George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major John Clark, Jr., 6 October 1777

From Major John Clark, Jr.

Octr 6th 1777 10 oClock P.M.

My dear General

I wrote you by Express at 5 this Evening which I hope you have reced—A Gent. an intimate acquaintance this moment arrived from Philadelphia (his name I must conceal for particular reasons) which place he left at 11 oClock this Day—& confirms what I wrote you & further Ads—Gen. Knyphausen is wounded in the hand—Genl D[e]peisters son an A.D.C. is killed1 as also Cols. Abercrombie, Bird, Walcot,2 & many others of the first character—my informant also says he was at German Town saw about 50 killed—but some one came up & told him & Company who were with him—that they cou’d not be permitted to go on the field of action as ’twas too disagreeable a sight—he says the Enemy suffered prodigiously—he heard many Officers say that you had completely surprised them notwithstanding a deserter gave notice of Your design3—he says the Enemy have got possession of red Bank & Billingsport are fortifying & transporting their heavy Cannon consisting of 12 & 18 pounders—that they have got up the lower tier of the Chevaux de frize—Provisions are scarce with them—Gen. Howe has ordered the Inhabitants to patrole every Night through the City—Mr Chews House shot to pieces—my friend says hes never saw such shocking sights—all the Troops were in action except a few Guards—he ads if the Troops had arrived at the middle Ferry earlier ’twou’d have prevented the Enemy’s reinforcement from the City joining the main body People go & come as usual into the City from this County—If a few Troops were sent down the Schuylkill it wou’d prevent—I am further informed the number of prisoners taken amounts to about 400—the Enemy’s Waggons are constantly going towards Chester—This information you may depend on. I am Your Excellencies Most Obedt Very humble Servt

Jno. Clark Junr

The Enemy were cannonading our Fort when he came away.


1Clark probably is referring to Carl Levin von Heister, son of Hessian lieutenant general Leopold Philipp von Heister and aide-de-camp to Col. Carl Emil Kurt von Donop. The younger Heister was not killed at the Battle of Germantown. He eventually became adjutant to the Landgraf of Hesse.

2Lt. Col. William Walcott of the 5th Regiment died of his wounds on 16 Nov. 1777 (see Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:544).

3British officer Archibald Robertson says in his diary entry for 4 Oct. that “at 4 in the morning Colonel [Robert] Abercrombie came to our Quarters and told of a man Taken by the Piquet who said He was a Flanker from the Rebel Army coming to Attack our Camps. Got on horseback with Sir William [Howe] immediately. The lines all turn’d out between 5 and 6” (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 , 151; see also 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 , 54–55; 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 , 92–93; and 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 , 119).

Index Entries