George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 21 August 1777

From John Hancock

Philada August 21st 1777.


Upon the Resignation of Mr Philips as Commissary of Hydes, the Congress have been pleased to appoint Mr George Ewing in his Place, who is ordered to carry into Execution the Plan you have proposed; which I make no Doubt he will do with Application and Success.1

Your Favour of yesterday I had the Honour of receiving with the Inclosures from General Schuyler, and am extremely pleased to hear that our Affairs in that Quarter wear so favourable an Aspect.

The enclosed Resolve to relieve the New York Militia, who at present garrison the Forts on Hudson’s River, and to garrison them with a like Number of the New Jersey Militia, in Order that the former may be employed in defending their own State against the Attack of our Enemies, I must beg you will carry into Execution in the Manner therein pointed out.2

The enclosed Letter I have just received by Express from Virginia, who informs that the Fleet was seen last Thursday standing in for their Capes.3 I enclose you also a Copy of Colo. Nelson’s Letter to Colonel Harrison.4 I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect Sir your most obed. and very hble Servant

John Hancock Presidt

Col. Harrison desires me to present his Complimts to your Excellency, & begs you will order Robin Randolph to Camp—(Col. H. has his reasons).

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The postscript, which appears only on the LS, is in Hancock’s writing.

1For GW’s plan for establishing public tanneries, see his letter to Hancock of 16 August. George Ewing (c.1737–1785) of Pennsylvania was appointed commissary of hides on 5 Aug. (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 8:607, 656). Subsequently criticized for want of activity and care in performing his duties, Ewing resigned his office in April 1779 (see Ewing to Congress, 20 April 1779, DNA:PCC, item 78, and ibid., 13:478, 510).

2This resolution of 20 Aug. directs GW “to call on the governor of New Jersey for one thousand men to relieve a like number of the militia of the state of New York at present employed in garrisoning the forts on the Hudson’s river, in order that the said militia may be employed in repelling the invasion of the enemy on the frontiers of that state” (DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 8:659).

3See John Page to GW, 15 August. The previous Thursday was 14 August.

4Writing at Yorktown, Va., on 15 Aug., Thomas Nelson, Jr., informed Benjamin Harrison in this letter that “An Express arrived yesterday from the Eastern Shore with Intelligence of a large Fleet of Ships being seen off Matomken [Matompkin Inlet] on the Sea Board of that Country. What their Purpose is, we know not; tho I believe not to pay us a Visit by their playing on and off, which Colonel [Southy] Simpson writes they have done for a Day or two. Should they chuse to amuse themselves here, they will have it in their Power to do almost what they please in the lower Parts of this State; for I am sure there never was a People worse prepared for Defence than we are. However, I am determined to exert every Nerve to make a Stand against them should they land.” Nelson wrote on the back of the letter: “At 9 O’Clock last Night upwards of one Hundred Sail of Vessels were seen standing into our Capes” (DLC:GW).

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