From Joseph Reed
Blue Bell 7 Miles from Philada on the Chester Road
Oct. 24. 1777 ½ after 12 oClock
We came down this Morning to the Edge of the Meadows & in View of the Bank which is the Road of Communication but Genl Potter with a few Horsemen having alarm’d the Enemy who were then working at some little Breastwork on which they sent out a large Detachment made it unsafe for us to remain longer on this Ground. We have certain Intelligence that last Night a Body of the Enemy recross’d Schuylkill at the Middle Ferry advanced as far as the Woods where all the Roads meet & there remain how large we cannot find. They are also busily at Work on the Bridge at that Place which will be compleated this Day.1
Our Intelligence of the Fort yesterday is truly glorious ⟨mutilated⟩ Enemy advanced with their Shipping whether above the lower Frize or not cannot say but rather think it was above—however they have lost 4—one was sunk & three others set on Fire—the largest was the Augusta of 64 Guns.2 The Account from Redbank is equally pleasing. The Hessians attempted to storm it & failed having 300 killed wounded & Prisoners among the former a General Officer who sollicited the Command out of his Turn. Another principal Officer wounded & a Prisoner.3 These Accounts we have from several Person[s] who were Spectators of the burning Ships—of the other Transactions from an Officer of theirs who was last Night at 2 Houses where we were this Day & from an English Serjeants Wife who was left sick at Chester & is now at Darby. The Information farth[e]r adds that a second Attempt was to be made on Redbank by the British Grenadiers. 2000 Men having cross’d for that Purpose4—The Liverpool Man of War was another of the Ships. Seventy Men perish’d in the Augusta & many in each of the others. As farther Intelligence occurs shall transmit it & am D. Sir most Affectly & sincerely Yours
We are proceeding with Genl Potter below Darby to do the needful with Respect to the Cattle &c.
1. British engineer Capt. John Montresor says in his journal entry for 23 Oct.: “This night made work for 30 men on each side of Middle Ferry house to cover the workmen making the Floating Bridge. 2 Light 12 pounders brought from the [artillery] Park and fixed on a rise to secure the Bridge.” In his entry for 24 Oct., Montresor writes: “Began and finished 3 Lodgments for 40 men each as a Téte de pont [bridgehead] opposite on West Side of Schuylkill. Began this morning to lay the Bridge and [at] Middle Ferry and I completed it this afternoon. I directed a small work to be made to cover the 2 Medium 12 pounders and the 9 Pounder at Schuylkill St.” (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 , 470; see also André, Journal description begins John André. Major André’s Journal: Operations of the British Army under Lieutenant Generals Sir William Howe and Sir Henry Clinton, June 1777 to November 1778. 1930. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 61).
3. For accounts of the unsuccessful Hessian attack on Fort Mercer at Red Bank, N.J., on 22 Oct., see Samuel Ward, Jr., to GW, 23 Oct., and note 2. Capt. Lt. Francis Downman says that the Hessian commander of the expedition, Colonel Donop, who was wounded mortally and captured, had “asked to be employed on this service, which was granted him” (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 , 43). Donop’s adjutant, Capt. Johann Emanuel Wagner, also was wounded mortally and captured by the Americans (see Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 99, 102).
4. Captain Montresor says in his journal entry for 23 Oct. that “before daybreak the 27th Regt. and a Battalion of Light Infantry crossed the Delaware to reinforce and cover the Hessians who retired this afternoon to Cooper’s Ferry opposite the city” (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 , 469–70; see also Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 41). Maj. John André says in his journal entry for 23 Oct. that “towards 10 o’clock a party of Grenadiers were brought to Province Island in order, had the plan succeeded in other respects, to cross to the island [Fort Mifflin] and storm” (André, Journal description begins John André. Major André’s Journal: Operations of the British Army under Lieutenant Generals Sir William Howe and Sir Henry Clinton, June 1777 to November 1778. 1930. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 60).