George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 28 December 1777

From Major General Stirling

Radnor [Pa.] Decemr 28th 1777. Noon

Dr Sir

I received your Excellency letter of Yesterday’s date. the inclosed note I received about an hour ago from Colonel Barber the same Intelligence is Confirmed by another Come in to another Quarter,1 I have sent out what light [Horse] were here for further Confirmation of it, and have ordered the Troops in Case it be true immediately to Search every house within their late lines for Straglers of which I do not doubt they will find many who Shelter themselves from the Stormy weather. there are several Substantial people who have been dealing largely with the Enemy for provisions about Chester, Marcus Hook, &c., I propose getting them taken tomorrow, & can have the Witnesses here the same time, with your Excellency permission, I will have them tried on the Resolve of Congress regulating that Matter; which expire’s the first of January; an Example or two of these principals will have a better Effect, than the punishment of fifty of the small pedlars; these have dealt by whole Sale.2

Our Men are almost worn out, but they bear it patiently & I wish I could Indulge them with some whisky but there is not a drop here. I am Your Excellency’s Most Obedient H. Servt


The enclosed from Capt. Smith of the light Horse is this Moment Come to hand.3 one oClock Colonel Morgan & Colonel Malcolm who with all the troops lay last night within four Miles of their flank must have been aprized of this Movement some hours ago; but I have not heard of either of them this morning.



1Stirling enclosed an intelligence report, dated 28 Dec., from Lt. Col. Francis Barber of the 3d New Jersey Regiment: “By two Desertors from the Enemy it appears they moved for Phila. at 10 oClo: last night—Three Parti⟨es⟩ which I sent out before Day have not yet returned—By their staying, I suppose they have marched to Darbee or farther—I ordered a Light-horse to you with the Intelligence very early in the morning, which I find has been ordered a different Rout afterwards by Colo. Davidson. I am sorry your Lordship cannot be made certain of the Enemy’s Departure, our own Parties being not yet returned” (DLC:GW).

2See the congressional resolution of 8 Oct. 1777, which John Hancock enclosed in his letter to GW of 9 Oct. 1777; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 9:784.

3The enclosed intelligence report from Capt. Robert Smith of the 3d Continental Light Dragoons, dated “Sunday Morning 11 OClock Darby,” reads: “The Enemy began to move off early last Night. Their Picket was not taken from this Place ’till this Morning. Many of them have crossd during the Night at Gray’s Ferry. I learn from Some Inhabitants who left them at that Place, that the Remainder are moving up towards the Middle Ferry. their Rear is now abt a Mile beyond Price’s” (DLC:GW).

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