From Brigadier General William Smallwood
Wilmington [Del.] March 20th 1778
The Enemys Fleet still remain down below Reedy Island, except such Transports as conveyed off the Invalids &c.—various accounts of the Numbers, from 1,200 to 2,000, some are said to have marched down by Land, others to have landed from the Fleet near Salem, they have plundered, and were the other Day carrying off Forage, the Jersy Militia took & sent over here nine of their Seamen, they landed a Small Party on Wednesday,1 and took out a Private Boat from Hamborough—They give out their Intentions are to destroy our Salt Works at Egg Harbour, to collect all the Forage adjacent to the River on both Sides, and to destroy this Place & Marcus hook in their Way up—I have ordered the removal of all the Hay that possibly can be carried from the River course, and have a Party below for that purpose and to burn such as cannot be moved, shou’d they attempt a Descent on this Side the Delaware—Capt. Rumford is just setting out, which prevents my adding more, than that I have the honor to remain with sincere Regard Your Excellency’s very Obedt Hble Sert
ALS, DLC:GW. Smallwood signed the cover, which was also marked “By favor of Capt. Rumford.”
1. The preceding Wednesday was 18 March. The movements of the British expedition on 18 and 19 Mar. were recorded in the diary of British officer Archibald Robertson: “Two Partys of 50 men went out Different Routs to drive in Cattle, one by Pen’s Neck the Other by Quinton’s Bridge on Alloe’s Creek. Here this Party were Opposed by a Party of the Rebels who were intrench’d on the Opposite side of the Bridge. Intelligence was sent Back to Colonel Mawhood who immediately march’d with 200 of the Rangers a Round of 7 or 8 miles to endeavour to Enclose the Rebels in case they Attempted to surround the Party. On our Joining the Party the Rangers were Conceal’d in a Wood that the Rebels might not know of the reinforcement, then having laid an Ambuscade of 20 men in a house and about 60 behind a Rail 200 Yards from the house Colonel Mawhood Ordered the 50 men to retreat, upon which the Rebels immediately quited their Posts and began to pursue with great Eagerness thinking to hang upon our Rear, by which means about 40 of them that were in their Front fell into the Snare. About 20 were killed and 12 taken, 4 of them wounded, and a French Officer, Ducloss a Lieutenant. We then return’d home. A Third Party that had been sent towards Hancock’s Bridge on the Alloe’s Creek likewise found the Rebels Posted and entrenched on the opposite side. We Got some Cattle. 19th Drove some Cattle and loaded 9 Vessels with Hay at Salem Bridge” (Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 164–65).