George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Armstrong, Sr., 25 August 1777

To Major General John Armstrong, Sr.

Wilmington [Del.] 25th Augt 1777–6 OClock P.M.

Dear Sir

I have just recd information that the Enemy began to land this Morning about Six Miles below Head of Elk opposite to Cæcil Court House. The informant says he saw two thousand Men, but he may be mistaken as to the Number.1 I desire you to send off every Man of the Militia under your command that is properly armed as quick as possible, if they were to begin their march this Night while it is cool it will be the better. They are to proceed to Wilmington where they will receive orders for their destination.

I desire you will immediately send for Genl Potter, and give him directions to come on to me with all possible expedition, you must supply his place in the best manner you can. The first attempts of the Enemy will be to seize Horses Carriages and Cattle with light Parties and we must endeavour to check them at their outset. Whatever Militia are at Philada and equipped should be ordered down immediately. I am &ca.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW apparently is referring to the intelligence contained in the letter from Henry Hollingsworth to John McKinly that he enclosed in his second letter to Hancock of this date. Howe’s army, which consisted of about seventeen thousand British and German troops including artillerymen, landed in five debarkations on 25 and 26 Aug. at Elk Ferry about six miles downstream from the head of navigation on the Elk River, which is near present-day Elkton, Maryland. The first debarkation, which consisted of light infantry, British grenadiers, and Hessian and Anspach foot jägers, landed about ten o’clock on the morning of 25 August. General Howe, his aide-de-camp Capt. Friedrich von Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for that date, “advanced with the jaegers and light infantry for three miles and then made a halt. We found almost all houses deserted, except that some women and children were left behind” (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 , 26; see also 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 , 36–37; 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 , 442; 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 , 142–43; 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 , 99; and Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 74–75).

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