George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 5 September 1777

To John Hancock

Head Quarters Wilmington [Del.] 5th Sept. 1777


Since I did myself the honor of writing to you the Night before last, the Enemy have remained intirely quiet.1 A person who came express from Genl Rodney informs me that the Enemys shipping fell down from Cecil Court House on Tuesday last,2 but how low he does not know. I have desired Genl Rodney to inquire into this matter, and if it be true, to send persons along the Bay shore to see where they lay. Genl Maxwell who is just come up from the lines confirms the account of the Shipping having fallen down Elk, but it is thought to be with an intent of going up the other Arm of the Bay for the convenience of watering near the Mouth of Susquehannah. I have the honour to be with great Respect Sir Yr most obt. Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. We have not been able to ascertain the Enemy’s loss in the late Action any other way than by a Woman who came from their Camp yesterday. She says she saw Nine Waggon loads of Wounded.3 I think this probable because we had about forty killed and wounded, and as our Men were thinly posted they must have done more damage upon a close Body than they received.

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, MdHi: Samuel Chase Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The addressed cover includes the notation: “Favd by Genl St Clair.” Congress read this letter on 6 Sept. (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 , 8:714).

1Howe’s army camped at Aiken’s Tavern from 3 to 8 September.

2See Caesar Rodney to GW, 4 September. The previous Tuesday was 2 September.

3The wagons apparently carried sick and injured soldiers as well as men who had been wounded in the engagement at Cooch’s Bridge. Howe’s aide-de-camp Captain Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for 4 Sept.: “Our wounded and our invalids were sent to the Head of Elk this morning under the protection of a strong escort. From there they will be taken to the hospital ship” (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 , 28).

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