George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Elbridge Gerry, 26 September 1777

To Elbridge Gerry

4 miles from Pots Grove [Pa.] Sept. 26th 1777.

D. Sir

I was this Morning favoured with your Letter of the 24th. When I wrote Congress, I was informed, that there were several Arms in Lancaster belonging to the public. These with their Accoutrements, I wished to be collected & put into the Hands of the Militia coming from Virginia; But I did not mean that any—the property of Individuals, should be taken, because I did not conceive myself authorized, nor do I at this time, to order such a measure. I don’t know how the Inhabitants would relish such an exercise of power. I rather think it would give great uneasiness. The Army is much distressed for Blankets & Shoes and I wish the most vigorous exertions could be pursued to make a collection, the speediest possible, where you are & in the Neighbourhood. I am satisfied, if proper steps were taken, many might be procured. I have been and am doing all I can to make a collection, But what will be obtained, will be totally inadequa⟨te⟩ to the Demand.

We are now in motion & advanci⟨ng⟩ to form a junction with Genl McDougal. I expect to be joined in a day or Two by Genl Foreman with Fourteen or Fifteen Hundred Jersey Militia. The Main body of the Enemy are also advancing towards Philadelphia and were below German Town from my last advices, which also mentioned, That a Thousand Infantry with about a Hundred Dragoons had filed off towards Chesnut Hill.1 I fear they are pushing for Bristol, after our Stores, which I am apprehensive are not entirely removed, though I gave Orders for it, the moment I heard they were there.2 I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, CSmH; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Harrison addressed the LS to “Elbridge Gerry Esq. Member of Congress at Lancaster,” and GW franked it. Gerry docketed the LS in part: “ansd 28th.” That letter has not been found.

1Captain Muenchhausen, General Howe’s aide-de-camp, says in his diary entry for this date: “After eight o’clock in the morning, all English grenadiers and two battalions of Hessian grenadiers, as well as two squadrons of dragoons [all] under the command of Lord Cornwallis, set out for Philadelphia. They took with them six 12–pounders and four mortars, in addition to the 6–pounder of their battalion. With these they will put up batteries on a height close to the city, and chase away the rebel ships. . . .

“Lord Cornwallis marched into Philadelphia to the accompaniment of fifes and drums. The inhabitants, who are said to still number 10,000, (normally 40,000) came to meet us and showed in various ways their pleasure at our arrival. Lord Cornwallis, without loss of time, began work on three batteries close to the Delaware, as he had been instructed to do.

“In our camp at Germantown we were, in the meantime, harassed by a party of 300 rebels, who attacked our pickets fiercely, but were eventually driven back” (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 , 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 , 458–59; 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 , 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 , 91–92).

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