George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Captain Allen McLane, 28 March 1777

To Captain Allen McLane

Head Quarters [Morristown] 28 March 1777


I have certain information that Lord Cornwallis returned from Jersey yesterday, and ’tis said they intend an attack upon this army with their joint force before Genl Green can rejoin us. I therefore depend upon your keeping a very good look out upon their line, and gaining every intelligence from people coming out of Town, that I may have the earliest notice of their movements or intentions I am Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go Washington

Magazine of American History description begins Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries. 30 vols. New York, 1877–93. description ends , 6:139. This letter, which is addressed to “Capt McLean or next in Command near Rising Sun,” was in the McLane Papers at the New-York Historical Society in 1881.

Allen McLane (1746–1829) moved from Philadelphia to Kent County, Del., in 1774, and in September 1775 he joined Col. Caesar Rodney’s Delaware militia regiment as a lieutenant and regimental adjutant. McLane’s energetic leadership of a small detachment of Delaware troops at the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, and Princeton induced GW to appoint him a captain in Col. John Patton’s Additional Continental Regiment on 13 Jan. 1777, and McLane quickly raised a company at his own expense in Delaware. McLane’s company apparently served directly under GW’s command as an independent reconnoitering force until July 1779 when the company was attached to Maj. Henry Lee’s Partisan Corps (see McLane to the Delaware house of assembly, 26 Jan. 1782, in Delaware Archives description begins Delaware Archives. 5 vols. 1911–19. Reprint. New York, 1974. description ends , 2:907–8, and GW’s certificate of service for McLane, 4 Nov. 1783, DNA:PCC, item 152). In June 1781 McLane carried important dispatches from GW to Admiral de Grasse in the West Indies, and during the Yorktown campaign later that year he provided GW with valuable intelligence reports about the British army and fleet. After the war McLane entered a trading venture with Robert Morris. He became marshal of Delaware in 1789 and collector of the port of Wilmington in 1797, and he commanded the defenses of Wilmington during the War of 1812.

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