George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major John Clark, Jr., 21 December 1777

From Major John Clark, Jr.

Sunday noon December 21st 1777


I am honored with yours of this Date, a Spy from the City & the Express arrived a few Minutes ago, the former confirms the account of the Enemy’s intention to plunder, they intend to visit Derby, Marple & Springfield Townships this Week, so says “Mr Nat. Vernon in confidence to Mr Joshua Humphreys of Philada.” Yesterday six large flat bottom’d Boats (with about 70 Privates) returned from Jersey loaded with Beef Corn &ca &ca my Spy saw no more Troops, but understood the whole party were coming over—the Enemys late entrenchment extends about 15 Rod, & they are busy at work—about 200 Waggons were paraded & ’twas said were going towards Frankford—a very plentiful market of Beef Yesterday—they Enemy are busy in turning the Inhabitants out of their Houses & quartering Troops in them, many of the Citizens are obliged to live in their Kitchens & permit these Tyrants to occupy their Houses—a universal murmuring among them, General Grant is said to have gone with Lord Cornwallis to England, & they refuse to pay for the Cattle they took ’till they return1—they talk of sending the new Levies to N. York to prevent their deserting—they Yesterday destroyed Mr Dick Peters House at the fork of the Roads on this side Middle ferry—& returned, three of their Light Horse came up several Miles on the Haverford Road yesterday afternoon, several Deserters came into the City, from the East side Schuylkill Yesterday—they boast of having killed & taken part of a Troop of our Dragoons in that quarter—a current report prevails in the City that a number of Inhabitants had lately made an attempt to burn N. York & that 15 of them were hanged, that General Jones had wrote to Sr Wm for some Troops to keep them in order, & that his request was granted—a number of Vessells have lately gone down the River, three or four remain at Chester—I expect a Spy tomorrow with further information, which if material, shall be communicated—I sincerely thank your Excellency for your good advice, as well as for the Order to purchase a Horse—I never did repose so great a confidence in Trumbul as to permit him to go or send any one but such as I cou’d trust & shall not employ him in future—I am just informed Morgan’s Corps is in this Neighbourhood, shou’d the Enemy make any sudden move, I’ll give the Col: notice—& every thing in my power shall be exerted to procure you the most instant intelligence of their moving—they say that we may expect a much larger foraging party this Week than last—I send you an Evening post & wou’d be glad to know whether you receive the newspapers regularly from any other quarter,2 & am with the greatest respect Your Excellency’s Obedt

Jno. Clark Jun.

ALS, DLC:GW. Clark signed a pass on the cover: “per Express permit the bearer to pass.”

GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman replied to this letter later on this date: “Yours to his Excellency of this date came to hand. He desires if the Enemy should come out that you would give notice of it to General potter and Colo. Morgan at the same time that you send the intelligence to him, because they may by having an early notice take an advantage untill a reinforcement from the Army arrives. We get the News papers now and then from other Quarters but not regularly” (DLC:GW).

1Cornwallis on 16 Dec. boarded the armed ship Brilliant and sailed for England, where, Hessian captain Johann Ewald wrote, “he had been called by the King, presumably to learn from him the true account of the two campaigns” (Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 110). William Howe, who sent his official dispatches to Lord George Germain by Cornwallis, said that Cornwallis was returning home to tend to private business (see Howe to Germain, 13 Dec., in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 14:272–73). Brig. Gen. James Grant did not accompany Cornwallis. Cornwallis arrived in England by 18 Jan. 1778, and he returned to Philadelphia the following June.

2After a brief suspension in late September and early October 1777, the Pennsylvania Evening Post, which had been established in 1775 by Benjamin Towne, resumed publication in Philadelphia under British control.

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