George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas McKean, 7 August 1781

Philadelphia August 7th 1781


I was yesterday honored with your Letter of the 2d Instant, and communicated it with the Inclosures immediately to Congress.

Re-iterated Complaints from our unfortunate Prisoners at New-York, whose Treatment is cruel beyond Description and their Situation really deplorable, gave rise to the Act of Congress of the 3d Instant, a Copy of which is inclosed herewith. How their Distresses will be alleviated is difficult to tell: Humanity to the Enemy Prisoners seems to be no longer a Virtue; Retaliation through the Medium of the Simsbury Mines, may possibly awaken them to a Sense of Duty.

By the last Accounts from Maryland, the Fleet with Lord Cornwallis amounting to near forty Sail, and having on Board (it is supposed) near three thousand Troops, had proceeded on the 1st Instant from Hampton Road towards Anapolis: His Lordship himself was said to remain at Portsmouth, and two Men of War & eight Transports in Hampton Road.

Governor Lee had on Saturday last six hundred Regulars at Annapolis, and was collecting the Militia; he appears to be in good Spirits. This Intelligence has been sent to the Presidents of Delaware & Pennsylvania. Can this Manoeuvre be to draw the Marquis’s Forces on this Side James River, in Order to facilitate the March of the Horse to South Carolina; or is it for the Purpose of collecting Provisions & Forage before they proceed for New York; or can they flatter themselves with Conquest thro’ any Assistance promised by the disaffected near the Head of the Bay, which Lord George Germain alludes to in his Letter of the 7th of Feby last to Sir Henry Clinton: If the latter was expected, or even the Recovery of their Prisoners at Lancaster or York-town, I should suppose Lord Cornwallis would have acted in Person. As soon as any thing more is known respecting this Movement I shall inform your Excellency of it. I am, Sir, with the most respectful Attachment Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Tho. M:Kean President

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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