George Washington Papers

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hanson Harrison to John Hancock, 7 September 1777

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hanson Harrison to John Hancock

New port [Del.] Septr 7th 1777.


His Excellency being out a reconnoitring and busily engaged in the Affairs of the Army, I have the honor to acknowledge his receipt of your Letter of the 6th with the Resolutions inclosed, which came to hand Yesterday Afternoon.

In respect to the Militia requested of Jersey, his Excellency is doubtfull, whether they can be obtained. For Governor Livingston, by a Late letter, informed him, that he had no expectation, that more than Three Hundred, of the Thousand called for to garrison the posts in the Highlands, would march, notwithstanding he had issued Orders for that purpose; And, that Three weeks would probably elapse before that Number went.1 If the requisition can be complied with, he has no doubt of Genl Dickenson’s exertions, and is satisfied of the propriety of appointing him to the command. This, he imagines, would have followed of course, as he is Major General of All the Militia in the State, and has given ample testimony, as well of his capacity, as of his firmness and bravery.

By deserters and Other intelligence, his Excellency was informed last night, that the Enemy’s whole Force left Elk yesterday, and advanced on the Road towards Christiana.2 The Deserters added, that they had disincumbered themselves of All their Tents and Baggage and had sent ’em back and reimbarked ’em. All their Ships, except Two or three, which are Ships of War, are said to have fallen down the Bay, below the Mouth of Sassafras. We have had no information to day of any further movements, and I beleive their main body lies about Iron Hill. I have the Honor to be with great respect Sir Yr Most Obedt Sert

Rob: H: Harrison

P.S. The deserters said, they had destroyed a good deal of the Corn &c., they found in Store.

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 152; ADfS, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Harrison wrote on the addressed cover of the ALS: “Newport ½ after 12 OClock.” Congress read this letter on 8 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 , 8:719).

2Captain Muenchhausen, who was with General Howe at Aiken’s Tavern, Del., says in his diary entry for 6 Sept. that “General [James] Grant arrived in the afternoon from the Head of Elk with his six battalions” (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 , 30; see also Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 447–48; André, Journal description begins John André. Major André’s Journal: Operations of the British Army under Lieutenant Generals Sir William Howe and Sir Henry Clinton, June 1777 to November 1778. 1930. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 43; and Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 145).

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