George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philemon Dickinson, 4 June 1778

From Major General Philemon Dickinson

Trenton [N.J.] June 4th 1778

Dear Sir

The inclosed, just came to hand from Genl Maxwell1—no truth in the report, of flatbottom’d Boats, being brought round into Princes Bay—a small Sloop, still keeps her station in the Kills.

A Report prevails here, that the Enemy have evacuated Powles-hook, & withdrawn their troops from Fort Washington, those & many other particulars, shall be informed off in a short time, as a proper Person is sent in, to procure Intelligence—Every occurrence of consequence, shall be instantly communicated by Express, to your Excellency, by Your Excellency’s most Obt Sevt

Philemon Dickinson


1Dickinson enclosed three documents reporting British preparations for the evacuation of Philadelphia. The first is an unsigned intelligence statement dated 1 June: “200 Waggons landed, 800 Barrels Pork, 3000 Sacks Biskets in Stables; to morrow the rest of the Provition and Waggons will be over, next Day the troops—this Day all the Sick and Wounded went onbord, yesterday a number of Cannon broke and throne of the warf, Likewise thousands of broken muskets, and a large Quantity of Barrels Pork and Beef was throne over, and not less than 4000 Blankets burnt that came out of the Hospitle—by Procklamation the Shipping is to be all gone Down to morrow by Sun set, and all friends to Goverment is to go with the fleet—the Prison Ships is all gone Down, and I think there will be an Exchange of Prisoners, a flag went out yesterday with new Proposials, and it is generaly thought there will be an Exchange understand me right, the Prisoners is yet in Goal which gives me reason to think they will be Exchanged—you will Excuse Blunders” (DLC:GW).

Also enclosed was a letter from Capt. John Noble Cumming to Maxwell, dated 3 June “Near Coopers Creek,” N.J., which includes a summary of the above intelligence statement: “I this moment received intelligence by a Letter from Town and which I believe you may rely on that the Enemy’s Rout is for Elsinborough—The Contents of the Letter are Dated 2d June—Part of their Force to land at Billingsfort part at Glouster and Part at Coopers Ferry by which they mean to sweep of the Stock in the Lower part of the State—By another Letter I have the following Dated 1st June This Day was landed at the Ferry 200 Waggons 800 Barrels of Pork 3000 Sacks Bisquet Sick & wounded went on Board yesterday—A number of Cannon broke & thrown of the Warf thousands of broken Muskets a quantity of beef & Pork in Barrels likewise thrown into the River. 4000 Hospital Blankets burnt—By Genl Orders the Shipping to fall down at sunset and all Friends of Government to go onboard. Prisoners still in Goal a flag went out Yesterday supposed for an Exchange.

“They have yet fiew Horses over—And I much doubt whether a great Part of their Manuvres are not to deceive us in Regard to their going to New York through Jersey. I shall keep a Steady Eye on their Motions We View them when we please Sometimes give them the Indian Shout they have erected brest Works for their Centinels at the Bridge on Coopers Creek. … yesterday they pursued the same Movements of the Day before…. I have got the Letters mentioned above & inclose them for your Inspection” (DLC:GW).

The final enclosure is a letter from Maxwell to Dickinson, dated “5 oclock P.M.” on 3 June at Mount Holly, N.J.: “Agreeable to their former declarations I believe a considerable number of Troops crossed over to Coopers yesterday but no certainty as to their Numbers; there was some Waggons Provision &Ca. came over at the same time. It is currantly reported that they have Destroyed some heavy Cannon in Philida also small arms, thrown over board a Quantity of Salt, and killed a number of poor Horses. I have not been able to learn any thing to day notwithstanding Coll Shrieve and a number of others is out on the search. I have been on the rack all day, if any thing comes before I send this off you shall have it. and any thing of Consequence you may depend on at all times. Your favours of the 1st & 2d Inst. I recd. I suppose those Villains that was sent you to day should be sent to some of Jails for tryal and not trouble Head Quarters with them where many such gets off. This Moment I recd Capt. Cummings Letter which I inclose with the two letters [only one has been identified] he recd out of Town I leave you to form what Judgment you please of them, but my opinion has always been that they would not come this way and I think if they have no particular bussines to settle with His Excellency they will move soon, perhaps to morrow I hope you will inclose these to His Excellency. I have Just Recd his Favour of the 29th May I have likewise got the Arms from Easton, is now divideing them out I hope The Jersey Brigade will cut a good figure shortly” (DLC:GW).

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