To Brigadier General William Smallwood
Head Quarters Valley Forge 22d decemr 1777
The Enemy marched out of Philada this morning early with a considerable Body. Their intent is said to be to forage, but lest they may have something further in view, I think it proper to put you upon your guard. They incamp this Evening near Derby.1 I have this day recd information that the Troops which were embarked some days ago, and were said to be destined for New York are designed to land in the lower Counties and collect Stock and Forage there and upon the Eastern Shore of Maryland.2 But I cannot say the information is much to be depended upon. You may easily know the probability of this, by sending down to enquire whether the Transports yet remain in Delaware Bay. I shall be glad to hear what progress you make in fortifying yourself and whether the Militia join you in any considerable Number. I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt.
Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. Maj. John Clark, Jr., wrote GW about the British foraging expedition to Darby twice on 22 December. For the size and composition of the British force, see Daniel Morgan to GW (first letter), 23 Dec., n.1.
2. These troops consisted of the “71st regiment and regiment of Mirbach,” which Howe wrote Lord George Germain on 13 Dec., “are immediately to embark to reinforce Sir Henry Clinton at New York” (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). The troops on 15 Dec. boarded flatboats for Chester, where they transferred to the British transport vessels Wettby, Charming Polly, and Badger, but they were prevented by bad weather from reaching the open sea until 20 Dec. and did not arrive at New York until 25 Dec. (Burgoyne, Hesse-Cassel Mirbach Regiment description begins Bruce E. Burgoyne, ed. and trans. The Hesse-Cassel Mirbach Regiment in the American Revolution. Bowie, Md., 1998. description ends , 20–21; see also Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:147).