George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General William Maxwell, 30 August 1777

To Brigadier General William Maxwell

[Wilmington, Del.] Aug. 30th 1777.
½ after 8 OClock P.M.


It seems to be the Opinion of several of the prisoners and also of the Deserters that have lately come out, that the Enemy intend to move to morrow morning. How well founded this Idea may be, I cannot tell, but I thought it right to communicate it to you, that you may be ⟨watc⟩hfull and guarded on all the Roads. It will be well to place some of your ⟨men⟩ at the pass on the Road which has been represented to be so advantageous, attending at the same time to the rest. If the Enemy come on they will be well posted and may have an ⟨opp⟩ortunity of annoying them greatly—If otherwise ⟨their⟩ being there will do no harm. They should be directed to lie quiet & still & ought to be posted early to night as the Enemy will most probably move if they d⟨o at⟩ all, between 2 & three OClock.1

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The multilated portions of the text on the draft manuscript are supplied within angle brackets from the Varick transcript.

1Hessian adjutant Baurmeister heard two days earlier that an American “advanced post . . . , namely, 560 volunteers commanded by Brigadier General Maxwell, was occupying the ford across the little Gosch [Cooch] River” (Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 100). Howe’s army did not march from Head of Elk until 3 September. Howe’s aide Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for 31 Aug.: “We will probably stay here [Head of Elk] today and tomorrow to give our horses, which suffered exceedingly because of the unexpectedly long voyage, a chance to recover, and also to shoe them. I presume we will then proceed in two corps, one under the command of General Knyphausen, to Philadelphia by way of New Castle, Wilmington, etc.” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 26).

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