George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Philemon Dickinson, 19 February 1777

From Brigadier General Philemon Dickinson

Bell’s Farm [N.J.] 19th Feby 1777.


By a person this moment returned from Brunswick whom I sent in on purpose; I have rec’d the following Intelligence, which I believe may be depended upon viz.

Genl Howe & Lt Piercy arrived at Amboy on thursday last, with a reinforcement of five thousand Men, at which time one thousand men arrived at Brunswick1—They are in great want of Forage at Brunswk & intend to come out very strong in a few days, or their horses must starve—A party of Hessians to the number of near 200 were very near deserting a few days ago, but were discovered, which intention has created much uneasiness, tis generally expected that a bold push will soon be made from both Amboy & Brunswick to surprise your Excellency at Morris Town—This is intended & they only wait Genl Howe’s orders to march, being already prepared.

I most heartily approve of Genl Maxwell’s plan, & beg your Excellency will be pleased to order it put into execution, ’tis just dark & am unwilling to detain the Express one moment. I have the honor to be Your Excellencys most obedt

Philemon Dickinson

Copy, in John Walker’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers. This copy, which bears a docket in GW’s writing, was enclosed in GW’s letter to Gates of 20 Feb. 1777.

1The previous Thursday was 13 Feb. 1777. Stephen Kemble says that Howe went to New Jersey on Tuesday, 18 Feb. (see 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 , 1:110), but Ambrose Serle gives the date as 19 Feb. (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 , 191). Howe wrote to Lord Germain on 12 Feb. saying that “Lord Cornwallis has been strengthened by troops from Rhode Island, where Lord Percy now commands” (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 , 13:37). The British reinforcements for New Brunswick apparently were the “flank companies” of the British regiments stationed at Rhode Island since early January 1777 (see “Howe’s Military Operations in 1777,” description begins Robert Francis Seybolt, ed. “A Contemporary British Account of General Sir William Howe’s Military Operations in 1777.” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, n.s., 40 (1930): 69–92. description ends 71).

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