George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Armstrong, 26 December 1777

From Major General John Armstrong

Camp Eastward of Bartholomews [Pa.] 26th Decr 1777

Dear General

I cannot yet learn whether the Enemy are return’d to Philada—a person from thence, tells me the Citizens were extreamly alarm’d at the little Noise of the evening before last & it was thought the Ravagers wou’d return as of yesterday1—As to persons passing in & out of Town, I see that may be done in oppo[si]tion to all we can do to prevent it, nor can every degree of Marketing be fully Stoped, to that kind of intercource I have paid every mean of attention in my power, and on as many of the Roads as cou’d yet be occupied, that business already has met with considerable discouragement—Such Provisions as are taken going to Town, I allow to the Soldiers—the Carts & Horses to be delivered to Commissioners appointed by the State, for the Sale of forfited goods2—The prisoners found driving to Market, I shall send to Head Quarters, of which I think there are three, others have made their escape, or have been females & were dismiss’d by the partys who intercepted them.

With the Soldiers who went down to the lines I Sent a number of empty Waggons on the prospect of getting some Flour, but not an handfull—Some partys were left behind to Collect Cattle who are not yet return’d, nor have we anything on hand but feed upon hope & am beholden to the highway for a Christmas dinner. Such people as are willing to thrash out Wheat for us, tiez me about the price, of which I know nothing, but order receits.

This day I have prevailed on a certain person to go to Germantown & Sound the Tanners there on the Subject of an exchange of their leather for green Hydes, which he is to do as an Opinion of his own3—Bartholomew a great Tanner, who also deals with the Hyde Master, throws a new impediment in the way at this Season, by asserting that drawing leather wet from the Tanfats, will in one Night, or even by two hours frost, be utterly spoiled and whether whole or half Tanned he says the effect will be the Same.4 I trust yr wants of an important Article, are by this time alleviated if not removed—And provided the Enemy are return’d, that Genl Potter agreeable to my desire may have laid before you my last to him.5 I have the Honor to be with every feelling of Sympathy & high respect—Yr Excellencys Most humble Servt

John Armstrong


1The noise came from a minor attack made on the evening of 24 Dec. against British lines on the Germantown Road (see John Armstrong to GW, 23 Dec., n.1).

2The commissioners were appointed by a resolution of the Pennsylvania council of safety on 21 Oct. 1777 (Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:329–31).

3In his letter to GW of 29 Dec., Armstrong identified this person as “Mr Donaldson.”

4Edward Bartholomew (1736–1802), who previously had owned the Sign of the Buffalo Tavern near Montgomeryville, Pa., operated tanneries in present-day Montgomery County, Pa., and after 1779 in Philadelphia. GW sent troops on 24 Jan. 1778 to secure leather in the vats at Germantown, nearly resulting in an engagement with British patrols (see GW to Richard Peters, 24–25 Jan. 1778).

5For further reference to Armstrong’s letter to Potter, dated 22 Dec., see Armstrong’s first letter to GW of 23 Dec. 1777.

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