George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 16 September 1777

From John Hancock

Philada September 16. 1777.


I have this moment Rec’d a Note from Genl Dickinson desiring the Inclos’d Letter from him might be Sent to you by Express; he Judges the Enemy’s Force in Jersey to be 4000 strong.1

I will not Detain the Express longer than just to Inclose you the Resolution of Congress submitting to you the Execution of the Resolve respectg General Sullivan.2

Your favr of this Day I have just Rec’d; I am with the utmost Respect, Sir Your most Obed. servt

John Hancock Presdt


1The enclosed letter from Philemon Dickinson to John Cadwalader, dated at Trenton at 10:00 P.M. on 14 Sept., reads: “No Doubt you have heard of the Enemy’s Incursion into this State as I sent an Express last Evg to Congress—they still continue in Possession of Eliza: Town and Newark—I have just sent Orders to the Eastern Militia to march for Eliza: Town and shall send on all from this County—I shall not contradict the Orders already given to the Militia of Burlington and the lower Counties until I hear from the Governr—these contradictory Orders occasion much Delay—I shall push a strong Force to the Eastward and follow immediately myself and hope in my next shall be able to give you a good Acct of the Enemy. they have 4 or 6 Field Pieces as we are informed. had it not been for this unfortunate Alarm from the best Accts I have received I should have been able to have march’d 4 or 5,000 Men to your City—Seventy or eighty disaffected Persons from Sussex and the upper Parts of this County embodied themselves last Week (about one half armed) and had actually marchd a very considerable Distance in Order to join the Enemy upon Staten-Island—as soon as I recd the Information I issued orders for apprehending them & by the Activity of our Militia after exchanging a few Shot they made Prisoners of one half of them routed the Remr and were in Pursuit of them when the Express left Brunswick w[hic]h was this Morning—The Enemy’s Movement in Jersey was designd I believe to keep the Militia at Home—We have not a single Field Piece in the State—you may mention this to the Board of War if you think proper.

“N.B. the inclosed List I have just recd from N. York—tis authentic, coming from the best Authority—The Regiments tis said contain between 250 & 300 Men—those are immediately under Genl Howe’s Command—If Congress nor the General has not recd any Acct pray send a Copy to each.

“Under Genl Howe’s Command. British: 16 & 17 Regts light Dragoons, 1 Brigade Guards, 5 Companies Artillery, 29 Regts of British Foot, 2 Batts. Marines. Hessians: 2 Comps. Chasseurs, 18 Regts Hessians, 1 Artillery. Ships from 50 to 28 Guns: 34; 20 to 10 [guns]: 22; Bombs: 2⟨0⟩; Armed Vessels: 10. Generals Clinton, Cornwallis, Massey, Vaughan, Pigot, Jones, Grant, Prescot, Robinson. The Regts contain from 250 to 300 Men” (DLC:GW; see also Dickinson to Hancock, 15 Sept., DNA:PCC, item 78).

2The enclosed resolve of this date directs “that the Execution of the Resolve of Congress for the Recall of Genl Sullivan from the Army, in the present initial Situation of Affairs be left to the Discretion of Genl Washington until further Orders” (DLC:GW; see also 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 , 8:749–50).

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