George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 30 September 1777

From John Hancock

York-Town in Pennsylvania Sepr 30th 1777.


Since my departure from Philadelphia, I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favrs to 23d Inst.—I met the Congress on Saturday last at Lancaster, & upon consultation it was judged most prudent to adjourn to this place, where we now are, & where we can deliberate & prosecute business without interruption, & where your dispatches will meet us.1

I have just now receiv’d by general Gates’s Aid de Camp, (Major Troup) sundry Letters, Copies of which I have the honour to inclose you, by which it appears that our affairs in the northern department wear a favourable aspect,2 and I hope soon to transmit you an Account of an issue to the contest in that quarter.

I wish soon to receive the most pleasing Accounts from you, we are in daily expectation of agreeable tidings, & that genl Howe is totally reduced.

I beg leave to refer you to the inclosed papers, and am with the utmost respe⟨ct⟩ & esteem, Sir, Your most Obedt & very hble Servt

John Hancock Presidt

Inclos’d I Send you a South Carolina Paper; by which you will See the Success Capt. Biddle in the Frigate Randolph has met, which when you have perus’d, I ask the favr you will please to order to be Deliver’d to Coll Pinkney of South Carolina, who is at Camp, & whose the paper is, I requested it of the South Carolina delega⟨tes⟩ first to be sent to you.3

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The postscript to the LS is in Hancock’s writing. It is not included on the letter-book copy.

1The previous Saturday was 27 September. For Congress’s meeting at Lancaster on that date and its adjournment to York, see 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 , 8:755. Congress reconvened at York three days later.

2Hancock enclosed copies of the following letters regarding recent events in the northern department: Benjamin Lincoln to Horatio Gates, 14, 17, 20 Sept., Gates to Lincoln, 15, 17, 19 Sept., Gates to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 17 Sept., John Brown to Lincoln, 18 Sept., and Gates to Hancock, 22 Sept. 1777 (two letters). All of the copies are in DLC:GW.

Horatio Gates’s first letter to Hancock of 22 Sept. from Bemis Heights, N.Y., reads: “Friday morning I was inform’d by my Reconnoitring parties, that the Enemy had struck their Camp, and were moving towards our Left. I immediately detach’d Coll [Daniel] Morgan’s Corps, consisting of the Rifle Regimt and the Light Infantry of the Army to observe their Direction, and Harrass their Advance; this Party at half after twelve, fell in with a Picquet of the Enemy which they Drove, but the Enemy being Reinforc’d, after a brisk Conflict, they were in turn obliged to Retire, this Skirmish drew the main Body of the Enemy, and a Brigade from my Left to support the Action, which, after a short Cessation was Renewed with great warmth and Violence—At this instant, hearing from Prisoners, that the whole British Force and a Division of Foreigners had engaged our Party, I reinforc’d with four more Regiments, this continued the Action till the close of Day, when both Armies retir’d from the Field—Inclos’d is a Return of our Loss, and I am well Assur’d by the concurrent Testimony of Prisoners and Deserters of various Characters that General Burgoyne, who commanded in person, receiv’d a wound in his left Shoulder, that the 62d Regimt was cut to pieces, and that the Enemy suffer’d extremely in every Quarter where they were Engaged. The general good Behaviour of the Troops, on this important Occasion, cannot be surpassed by the most Veteran Army, to discriminate in praise of the Officers would be Injustice, as they all deserve the honour and applause of Congress—Lieut. Coll [Andrew] Co[l]burn and Lieut. Coll [Winborn] Adams, with the rest of the unfortunate Brave, who fell in their Country’s cause, deserve a lasting monument to their Glory—The Armies remain encamp’d within two Miles of each other. The 17th Inst. I wrote to all the neighbouring States, and pressingly Demanded the immediate March of their Militia, when a proper Reinforcement arrives, I hope to give your Excellency more interesting Intelligence—Inclos’d is a Return of the Army, which, but barely equals that of the Enemy” (DLC:GW).

Hancock also enclosed a copy of Congress’s resolution of 27 Sept. directing the Board of War to cooperate with GW “in devising and carrying into Execution the most effectual measures for Supplying the Army with Fire Arms, Shoes, Blanketts, Stockings, Provisions & other necessaries, and that in executing this Business those Collections be confind as much as Circumstances will admit to Persons of disaffected and equivocal Characters” (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 , 8:755).

3On 4 Sept. the Continental frigate Randolph under Capt. Nicholas Biddle captured a British brig and two other ships, which he then took into Charleston harbor (see Biddle to Robert Morris, 12 Sept. 1777, in Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 9:919–20). The enclosed newspaper probably was the 11 Sept. 1777 edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette (Charleston).

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