George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Johnston, 9 June 1778

From John Johnston

June the 9th 1778

To his Excellency George Washington Esqr. Captain Genl & Commander In Chief of all the Forces of the United States of North America—The Petition of John Johnston of Upper Merion near the Gulph Mill Farmer

Humbly Sheweth

That on the Eleventh of Decr last your Petitioner was Plundered by the Brittish Army of almost every thing I had, (to a Considerable amount,)—Except my working horses. that when the army under Your Excellencie’s Command Marched from White Marsh to the Gulf1 a Number of them Encamped on my Land, & ab[u]rnt upwards of Ten thousand Rails—By which my Winter Crop is entirely ruined, & my Meadow & three Ortchards are left without any fence, that the Guards at the Gulph or Some of them make a Common Practice of taking my horses out of the Gears from me & riding them about two or three days, & Never less than One day & Night, by which Severe hard usuage my horse are not able to Do my own Work neither can I keep them one Whole day together at home May it Please Your Excellency to Put a Stop to the Practice of Officers Impressing of my horses & taking them by night, I have no Grain left To reap this next harvest & if I am deprived of Getting a fall Crop put In for another Season, I Shall be utterly ruined and distresed, Your Petitioner further humbly Prays that your Excellency will be so kind as to Grant me a Proctection for my horses & for three Yearling heifers which I Have Purchassed lately (which is all my Stocks) that none of them be taken From me and Your greatly distressed Petitioner as in duty bound Shall Pray &Ca

John Johnston

ADS, DLC: William A. Oldridge Collection.

Alexander Hamilton wrote the following letter to Col. Henry Jackson, who commanded a detachment at the Gulph, Pa., at the bottom of Johnston’s petition: “His Excellency desires you will put a stop, by every mean in your power to the above practice. Any officer who shall be found impressing this man’s horses without proper authority, will be most severely dealt with” (DLC: William A. Oldridge Collection).

Tench Tilghman had forwarded another complaint of this sort to Jackson on 14 May: “Philip Reese an inhabitant of the Gulf has been at Head Quarters with a complaint that some of the Officers of your detatchment have forcibly put some sick into his House altho’ there is an empty House, an empty School House and a Church, all more suitable for sick, in the Neighbourhood. He further says that they took his Feather Beds, Sheets & pillows from him. This is Mr Reese’s story, but as his Excellency does not chuse ever to give judgment ex parte, he desired me to inform you of it, with a wish that you would enquire into it, and if the man has been aggrieved, redress him” (NN: Myers Collection).

Another letter to Jackson from GW’s aide John Laurens, dated 30 May, respected a misunderstanding with Col. Daniel Morgan, who commanded another scout detachment, and British movements: “I am commanded by His Excellency to inform you that the order given by Col. Morgan, arose from a misapprehension of the extent of an order which had been sent from Head Quarters—The Letter which accompanies this will explain the matter to Colonel Morgan—You are to remain in your present position ’till further orders from the General. … The Officer who brought your Letter gives intelligence that 400 H[essian] Yagers and 50 british horses advanced as far as the 10 mile stone to day The General wishes to have the earliest intelligence of every move of the enemy” (PHi: Gratz Collection).

1GW’s headquarters were located near the Gulph, Pa., 13–19 Dec. 1777.

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