George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General James Potter, 11 November 1777

From Brigadier General James Potter

Novr 11th 1777


I have Just Received Intelagance of 38 Sail of the enemey fleet coming up the Rivers the latters was wrote five oclock yesterday evineng altho the are dated as of this day1 the fiering yesterday was from the enemys Battereys on province Island near the River Banks I Beleive the have dun little damige if any I Recved your excelanceys of the 10th of Novr as for my doing any thing that can be of us[e] to the fourt—I cant conseve how I can do it. I am your excelanceys obedant Humble servant

Ja’s Potter

ALS, DLC:GW. Potter wrote on the cover: “pr favour of Cap.”

1Potter enclosed three letters written to him from Wilmington, Del., one by Maj. George Evans and two by Jonathan Rumford, all dated 11 Nov. and located in DLC:GW. Major Evans’s letter reads: “Having Just arived at this place I had account of thirty Eight large ships lying at or near reedy Island yesterday with a number of troops on board some say 3 some 4 & 5 thousand, the ships are all now standing up the River by this place now five of the Clock, therefore thought it my indispensible duty to give you the earliest intelligence that you might provide youself accordingly.”

Jonathan Rumford’s first letter, a garbled account of the Isis action, which Varnum had reported to GW in his 6 Nov. letter, says that “This will acquaint You with the loss of a 64 Gun Ship wednesday last [5 Nov.]. Shee was drawn up with Springs to hir cables to fire on forte Miflin (Alias mud Island) but as Hevn would have it the Springs broke ⟨o⟩r by Sum means gave way ⟨&⟩ the Ship Ran a Shore Nr ⟨M⟩anta Crick, Our Peaple Errected a Small Batery on Billings Port & Soone Sunk the Ship—there is now three Ships more going up One of which a 64.”

In his second letter, which may have accompanied his first letter, Rumford wrote: “I am acquainted by Capt. Hugh Mongomery Who is Just Come from the River Shore that hee Counted thirty Eight Salis of Vessels Cheifly Ships & that hee heard from Mr Whitehead Jones there had Ten Solders landed & Came to his House who Acquainted him That there was a fleete Now in the Delawar with Several Thousand Brittish Soldiars on Borde The Ships Are Now Passing by I therefore Send You this Inteligance.” Hessian private Johann Conrad Döhla, who was on board one of the vessels, confirms the vessels’ arrival in his journal entry for 10 Nov. (Döhla, Hessian Diary description begins Johann Conrad Döhla. A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution. Translated and edited by Bruce E. Burgoyne. Norman, Okla., and London, 1990. description ends , 58).

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