George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 24 August 1777

From John Hancock

Philada 24 Augst 1777 8 oClock Eveng


By a Return Express, this moment Rec’d from the Northern Departmt the Inclos’d Letter for your Excellency1—I inclose you Copy of Genl Gates’s Letter to me, in which he mentions Genl Schuyler’s having wrote me particularly,2 but I have not a Line from him unless one should be Inclos’d in your packett; should that not be the case, & you should have any material Intelligence, I shall be much oblig’d by being favour’d with such Extract[.] I have just Rec’d a Letter from Head of Elk Copy of which I inclose also, & to which beg to Refer you.3

We have a report, which seems to be confirm’d several ways that a Detachmt of Continental Troops have been on Staten Island, burnt some houses, brought off some Cattle & about 160 Prison[er]s among whom are Two Colonels, Dungan & Allen.4

Should I Receive any further Intelligence you may Depend on having the earliest Notice. I am with respect Sir Your most Obedt srt

John Hancock Prest


1Hancock apparently forwarded Schuyler’s letter to GW of 20 Aug. (see GW to Hancock, 25 Aug.).

2Gates says in his letter to Hancock of 20 Aug.: “The Check Mr Burgoyne has met with at Bennington, and that near Fort Schuyler, will probably retard the impetuosity of his further approach, and cause this Army to be reinforced from all Quarters, when that is done to Effect, I shall not wait to be attacked, but endeavour to turn the Tables upon my Antagonist—I have great Expectations of Large Bodies of Militia from all Quarters[.] General Schuyler has particularly acquainted you with the last Accounts from Bennington and Fort Schuyler. As the Kill’d and taken at Bennington amounted to 936 I am Confident the Enemy are 1200 less for that defeat” (DLC:GW).

3Lt. Col. Henry Hollingsworth of the Cecil County, Md., militia wrote Hancock at 4:00 A.M. on this date: “this morning I am inform’d by a person (sent last evening) that there is about two hundred Sail of Shipping in the head of Chesapeak Bay lying from Turkey point down to the Mouth of Sasifrace [Sassafras] River that there are many large Ships, & some smaller such as Briggs Sloops &c. that there appear’d a Number of Boats fit for landing in, & that my Informant Examin’d some persons that had been along the Shore conversing with the Enemy, who Say there are a Number of Troops on board, so many as to make the Decks appear all Red (which is their own Language) I have order’d this Battalion of Militia together, but they are so badly Arm’d, that not more than one half of them can Act at once. I have appointed such as have Arms to Guard the Stores which are here in great Danger of falling into the Enemy’s hands, as I fear it will be impossible to remove them in time. They had landed no Troops last Night, as soon as they do I shall endeavour to give the earliest Notice of it, but fear shall not be able unless Strengthned, to oppose them, from every Appearance they intend to land on the South East side of Elk river, or perhaps go up Sasifrace or Bohemia” (DLC:GW). Head of Elk (now Elkton, Md.) was at the head of navigation on the Elk River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay that extends farther northeast toward Philadelphia than any of the bay’s other waters.

4For an account of Sullivan’s raid on Staten Island of 22 Aug., see Sullivan’s first letter to GW of this date.

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