George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Armstrong, Sr., 14 September 1777

To Major General John Armstrong, Sr.

Head Quarters [near Germantown, Pa.]
sunday Morning 7 OClock 14th sept. 1777


I last night wrote to the Officer commandg at the Bridge ordering him to have it moved immediately which I understand has been by some means neglected—I have therefore to request that you will have it executed directly as the Enemy (being now advanced near Chester) will probably Detach a party of light Troops to take possession of it, particularly when they come to understand that we have taken the Route which is determin’d on.1

You will also pay due attention to the Fords up the Schuylkill & have any Works you see necessary thrown up for their defence Colo. Portail & his Officers will attend you for this purpose, as it is not expected that these Works will have occasion to stand a long defence, they should be such as can with the least labor & in the shortest time be compleated, only that part of them which is opposed to cannon need be of any considerable thickness & the whole of them should be rather calculated for Dispatch than any unnecessary Decorations or Regularity which Engineers are frequently too fond of[.] Guards should be kept at all the Ferries to take care of the Boats as long as they are necessary for use after which they should be drawn up & there also guarded.

Inclosed you have an order to Colo. Portail to wait on you.2 I am &c.


Copy, in John Fitzgerald’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. A note, also in Fitzgerald’s writing, on the reverse of the copy reads: “The Soldiers belonging to the Continental Army straggling into the City proving very prejudicial to the Service & inconvenient to.”

1GW wrote the commanding officer at the Schuylkill Bridge on this date: “You are immediately upon receipt of this to loose the Schuylkill Bridge from its moorings and let it swing to the Philadelphia Side of the River and there be fasten’d. this order which was sent to you from me in positive Terms last night, you injudiciously waved carrying into execution—it is now repeated to you, and you will be made answerable for any ill consequences which may attend a farther neglect[.] The boats will be fully Sufficent for ferrying over any wagg⟨ons⟩ &ca employed in necessary public Service” (DLC:GW).

At GW’s request, communicated by Tench Tilghman and Joseph Reed, the Pennsylvania supreme executive council on this date ordered “that Major [Thomas] Casdorp do immediately & effectually remove the Bridge at the Middle Ferry on Schuylkill, & bring it away into Delaware, & bring over all the Boats of every kind from the West of Delaware; Two boats are to be removed from the upper Ferry into the cove below Mr. Morris’s, & placed under a guard, the other Boats to be placed so as to be entirely out of the reach of the enemy; but the Orders of the general officers are to be obeyed on these heads, whether they are to be exactly ordered as above, or a new arrangement made” (Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:305).

2GW wrote Duportail this morning: “Upon receipt of this you with your Officers will repair to Major General Armstrong & take his orders about throwing up some small Works along the schuylkill which must be such as can be most Speedily executed” (DLC:GW).

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