From William Duer
Reading [Pa.] Feby 16th 1771
I esteem it my Duty to inform you that a certain Mr John Biddle has lately gone into the Enemy, who has an Exact Draft of your Camp;2 before he went in he told a Person confidentially that he could put the Enemy in a Way of investing it in such a Manner as to cut off your Communication with the Country, and thereby prevent the Supply of Provisions &ca—How far this can be Effected your Excellency best knows; but what has occasion’d ⟨mutilated⟩ make a Strong Impression on my Mind is a Declaration of Major Genl Sinclair to a Freind (who some Time ago communicated it to me) that in his Opinion such an Event might happen unless two Bridges were thrown a cross the Schuylkill in order to facilitate the Retreat of the Army, if the Enemy were to make this Attempt.
As I am a Stranger to the Geography of the Country, it would ⟨mutilated⟩ impertinent in me to add any Reflections of my own: I ha⟨ve⟩ therefore contented myself with communicating this Matter and doubt not your Excellency will pay that Attention to it which you shall think it deserves. I am with great Respect, Your Excellency’s most Obedt Hble servt
P.S.: This Mr Biddle has been for a considerable Time Employd as a Depy Surveyor in the Proprietor’s Service, and is an Excellent Draftsman.
ALS, DLC:GW. Duer wrote on the cover: “Mr Duer desires Mr Morris will open this Letter, and if he thinks proper communicate the Contents in such Way as he shall think best.”
1. Duer inadvertently wrote “1777” on the manuscript.
2. John Biddle was formerly a deputy quartermaster and collector of excise for Berks County, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania general assembly confiscated his property in April 1779.