George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Lacey, Jr., 20 April 1778

From Brigadier General John Lacey, Jr.

Camp N[orth] W[ales, Pa.] Apr. 20th 1778.


I inclosed in a letter Dated the 12th Inst. to your Excellency for your aprobation the Proceedings of a Court Martial, the tryal & Judgment against John Burk,1 Confined in my provo. this morning about four oClock he made his escape2 out of the Guard I expect he will make Directly to the Enemy. parties are Sent after him, but I have not the least expectation they will over take him.

my Scouting parties Randezvous at Jinkintown At Bustle town At Smithfield, & At the Billet I also keep patroles below me as far as flower Town.3

the Enemy have Been at Bristol. & is Reported have taken Colo. Penrose and some other officers. they Came up in the Night and returnd Next Day.4

Near two thirds of my party will leave me in two Days, from this, the President informes me five Classes is ordered to join me, one from Phil. County one from Bucks one from York and two from Cumberland County5 but none of them have yet arived.

Inclosed is a return of the Militia under my Commd.6 I Remain with the gratest Respect your Excellencys most obt Humb. Servant.

P.S. I should be glad your Excellency woud informe me What indulgence you would like Shoud be given the people of Germantown in taking down provision to their famalies as I am Much perplexed with them.

ADf, NHi.

1At this point Lacey initially wrote, “who the Court adjudged to be hanged, for,” but he revised and then deleted that text.

2At this place Lacey first wrote, “by Bribing the Centary who has accompanied him I expect they will both,” but he replaced that text with the eight words following.

3The village of Flourtown in Springfield Township of Philadelphia (now Montgomery) County, was located about twelve miles northwest of Philadelphia, near Whitemarsh.

4The Royal Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia) of 21 April briefly reported this engagement: “On Thursday evening last [16 April], a detachment consisting of a party of the British and Philadelphia light dragoons, left this city, and proceeded to Bristol, where they surprized and took prisoners, twelve officers and thirty-two privates; among the officers were two Colonels and a Major.” Hessian officer Friedrich von Muenchhausen noted that the detachment consisted of “160 dragoons, supported by a rear guard of 300 light infantry” and that it “brought back 13 officers and 46 men, and others,” including “two sea captains who had just disembarked from the galleys, etc., which lay at anchor at Bristol” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 50–51). For additional accounts, with varying reports of the numbers captured, see Gruber, Peebles’ American War description begins Ira D. Gruber, ed. John Peebles’ American War: The Diary of a Scottish Grenadier, 1776–1782. Mechanicsburg, Pa., 1998. description ends , 175; Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 485–86; and Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 166. Whether Joseph Penrose, a former colonel of the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment who had a country seat on the Bristol Road in Bucks County, about fourteen miles from Philadelphia, was captured is not known. Among those captured were Asher Carter, a Bucks County militia lieutenant, John Green, an ensign of the Bucks County militia, James Leddin, a Continental wagon master, and Daniel Kennedy, adjutant of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment (Ford, “British and American Prisoners,” description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford. “British and American Prisoners of War, 1778.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 17 (1893): 159–74, 316–24. description ends 169, 171–72; Return of American Officers and Other Prisoners on Parole on Long Island, n.d., DNA: RG 93, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775–1783).

5See Thomas Wharton, Jr., to Lacey, 27 Mar. and 4 April (PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790; see also Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 6:390–91, 398–90).

6This return has not been identified, but Lacey later reported to Maj. Gen. John Armstrong that on 19 April his forces consisted of “Two hundred and fifteen present, fit for duty—36 on command” (Register of Pennsylvania, 30 May 1829, p. 142 [342]).

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