George Washington Papers

General Orders, 22 September 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters [ ] September 22nd 1777.

Parole: Watchfulness.Countersigns: Caution. Security.

The Clothier General is immediately to distribute all the cloaths and shoes in his possession.

The army is to march by the right in small divisions or platoons, in this order—first Genl Sullivan’s division—then Lord Stirling’s—then the park of artillery—then Genl Nash’s brigade—then Genl Stephen’s division—then Genl Greene’s—the officers of all ranks are to march in their proper places, and keep their divisions, brigades, regiments and platoons in the most exact order & especially not to suffer a man to quit his place without leave, and that to be granted only, in case of absolute necessity, and then a serjeant is to be left with him to bring him on—There are to be proper guards advanced in front and on the left flank of the army.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg wrote in his journal entry for this date: “Beginning last midnight the whole American army returned and encamped about a mile above our house [at Trappe] because it was reported that the British were crossing the Schulkiel and coming out at our house and that the battle would take place in this neighborhood. . . . The British did not cross the Schulkiel, and at two o’clock in the afternoon the American army broke camp and proceeded toward New Hannover, as far as my son Friedrich’s dwelling place. Accordingly the British have an open way to Philadelphia and can reach the city in a very short time. The wind is uncommonly cold and biting today. . . . All day hungry and thirsty soldiers, etc. have been stopping in and calling on us” (Tappert and Doberstein, Muhlenberg Journals description begins Theodore G. Tappert and John W. Doberstein, trans. and eds. The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1942–58. description ends , 3:79).

Detachments of Howe’s army did cross the Schuylkill River later on this date. British engineer Archibald Robertson says in his diary entry for 22 Sept. that he “went in the morning along the Road leading to Pots Grove [Pottstown], but got no certain Intelligence of the Rebel’s motions. Suspected they had all march’d towards Reading. About 5 in the Evening sent a Corps of 200 Hessian Grenadiers across the Schuylkill at Gordons Ford who pass’d and took post with-[out] any loss. The [British] Grenadiers and Light Infantry of the Guards likewise pass’d Fatland ford this Evening” (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 , 149–50; see also Howe to Germain, 10 Oct. 1777, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 14:202–9; 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 , 35; 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 , 456–57; 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 , 51–52; and 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 , 116). Gordon’s Ford at present-day Phoenixville, Pa., was about six miles up the Schuylkill River from Fatland Ford and about six miles south of Muhlenberg’s house.

GW’s headquarters during part of this day was located on the road from Philadelphia to Reading, about two miles northwest of Trappe and nine miles southeast of Pottstown (see GW to Philemon Dickinson, this date, n. 1, and GW to Alexander McDougall, this date). GW’s expenses for this date included £3.10 “paid at Mr Kenedys for Sundries & trouble of the house” (household account book, 11 April 1776–21 Nov. 1780, DLC:GW, ser. 5, vol. 28).

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