George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Bradford, Sr., 15 October 1777

From William Bradford, Sr.

Ship Montgomery before Fort Mifflin [Pa.]
October 15th 1777

Last night I received the inclosed Letter.1 The Commodore plac’d the Galleys in proper places to prevent a storm, and the night being very Foggy no attempt was made. The night before last they throw’d up a Battery before the Hospital on Province Island. This morning at nine OClock the Fog clear’d away, and they began firing from the Battery at the mouth of Schuylkill, the one before the Hospital and from the one opposite Fort Mifflin. They have as yet fir’d but few shot, but we suppose they will continue and increase their fire.2 Every thing will be done to defend the Fort that is possible. Colonel Smith was on board just now, and he not having time desir’d me to send off this information to your Excellency. I am Your Excellencys most Obt Hble Servant

Wm Bradford


1The enclosed letter from Joseph Ellis and Robert Harris to Bradford, which is dated 14 Oct. at Gloucester, N.J., reads: “By a person from Town we learn that an additional Reinforcement from Germantown are just gone down to the Province Island to join the British Troops there—That it is every where given out that they intend to Storm Fort Mifflin the Stockades to be first knocked down or other wise as Circumstances may favour the Enterprize That at Gl Cornwallis House our Intelligence tells us such Intentions were mentioned by some of the Officers attending there whilest soliciting a pass to come over the River—The Reinforcement mentioned is said to consist of five hundred Men—The Communication between this & Town is now entirely cut off—and there is the greatest Difficulty in getting away from within their Lines This morning a Flag was hoisted at the Point and after the Old Negro went over both he & Boat were secured. . . . P.S. If we were to give Credit to the Report of the Town yr Fort is this night to be stormed—However as to this or the other part of the Accts given you’ll make such use of as you think it merits” (DLC:GW).

2Capt. Lt. Francis Downman of the British artillery says in his account of the events of this date: “The fog did not clear up so that we could distinguish anything plainly till about 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning, when I fired the first howitzer into the fort [Mifflin]. The other battery began directly after me, and we kept up the ball for some time without their returning a shot. At length they began and fired very briskly at us, but did no damage. This morning another battery of ours, of two iron 18 pounders, opened upon the rebel shipping and fort; unfortunately one of these guns burst and badly wounded two or three men. This battery was begun and finished in the night; its situation is on the point of Province Island near the Schuylkill, and it is called the Pest-house battery. Immediately after our fire commenced, the whole rebel fleet moved out of reach in great hurry and confusion, receiving some damage from our shells. Their Commodore and large ships went near Gloucester Point, and their floating batteries, galleys, fire ships, and rafts went under the Jersey shore at Red Bank, where they are collecting forces and raising works. I was relieved this evening by Captain Standish from one of the most horrid commands that ever man was upon, the whole place under water, and the battery itself knee deep, almost torn to pieces by the rebel shot, and made so badly at first that several shot have gone through, and we have no safety in it but by lying down on the platform” (Whinyates, Services of Francis Downman description begins F. A. Whinyates, ed. The Services of Lieut.-Colonel Francis Downman, R.A., in France, North America, and the West Indies, between the Years 1758 and 1784. Woolwich, England, 1898. description ends , 41; 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 , 466).

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