From Joseph Reed
Philada March 29. 1779
I have this Evening received your Favour of the 26th—The Appellation which Col. Proctor has given his Regiment is by no means a proper one. By an Act of Congress which has lately been recognized by an Act of Assembly & Council he is put upon the Line of the State for the Purposes of receiving those Benefits & Comforts which have been voted to the Troops of this State, but no farther. So that he still continues as much subject to the Commands of your Excelly as any other Regiment.1
I mentioned the Affair of Gen. Portail when I had the Pleasure of seeing you.2 Council have concluded to avoid all Reserve with Respect to him & assist him in his farther Prosecution of your Orders of the 30th June—but as it would be very acceptable to us if his Observations & Discoveries were kept as secret as is consistent with the effectual Execution of his Design I should be obliged to your Excelly if agreeable to hint the Propriety hereof to him as it would have more Weight & be better received than any Suggestion from us.3
Col. Proctor & his Officers are very urgent for a Supply of blue Cloth our Stock of which is very low—I am informed that the Men are to be cloathd in Black. Will it not be extraordinary that the Officers & Men should be in different Uniforms. Tho the Subject is apparently a triffling one it is made of some Importance here & I should be much obliged to you to direct either of the young Gentlemen to write me on the Subject.4 And also whether a Person from Philad. last Spring of the Name of Robert Shewell was not ordered by you out of Camp as a dangerous or dissaffected Character. I make no Doubt Mr Tilghman remembers the Circumstance & tho it may appear of little Consequence it is become connected with other Matters so as to be of some Importance.5
I make no Doubt but common Rumour will carry Reports to Camp of Dissensions here much beyond the real Fact. We have a fair Prospect of some harmonious Measures & nothing shall be left undone on my Part to pursue & affect them. The late Publication by the Committee of Congress gives very great Dissatisfaction—indeed it must be truly wonderful that the two great Events of Trenton & Princeton are wholly unnoticed tho our Enemies date all their Misfortunes from that Period—& indeed it is equally astonishing that in such a Compilement the Name of the Commander in Chief shuld not be mentioned from one End to the other. I do not recollect any Instance of the like in History.6 I am Dear Sir, very sincerely Your most Obed. & Affecty Hbble Serv.
1. The Pennsylvania assembly adopted a resolution on 12 March that adjudged Col. Thomas Proctor’s “Pennsylvania Regiment of Artillery” to be part of the state quota of Continental troops eligible for recruiting bounties from the state (see Pa. Gen. Assembly Minutes, Oct. 1778–Oct. 1779 sess., 82). This action confirmed a congressional resolution of 3 Sept. 1778 that passed after Proctor had written earlier that summer to the Board of War complaining that the state would not provide bounty money for his troops unless his regiment met part of Pennsylvania’s quota (see 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 , 12:865–66).
3. It became unnecessary for GW to contact Brig. Gen. Duportail (see GW to Reed, 5 April). In a letter of 30 June 1778, GW had ordered Duportail to survey Philadelphia and the adjacent Delaware River, and then propose a defensive plan. Busy completing a similar project for Boston, Duportail apparently did not turn his attention to Philadelphia until early 1779 when he approached the Board of War for men and equipment, prompting a letter of 22 Feb. from the Board of War to Reed seeking support from the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council for the French military engineer (see Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:201). Duportail’s insistence on keeping virtually all information from Reed and his fellow council members caused irritation and led them to withhold cooperation (see Board of War to Reed, 8 and 9 March, and Reed to Board of War, 8 March, Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:227–29, 232–33). For the resolution of this dispute, see GW to Duportail, this date, and Duportail to GW, 6 April.
5. For the letter of 5 April from GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman to Reed concerning the suspected spy Robert Shewell, Jr., see GW to Reed, 5 April, n.3. Robert Shewell, Jr. (c.1742 or c.1748–1797), ship captain and Philadelphia merchant, was driven from the Continental army camp at Valley Forge in May 1778 because of his Loyalist leanings. He returned to that camp in early June, however, to secure a pass from Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold that allowed the Charming Nancy, with a cargo of valuable goods, to sail from Philadelphia to any port in the United States not under British control, and to do so without interference from American privateers or officials. Shewell continued as a merchant in Philadelphia after the war. For Shewell’s notoriety on account of his connection with Arnold, an officer whose conduct had been censured by Reed and the Pennsylvania council earlier in 1779, see Richard K. Murdoch, “Benedict Arnold and the Owners of the Charming Nancy,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 84 (1960): 31–45 (see also GW to Reed, 9 Feb., and notes 1 and 2 to that document, and Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council to J. D. Sergeant, 30 March, Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:275).
6. Reed is referring to a congressional resolution adopted on 20 March that was drafted by delegates Gouverneur Morris, William Henry Drayton, and William Paca, who were made a committee on 4 March “to prepare a recommendation to the several states to set apart a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, and an earnest address to the inhabitants thereof to rouse them to vigorous exertions on the present critical situation of public affairs” (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 , 13:272). Subsequently printed as a broadside, the resolution incorporated several appeals to God, including, “That he will grant us Patience in Suffering, and Fortitude in Adversity: That he will inspire us with Humility, Moderation, and Gratitude in prosperous Circumstances: That he will give Wisdom to our Councils, Firmness to our Resolutions, and Victory to our Arms:... That he will bountifully continue his paternal Care to the Commander in Chief, and the Officers and Soldiers of the United States: That he will grant the Blessings of Peace to all contending Nations, Freedom to those who are in Bondage, and Comfort to the Afflicted: That he will diffuse Useful Knowledge, extend the Influence of True Religion, and give us that Peace of Mind which the World cannot give: That he will be our Shield in the Day of Battle, our Comforter in the Hour of Death, and our kind Parent and merciful Judge through Time and through Eternity” (facsimile, 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 , 12:212; 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 , 13:342–44). This recommendation for a fast day on 6 May 1779 officially came to the attention of Reed and the Pennsylvania council on 23 March, and they ordered compliance on 16 April (see Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:724, 751; see also John Jay to the States, 22 March, in 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 , 12:225).