George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Maxwell, 28 December 1778

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

Elizth Town [N.J.] 28th Decmr 1778


I have to inform Your Excellency that a Packet arived from England in the Hook the 22d. I have inclosed You an English paper and the latest New York one. We have had the sevarest weather for some time past that has been known for many Years. The Sound is froze up and it is currantly reported that a Number of Vessels is on shore at Statten Island; & some cut through and sunk coming out of the East River. I expect more certain accounts in a day or two.1

The Flag I sent over with Lieut. Campbell before the Storm, did not get back till last night, and then they walked over.

They have been busy prepareing a Fleet of about 40 Sail at the wattering place for some time, I believe they are much chattered by the Storm. I am Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant

Wm Maxwell

N.B. This goes by the Revd Mr Hunter Chaplin to my Brigade; other wise I should have sent it to head Quarters. I am since disapointed of Mr Hunters going to Day, & have now sent them to Lord sterling.2



1The so-called “Hessian Storm” of 25–27 Dec. 1778 was one of the worst in New England’s history. A classic nor’easter driven by the collision over New England of a cold Canadian air mass and a moisture-laden southern system, the storm caused severe cold and heavy snowfall along the coast from Boston and Newport, R.I., to New York and Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, where GW had arrived on 22 Dec. to confer with a committee of Congress, the city practically shut down for a few days. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of civilians and soldiers on both sides froze to death in New York and Boston, and many ships were driven ashore. The storm’s name derived from the casualties caused among the German troops occupying Newport, where snow drifts measured up to twenty feet.

2Andrew Hunter (1751–1823), a Presbyterian minister, was appointed chaplain of the 3d New Jersey Regiment in June 1777 and became a brigade chaplain in August 1778, serving until the end of the war. After the war, he served as pastor to several New Jersey churches, and during the War of 1812 he served as a navy chaplain.

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