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General Orders, 8 September 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters, Newport [Del.] Septemr 8th 1777.

Parole: Countersign:

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Lt. James McMichael’s diary entry for this date reads: “At 3 A.M. the General was beat and all tents struck. All the regiments were paraded, the men properly formed with an officer at the head of every platoon, and after wheeling to the right, we remained under arms until 9 o’clock. Then the alarm guns were fired and the whole army drawn up in line of battle, on the east side of Red Clay Creek, with Gen. Greene’s division to the right. Here we remained for some time, when Gen. Weedon’s brigade (of which my regiment was a part), was detached to the front to bring on the attack. We crossed the creek and marched about a league to an eminence near Mr. McCannon’s meeting house, and there awaited the approach of the enemy, who were within half a mile of us. They however, encamped, which occasioned us to remain under arms all night, the sentries keeping up a constant fire” ((“McMichael’s Diary,” description begins William P. McMichael. “Diary of Lieutenant James McMichael, of the Pennsylvania Line, 1776–1778.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 16 (1892): 129–59. description ends 149). William McKennan was pastor of the Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church.

Howe’s army marched north from Aiken’s Tavern (Glasgow, Del.) to Newark, Del., on the morning of 8 Sept., and crossing White Clay Creek into Mill Creek Hundred, it camped at Nicholls’s (or Nicolson’s) house on the road from Newport, Del., to Lancaster, Pa., about five miles northwest of Newport. “To our great surprise,” Howe’s aide Captain Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for this date, “instead of taking the road by way of Christiana Bridge to Wilmington as expected, we went to our left by way of White Clay Creek and Newark. . . . Everyone is pleased with the good march and the fact that it was kept a secret, thus cutting off Washington from Lancaster.

“When our vanguard arrived here [Nicholls’s house], it seemed that the rebels were also on the move. . . . There was much activity in front of us. We saw two regiments coming from Newport on two different roads, with their flags flying, and in very good order, as if they were heading for the road to Lancaster.

“I was ordered by the General [Howe] to ride quickly so as to lead the Hessian jaegers diagonally through the woods to cut off these troops, if possible. At the same time General Howe, with the light infantry, marched directly toward them for the same purpose. But the rebels, who had become aware of all this, retreated quickly. Notwithstanding this, the jaegers got close enough to send a few amusette balls at them.

“We impatiently look forward to the end of these maneuvers. It is hoped that, unless Washington withdraws by forced marches the coming night, we can either force him to do battle on an advantageous terrain or to make a precipitous retreat. Either would mean the ruin of his army” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 30; see also Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 448; Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 145; André, Journal description begins John André. Major André’s Journal: Operations of the British Army under Lieutenant Generals Sir William Howe and Sir Henry Clinton, June 1777 to November 1778. 1930. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 44; Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 103–4; and Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 79–80).

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