George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Reed, 12 March 1779

From Joseph Reed

Philada March 12. 1779.

Dear Sir

Your Favour of the 3d Instt inclosed in one of the 4th came safely to Hand. At that Time & till this Day the Business to which they refer was transacted by a Committee of Assembly in Concert with one from Congress. Their Proceedings I only knew from common Report & were thought by some inadequate to the End.1 Yesterday Advice was received that the Indians had begun at a Place called Bushy Run about 20 Miles on this Side Fort Pitt & have killed & scalped four Families.2 This Morning the Assembly came to a Resolution to leave the whole Business to your Excelly, the Congress & the Executive Council3 and as the Intercourse by Letters on a Subject of this Kind will be very imperfect, I have concluded to wait on your Excelly at your Quarters with such Information & Intelligence as I can procure. In this Purpose I shall set out on Sunday Morning & if Weather or some other unforeseen Circumstance does not prevent I promise myself the Pleasure of seeing you on Monday Evening.4

The Ladies of my Family join me in the most respectful Compliments to Mrs Washington.5 I need not make Professions how much or how sin[c]erely I am Dear Sir, most respectfully & Affectionately Yours

J. Reed


1 Pennsylvania delegate Daniel Roberdeau advised the speaker of the Pennsylvania assembly on 16 Feb. that a committee from that body was desired to consult with a congressional committee on the perilous situation along the Pennsylvania frontiers, and on that same date, the assembly appointed nine of its members to comply with the request (see Roberdeau to John Bayard, 16 Feb., Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 12:83, and Pa. Gen. Assembly Minutes, Oct. 1778–Oct.1779 sess., 49–50; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:189).

2 The Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council minutes for this date indicate that a committee from the assembly “attended in Council, & communicated intelligence from Bushy run of the killing of a number of Men there by the Indians” (Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:718).

3 Reed is referring to a resolution that the Pennsylvania assembly passed on 11 March after considering the defense of the state, which reads: “That the several Papers upon that Subject now in the possession of the House be transmitted to Council, and that it be recommended to them to concert with Congress and with General Washington, the necessary measures for that purpose, and this House will provide funds to enable Council to carry such concerted measures into execution, so far as of right ought to be defrayed by this State” (Pa. Gen. Assembly Minutes, Oct. 1778–Oct. 1779 sess., 82).

4 Reed missed the meetings of the Pennsylvania council for the entire week beginning Monday, 15 March, apparently because of his trip to GW’s camp at Middlebrook, from which he returned to Philadelphia on 21 March feeling indisposed. The council met at Reed’s home at 6:00 P.M. on 22 March to hear Reed report, as summarized in the minutes, “that he had the satisfaction to assure that His Excell’y Gen’l Washington was taking vigorous measures for covering the frontiers of this State, and for making an attack upon the Indians in their own Country; And that the Army were in the best temper & disposition that could be wished” (Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:723–24).

5 The women of the Reed household included his wife, Esther, his mother-in-law, Martha DeBerdt, a widow who had resided with him since December 1770, and two young daughters, Martha (1771–1821) and Esther (1774–1847).

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