George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Israel Putnam, 5 January 1777

To Major General Israel Putnam

Pluckemin [N.J.] January 5th 1777

Dear General

Fortune has favord us in an attack on Princeton—General How advancd upon Trenton which we Evacuated on the Evening of the second of this instant and drew up the Troops on the Southside of the Mill Creek and continued in that position until dark, then march’t for Princeton which we reacht next morning by about Nine oClock—There was three Regiments Quarterd there of British Troops—which we Attackt and Routed—The number of the Killd wounded and taken prisoners amounts to about 5 or 600—We lost several Officers & about thirty privates—General Mercer is badly wounded if not mortally—After the Action we immediately march’t for this place—I shall remove from hence to Morristown—there shall wait a few days and refresh the Troops—during which time I shall keep a strickt watch upon the Enemies motions—They appear to be pannick struck and I am in some hopes of driveing them out of the Jerseys—It is thought advisable for you to march the Troops under your command to Cross[w]ix and keep a strick watch upon the Enemy upon that quarter1—If the Enimy continue at Brunswick—you must act with great circumspection lest you meet with a surprise—As we have made two successful Attacks upon the Enemy—by way of surprise—they will be pointed with resentment and if there is any possibillity of retalliateing will Attempt it—You will give out your Strength to be twice as great as it is—Forward on all the Baggage and Scatterd Troops belonging to this division of the Army as soon as may be.

You will keep as many Spies out as You will See proper, a number of horsemen in the dress of the Country must be Constantly Kept going backwards & forwards for this purpose, and if you discover any motion of the enemy, which you Can depend upon and which you think of Consequence—Let me be informd thereof as soon as possible by Express. I am Dr General Your Most H.

Df, in the writing of John Fitzgerald and Stephen Moylan, DLC:GW. Varick transcript. The dateline, salutation, and first paragraph of the draft are in Fitzgerald’s writing, and the second paragraph and the closing are in Moylan’s writing.

1Putnam on 4 Jan. marched from Philadelphia with about six hundred men, and on this date he was at Bristol, Pa. (see the Executive Committee to John Hancock, 5 Jan., 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 , 6:34–35, and Putnam to Robert Morris, 5 Jan., DNA:PCC, item 159). The following morning Putnam’s force crossed the Delaware River to Burlington, N.J., where Putnam “found about 500 of the Militia and a few Continental Troops who were left by accident by Genl Washington at Trenton on the night of his march to Princetown” (Putnam to an unknown correspondent, 6 Jan., DNA:PCC, item 159). Incorporating those militia and Continental troops into his small corps, Putnam proceeded on the afternoon of 6 Jan. to Trenton. He received this letter from GW at Trenton on 7 Jan., and he arrived with his corps at Crosswix on the evening of 8 Jan. (see Putnam to Thomas Wharton, Jr., 7, 9 Jan., in Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 5:171, 177).

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