George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Thomas Mifflin, 28 December 1776

From Brigadier General Thomas Mifflin

Bristol [Pa.] Saturday Evening
[28 December 1776]1 8 OClock.

My dear general

The enclosd I have this Minute reced from an Express sent by my Order to Genl Cadwalader—The General not knowing that I was here did not write to me—& as I supposd the Contents of Importance in my Movements I took the Liberty to open the Letter for which I must plead only the Occasion in Excuse.2

I came here at 4 OClock this Afternoon. 500 Men sent from Philad. Yesterday crossd to Burlington this Morning. this Evening I sent over near 300 more—To Morrow 7 or 800 shall follow—I will cross in the Morning and will endeavour to form them into Regiments & a Brigade—they consist of many different Corps & want much Regulation.3 If your Excellency has any Orders for me, other than to join General Cadwalader as soon as possible, please to favor me with such as are necessary and I will punctually obey them. Pennsylvania is at length rousd & coming in great Numbers to your Excellencys Aid—Mr Hall will return with your Orders—I am informd that we cannot cross at Bordentown nor at any Place between that Place & this. I have no Doubt of effecting it here having sent from Philad. in the Morning several fine Boats which are now here.

I most heartily congratulate your Excellency on your late capital Stroke & wish most ardently a Repetition. I am with great Affection & Attacht Your Excy Obt St

Thomas Mifflin


Tench Tilghman replied to Mifflin on 29 Dec. from Newtown: “Yours to his Excellency came to hand a few Minutes ago, we awoke him to give you an Answer which he desires may be as follows—He will not undertake to give you any particular Orders, but leaves it to your Judgment, either to join General Cadwallader or proceed up towards Trenton, as, from Circumstances, you may think most proper. He would cross over with the Continental Troops tomorrow, if there was any provision made for them in Jersey, but as there is not, neither is there enough here to enable them to draw four days per Man, he does not think it prudent to do it till some Magazines are established. He begs you will have all the provision you can get or hear of forwarded on towards Trenton and procure as many Waggons as possible. Flour is particularly wanted, please to make Enquiry what Quantity is at the Mills of Bordentown, Allen Town and Croswix. Get every Intelligence in your Power and communicate it to the General.

“Caution Cadwallader not to suffer the Enemy to turn too quick upon his young Troops, he may play the devil by waiting properly upon Flank and Rear. I am led from my own feelings on the Occasion to suppose what yours are, that is, if there is a possibility of overtaking them to be at them yourself. You see you have full Powers and I am sure you will use them to the best Effect.” Tilghman adds in a postscript: “I am ⟨mutilated⟩ed of what I have wrote upon reading it over, but I am hardly awake so excuse it” (PHi: Cadwalader Papers).

1“Dec. 28” is written in an unidentified writing above the dateline on the manuscript. That date was a Saturday, and the context of this letter confirms that it was written on 28 December.

2This enclosure has not been identified.

3Mifflin’s force consisted of detachments from the 2d, 10th, 11th, and 12th Pennsylvania regiments and Col. Timothy Matlack’s Philadelphia rifle regiment, which were being recruited for the new Continental army; a regiment of associators from Bucks County, Pa.; three regiments of associators from Northampton County, Pa.; a regiment and two companies of associators from Northumberland County, Pa.; six regiments of associators from Lancaster County, Pa.; a regiment of associators from Cumberland County, Pa.; a regiment of associators from Bedford County, Pa.; four companies of Philadelphia militia; a detachment of militia from New Castle County, Del.; and detachments of marines from several Pennsylvania and Continental warships (see 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 , 433).

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