George Washington Papers

General Orders, 27 June 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters Penolopen [N.J.] Saturday June 27th 1778.

ParoleC. Signs

As we are now nigh the Enemy and of consequence Vigilance and Precaution more essentially necessary, the Commander in Chief desires and enjoins it upon all Officers to keep their Posts and their soldiers compact so as to be ready to form and march at a moments warning as circumstances may require.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

GW’s aide James McHenry wrote in his diary on this date: “March early in the Morning 6 Miles on the Road to English Town. The Enemy still on the Ground at Monmouth. The Marquis files off by the left of English Town to put us in a situation to co-operate. Major Gen. Lee thinks himself overlooked as being an old officer, in the commands being given to the Marquis. to prevent disunion Lee is detached with 2 Brigades to join the Marquis, & as senior officer, to the command—His detachment consists of 5,000 men, four fifths of whom were picked for this Service. Morgan hovering on the Enemies right-flank, & the Militia under Gen: Dickinson on their left. Their right stretched about one Mile & an half beyond Monmouth Court-House—in the parting of the Roads leading to Shrewsbury and middletown—and their left along the road from Allen Town to Monmouth, about Three Miles on this side the Court-House. Their right flank skirted by a small Wood—their left by a thick Forest—& morass running towards their rear—and their front covered by a Wood, & for a considerable extent to the left with a Morass. To night Gen. Lee receives orders to attack as soon as they begin their March” (NN: Emmet Collection; see also McHenry, Journal, 5).

Lt. Col. Henry Dearborn of the 3d New Hampshire Regiment, who marched with Lafayette’s detachment, wrote in his diary on this date: “we march.d Early this morning within one mile of the Enimy & ware ordered by an Express from Genrl. Washington to Counter March to where we Incamp’d Last night, & from thence to file off to English Town (which lay 7 miles on Our Left as we followed the Enimy) & their Join Genrl. Lee Who was there with 2000 men. the weather Remains very Exceeding Hot. & water is scarce we ariv.d at English Town about the middle of the Day & Incamp’d. the Enimy Remain at Monmouth. Genrl. Washington with the Grand army Lays about 5 mile in our Rear. Deserters Come in in Large numbers” (Dearborn, Journals, 125–26).

British captain John Peebles wrote in his diary on this date: “The army halted & recd. one days fresh & one days Salt Provision—Here the two Columns join, and ly Encamp’d on a very fine extensive plain in the Environs of the little Village at Monmouth Court House making a line of about 4 miles the front about NW. The flanks facing outwd. with now & then some little popping at the different out Guards, half a dozen of the Sculking rascals taken this morng. The Genl. officers quarter’d in the village—many of the Hessians deserting & some of the British, owing it is said to the prevailing opinion that we are going to abandon this Country the foreigners to go home & some of the British, the rest to different stations.—While Britain mourns her fate—a dozen British Grrs. taken this afternoon washing in the rear of the Camp” (Gruber, Peebles’ American War, 192–93).

Sometime in the afternoon on this date, GW called a meeting at Penelopen with major generals Charles Lee and Lafayette and brigadier generals Anthony Wayne, William Maxwell, and Charles Scott. No written record of the meeting exists, but GW certainly gave Lee, whose detachment at English Town now numbered about five thousand troops, orders to attack the British at Monmouth Court House in the morning. He did not specify how Lee was to carry out the attack but promised to keep his own force of approximately equal size within supporting distance. GW also allowed Lee to employ—or, in the event, not to employ—Maj. Gen. Philemon Dickinson’s 1,000 militia and Col. Daniel Morgan’s 600 light infantry as he pleased.

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