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To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 25 November 1777

From Major General Nathanael Greene

Mount Holly [N.J.] Nov. 25th [1777] 12 oClock

Dr Sir

I wrote your Excellency this afternoon that the enemy were crossing from the Jerseys to Philadelphia and that the intelligen[c]es came from Col. Comstock—he is stationd at Haddenfield to collect intelligence—I have receivd two letters from the Col. to day the first dated at 12 oClock the last at three both of which I have inclosd1—It appears to me the enemy are crossing their Cattle but I much doubt whether any part of the troops have crost the river perhaps they may begin in the morning—I am divided in my mind how to act—If your Excellen⟨cy⟩ intends an attack on Philadelphia our moveing down to Haddenfield will prevent our coopperating with you but if the enemy are crossing, the attack upon the city would not be warrantable now if before without our whole collective force at least and as part is below and part here I wish to move forward for the support of the troops below and attack the enemy if ⟨practicable.⟩

I expected before this to have receivd your Excellencies further orders but as I have not and from the intelligence there appears a prospect of attempting something here I have ventured to put the troops in motion if I should receive orders to the contrary I can speedily return.2

If the enemy cross to the city they may be attackt at any time hereafter as well as now—if they have not crost and are in a situation to be attackt we shall have an opportunity to attempt something—I am anxious to do every thing in my power and more especially as the people seems to be dissatisfied at the evacuation of red bank fort. I am with sentiments of regard your Excellencys most Obedient Servt

N. Greene

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, CSmH: Greene Papers. The ALS is worn along the edges of the manuscript. The mutilated text supplied in angle brackets is from the LB.

1Greene enclosed two letters of this date that Col. Adam Comstock had written to him from Haddonfield, N.J., giving intelligence about British troop movements. William B. Sprague’s nineteenth-century transcript of the first letter, written at “½ past 12,” reads: “This moment I arrived from a reconnoitering tour near Little Timber Creek Bridge, sent a smart young woman who had a sister in Gloster as a spy to Gloster: She has returned and I believe has rec’d no other damage than receiving a kiss from the Hessian General (this is as she says) She reports that a very large number of British & Hessian troops are in Gloster, that they are embarking in boats & going to Philada, and that her sister there informed her they had been embarking ever since early in the morning. That Lord Cornwallis quartered at Col. [Joseph] Ellis’ house & the Hessian General in a house opposite—who asked the young woman where the Rebels were? She answered she could not tell—she had seen none of them! She said she passed many sentry before she came to little Timber Creek Bridge where she passed the last. I doubt not this information, & fear they will be too quick for us. Col. Hart’s Regt is here” (DLC:GW; see also Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 2:214–15). Comstock’s second letter, written at “3 oClock P.M.,” reads: “Seven prisoners just arived here from the Enemy taken by the Militia, about 3 Mile from this place on the Road to Glos’ter—The prisoners I have examined—Two, of them are Guners and 2 Matross, belonging to the first Regt of Artilary, the other 3 belong to the 33d Regt. they were about ½ a mile from their Picket plundering, those belonging to the Artilary had 3 of the Artilary Horses with them Marck’d G.R. which are also taken This Express Rides one of em—The Prisoners on Examination say the Main Body Lye about 4 Mile from this on the Gloster Road encamp’d that their Line form a Tryangle, that they are to wait there till they have imbark’d all the Stock for Philadelphia, which will take em all Day. & that the Army expects to imbark tomorrow and go into winter Quarters that they have 2. 6. pounders in front 2. Ditto in the Rear & Some smaller in the Center, that they were not in the least appre[he]nsive, of any of the American Army, being within 10 Miles of them, otherwise they should not have been taken in the Manner they were. This Moment 7 Hessian Prisoners Arived here taken in the same Manner, I have not examined them—I could wish your Army was here now for I think they may be supprisd very easy They give various Accts of their Numbers, from 5 to 8 Thousand—They mostly agree, that Billings Fort & Fort Mercer are Leveled—O how I want to give em a Floging before they Leave the Gerseys” (DLC:GW; see also Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 2:215–16).

2For Greene’s orders to his troops of this date, see Greene to GW, 26 Nov., n.2.

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