George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Joseph Reed, 14 January 1777

To Joseph Reed

Morris Town Jany 14. 1777.

Dear Sir,

I very much approve of your visiting Genl Putnam, as I cannot acct for his remaining at Crosswicks instead of removing to Princeton, as I have desird in several of my Letters.1

I would have him keep nothing at Princeton (except two or three days provisions) but what can be moved of at an hours warning—in that case, if good Scouting Parties are kept constantly out, no possible damage can happen to the Troops under his Command; who are to retreat, in case they are compelled to leave Princeton, towards the Mountains, so as to form a junction with the army under my immediate Command. This will serve as a direction to him in removg the Stores if any yet remain at Princeton.

I would have no time lost in drawing the Flour from the Mills on Millstone,2 least the Enemy should attempt, & avail themselves of it. I would also have Genl Putnam draw his Forage as much as possible from the Vicinity of Brunswick, that the Enemy may thereby be distressed3—the Inhabitants of that district should be compelled to bring it in.

The two Companies under the Command of Colo. Durkee, aided by the Militia in that Quarter should be constantly harrassing the Enemy about Bound Brook and the West side of Brunswick, (rariton I mean)—I have directed Genl Sullivan to do the like on the quarter next him.

Particular attention should be paid to the Surgeon sent by Lord Cornwallis (by my consent) to take charge of their wounded at Princeton—He will, more than probably, convey a true acct of your numbers (which ought to be a good deal magnified) at Princeton; and give other useful knowledge of your Situation—If therefore, the wounded are in a condition to remove, would it not be best to send them to Brunswick with the Surgeon? If any of them, or their attendants, have been considered and properly were Prisioners to us, for an equal number to be demanded in lieu.

I have Inclosed Genl Howe a Copy of Mr Yates’s declaration, and have remonstrated sharply on the treatment of our Prisoners4—What have you done with the Negro you apprehended? The Waggon with the Ammunition, and Watch Coats, I am obliged to you for taking care of—It is not yet arrived—In what manner did Colo. Quicks Militia leave the Rangers?5 In the Field? runaway? If so, they ought to be punished, or sham’d.

I recollect my approving of Winds way laying of the Roads between Brunswick and Amboy. I must beg the favr of Colo. Cox, in your absence, to continue the pursuit after Intelligence—Would it not be well for the Militia under Colo. Mehelm to unite with the Rangers for the purpose of keeping out constant scouts to annoy & harrass the Enemy in manner before mentioned?6 I ask for Information, as I would not suffer a Man to stir beyond their Lines, nor suffer them to have the least Intercourse with the Country. I am Dr Sir Yr Obedt & Affec⟨t.⟩

Go: Washington

ALS, RPJCB. The text in angle brackets is mutilated. GW apparently enclosed this letter in his to Reed of 15 Jan. 1777.

1No letters from GW to Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam ordering him to leave Crosswicks, N.J., for Princeton have been found. Putnam arrived at Princeton by 19 Jan. (see Putnam to Lord Stirling, that date, in DNA:PCC, item 159), and on that day Brig. Gen. Caesar Rodney began sending him reinforcements from Trenton (see entries for that date in Rodney’s orderly book, in Ryden, Rodney Letters description begins George Herbert Ryden, ed. Letters to and from Caesar Rodney, 1756–1784. Philadelphia, 1933. description ends , 157).

2The Millstone River and its tributaries provided the sites for many eighteenth-century gristmills.

3At this point in the manuscript GW struck out the phrase “as much as possible.”

4For Lt. Bartholomew Yates’s affidavit of 9 Jan. recounting his treatment by the British at the Battle of Princeton, see GW to William Howe, 13 January.

5Abraham Quick (c.1732–1805) was colonel of the 2d Regiment of Somerset County, N.J., militia. Quick resigned on 9 Sept. 1777.

6John Cox, Jr. (1732–1793), who was married to Esther Bowes, the sister of Reed’s mother, Theodosia Bowes Reed, was a wealthy Philadelphia merchant who manufactured cannon and shot at his iron furnaces in southern New Jersey for the Continental army. He served on the Philadelphia committee of correspondence in 1774 and along with Reed, Thomas Mifflin, George Clymer, and Charles Thomson soon became recognized as one of its most radical members. He was elected major of the Philadelphia associators on 10 May 1775 and promoted to lieutenant colonel by the time of the battles of Trenton and Princeton. In February of this year GW briefly considered making Cox quartermaster for the cavalry before offering him the post of commissary of prisoners, an office Cox declined (see Reed to GW, 18 Feb., GW to Reed, 23 Feb., and Reed to Gw, 8, 13, 22 Mar. 1777). In the spring of 1778 Cox was appointed assistant quartermaster general to Nathanael Greene (see General Orders, 24 Mar. 1778). John Mehelm (1735–1809) of Tewksbury in Hunterdon County, N.J., a schoolteacher and farmer who served in the New Jersey general assembly from 1772 to 1776 and in the New Jersey provincial congress in 1775 and 1776, was colonel of the 4th Regiment of Hunterdon County militia. He resigned his command on 15 May 1777 in order to accept an appointment as quartermaster general of the New Jersey militia. Mehelm also served as the commissary general of hides for New Jersey later in the war.

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