George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Continental Congress Intelligence Committee, 2 September 1777

From the Continental Congress Intelligence Committee

Philadelphia 2d Septr 1777


We have the honor to send your Excellency herewith a number of hand bills published by order of Congress, in that form, for the more easy dispersion thro the army, that the troops may be made acquainted with and emulate the conduct of their brave northern and eastern brethren.1 Wishing you health and success we are with much esteem and regard your Excellencies most obedient humble servants

Richard Henry Lee Jona. D. Sergeant
Thos Heyward Junr Wm Duer
Committee of Intelligence

LS, in Richard Henry Lee’s writing, DLC:GW.

Thomas Heyward, Jr. (1746–1809), a South Carolina rice planter and lawyer who had studied law in England, served in the Continental Congress from the spring of 1776 until the summer of 1778. Commissioned a lieutenant in the Charleston artillery company in 1775, Heyward subsequently was promoted to captain, and in February 1779 he was wounded during a successful attack on Port Royal Island, South Carolina. Heyward was taken prisoner when the American garrison at Charleston surrendered in May 1780, and he was not exchanged until July 1781. Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant (1746–1793), a Princeton, N.J., lawyer who moved to Philadelphia after Hessians burned his house in December 1776, was a New Jersey delegate to Congress from February to June 1776, when he resigned to take part in drafting the New Jersey constitution, and again from November 1776 to September 1777. Sergeant became attorney general of Pennsylvania on 28 July 1777, and he held that office until returning to private legal practice in November 1780. Alarmed at GW’s military reverses during the Philadelphia campaign, Sergeant wrote James Lovell on 20 Nov. 1777: “Thousands of Lives and millions of Property are yearly sacrificed to the insufficiency of our Commander-in-Chief. Two battles he has lost for us by two such Blunders as might have disgraced a Soldier of three months standing, and yet we are so attached to this Man that I fear we shall rather sink with him than throw him off our Shoulders” (Knollenberg, Washington and the Revolution, description begins Bernhard Knollenberg. Washington and the Revolution, a Reappraisal: Gates, Conway, and the Continental Congress. New York, 1940. description ends 194). Sergeant, who in later years became an ardent Democratic-Republican, died of yellow fever during the epidemic of 1793.

1These handbills, dated 22 Aug., concern the American victory at Bennington, Vt., on 16 August. Printed by John Dunlap of Philadelphia, they include Schuyler’s letter to Hancock of 18 Aug. and its enclosures: Benjamin Lincoln’s letter to Schuyler of 18 Aug. and Burgoyne’s instructions to Friedrich Baum of 9 Aug. (DNA: RG 360, Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress).

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