George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 18 March 1778

To Henry Laurens

Head Quarters [Valley Forge] 18th March 1778.


I have the honor of transmitting you the inclosed letter from General Smallwood, giving intelligence of the Enemys motions on the Delaware, and his conjectures respecting their object1—the account he has heard of troops being on board the Vessels, is confirmed by the relations of deserters and others,2 who agree that a considerable number of men have been embarked—and add that they took seventeen days provision with them—from this circumstance it is scarcely to be imagined that they are ordered on a Sea Voyage—The proportion of small Vessels in the Fleet makes it probable that they have in view to collect forage or attempt3 the destruction of the Salt-works, and both these ideas are favoured by accounts from the City.

As soon as their intentions are certainly known, they shall be communicated; in the mean time, I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect Sir, Your most obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in John Laurens’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which is docketed in part, “read 23d” (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:279). GW made alterations to the text of the draft (see notes 2 and 3).

2On the draft GW inserted the words “& other intelligence,” and then he or John Laurens struck out “intelligence” and added the “s” to “other.”

3On the draft the preceding text reads, “that Forage is their object or that some attempt is to be made for,” and the words “Forage is their object or” were inserted by GW.

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