George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 10 August 1777

From John Hancock

Philadelphia August 10th [1777] 5 oClock P.M.


I was this moment called out of Church by the arrival of an Express,1 with a letter informing of a large fleets being seen of Senapuxon, Copy of the letter I enclose you pr Express, should I hear any thing further I shall immediately advise you of it.2 I have the honour to be, with sincere respect & esteem. Your most obedt & very hble Servt

John Hancock Presidt

LS, DLC:GW. This letter is addressed in part to GW at “German Town Or Elsewhere.”

110 Aug. 1777 was a Sunday.

2Hancock enclosed a copy of a letter written to him by Col. Zadoc Purnell of the Maryland militia on “Thursday Augst 7th 1777. 3 oClock P.M.,” which reads: “About 3 oClock this afternoon there appear’d off the bar of Senapuxon a large fleet of shiping to the amount of two-hundred & some odd sail, all bearing to the Southward with the wind about South East: which it is imagined that their intention is for the Cape of Virginia as they seem to bend their course that way, therefore I should think it best for you to send to Colo. [William] Richardson [of the 5th Maryland Regiment] and let him know of the matter, and I shall send to Colo. Joseph Dashill [of the Maryland militia] and sundry other gentlemen in Virginia to hold themselves in readiness in case of an attack in that quarter” (DLC:GW). Hancock’s secretary wrote “no place mentiond” below the dateline of Purnell’s letter. The Maryland executive council had ordered a guard to be stationed at Sinepuxent Inlet on Maryland’s Eastern Shore on 12 June 1777.

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