George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General James Potter, 16 October 1777

From Brigadier General James Potter

Octr 16, 1777 near Gulph Mill [Pa.]1


From the best information I can receive, there is in Wilmington about 1300 of the enemy—They have put all the wounded & Sick on board of their Ships, and there is some merchant Ship there, they have not unloaded any thing.

I am told the enemy have Stopt some of the Breaches that were made in the banks of Carpenters Island.2

My party is so small, & I am Obliged to keep them on such hard duty that they will soon be wore out.

My men killed four of the enemy yesterday, and one Hessian Officer the other day.

I have sent off to your Excellency a number of Cattle the property of Sheriff Vernon & John Roberts Miller, both of them Aiding & assisting the enemy.3 I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Hume Servt

Ja’s Potter


1Gulph Mill was a gristmill dating from 1747 on Gulph Creek in the eastern part of Upper Merion Township, Philadelphia (now Montgomery) County, Pa., about six miles southeast of Valley Forge.

2Carpenter’s Island is immediately to the west of Province Island, bordered on the north by Boon’s Creek and on the south by the Delaware River.

3Nathaniel Vernon (b. 1714), who was sheriff of Chester County, Pa., 1772–76, apparently had become an open Loyalist by this time. He immigrated to Canada after the war. John Roberts (c.1721–1778), a Quaker miller in Lower Merion Township, was accused of being a Loyalist for his activities among the British during their occupation of Philadelphia. Despite his protestations of innocence and the petitions of many of his acquaintances, Roberts was tried and executed for treason in November 1778.

The list of captured livestock appended to this letter reads: “10 Cattle from Mr Vernon[,] 21 do from Jno. Roberts[,] 6 do the property of the two Rutters Butchers driving them into Philada[,] 26 Sheep from John Roberts[,] 2 Horses from do[,] 2 do Taken from him, I keep[,] 6 Cattle of Vernon I keep also.” Peter Rutter was a Philadelphia butcher.

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