George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Colonel Joseph Reed?, 27 December 1776

To Colonel Joseph Reed?

Newtown [Pa.] Decr 27th 1776

Dear Sir

I was this morning favoured with yours & thank you much for your kind congratulations & wishes.1 I regret much the Accident that prevented the passage of our Troops. had it not been for that cause and the Several attacks intended, had been made, I am persuaded our Plans would have succeedd to our warmest wishes. I have several Letters to write & therefore must refer you to Colo. Cadwalader who will inform you that I am about to consult my Officers what future Operations may be necessary &c. and of the number of Prisoners &c. that was taken at Trenton.2 I am Dr Sir with much esteem Yr Most Obedt Sert

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, PHi: Cadwalader Collection.

Although the manuscript includes neither an address nor a docket, the text of this letter indicates that it was written to a relatively close acquaintance who was with Col. John Cadwalader’s division and had firsthand knowledge of that brigade’s failure to cross the Delaware River on the night of 25–26 December. Joseph Reed best fits that description. Reed crossed the Delaware at Dunk’s Ferry that night with an advanced party of Cadwalader’s division, and after discovering that the ice on the New Jersey shore made it impossible to land the artillery there, he proceeded with his party to Burlington, where at 7:00 A.M. on 26 Dec. he heard the sound of gunfire coming from Trenton. Reed returned to Bristol later that day, and on this date he was with Cadwalader supervising the division’s crossing of the Delaware above Bristol, when about one o’clock in the afternoon, Cadwalader received GW’s letter of this date informing him that the main army had recrossed the river to Pennsylvania (see “Reed’s Narrative, 1776–77,” description begins “General Joseph Reed’s Narrative of the Movements of the American Army in the Neighborhood of Trenton in the Winter of 1776–77.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 8 (1884): 391–402. description ends 393–95).

1This letter has not been identified.

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