George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 24 October 1776

From Richard Peters

War Office [Philadelphia] Octr 24th 1776


By Order of the Board of War I have the Honour to inform your Excellency that the Congress have this Day given them direction to order the two Virginia Regiments now at Chester, immediately to Trentown, there to wait your Excellencys Commands;1 and at the same time to acquaint you of the Situation of the People of this State, that having as comprehensive a View of the State of Affairs as possible you may make such Disposition as the good of the Service may require.

The Council of Safety of this State requested some days since a Conference with this Board in Order to lay before it, a Representation of their Situation, and Expectations2—in the course of this Conference it appeared very clearly, that they were in a most defenceless Condition, that they had no works upon the River except one Fort unfinished—that the Militia of this City are inactive and languid to the last Degree & to close their distress a number of the People of this Place were disaffected—Indeed they went so far as to say that in their Judgement a large party might be found to espouse openly the Cause of the Enemy should our Affairs run retrograde at New York—As your Excellency, however, must know more of your own Strength and your own intended Operations then Congress possibly can, & as it is of the greatest importance that you should be Supported at all Events General Stephens with the Virginia Forces will take Post at Trentown in Order to Obey such Commands as you may be pleased to give him.3 I have the Honour to be Your Excellency’s most Obedt & very Humble Servant

Richard Peters Secy


1Congress on 30 Sept. directed the Board of War to order Brig. Gen. Adam Stephen’s brigade consisting of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Virginia regiments “to be lodged in the barracks at Wilmington [Del.]; there to remain till farther orders,” and on this date the Board was directed “to order the Virginia batallions to march to Trenton” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:835, 6:901). Stephen’s whole brigade was there by 8 Nov. (see Stephen to Peters, 8 Nov., DNA:PCC, item 162).

2The representation was read in Congress on this date and ordered to lie on the table (see ibid.).

3Robert Hanson Harrison replied to the Board of War on 4 Nov.: “The defenceless State of pensylvania as communicated by the Committee of Safety to your Honble body, is a matter of much concern to his Excellency, which is not a little aggravated by the part too many seem ready to take in favor of the Enemy. he trusts however the defection will be too inconsiderable to threaten any alarming consequences.

“Before the receipt of your Letter, his Excellency had wrote to the Commanding Officer of the Virginia Regiments at Trenton, directing him to march them forward towards General Green’s post, and there remain under his command ’till further orders, unless special instructions had been or should be given to the Contrary by Congress or for their particular destination” (DNA:PCC, item 152).

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