George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Smith, 12 November 1777

From Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Smith

Woodberry [N.J.] 12th Novr 1777


I yesterday unfortunately recd a Contusion on my Hip & left Arm both which give me much pain. I imprudently went into my Barracks to answer a Letter from Gen. Varnum & A Ball came through the Chimney & Struck me on the Hip So forcibly that I remain’d senseless for Some time. however I am happy to find myself much less hurted than I at first imagin’d & Hope in 5 or 6 days to be again fit for duty. Coll [Giles] Russell now commands in fort Mifflin. The troops there are worn out with fatigue watchings & Cold. All the Guns in the Block Houses are render’d unfit for Service & the Houses almost destroy’d. the Pallisades were renew’d last Night & this Day destroy’d again. the other Gun on my two Gun Battery render’d unfit for Service. An 18 pr next to the right of the Battery dismounted, the New Well very much injur’d, the whole of the Garrison a Heap of Ruin. this Night Gen. Varnum intends removing Some of the heavy Cannon. we Shall perhaps be able to keep the fort three days, in which Time it will be levell’d to the Ground. Yesterday Capt. Treat was kill’d by a Ball which came through the Grand Battery. & this Day his Lieut. George wounded,1 So that there are now but 2 Artillery Officers in Garrison if they attempt a Storm, I fear the Garrison must fall, Such weather as this the Gallies can give no Assistance. I Have advisd the Garrison to be withdrawn except the Artillery & abt 50 Men who could keep up the Same fire that the whole can. Boats to be prepar’d & in Case the Enemy attempt a Storm they might Set fire to every part & withdraw. Gen. Varnum waits your Order.2 I Have the Honor to be Your Excellys Most Obedt Servt

Sam. Smith

ALS, DLC:GW. The cover is docketed in part “Answd in a Letter to Genl Varnum 13th” (see GW to James Mitchell Varnum, 13 Nov.).

1John George (1751–1820), a lieutenant at the Lexington Alarm in April 1775 and in Col. Thomas Gardner’s Massachusetts state regiment from May to December 1775, served as a lieutenant in the 25th Continental Regiment from January 1776 to January 1777, when he transferred to the 3d Continental Artillery Regiment. George was promoted to captain lieutenant in October 1778 and served to June 1783.

2In his second letter of 12 Nov., GW had already directed Brig. Gen. James Mitchell Varnum to prepare Fort Mifflin for evacuation, while urging that it be held as long as possible with a skeleton force. On 13 Nov. GW again wrote Varnum to reinforce those orders. The postscript to GW’s letter of 13 Nov. to Varnum reveals that it was intended to answer this letter from Smith.

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