George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 29 October 1777

From Major General Stirling

Reading [Pa.] October 29th 1777

Dear Sir

After leaveing Potsgrove, I could not meet with any place where I could Conveniently put up ’till I came to this place, and I find myself so much better for the Rest I had here that I intend to set out for Camp again as soon I find the Roads are passable with a Carriage; On Saturday last I sent off to Camp an Officer with 64 Men fit for Duty,1 there remain in this place 244 Wounded, 63 Sick & 57 Convalessents in a very few days near 100 More of them may be sent to Camp. I am your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servant


Poor Smith D.A.G. is dead of his Wound
Leiut. Baylor recovering fast
Major Clow very Ill
Leiut. Randolph better2

P.S. I take the Liberty of encloseing a Memorandum of a few thoughts which have Occurred to me, for your Excellency’s peruseal.3


1The previous Saturday was 25 October.

2This may be Robert Randolph, who had been promoted to lieutenant in the 3d Continental Dragoons in June 1777, or Edward Fitz Randolph (1754–1837), a lieutenant of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment from January 1777 until May 1779, who had been wounded at Paoli, Pa., on 20 Sept. 1777.

3The enclosed undated memorandum reads: “The Enemy probably will detach another Body of Men to Attack Red Bank, with heavier Cannon, & by a Cannonade in breach endeavour to render an Assault more practicable & more Successfull. I say it is probable because I belive they are now Convinced that it is their only Chance of Opening the Communication between their fleet and Army at Philadelphia; and that without it, they Cannot long Exeist there. we should therefore do every thing in our power to retard & render difficult their Operations on that side; by Collecting the Militia & setting them at work in destroying all the Bridges, Causeways, & Roads between Coopers ferry & that fort, & in harrassing them whenever they do approach, & whenever it is discovered that they are about to make an attempt that way, I would send a respectable Body of Continental Troops to Counteract their operations.

“If this should not soon appear to be their Intentions they must mean to retire from Philadelphia to the other Side of Schuylkill, or to give this Army Battle. the first should be prevented, and the latter in our present Scituat. avoided if possible; I would therefore be for passing the whole Army (except 1000, men) over the Schuylkill and takeing post somewhere near Radnor Meeting House, where we should be equally distant from all the fords on Schuylkill below the Valley forge and by Vigilantly watching them on both sides of that River we might be sure of haveing such timely Notice of their motions as would put it in our power to Attack them on their March with the greatest Advantages. Our Station on that side the Schuylkill would put it in our power Effectually to Cutt off the Communication by land between their fleet & Army, and would reduce Genl Howe to force a March under every disadvantage. the 1000 men left on this side the River would under a Vigilant Officer be Sufficient to prevent their small parties from Ravageing the Country & Gaining intelligence; our whole Army in their present Scituation can do no more” (DLC:GW). The Radnor Quaker meetinghouse was near Ithan in Radnor Township, Chester (now Delaware) County, Pa., about four miles southwest of the Schuylkill River at its nearest point and about ten miles west of the river on the Conestoga Road.

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