George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Allen McLane, 3 June 1778

From Captain Allen McLane

Seven oclock Wednesday [3 June 1778]

Dear sir,

Yesterday evening the enemy began to demolish their new Redouts about dusk I moved down with a small party of horse in order to alarm them and make discoveries—found two parties very busy—the horse charged within musket shot—the enemy ran in great confusion—the drums beat to arms—after some time they moved the lines—we returned with 4 valuable horses in the night one of my spies came to me, informed me that 1000 men were ordered to parade at 10 oclock—He conjectured they were to demolish their works. I keep close to them till 3 oclock this morning—Could hear them at work about daylight; all the shipping dropped down about the same time, the light army advanced by two different roads—Limekill & new German Town Roads. They have several pices of Canon and a number of waggons. I believe this to be their last visit in this quarter—They are halted about Allens’ house—enclosed you have a note of intelligence from a friend in the city.1 With great respect, Yr humble servt

Allen McLane Capt.

Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

1The enclosure has not been identified. British captain John Peebles wrote in his diary on this date that “last eveng. some of the Rebel light Horse came near the lines & attempted to take off some of the working party, but fail’d; early this morng. the two Battns. Light Infantry the 17th. & 27th. Regts. went out on the Germantown road where they met a few of the Rebels and took 4 light horse men, & return’d this forenoon” (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 , 186; for a more detailed account, see 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 , 495–96). The estate of William Allen, Sr., stood on the small hill known as Mount Airy, just northwest of Germantown on the Germantown Road. It was the scene of heavy fighting on 4 Oct. 1777.

GW’s aide James McHenry wrote McLane on this date, apparently in response to this letter: “I received yours of this morning.

“I have his Excellency’s permission to inform you that after the enemy evacuate the City, you are at liberty to enter it, in order to take care of your property. You are however first to march off your party, and put it under the command of a proper officer who is to observe the directions given you in case of their leaving Philadelphia.

“I would not wish you to communicate this indulgence of his Excellency as it may give room for other applications of a similar nature” (DLC:GW).

McLane replied to McHenry from “Garmintown Eight oClock thursday Evig,” 4 June: “This moment I had an intervew With one of my frinds out of the City he informes the Enemy have taken in a Number of horses for this two dayes past in fackt they have Streped Every farm from the york Road to the Deleware as high up as on a line With Busseltown theay Continue Preparin for a meove theay have Crossed over the Deleware all the Wagons fitt for Service This morning Drew Six dayes provitions the Carrigess that are prepared for Carring the pantoons have the horses and Gears—in Readyness for meoving the plank for laying the Bridg is also Readey this person is of the openion that a part of them Will Cross the Schuilkill this Night and Cross the Deleware at provance Island he informes the pantoons are of[f] the Carrigess and lay a long Side of them the people Coming out of the City inform the Enemy are imployed to day Strenthning theyr Works I can abserve a Numbr of men at Work but Cant Say for Wat purpose I Shall lay Close on them this Night” (DLC:GW). See also Philemon Dickinson to GW, 6 June, n.1.

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