George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Stirling, 25 September 1777

To Major General Stirling

Head Quarters [near Pottsgrove, Pa.]
Sep: 25th 1777. 11 Oclock A.M.

My Lord,

I have your favor of 8 Oclock now before me,1 & am surprized to find the Enemy in the same situation after the movement which they appear’d to be making, according to the Information given by Genl Reed.2

I am sorry the Piquets March’d from hence yesterday, & I am still more concern’d that Genl Armstrong with the Militia moved3 to the Trap as it was owing to a mistake they were not halted along with the other Troops at this place; the countermand of the March being intended for the whole, tho^I presume it never reached Genl Armstrong.

Under these circumstances, and the present appearance of the Weather (which has induced me to pitch our Tents, and see what the Clouds have in charge4) I mean to Halt here, at least to day especially as I find Genl Wayne will not be up till night (if then) and Smallwood not till to morrow, I should be glad therefore if your Lordship would consult Genl Armstrong & the other Genl Officers with you, and determine whether it will be best for you to March back the Picquets, & for Maxwells Corps to join their respective Brigades immediately, or wait till to morrow.

That you may be the better enabled to determine this point I am to inform you, that I have directed Genl McDougall to Halt at a place Mark’d in the Map Markeys, on the Skippack Road, between Welgers5 and Pennebakers Mill (at a Star in the Fork of Perkiomy) and Officers are gone out to view the ground thereabouts, to see if it wd be a convenient Situation to Assemble our Troops at, & form a Camp; at the same time I must add that the Currt Sentiment of the Genl Officers here, is, that it is too near the Enemy till we are in a better condition to meet them on any Ground than we seem to be at present. I shall only add that the reason for halting McDougal there, is, to save him the fatiegue of a Countermarch if we should move that way, as his Troops must be greatly fatiegued by the length, & (of late) the rapidity of his March to form a junction with us. How far his Situation there may be eligable, a few hours, with the Intelligence they may bring, will probably determine—Your Lordship will as before desired take the Sentiments of the Officers with you on these matters & let me know the result. I am Yr Lordships Most Obedt

Go: Washington


1This letter has not been found.

2Howe’s aide-de-camp Captain Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for this date: “A little after six o’clock in the morning we set out to march in two columns, the baggage in front of each column, by way of Chestnut Hill to Germantown. Lord Cornwallis’ column with which our General [Howe] rode, had an exceedingly pleasant march, because the road from Chestnut Hill to Germantown is lined with many houses, most of them nice buildings. . . . General Knyphausen’s column marched two miles from us on our right and joined us at Germantown. Knyphausen’s column took a position extending from the Schuylkill to Germantown. Some of Cornwallis’ column was posted on the right side of Germantown, almost in line with Knyphausen’s corps and to the rear on the road to Philadelphia. A battalion of light infantry was placed two miles back, between Germantown and Chestnut Hill, where they had their first picket. . . . Cornwallis’ corps came to be stationed closer to Philadelphia, in fact so close that its van, which included our headquarters, was only four miles from Philadelphia” (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 , 35–36; 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; 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 , 458; 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 , 150; 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 , 52–53; 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 , 117; 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 , 91).

3At this place on the manuscript, GW wrote and then struck out the words: “from hence.”

4At this place on the manuscript, GW wrote and then struck out the words: “for us.” Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who lived at Trappe, Pa., about ten miles southeast of GW’s headquarters, wrote in his journal entry for this date: “At two o’clock in the afternoon it began to rain hard and become very cold. The rain lasted almost all night. The poor soldiers have to endure a great deal because they have no tents with them. Our barn was crowded with those who sought some shelter” (Tappert and Doberstein, Muhlenberg Journals description begins Theodore G. Tappert and John W. Doberstein, trans. and eds. The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1942–58. description ends , 3:80).

5GW probably is referring to Dietrich Welcker’s forge, which stood on the Skippack Road on the west bank of Skippack Creek.

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