George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Wharton, Jr., 2 March 1778

From Thomas Wharton, Jr.

In Council Lancaster [Pa.] March 2d 1778


I have the honor of yours of the twenty third of February last which I layed before Council. I hope as the militia called out, are chiefly arrived at General Laceys camp, they will secure the counties of Bucks and Philadelphia, from any further insults and ravages of the enemy (unless they come out in force) who I am sorry to find have been but too successful. General Lacey I am informed is active, but I think cannot have as much experience as his command requires, he will therefore stand in need of your Excellencys directions from time to time, this I am confident he will receive, so that I hope shortly to hear favourable accounts from that quarter.

At this time of distress, when with every exertion a sufficient quantity of cloathing cannot be provided for the troops, the loss of those which Colonel Stewart had collected is severely felt, add to this the captivity of some of our officers and many of the inhabitants, these things are much to be lamented; Yet I doubt not with diligence and perseverance in this our righteous cause, we shall surmount all those difficulties, and with the blessing of God soon see an end to them. I was favoured with a letter from Colonel Stewart on the subject of his disappointment, Council will bear it in mind and endeavour to relieve the wants of his battalion as well as the others of this state.1

Respecting the Petition of the recruiting officers a copy of which your Excellency enclosed, I beg leave to mention, that Council intimated their difficulties to the house of Assembly, now sitting who immediately allowed them a bounty of sixteen dollars in addition to the eight dollars given by Congress, so that for each recruit they now receive nine pounds, this sum I hope will be satisfactory to them; it will encourage the industrious and be the means, I expect, of procuring many recruits, but I fear will not fully answer the grand purpose, as the Assembly are now met perhaps they may adopt some additional plan, I know it employs the Thoughts of some of the members. The letter to the recruiting officers shall be forwarded, and they with the others made acquainted with the allowance given by the house.2

Much depends on the harmony, and confidence which the troops have in each other when collected together for our defence, and any thing short of this may be attended with bad consequences. Council, perfectly well knowing the great attention which Your Excellency had always paid to this point, were enduced to hint their fears on that head, lest it should not have come so soon to your knowledge. The unhappy affray at the compass I flatter myself will not prove so injurious to the publick as Council once thought—some of the principal people accused of the murder of Lieutenant Hammon are taken and confined in this borough, and search are making for the others; and every exertion shall be used to bring the offenders to condign punishment.3

Your Excellencys letter of the nineteenth of February with the address to the people to induce them to prepare their cattle for the use of the army in the months of May June and July next; will be inserted in the next paper with a Proclamation from Council, a copy of which I take the liberty to enclose to your Excellency,4 being with great respect Your Excellencys most obedient humble servant

Tho. Wharton jun. Pres.

LS, DLC:GW; ADf, PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790.

1On 21 Feb., Col. Walter Stewart wrote to Wharton: “I am much concern’d to Inform your Excellency that an Express arrived in Camp yesterday afternoon, with the disagreeable news of a party of Light Horse belonging to the Enemy, consisting of about Forty, pushed up to Newtown, Bucks County, and took my Major, with a small party of men, Prisoners, and all the cloathing I had laid up for my Regiment. My hopes of getting my Regiment genteelly and well cloathed this campaigne are vanish’d, unless your Excellency & the Council will assist me in it, which I must Intreat in the strongest manner. I really hop’d sir, my own activity would have saved you this trouble, but ’tis my misfortune to find all my good intentions frustrated by this most unlucky blow. My poor fellows are in a most deplorable situation at present, scarcely a shirt to one of their Backs, & equally distress’d for the other necessarys; but they bear it patiently, and however they may suffer for the want, I must say, I would rather wait a few weeks untill I could get all their cloathing together.... New town is 24 miles from Philad’a, and the Militia are posted at Bustle Town, which makes this a most daring attempt on their side, and an unfortunate one on mine” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 6:285). For more on the clothing and the British raid, see Francis Murray to GW, 13 Feb., John Lacey to GW, 19 Feb., and GW to Wharton, 23 February.

2For the petition from Edward Scull, Alexander Patterson, and William Wilson and discussion of the action upon it, see the Pennsylvania Recruiting Officers to GW, 18 Feb., and note 1 to that document. For the letter to the officers, see GW to the Pennsylvania Recruiting Officers, 23 February.

3For discussion of the “affray” at the Sign of the Compass Tavern, see George Gibson to GW, 17 Feb., and note 4 to that document. For the Pennsylvania council’s “hint” about disharmony between the militia and Continental troops, see Wharton to GW, 17 February.

4The enclosed proclamation of the Pennsylvania supreme executive council, dated 27 Feb., reads: “Whereas his Excellency General Washington hath thought proper to address the inhabitants of New Jersey Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia recommending it to them to put up and feed immediately as many of their stock cattle as they can spare for the supply of the army in the months of May June and July next; as in the said address hereunto subjoined doth more at large appear.

“We the Supreme Executive Council being desirous to promote a measure so essentially necessary at this time do earnestly recommend it to the good people of this state, to exert themselves in answering the purposes of his Excellencys address as all circumstances seem happily to conspire in rendering the approaching campaign decisive, and the fruit of our toil is not only in view, but even within reach, we hope all those who wish well to their country, and have it in their power to contribute any thing to the support of our army, in the way recommended by the General; will exert themselves on this occasion. We can have no doubt of the virtuous intentions of the good people of this state, in a cause so righteous as the present contest with great Britain, most certainly is, and therefore firmly rely on their exertions to afford the relief required, in due time. By order of Council” (DLC:GW; see also Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:429). Both that proclamation and GW’s Proclamation on Cattle, 18 Feb., were printed in the Pennsylvania Packet (Lancaster) of 4 March.

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