George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Israel Putnam, 14 September 1777

To Major General Israel Putnam

Camp at German Town [Pa.] Sept. 14th 1777

Dr Sir

By express this moment receivd from General Dickonson, the Enimy have crost over from Newyork & Statten Island in two divisions one at Elizabeth Town the other at Second River—each division consisting of about a thousand men with Artillery.1

By your returns it appears you have three thousand Six hundred and Eight men including the Militia and Sergeants fit for duty at your post—besides the detachment of 1500 already orderd2 a further detachment will be necessary to reinforce the first[.] You will therefore immediately on the receipt of this detach a thousand more and if General MacDougal did not come on with the first detachment he must come on with this—let the detachment be made as privately as possible—You will immediately write to Governor Trumbrell the State of affairs and request as this appears to be a crisis a reinforcement of 2000 Militia to secure the Posts in the Highlands and to enable you to make further detachments if circumstances should render it necessary.3

You will garrison fort Montgomery & the other fortifications about it with some of your best Troops and secure the passes into the highlands with the remainder of the Continental Troops and the Militia—As it is not improbable the Enemy may make a diversion up the North River by way of amusing you—and to take advantages as circumstances may favor their design—you cannot be too vigilant—You will write in the most pressing terms to Governor Trumbrell to hasten in the Militia.

The Letter that accompanies this for General Heath let it be forwarded with all imaginable dispatch.

The advance party of the Enemy are within three Miles of Chester4 we shall recross the Schuylkill this day to take another look at them. I am Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servt.

Df, in Nathanael Greene’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See Philemon Dickinson to Hancock, 13 Sept., in Hancock to GW, 14 Sept. (first letter), n.1.

2Congress resolved on 12 Sept. “that an express be immediately sent to General Putnam, with orders to send forward the 1,500 continental troops, lately directed to be held in readiness, with all possible expedition, to reinforce the army under General Washington; and that General Putnam be directed, for greater expedition, to disencumber the said troops of all heavy baggage and such as is not absolutely necessary; the heavy baggage to be sent after them” (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 , 8:736).

3Putnam wrote Governor Jonathan Trumbull on 17 Sept., informing him among other things that “Genl Washington has required one thousand men more from here to reenforce his army immediatly, which is not in my power to comply with” (Trumbull Papers description begins The Trumbull Papers. 4 vols. Boston, 1885-1902. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., vols. 9–10; 7th ser., vols. 2–3. description ends , 2:148–50).

4On 13 Sept., John Montresor says in his journal, “Lord Cornwallis with the 2nd Battalion Light Infantry and 2 of Grenadiers marched at ½ past 6 in the morning to join the body under Major-Genl. Grant and to move on towards Chester. . . . At 5 o’clock this afternoon the troops with Lord Cornwallis reached Ashton within 4 miles of Chester” (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 Howe to Germain, 10 Oct. 1777, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 14:202–9, and 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 , 88).

Index Entries