George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General James Potter, 3 November 1777

From Brigadier General James Potter

Mr Willings Novr 3d 1777


the enemy brings provision in Boats in the Night along the Side of the Shore, and up the Schulkill about a mile above the lowest ferrey, on Saterday evining last there went down 30 Boats I think the came up Last night in the Time of the flud they maid a Voige.1

you may be asured that the Enemy are Bulding three floting Battereys one at Ougdons ferrey and two about a mile above, the lowest ferrey the two latter ones we can See Clearly one Seems allmost finished the other the Began to Nale the plank on last Saterday, if those Battereys are once finished, and they have persession of Carpanters Island, our fourts and Galleys must Unavetable fall into there Hands2—I can see no way of saving our fourts and Galleys but by Immedatly Taking there fourt, and Battreys on carpenters Island which I think Can be dun with good Troops with no Grait Loss if that was dun we coud use there Battrey at the pest Hous against themselves and by that means Defeat there intencions—I hope a great part of the mill stones were Removed yesterday as I had sent out for that purpose 150 men the enemy are in hopes of gating up there Shiping and has brought up there Bagage as far as Chester I wold Refare your Excelancey to Messr Lytle Hunter and Mountgomrey for a more full Account of these matters they have Been with Me in meaking Discovereys. I am your excelanceys Obed. and Humble servant

Ja’s Potter

P.S. I Mount a gaurd of 100 men at the middle ferrey and at Grays—30 Near Boone dam 50 with a proper number of officers3—my men have Severe duty to do—I have Been Reinforsed my strenth is about 950 Men with Arms and wanting arms 300 Exclusive of Officers.



1The previous Saturday was 1 November.

2“We are now making two floating batteries up the Schuylkill intending to act against the fort,” wrote Royal Artillery officer Francis Downman in his journal entry for 31 October. “This should have been done a month ago, but as in everything else we act like snails. We have no spunk; neither life nor spirits appears in anything we do. By our delays and trifling attempts we point out to the rebels where their works are deficient and give them time to complete them” (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 , 48). On 3 Nov. Downman wrote that “things seem to be preparing for a little fun. Our ships are nearer the chevaux-de-frise than usual. Two floating batteries for 32–prs. are in forwardness, and fascines and planks are ready for the batteries. . . . Lord Howe intends fitting out two or three vessels with large guns to act with the others now making ready. Less than a week will determine who is to be master of the river Delaware” (ibid.). Two floating batteries apparently were launched on 6 Nov., when one of them sank, and a third was launched several days later (see Charles Craig to GW, 8 Nov., and note 1, and James Mitchell Varnum to GW, 9 Nov.).

3Boon Dam was near Carpenter’s and Province islands, probably on Boon’s (Boone, Boane) Creek.

Index Entries