George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel John Dockery Thompson, 27 August 1777

From Colonel John Dockery Thompson

Bohemia Manor [Md.]1 Augt 27th 1777

Dear General

I have the honor to send up four deserters who I apprehend are able to give your Excellency some material information—The 18th Battalion of Militia of Maryland under my command are embodied & ready to act, but we have no arms fit for service to put in their hands—This post is opposite the enemy’s fleet, a fine fertile country abounding with Stock &c. & may reasonably expect their foraging here—Genl Howe has issued a proclamation offering protection to the inhabitants of the Eastern shore, who they think friends to their Govt, which has deluded many people near the shore, & prevented their driving off Stock &c.2—They now carry on a constant intercourse with the Shipping, dealing with them, & supplying provisions. I beg your Excellency to order whether I shall endeavor to keep this post or what else I shall do. Our number is about 500. If you think it expedient we should continue here, pray sir endeavor to supply us with arms & accountrements as soon as possible, as we are in utmost danger of being cut to pieces by an handful of men—when if we were armed I can assure your Excellency our Troops are good, & inferior to no Battalion in this State—If we are not supplied with arms I must disband my men unless you think proper to order us from here—Yesterday a party of Hessians landed on this Side Elk River, & made 4 of our men prisoners, who afterward gave them the slip—we have received information that we may hourly expect parties out in pursuit of us—I apprehend the communication with the Shipping must be cut off or we have no security—If the arms are to be had, I will immediately send to bring them down—My Adjutant Mr Veasey has the honor to present this to you & will immediately return with your orders. I have the honor to be your Excellency’s most obedient Servant

Jno. D. Thompson

Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

1Bohemia Manor is a district of Cecil County located on a neck of land formed by the Elk River and Back Creek on the north, the Elk on the west, and the Bohemia River on the south. Thompson and his militia regiment had taken post on the south side of the Elk directly across from Elk Ferry.

2Sir William Howe’s proclamation of 27 Aug., a copy of which GW forwarded to Congress on 1 Sept., promised not to plunder or molest loyal inhabitants of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, and it offered “a free and general Pardon to all such Officers and private Men, as shall voluntarily come and surrender themselves to any Detachment of His Majesty’s Forces” (Early American Imprints description begins American Antiquarian Society. Early American Imprints, 1639–1800. New Canaan, Conn., 1983. Microfiche. description ends , 43259; 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 , between pp. 38 and 39). Hessian adjutant Carl Leopold Baurmeister says: “In spite of the strictest orders, marauding could not at first be entirely prevented. Several men in the most advanced English troops were caught by General Howe himself. One of these marauders was hanged, and six others were flogged within an inch of their lives” (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; see also Howe’s orders for 18 July, in Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:475, and 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).

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