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General Orders, 18 October 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters, at Wentz’s, Worcester Township [Pa.]
October 18th 1777.

Parole: Reading.Countersigns: Rochester. Ridgefield.

The General has his happiness completed relative to the successes of our northern Army. On the 14th instant, General Burgoyne, and his whole Army, surrendered themselves prisoners of war—Let every face brighten, and every heart expand with grateful Joy and praise to the supreme disposer of all events, who has granted us this signal success—The Chaplains of the army are to prepare short discourses, suited to the joyful occasion to deliver to their several corps and brigades at 5 O’clock this afternoon—immediately after which, Thirteen pieces of cannon are to be discharged at the park of artillery, to be followed by a feu-de-joy with blank cartridges, or powder, by every brigade and corps of the army, beginning on the right of the front line, and running on to the left of it, and then instantly beginning on the left of the 2nd line, and running to the right of it where it is to end—The Major General of the day will superintend and regulate the feu-de-joy.1

The officers commanding brigades and corps are to draw out their men; (excepting those on duty) every day, when the weather permits, to practice the most necessary manœuvres, particularly to advance in line from thence, to form columns—to go thro’ passes and openings in fences—and to reduce them again; to retire in line and column, and form again; in a word, to perform all those movements, which in action, in a woody and inclosed country shall make necessary.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW. On the manuscript an index mark and the words “Burgoyne’s Surrender” appear in the left-hand margin at the beginning of the first paragraph.

Muhlenberg’s orderly book includes for this date the following after orders from “Head Quarters 7 o’clock”: “Two Hundred Men with two field Officers, 4 Captains, 8 Subs from each Division Vize Sullivan, Greene, Wayne, McDougall, Ld Sterling and Stephens are to parade tomorrow morning at Sun rise, in the Field before the front Line, with Arms, Ammunition & at least one Days Provisions Cook’d, but without either Packs or Blankets. Genl Sullivan will take Command of the whole.

“The Men employ’d in making Cartridges are by no means to be taken from that business, but kept diligently about it” (“Muhlenberg’s Orderly Book,” description begins “Orderly Book of Gen. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, March 26–December 20, 1777.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 33 (1909): 257–78, 454–74; 34 (1910): 21–40, 166–89, 336–60, 438–77; 35 (1911): 59–89, 156–87, 290–303. description ends 35:85).

1This announcement of Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga was based on the premature report of that event contained in Israel Putnam’s letter to GW of 16 Oct., which GW received on the morning of 18 Oct. (see GW to Putnam, 19 Oct.). Although Burgoyne began surrender negotiations with Gates on 14 Oct., he did not sign the articles of convention until 17 October.

Timothy Pickering wrote his wife, Rebecca White Pickering, on 20 Oct. that as the troops were preparing on 18 Oct. to celebrate Burgoyne’s surrender, “news arrived that the enemy were marching towards us, which occasioned a muster for another purpose, and prevented the chaplains’ making the intended preparations. However, the enemy pretty soon went back to their quarters, and gave us an opportunity of enjoying the victory” (Pickering and Upham, Life of Pickering description begins Octavius Pickering and Charles W. Upham. The Life of Timothy Pickering. 4 vols. Boston, 1867–73. description ends , 1:177–80). Howe sent a large reconnaissance force to Whitemarsh on this date apparently because of reports of the presence of American troops there the previous evening (see General Orders, 17 Oct., source note). British major John André says in his journal entry for 18 Oct.: “General Grey, with the 2d Light Infantry, the 33rd, 64th and 44th Regiments marched at about 10 o’clock in the morning towards Whitemarsh Church. General Grant marched at the same time by the Skippack Road, with the 1st Light Infantry, 5th, 23d, 42d and 55th Regiments. The two Columns met at Whitemarsh and returned together. . . .Upon the march our Dragoons gave chase to a party of the Rebel Cavalry, but could not come up with them. At 5 o’clock the whole was returned to Camp, and at sunset firing was heard in the direction of the Rebel Encampment. This was a feu-de-joie on account of the taking of General Burgoyne and the Northern Army” (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 , 59; see also 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 , 40, and “Stirke’s Journal,” description begins S. Sydney Bradford, ed. “A British Officer’s Revolutionary War Journal, 1776–1778.” Maryland Historical Magazine 56 (1961): 150–75. description ends 173).

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