George Washington Papers

General Orders, 27 August 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters, Wilmington [Del.] August 27th 1777

Parole: Susquehannah.Countersigns: Delaware. Schuylkill.

The brigades and other corps are to be in such readiness as to march at a moment’s warning—To this end the officers will see that the men are kept regularly supplied with as much provision as will, when fresh, keep; and the Commissaries are peremptorily ordered to provide a quantity of hard bread ready to deliver at any sudden call.

It is expected (as there is the greatest reason to believe that our service will be active) that every species of baggage belonging to both officers and men, will now be stored, except such as cannot be done without in the field, that the train of waggons may in consequence be reduced, and our incumbrance on this account lessened. To effect this valuable purpose, the sick are to be turned over to the Director General of the Hospital, and not taken with us, whilst the women are expressly forbid any longer, under any licence at all, to ride in the waggons—and the officers earnestly called upon to permit no more than are absolutely necessary, and such as are actually useful, to follow the army.

The number of horses, which are now so injuriously introduced, (contrary to all former practice) is also expressly forbid; as they have become a real nuisance in the army—It is expected therefore, that no officer, except those who are allowed forage, will henceforth keep a horse, but (as his baggage is carried for him) march on foot with his men: This, at the same time that it testifies a real regard to the service, will be setting a good and commendable example to the men; which in every instance ought, and it is hoped will be, the first object of a good and valuable officer.

Five waggons from each brigade are to be delivered immediately, to the Deputy Quarter Master General.

Genl Greene’s division is to march to morrow morning, and take post, on a piece of ground, which will be marked out for him, on white clay Creek1—And the militia from Chester (under the command of Col. Evans) is to march to Christiania Bridge, and there take post ’till further orders.2

As the weather has been wet, and the ground damp, the men may be served with a gill of rum each.

After Orders. General stephen’s division is to march to morrow morning, immediately after General Greene’s.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

George Forsyth received payment of £63.12 on this date for expenses incurred by GW and his military family at Wilmington from 25 to 27 Aug. (household account book, 11 April 1776–21 Nov. 1780, DLC:GW, ser. 5, vol. 28).

1White Clay Creek joins Red Clay Creek about six miles southwest of Wilmington. Lt. James McMichael of Greene’s division wrote in his diary entry for 28 Aug.: “We marched from our encampment at 4 A.M. and proceeding thro’ Wilmington, Newport and the Rising Sun, encamped in White Clay Creek Hundred, where we learned the enemy were near Newark and had driven in the Militia. Here we lay under arms, without tents or blankets, as the wagons were left in the rear. A detachment of 150 men were sent out from Gen. Weedon’s brigade to observe the movements of the enemy. We expect a general attack to-morrow” (“McMichael’s Diary,” description begins William P. McMichael. “Diary of Lieutenant James McMichael, of the Pennsylvania Line, 1776–1778.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 16 (1892): 129–59. description ends 148). Capt. John Chilton of Stephen’s division says in his diary that during the march to White Clay Creek on 28 Aug., some wagoners told him “that the Ministerials were advancing within a few Miles of us (scary creatures) [and] said there were 16,000, which our Soldiers as much believed as they believe George III and his corrupt Ministry have a right to tax America” (“Old Virginia Line,” description begins Lyon G. Tyler. “The Old Virginia Line in the Middle States during the American Revolution.” Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine 12 (1930–31): 1–43, 90–141, 198–203, 283–89. description ends 288).

2For these orders see GW to Evan or William Evans, this date. Christiana Bridge, or Christiana, was a village on Christina River about four miles upstream from its confluence with Red Clay Creek and about eight miles southwest of Wilmington. Christiana Bridge was an important point of communication and trade between Baltimore and Philadelphia both before and during the Revolutionary War. GW passed through the village on his way to Philadelphia in May 1775 and a number of times after the war.

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