George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Allen McLane, 20 November 1777

From Captain Allen McLane

Dickeson house Novr 20th 1777


Intiligence this day agree that the Enemy have but few Troops in the City its Currently reported that our people have avaceuated Red bank last night.1 this Evening I Fell in with one Thornton as he was Going to his Family near the lines he is a Clark to the Gallys & Left them this morning in Bristol he left the river opposite red Bank this morning at 3 oClock he thinks that the Fort was then in our Posission and that Our people had receivd Intilligence that their was a reinforcement Comeing to their assistance he saw last Tuesday2 a Great Body of the Enemy Cross over province Island to Billingport this day the Enemy’s advance Sentrys Consist of horse and they are on a line From deloway to Schuylkill distance about one & half miles From the City no Picquits of foot hes discoverd this day outside their lines this Evening I heard a smart fire of small Arms for about one Minute it appeard to be Accross the Delaway towards Cooper’s ferry Inclosd you have a few lines from the same person that sent the last3 this morning one Thomas Smith of my party deserted to the Enemy he was one of the Sixth Maryland regiment has many of my party are Bare of Cloaths & desire to be reliefe, if his Excellency thinks propper I will be prepard to receive the relief in German Town to morrow Evening. I remain Your Excellency Humble servt at Comd

Allen McLane


1James Mitchell Varnum’s letter of 19 Nov. supports McLane’s report that few British troops were in Philadelphia at this time. The Americans evacuated Fort Mercer at Red Bank, N.J., on the evening of 19 Nov., leaving behind only a small rear guard that departed the following evening.

2The previous Tuesday was 18 November.

3The enclosed undated intelligence report reads: “The Meadows Before the Redouts Under Water fortification acrost the roads of 2d & 3d Streets Intrenching along the Browz of the hills all the rest of works as before mention’d The longer you Delay the more Difficult it will be” (DLC:GW). The earlier intelligence to which McLane alludes has not been identified.

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