George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 18 September 1777

To John Hancock

Reading Furnace [Pa.] 18th Sepr 1777.


Your favor of the 17th I had the honor to receive last night with Governr Livingston & Genl Dickinsons Letters. It is out of my power to do more, than I already have for checking the Enemy’s progress in Jersey, and I should hope, that will be the case as soon as the Troops ordered from pecks Kill arrive to reinforce the Militia assembling under Genl Dickinson. I observe, that All the Continental Stores, which have been removed from philadelphia were at Trenton on the 16th, according to Genl Dickinson’s Letter. That place, in the first instance, was fixed on through necessity, and conveying ’em there was better than to leave them where they were; But I am clear in Opinion, that they should not be suffered to remain there a Moment longer than can be avoided, and I would beg leave to recommend that the earliest & most vigorous measures should be adopted for removing ’em to Allen Town in North Hampton County.

From the Advices received Yesterday Evening & last Night, It appeared that the Enemy were pushing a considerable Force to the White Horse Tavern, with a view it was supposed to fall on our Right flank. This induced us, to proceed this Morning to this place, where we are cleaning Our Arms with the utmost assiduity and replacing Our Cartridges, which unfortunately were mostly spoiled by the Heavy Rain on Tuesday.1 By Some of Our Light Horsemen, this Moment come in, It is said, the Enemy are advancing on the Road towards Swedes Ford.2 As soon as possible the Troops will be put in motion, but I am doubtful Whether that can be done before to Morrow Morning for want of provisions, which has impeded Our Movements, very considerably, since we passed Schuylkill last. I have the Honor &c.


Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, Hamilton-McLane Family Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 1 Oct. (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 , 8:756).

1The previous Tuesday was 16 September.

2British captain John Montresor wrote in his journal entry for this date: “Between 3 and 4 this morning (the Equinoxial Gale still continuing at N. East, with small rain) the Army marched from the [Sign of the] Boot [Tavern] 3 miles to the White Horse, where we joined Lord Cornwallis’s column, halted an hour, and the whole army moved on towards Philadelphia, until we arrived at Randel Malins, being 2½ miles further. There we struck off (the roads forking) the road to the Swedes Ford to Treduffrin, one mile beyond Howell’s Tavern, being 4½ to that Tavern and encamped one mile further, making 5½ miles more, in all this day, Eleven miles. Lord Cornwallis’s column continuing the Philadelphia Main Road from the Forks at Randel Malins (which was Washington’s Headquarters the night before last) which road runs nearly parallel with the Swedes Ford Road, running only one Mile from this Camp, where his Lordship formed a junction and encamped” (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 , 454; 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; 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 , 34; Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 148; 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 , 48–49; 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 , 114–15; 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 , 89–90).

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