To Brigadier General Alexander McDougall
Camp near Pots Grove [Pa.] 24th Sepr 1
½ after Seven O’clock P.M.
Since I have seen Captn Faulkner, and learnt your Situation from him,2 & compar’d it with that of the Enemy, I have become exceedingly uneasy least they should attempt to Interrupt your March, which I think they can, and surely will do, if they have any good advice of your approach3—& of this I have no doubt, as we are in a most disaffected Country. I have therefore, notwithstanding the two Expresses sent to you by me, to day, and notwithstanding my requesting Lord Stirling to send an Officer to you with an Acct of ours, & the Enemys Situation since, thought it advisable to send the bearer Captn Dunn with this Letter expressing my uneasiness on your Acct and to request you to strike up the Country without getting nearer to the Enemy (who lay between the Schuylkill & the Reading Road & as some say part of them at a Mr Bonners upon the Reading Road)4 and come into the Skippack Road at one Gabriel Shulers5 or even above; as you can always fall down with safety without exposing your Flank or Rear, as you must do in passing directly on to the Trap: where I informd you I should be with the Army to Night, but afterwards found it necessary to Halt where I am. When you get into the Skippack Road in the manner here mentioned it may not be amiss to Halt with a proper Front to the Enemy and advise me thereof as I do not know but some position in that part of the Country and on that Road (if the grounds are favourable) would be the best for us to assemble In.
I have sent you a rough sketch of the Roads &ca to shew you in what manner the Enemys Camp, ours & you lay that you may form some Idea of the matter if you have not a good map for your Government.6 I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt
Since writing the foregoing I find that Gabriel Shulers is not upon the Skippack Road & therefore that you will have to cross from that Road into it. Yrs &ca
LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, owned (1997) by Mr. Joseph Rubinfine, West Palm Beach, Florida. GW addressed the cover: “To Brigr Genl McDougal. By Captn Dunn,” and he franked it.
1. McDougall docketed the letter: “Genl Washington Sepr 24th 1777.”
2. The informant probably was William Faulkner (1746–1831) of Ulster County, N.Y., who had been commissioned a captain in his county’s second regiment of militia in October 1775. During the spring and summer of 1777 Faulkner was stationed at Fort Clinton, N.Y., under the command of Col. Levi Pawling, and on 6 Oct. 1777 Faulkner was wounded in the fighting at nearby Fort Montgomery. He became a captain in Pawling’s New York levies in May 1779.
3. On the manuscript GW first wrote “March.” He then struck out that word and wrote “approach” above the line.
4. Andrew Bunner (1740–1791), a Philadelphia merchant, lived at this time near the twenty-first milestone on the road from Philadelphia to Reading, about two miles east of Skippack Creek and five miles northwest of Swede’s Ford. Howe’s army on this date remained encamped near Swede’s Ford at present-day Norristown, Pa. (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 , 457; 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 , 35; and 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 , 52).
5. The Skippack Road runs southeast from Pennypacker’s Mills (Schwenksville) through Whitemarsh to Chestnut Hill, roughly paralleling the road from Philadelphia to Reading about three miles to the south. At Church Hill the Skippack Road joins the Bethlehem Road and turns south to join the Reading Road at Chestnut Hill. Gabriel Shuler, who was a tax collector for Lower Salford Township in what is now Montgomery County, Pa., lived about a mile west of Skippack Creek on the Morris Road, which ran parallel to the Skippack Road one to two miles to the north.
6. This sketch map has not been identified.