George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Smith, 9 November 1777

From Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Smith

Fort Mifflin [Pa.] 9th Novemr 1777


I receiv’d your Excellency’s favour of the 4th I presume you must have mistook Major Fleury’s meaning. he has since he arrived acted fully in his department of Engineer, when I proposed any thing he has generally been so polite to approve it. he writes and I presume will acknowledge that his Ideas have been adopted as far as the strength of the Garrison would permit.

The enemy since I wrote you last have been fortifying their Island for an advanced post and for a pass to the City,1 they have strengthened the first work which they made on the height with Pickquets and Abbatees and yesterday threw up a breast work or Redoubt, a quarter of a mile below that, I Immagine to defend some narrow part of the Creek where you might pass to repossess the Island. within these two nights they have thrown up a long Breast work to the left of their first Bomb Battery, it is not yet opened, but we can distinguish 5 Embrasures and Ship Carriages for their Cannon. I am of Opinion their Intentions now must be to knock down our pallisade on that side, destroy our Block houses & storm us. We had your Excellency’s Notice last night and prepared accordingly, but I conceive they will not attempt any thing untill they make a breach.2

The Honorable the Congress have done me too much Honor; perhaps the enemy may give us an Oppty to merit the high Approbation they are pleasd to express of my Conduct and the Officers under me.3 I have the Honor to be Your Excellencys most Obedient Servant

Sam Smith


2Smith apparently is referring to the warning passed along to John Hazelwood in GW’s letters to Brig. Gen. James Mitchell Varnum of 7 and 8 Nov. to expect an attack on Fort Mifflin in the immediate future.

3Smith is alluding to Henry Laurens’s letter of commendation of 5 Nov., which GW had forwarded in his letter to Varnum of 8 November.

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