George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 9 September 1777

To John Hancock

8 Miles1 from Wilmington [Del.] 9th Sept. 1777


The Enemy advanced Yesterday with a seeming intention of attacking us upon our post near Newport. We waited for them the whole day, but they halted in the Evening at a place called Mill Town about two Miles from us. Upon reconnoitering their Situation, it appeared probable that they only meant to amuse us in front, while their real intent was to march by our Right and by suddenly passing the Brandywine and gaining the heights upon the North side of that River, get between us and Philada and cut us off from that City. To prevent this it was judged expedient to change our position immediately, the Army accordingly marched at two O’Clock this Morning and will take post this Evening upon the High Grounds near Chad’s Ford. We have heard nothing circumstantial from the Enemy this day, when I do I shall immediately transmit you an Account.2 I have the Honor to be Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, MdHi: Samuel Chase Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the addressed cover of the LS. Congress read this letter on 10 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 , 8:727).

1On the LS manuscript the number “8” is written over the number “6.” The draft and the Varick transcript both read “6 Miles.”

2GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote to Capt. David Hopkins of the 4th Continental Dragoons from Chadds Ford on this date: “His Excellency [GW] received your message by your Light Horseman, He begs you will enquire minutely into the report of the Enemy’s having advanced towards Kennet Square, and if you find it true Send him a written account. The General desires that what accounts you Send in future may be in writing because the messengers often are confused and unintelligible” (DNA: RG 156, Office of the Chief of Ordnance). Tilghman again wrote Hopkins from Chadds Ford at 6:00 P.M. on this date: “Since I wrote to you a few houres ago another Horseman has come in, and Says that the Enemy are moveing up the Lancester Road; and that when he came away their rear had pass’d Mr Kans Meeting House. His Excellency therefore desires that you would keep out, and endeavour to reconnoiter the Situation and destination of the Enemy as critically as possible. As you may not be acquainted with the Roads, and to what places they lead try to get a Country Man, who can give you information. The General begs you to remember of how much importance it is to him to receive very particular information, & hopes you will exert yourself to obtain it” (DNA: RG 156, Office of the Chief of Ordnance).

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