them, while by sending them that road, they secure them against a forced march from Genl Lee, for should he cross their Line, they would have it in their power to cross his; however the General is by no means certain that this is the case; he therefore desires you will exert yourself to the utmost of your Abilities, and by every method in your power, in discovering the movements and intention of the Enemy; in particular he requests, you will be extremely attentive in finding out, whether any number of waggons have filed off across the Country towards South Amboy, either at Bordon town or Burlington; Should you, upon inquiry, discover that these are their views, and that these Forage waggons have small escorts, and that there is a strong probability that an attempt on them, may be made with success, then you are to endeavour to ef⟨fect⟩ so salutary a purpose, by sending proper parties to sec⟨ure⟩ them” (DLC:GW).

1The dispatches have not been identified, but see GW to Robert Morris, 14 December.

2Charles Lee was captured on Friday morning, 13 December. Francis Murray (c.1732–1816) of Newtown, Pa., a captain in Col. William Atlee’s Pennsylvania musketry regiment, had been captured at the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug. 1776. Murray in April 1777 became major of the Pennsylvania State Regiment, which in November 1777 was designated officially as the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment. Captured by Loyalists in February 1778 while visiting his family at Newtown, Murray was exchanged in October 1780. He became county lieutenant of Bucks County in 1783 and subsequently a general of the militia.

3William Shippin (1750–1777), a Philadelphia merchant, was appointed in May 1776 captain of a company of marines aboard the privateer Hancock, which sailed from Philadelphia in June and returned on 1 December. Shippin apparently joined Cadwalader’s brigade at Bristol with a detachment of marines about this time, and he served with GW’s army until he was killed in action at the Battle of Princeton on 3 January.

4Mount Holly, N.J., is about six miles southeast of Burlington. Black Horse (now Columbus), N.J., is in Mansfield Township, Burlington County, about seven miles northeast of Mount Holly and about nine miles east of Burlington. Johann Ewald says in his diary that “Colonel Rall, who had followed the army with the three Hessian regiments. Alt Lossberg, Knyphausen, and Land Grenadier, marched into Trenton on the 14th to occupy it. Since the army lay much too crowded, the quarters were extended and changed on that day in the following manner.

“Pennington was abandoned, and Trenton covered the right flank of the quarters where the Hessian Colonel Rall was billeted with his brigade. Two companies of the Knyphausen Regiment covered the Falls and Trent crossings on the Delaware, and a detachment of a major and one hundred and fifty men took their post at the drawbridge to keep open communications between Bordentown and Trenton. Colonel Donop took up his quarters in Bordentown together with the Grenadier Battalion Minnigerode. The Battalion von Linsing was billeted on the plantation along the road from Bordentown to Crosswicks. [Lieutenant] Colonel [Thomas] Stirling occupied Black Horse with the 42d Scottish Regiment and the Hessian Grenadier Battalion Block, which covered the left flank of the army. I was stationed at the Lewis Mill with the jäger company to protect communications between Black Horse and Bordentown. Captain [Carl August von] Wreden was posted along the route from Black Horse to Field’s crossing on the Delaware [Fieldsboro, N.J.]. Lieutenant [Friedrich Wilhelm von] Grothausen, with a detachment of fifty jägers, took post at [Philemon] Dickinson’s house on the Delaware to the left of Trenton with instructions to patrol constantly to Pennington.

“Lord Cornwallis took up his quarters at Brunswick with his brigade, the Grant brigade, and the English grenadiers. General [Alexander] Leslie and his brigade received quarters at Princetown, the light infantry occupied Maidenhead [Lawrenceville] and Kingston, and the regiment of dragoons was distributed in and around Princetown” (Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 31; see also Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 75–76).

5William Howe left Trenton on 14 Dec. and arrived at New York City two days later (see Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 116, 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 , 1:103). On 20 Dec. Howe wrote Lord George Germain that his army had remained at Trenton and Pennington until 14 Dec. “when the weather having become too severe to keep the field and the winter cantonments being arranged, the troops marched from both places to their respective stations [see note 4]. . . . The chain, I own, is rather too extensive but I was induced to occupy Burlington to cover the county of Monmouth in which there are many loyal inhabitants, and trusting to the almost general submission of the country to the southward of this chain and to the strength of the corps placed in the advanced posts, I conclude the troops will be in perfect security. Lord Cornwallis and Major-General Vaughan having desired to return to Britain, the command in Jersey is given to Major-General Grant in whose approved good conduct I place the greatest confidence” (Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 12:266–68).

6Although these sons of William Allen, Sr. (1704–1780), the former chief justice of Pennsylvania, initially supported the American cause, they strongly opposed independence, and about this time they accepted the Howe brothers’ offer of pardon at Trenton. John Allen (d. 1778), the eldest son, was elected a member of the New Jersey provincial congress earlier this year but soon resigned his seat. He died in Philadelphia during the winter of 1778 when the city was occupied by the British. Andrew Allen (1740–1825), the second son, became attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1769, and in November 1774 he was elected a Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress. He did not attend Congress after May 1776, and he was not included in the new Pennsylvania delegation that was elected in July “on Account of his disapproved Conduct” (Elbridge Gerry to James Warren?, 23 Dec. 1776, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 5:640–42). Andrew Allen returned to Philadelphia during the British occupation of the city from the fall of 1777 to the spring of 1778. In November 1778 he sailed to England, where he later received a pension for his losses. William Allen, Jr. (c.1751–1838), the third son, was commissioned a captain in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment in October 1775, and on 4 Jan. 1776 he was named lieutenant colonel of the 2d Pennsylvania Regiment (see 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 , 4:29–30). He resigned his commission on 23 July 1776 saying that since his appointment “several circumstances have intervened, which render it extremely inconvenient & indeed impossible for me any longer to execute the duties of the said Commission” (William Allen, Jr., to John Hancock, that date, DNA:PCC, item 78). Congress accepted his resignation the following day (see ibid., 5:604). For a more explicit expression of Allen’s political views later this month, see Tatum, Serle’s Journal description begins Edward H. Tatum, Jr., ed. The American Journal of Ambrose Serle: Secretary to Lord Howe, 1776–1778. San Marino, Calif., 1940. description ends , 163–65. In September 1777 William Allen, Jr., raised a corps in Philadelphia called the Pennsylvania Loyalists, which he commanded with the rank of lieutenant colonel until the end of the war. After the war he moved to England.

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