George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major John Clark, Jr., 22 December 1777

From Major John Clark, Jr.

Genl Potters quarters [Radnor, Pa.] 22d Decr 1777–12 oClock


A large Body of the Enemy are on their march to Derby, where they must have arrived by this time, the number uncertain, but you may rely are formidable, they certainly mean to forage where I mentioned in my Letter of Yesterday—at 8 this morning about 20 Dragoons of the Enemy came up to the Fox Chase, to give the alarm, & then took the route to Derby—I have alarmed Morgan—the Genl is rode out but is expected every moment1—If a Corps was thrown instantly toward Middle ferry their retreat is inevitably cut off.2 I am in haste Your hble servt

Jno. Clark Jun.

I fear they’ve cau’t a few of our Light Horse.


1Clark is referring to Brig. Gen. James Potter.

2Clark apparently enclosed the following unsigned intelligence report of 22 Dec. in this or one of his later letters to GW of this date: “A body of Troops Commanded by [James] Grant, [Charles] Gray & [Alexander] Leslie, with 14 pounders of Cannon & 2 Howitzers, went over Gray’s ferry, about 4 or 5, OClock this Morning with 3 Days provisions. the Pickets are withdrawn 34 Light Horse to go 24 Light Horse to remain in Town—Large quantities of Goods, both for the Army & Merchants, are landed & still continue to land” (DLC:GW). Hessian officer Johann Ewald gives a more detailed account of the composition of these British and German troops: “At daybreak on the 22d, the Commander in Chief crossed the Schuylkill at Gray’s Ferry to forage in the vicinity of Darby and the highway to Lancaster, and to collect cattle for the army. He took three jäger companies with half of the mounted jägers, two battalions of light infantry, the English and Hessian grenadiers, several 6–pounders and howitzers, four troops of light dragoons, and the Anspach Brigade. The three remaining jäger companies with the other half of the mounted jägers and ten battalions, under the command of General Knyphausen, remained behind the redoubts for the protection of the city” (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 , 111). Hessian officer Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for 22 Dec. that “Some rebel dragoons and a few hundred of Morgan’s riflemen are swarming around us” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 46).

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