To John Hancock
Head Quarters Wilmington [Del.] August 29. 1777
On my return to this place last evening from White Clay creek, I was honored with yours of the 27th, with sundry resolves of Congress, to which I shall pay due attention. The enemy advanced a part of their army yesterday to Gray’s hill about two miles on this side of Elk, whether with intent to take post there, or to cover while they remove what stores they found in the town, I cannot yet determine. I do not know what quantity of private property remained; but, of the public, there were several thousand bushels of corn and oats, which might have been removed also, had not most of the teams in the Country been employed by private persons, in bringing off very valuable goods.1 Our light parties yesterday took between thirty and forty prisoners, twelve deserters from the navy and eight from the army have already come in, but they are able to give us very little intelligence. They generally agree that their troops are healthy but that their horse suffered very much by the voyage.
By a letter from General Gates, which you were pleased to transmit me yesterday—he requests, that Commissions may be sent to Brigadiers, Glover—Poor and Patterson, which I beg the favour of you to do by the return express. The two last lost theirs, with their baggage at Ticonderoga & General Glover had none.2 I have the honor to be With great respect Sir Your most Obedt servt
LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the addressed cover of the LS. Congress read this letter on 30 Aug. (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 , 8:697).
1. British chief engineer John Montresor says in his journal entry for 28 Aug.: “The rebels were so precipitate this day as to leave some of their Store houses full, consisting of molasses, Indian Corn, Tobacco, Pitch, Tar and some Cordage and Flour. The Cattle was drove off excepting a few” (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 , 443). Hessian jägers also captured fifteen to twenty private vessels in the Elk River with cargos “of tobacco, Indian corn, coffee, sugar, and flour” (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 , 100; see also 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 , 76, 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).