George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Arthur Erwin, 9 December 1776

To Colonel Arthur Erwin

Head Quarters Falls Township [Pa.]1 9th Decemr 1776


I expected upon my Arrival here to have found the Militia of Bucks County ready to have joined me, and to have kept the Enemy from setting a Foot in the province of Pennsylvania, but to my great Surprize not a Man has turned out, tho so glorious an Example has been shewn them by the Citizens of Philadelphia.

I was altogether at a Loss to account for so extraordinary a Conduct, but Colo. Hart has just been to inform me, that the Reason is, that persons have been so atrociously wicked and lost to all sense of Liberty and love to their Country, as to propagate a Report that I am not in want of your Assistance, and that therefore it would be needless for them to embody themselves.2 This is so far from being the Truth, that I assure you, unless I have a speedy Reinforcement, the Enemy will certainly proceed as far as Philadelphia, and in all probability make themselves Masters of the Capital of your province. I therefore intreat you in the most earnest Manner to make this known among the Men of your Regiment, and endeavour to embody them as quick as possible and march them down to this place or wherever I may be with the main Body of the Army. If your Regiment marches down let them bring light Potts or Kettles to cook in, and a few Axes to each Company. I am Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, PHi: Washington Manuscripts. The LS is addressed to “Colo. Irwin.”

Arthur Erwin (1726–1791), a Scotch-Irish immigrant who had come to Pennsylvania in 1768 and had acquired considerable landholdings in Tinicum Township, served as colonel of the 4th Regiment of Bucks County associators from 1775 to 1776 and subsequently as colonel of the county’s 2d Regiment of militia. For the calling out of Erwin’s regiment and the other Bucks County militia regiments, see GW to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, this date, and the Pennsylvania Council of Safety to GW, 17 Dec., and note 1. Erwin was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in Luzerne County, Pa., in June 1791.

1Falls Township, one of the several townships that were established in Bucks County in 1692, took its name from the adjoining lower falls of the Delaware River. Summerseat, which GW was using as his headquarters at this time, was in Falls Township.

2Joseph Hart (1715–1788) of Warminister Township was chairman of the Bucks County committee of safety and colonel of the county’s 2d Regiment of associators. During the previous summer he had commanded a regiment of volunteer associators that served for a time with the flying camp in New Jersey (see the Bucks County committee of safety proceedings, 10 July 1776, in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:171–72, and Discharge of Pennsylvania Associators, 9 Sept. 1776, ibid., 2:256). Hart was vice-president of the provincial conference that met at Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia on 18 June 1776 and a member of the state constitutional convention in July 1776. From October to December 1777 Hart served on the state council of safety, and from July 1777 to March 1780 he was a member of the state’s supreme executive council. Hart became county lieutenant of Bucks County in March 1780 and served until the end of the war.

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