George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Ephraim Blaine, 28 February 1778

From Ephraim Blaine

Dover [Del.]
28th February 1778

May it Please Your Excellency

On my Arrival at the Head of Elke, thought it prudent to look out if a place more remote, and secure from the Enemy, could not be found upon the Head of Chesepeak Bay to store what Provision might come from the Eastern shore & the Southward, I proceeded from thence to Johnstons Ferry, at the Head of the Tide on this side the River Susquehannah, no conveniency of Wharfe or Store Houses, Opposite at one Smiths, there is three Stores, but no Mills Convenient. Stephens or Harrisons Ferry large Ships may lay Opposite, & no Ware Houses, at Charles Town a large building & Wharfe, there I have Appointed a Person to receive such Stores as may be directed to his care. North East is a poor & inconvenient Place, no Wharfe or Stores of any kind.1

At a place called Oxford Meeting House fourteen Miles from Elke, the same distance from Charlestown and those other Places,2 have fixed as a proper place to remove the Stores to as they arrive at Elke & Charlestown provided your Excellency approves of the same. Capt. Lee and some of my People have collected a considerable number of Cattle, great part but ordinary—the Cattle in this Country in general are very small but numerous, if no danger from the Enemy it’s almost a pity to remove any untill they have the advantage of the Marsh Pasture in the Spring which would make them early Beef.

There is great Quantities of Wheat in this neck or Penensula, & make not the least doubt, but sufficient to maintain your Excellencys Army one Year—I found at Cantwells Bridge3 in Store, near Ten Thousand Bushels wheat & Two hundred & fifty Barrels of Flour, which the inhabitants inform me has lain there since last Summer, besides large parcels in sundry other places, some Farmers have Two Years Crops in Stacks.

A Mr Canby who has a Mill upon the Head of Sassafrass River, in partnership with a Mr Stephens4 have Five Hundred Barrels Flour, a Number of Empty Barrels, & three thousand Bushells of Wheat. this can be sent up Chesepeak Bay to Charlestown, I think it is prudent to remove every Barrel of Flour from this County it being so Convenient to the Delaware that the Enemies Boats may come up to the Mills Tail—would wish your Excellency to order all the Waggons which Possibly can be spared from Camp for that purpose, Mr Howell will stay at Middletown & direct the loading of them5—every Measure is Adopted to forward the Salt Provisions from this Country—Mr McGarmont of this Place has been exceeding industrious, & procured a considerable Quantity of Pork. when I arrive at Baltimore shall be able to inform your Excellency what supplies you may expect from the Southern parts of my District—I have the Honor to be with great respect Your Excellencys most Obedient & most Hble Servt

Eph. Blaine D.C.G.


1The Lower Ferry, also known as Stevenson’s or Harrison’s Ferry, crossed the Susquehanna River near its mouth on the main coastal road at what is now Havre de Grace, Maryland. Johnson’s Ferry was apparently another name for Upper Ferry, a few miles upriver near Rock Run, now Port Deposit, Maryland. A 1731 petition described it as being “at a place called Rock Run, which place being the nearest navigable water that any vessel of any considerable burden can come up to” (Johnston, History of Cecil County description begins George Johnston. History of Cecil County, Maryland, and the Early Settlements around the Head of Chesapeake Bay and on the Delaware River, with Sketches of Some of the Old Families of Cecil County. Elkton, Md., 1881. description ends , 239). The Northeast River enters the Chesapeake Bay at Charlestown, Maryland.

2Oxford Meeting House was in East Nottingham Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

3Cantwell’s Bridge or landing was in New Castle County, Del., a short distance upstream from the mouth of Appoquinimink Creek and about fifteen miles south of the town of New Castle.

4Samuel Canby’s partner was apparently Thomas Stephens, who lived near the Head of Sassafras River in Kent County, Maryland.

5John Ladd Howell (1738–1785) was a deputy commissary, acting at this time as an assistant to Col. Henry Hollingsworth (see John Chaloner to GW, 21 March).

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