From Brigadier General Caesar Rodney
September the 21st 1777
There has Just fell in to my hands, found in the Tract of [the] Enemy by Some of my people some Eight or ten days ago, One of the Enemy’s Orderly Books. It Commences in April last, and Ends Since they landed at Elk. I have perused it, and being of opinion that it might be Verry Usefull, provided you are not previously informed as to the matters it Contains, have sent it [to] you by a private of my Light-Horse Who I believe to be Verry Trust worthy1—Last fryday Week in the Afternoon I Arrived at Christina Bridge and That Evening Wrote you by one of my Horse Who in a Little time after Unfortunately fell in to the Enemy’s hands with the Letter, as they Were Comeing to take possession of Wilmington.2 He was a private but a well behaved Trusty Young fellow, possessed property which is in Trade and therefore Must Suffer Verry Much; If under these Circumstances an Exchange without Interuption to the Important business before [you] Could be soon Made for him, it Would give me great pleasure, his name is William Berry3—The Next Morning after the Enemy had taken possession of Wilmington We got Inteligence of it, and by the Evening had no More of the Delaware Militia than Sufficient to Conduct their Baggage Home—and these, their Officers let me know, were determined to go that Night. Therefore thought it best to give them that Charge and let them go—The Next day I left Coll Gist with the Continental Troops, and the Militia from the Eastern Shore of Maryland at the Bridge—And have Ever since, but am sorry to Say, to no purpose, been Trying to rouse and Get them to the field again, Except a few small parties near Christina Creek Removing Stock &c. out of the Enemy’s way—the people Complain the Militia Law by the InSufficiency of the fines Compells none to turn out—That the people of property Who are disaffected Avail themselves of it And therefore the burthen too Great on them—In Short, it does not Seem Ever to have [been] intended by the Law they Should be brought forth—I am Much hurt by not having it in my power to go forward with Coll Gist to Join General Smallwood with propriety, Especially as the Cause, at this time, So Loudly Calls Assistance. If there are any Services I Can Render be pleased to Command; I am dear Sir with the Most sincere wishes for Your Success Your Most obedient Humble Servt
P.S. Should be Glad to hear from You.
1. A British orderly book containing Howe’s general orders to his army and regimental orders for the 40th Regiment from 20 April to 28 Aug. 1777 is in DLC:GW. The last entry was made at Head of Elk.
3. William Berry (c.1755–1819), who was a private soldier in the Kent County, Del., militia in April 1776, refused to turn out for active service in June 1777, because “he would not leave his harvest for anybody” (Delaware Archives description begins Delaware Archives. 5 vols. 1911–19. Reprint. New York, 1974. description ends , 2:811). Berry joined the Dover troop of light horse in August 1777, however, and he received £138.15.8 from the state of Delaware in December 1779 “for Horse, Accoutrements, &c. taken by the British Troops” (Del. House Proceedings description begins Claudia L. Bushman et al., eds. Proceedings of the Assembly of the Lower Counties on Delaware, 1770–1776, of the Constitutional Convention of 1776, and of the House of Assembly of the Delaware State, 1776–1781. Newark, Del., 1986. description ends , 479).