George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel John Cadwalader, 24 December 1776

To Colonel John Cadwalader

Head Quarters [Bucks County, Pa.]
24th December 1776.


Fix with Colo. Griffin on your Points of Attack—In this, as circumstances must govern, I shall not interfere; but let the hour of attack be the 26th, and one hour before day (of that Morning.)1

I have wrote to Colo. Hitchcock to join his Brigade to yours, and cooperate therewith.2 If you should be successful (of which I have the highest hopes) move forward if possible, so as to form a junction with me, if the like good fortune should attend our Enterprize, either at Trenton or Princeton.

Let your Men be provided with Blankets and three days Provisions ready Cooked. Most ardently wishing you Success I am Yr Most Obedt

Go: Washington

ALS, PHi: Cadwalader Collection.

1GW wanted Cadwalader and Griffin to attack the Hessian outposts south of Trenton at the same time that he attacked Trenton. Joseph Reed went to New Jersey about this time to confer with Griffin, but Reed found him “in bad Health & was inform’d that his Force was too weak to be depended on either in Numbers or Discipline, that all he expected was to make a Division & draw the Notice of the Enemy before whom he proposed to retire if they should advance in any Force.” Reed says that he then “informed Gen. Washington by Letter of these Circumstances” (“Reed’s Narrative, 1776–77,” description begins “General Joseph Reed’s Narrative of the Movements of the American Army in the Neighborhood of Trenton in the Winter of 1776–77.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 8 (1884): 391–402. description ends 392). That letter has not been found.

2This letter has not been identified. Col. Daniel Hitchcock’s brigade consisted of the 4th, 9th, 11th, and 12th Continental regiments and Col. Christopher Lippitt’s Rhode Island regiment. The brigade’s effective strength on 22 Dec. was 877 officers and men (see the general return for GW’s army, 22 Dec., DNA: RG 93, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775–83; see also Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:1401–2; Lesser, Sinews of Independence description begins Charles H. Lesser, ed. The Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army. Chicago, 1976. description ends , 43; and Stryker, Battles of Trenton and Princeton description begins William S. Stryker. The Battles of Trenton and Princeton. 1898. Reprint. Spartanburg, S.C., 1967. description ends , 344–45). Sgt. John Smith of Lippitt’s regiment says in his diary that on 23 Dec. his regiment marched south about nineteen miles from Upper Makefield Township to Bristol, “where we ariv’d Befor Night & Drew Provisions & Pitched tents in a Grove By ye Town for all the houses were teaken up By the Pensilvania Millitia” (Rau, “Smith’s Diary,” description begins Louise Rau, ed. “Sergeant John Smith’s Diary of 1776.” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 20 (1933-34): 247–70. description ends 267).

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