George Washington Papers

General Orders, 12 September 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters, Chester [Pa.] Sept: 12th 1777.

Parole: Schuylkill.Countersigns: Derby. Germantown.

The commanding officer of each brigade is immediately to send off as many officers as he shall think necessary on the roads leading to the places of action yesterday, and on any other roads where stragglers may be found; particularly to Wilmington, where ’tis said, many have retired, to pick up all the stragglers from the army, and bring them on. In doing this, they will proceed as far, towards the enemy, as shall be consistant with their own safety, and examine every house—In the mean time the troops are to march on in good order thro’ Derby to the bridge over Schuylkill, cross it, and proceed up to their former ground near the falls of Schuylkill, and Germantown, and there pitch their tents—Genl Greenes division will move last and cover the baggage, stores &c.1

A gill of rum or whiskey is to be served out to each man who has not already received that allowance.

General Maxwell’s light Corps will remain at Chester, collect all the stragglers they can, and to morrow morning follow the army.

The directors of the hospital will see, that all the sick, and wounded be sent to Trenton2—In doing this, General Maxwell will give them all necessary assistance.

The General expects that each Brigadier, or officer commanding a brigade will immediately make the most exact returns of their killed, wounded and missing.

After Orders. The officers are, without loss of time to see that their men are completed with ammunition—that their arms are in the best order, the inside of them washed clean and well dried—the touchholes picked, and a good flint in each gun. The strictest attention it is expected will be paid to this order as the officers must be sensible their own honor, the safety of the soldier, and success of the cause depends absolutely upon a careful execution of it. The commanding officer of each regiment is to endeavour to procure such necessaries, as are wanting, for his men—No time is to be lost in doing this.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Lt. James McMichael of Greene’s division wrote in his diary entry for this date: “At 4 A.M. we proceeded thro’ Chester, later to Derby, and encamped near Schuylkill bridge at 9 o’clock” ((“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 150). On the British side Capt. John Montresor says in his journal entry that “At 2 o’clock this afternoon Major-Genl. Grant with the 1st and 2nd Brigade marched from Chad’s Ford towards Concord [ville]. The patroles from each Corps in scouring the woods near them picked up Waggons, Horses, Ammunition, Provisions and cattle and several Rebels that had secreted themselves” (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 , 451; see also 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 , 32).

2Muhlenberg’s and Weedon’s orderly books indicate that the sick and wounded were to be sent to Philadelphia rather than Trenton (see “Muhlenberg’s Orderly Book,” description begins “Orderly Book of Gen. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, March 26–December 20, 1777.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 33 (1909): 257–78, 454–74; 34 (1910): 21–40, 166–89, 336–60, 438–77; 35 (1911): 59–89, 156–87, 290–303. description ends 34:464, and Weedon’s Orderly Book description begins Valley Forge Orderly Book of General George Weedon of the Continental Army under Command of Genl George Washington, in the Campaign of 1777–8: Describing the Events of the Battles of Brandywine, Warren Tavern, Germantown, and Whitemarsh, and of the Camps at Neshaminy, Wilmington, Pennypacker’s Mills, Skippack, Whitemarsh, & Valley Forge. New York, 1902. description ends , 45).

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