George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major John Clark, Jr., 8 November 1777

From Major John Clark, Jr.

Gen. Potter’s Quarters Nov. 8. 11 oclock A.M. 1777.


Capt. Little late of Philada has just returned from the neighborhood of New Castle—he fell in with Lieut. Linsey of Blands dragoons, who had just taken two Captain’s belonging to the Enemy’s fleet: one of them was under orders to sail for England in a packet, and came ashore to take leave of the inhabitants who are continually supplying them with every necessary.1 Lindsy says if he had had only a few foot with him he would have taken a number who got off—I am now going to reconnoitre & meet some spies—I hope to give you soon some material intelligence. General Potter desires me to acquaint you he has rec’d information that the enemy say their Bridge will be complete by tuesday next.2

A Gentleman out of Philada declares that the enemy have not above two days provisions on hand, at one time, it being impossible to get more up at once as they are now situated. Yr obedt servt

John Clark Jr

’Tis said a Boat with Hessians was lately sunk by a shot from Fort Mifflin and the men drowned.3

Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

1The informant may be the John Little who for some years operated the Indian Queen, a popular tavern on Fourth Street between Market and Chestnut streets in Philadelphia. Lord Howe’s secretary Ambrose Serle gives an account of the capture of the two British captains in his journal entry for 1–4 Nov.: “Nothing occurred till Tuesday Evening [4 Nov.], when about 12 of the Rebel Light Horse came down to Newcastle, and surprized the Captain of the Eagle Packet & the master of a Sloop in the Skirts of the Town, & carried them off with great Precipitation” (Tatum, Serle’s Journal description begins Edward H. Tatum, Jr., ed. The American Journal of Ambrose Serle: Secretary to Lord Howe, 1776–1778. San Marino, Calif., 1940. description ends , 262). The master of H.M. packet boat Eagle was William Nichols, who was known to Henry Laurens because the packet had been on the London-Charleston service since 1770. Laurens attempted to intercede on his behalf with GW, but Nichols remained a prisoner in America on parole at least as late as the fall of 1778 (see Laurens to Nichols, 20 Nov. 1777, 23 May 1778, to John Laurens, 29 May 1778, and John Laurens to Henry Laurens, 1 June 1778, in Laurens Papers description begins Philip M. Hamer et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Laurens. 16 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003. description ends , 12:77–78, 13:337–38, 365, 389). The sloop captain was George Joseph Fenwick, a Virginia Loyalist who fled to Staten Island in 1776 (see Henry Lee, Jr., to GW, 8 Nov.).

2The following Tuesday was 11 November. Clark is referring to the new bridge at Middle Ferry which the British completed on 11 Nov. (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 , 475).

3Brig. Gen. James Potter also reported to GW in his letter of 8 Nov. that he had received intelligence from Philadelphia of the loss of sixty or more Hessian soldiers when their boat was sunk by cannon fire near Fort Mifflin.

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