George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Maxwell, 25 November 1777

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

White Marsh [Pa.] 25th Novbr 1777


Agreeable to Your Excellencys request of last night that I should give my opinion this morning in writing concerning the making an attact on Philidelphia immediately.1

I am not for attacting it at present and will proceed to give some reasons why I would not Viz. It is but a few days ago; before Generals Green & Huntington crossed the Dellaware that we determined in a full council that an attact on the Enemy in their Fortifycations &C. was by no means eligible, and I think we was as strong then as we are now on this side. It is urged that if we do not make an attact on the Town we must be put to the greatest difficultys to raise another Armey, keep up our credit &Ca. I am of opinion if we throw the Armey away we have, without some good appearance of success we are much more likely not to get another one nor support the Credit of our money. I am for attacting and Harrassing them by every means in our power; by any other Method than that of attacting them in their works. And am Sir Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble

Wm Maxwell B.G.

N.B. have heard that the Enemy has got up 2 or 3 small armed Vessels to Philadelphia by people that came out ye[s]terday.2

ALS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Maxwell’s opinion had been requested by GW at the council of general officers held on the evening of 24 Nov. (see the source note to John Cadwalader’s Plan for Attacking Philadelphia, c.24 Nov.).

2Lord Howe’s secretary Ambrose Serle writes in his journal entry for 24 Nov. that the “Camilla of 20 Guns, and some other Ships & Vessels came up & anchored off the Town, to the great Joy of many of its Inhabitants, who flocked down to the Wharves in eager Impatience to see their arrival” (Tatum, Serle’s Journal description begins Edward H. Tatum, Jr., ed. The American Journal of Ambrose Serle: Secretary to Lord Howe, 1776–1778. San Marino, Calif., 1940. description ends , 266; see also GW to John Augustine Washington, 26 Nov., and note 4).

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