George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Lacey, Jr., 19 February 1778

From Brigadier General John Lacey, Jr.

Camp Warwick Bucks [Pa.] Febry 19th 1778

Dear General

I Reced Your favour of the 8 Instant.

I am well acquainted with the Horrid Intercorce kep up between the Country and City, but, I am Sorry I have it to Say, my Strength heretofore has been So weak as Rendered it impossible for me to put a Stop to it.

My numbers begin to increase, and I expect in a few Days to be in a Condition to incamp Nearer the City, at present I have out of Better than Six Hundred Men, but one Hundred and fourty that is armed.

I expect armes to arive tomorrow Sufficient to Compleat the whole, after which I assure your Excellency, every Measure Shall be taken in My power, to Stop the Intercorce between the City and Country.

the Enemy Comes out every night and Returns in the Day, a large party of their Horse Came up last night, to Newtown took Major Murry Prisoner, took the gratest part of his men; and all the Cloath Both at Newtown and at the fulling mill.1

On the Arival of the News, that the enemy were at Newtown, I marched what Men I had armed, toward that place, but Soon found they had left it. in order to cover that party who Came to Newtown Large parties were detatched up the Oald York Road, the Road to Vancorts and the Smithfield Road, they have Seased and taken in with them Numbers of the Inhabitants.2

I hear they have got Morrises Mill, one that was disabled, fit to grind again and are Using her.3 I Remain your Excellencys most Humb. Servant

John Lacey jur


1William Howe’s aide Captain Muenchhausen wrote in his diary on this date that “Foraging was done under the command of General Erskine. On this occasion our new dragoons not only took 34 prisoners, among them seven officers and others of distinction, but they crept so far to our flank that they were able to take a cache of clothing material, enough for 500 men, which the enemy had just been working up into uniforms” (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 , 48). Hessian captain Johann Ewald’s account of this affair, recorded in his diary on 18 Feb., is more detailed and indicates that the raid was carried out by “two corps” of Pennsylvania Loyalists: “One was the Pennsylvania Volunteers of Foot and the other the Independent Dragoons of Pennsylvania under Captain [Richard] Hovendon, a Tulpehocken man by birth. From these two corps, the day before yesterday, Captain Hovendon with thirty horse and Captain [William] Thomas with forty foot went into Bucks County and surprised an enemy detachment at Jenkin’s fulling mill, where a great amount of cloth had been stored for the American troops. They cut them down to a man and set the mill on fire. After this stroke they took the road to Newtown, where an enemy party had taken post. Fortunately, they surprised the sentries and struck them down, but when they drew near the quarters of the American Major Murray the sentries at the house opened fire, alarming the guard, which fired at once. But Captain Thomas stormed the house, killed a part of the pickets, and captured the major, five officers, three noncommissioned officers, and twenty-four privates” (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 , 120). The Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia) printed a detailed account of this raid along with a list of prisoners on 17 Feb.; see also GW to Thomas Wharton, Jr., 23 Feb., and to Nathanael Greene, 12 Feb., n.1. For the location of Thomas Jenks, Jr.’s fulling mill and the origin of the cloth stored there, see Francis Murray to GW, 13 Feb., n.1.

2Moses Van Court, Sr. (1720–1783), an innkeeper before the war, owned an estate of about 125 acres in Moreland Manor, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. A road passing by Van Court’s property led south to the village of Bustleton in Lower Dublin Township, Philadelphia County, eleven miles from Philadelphia. The Smithfield or Newtown Road connected Newtown in Bucks County with the village of Smithfield in Moreland Manor, about six miles southwest of Newtown and fourteen miles north of Philadelphia.

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