George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Benjamin Lincoln, 31 August 1781

Philadelphia 31st Augst 1781

Dear Sir

Upon Enquiry I have too much Reason to fear we shall not be able to secure Craft eno’ to embark all our Troops, Stores, Baggage, Cannon &ca upon the Water—in which Case some must go by Land—You will be pleased to consult Colo. Lamb, respecting the heavy Cannon, Carriages, Military Stores & Baggage, & find what will be most cumbersome & heavy to transport by land, & let that have the first Chance by Water—the Quantity of these you will best judge by the Number & kind of Craft which will be sent to you—many, if not all the covered Waggons, with some others, will possibly be found necessary to go by Land—with the light Field peices & perhaps some Cannon Carriages—the heavy Cannons, mortars, Hoitz’s—with Cloathg & Entrenchg Tools, will be most convenient to go by Water—the Cannon &ca to be divested of their Carriages.

Colo. Nelson at Trenton, informed me, that he tho’t a Ford might be found, by which the Waggons & Carriages might be safely passed across the Delaware, at that Place—and promised me to make the Experiment—you will consult him on that Subject.

When you are on the Rout from Trenton, I fancy there is a Road, leading direct to a Ford across the Neshammeny Creek above the Ferry a mile as you pass from Bristol—if so, it will be most expeditious to pass the waggons & artillery by that Rout, without going to Bristol, & avoiding the Ferry, which will be troublesome & occasion much Delay—I passed myself by this Ford, & think you will find such a Road as I mention. The Troops are to cross at the ferry.

The Troops which are the lightest & best able to march—and such as are least suspected of Desertion, from Disaffection, Want of Pay, or any other Circumstance, will, if Craft should fail, be best to march by Land.

You will send down, as soon as the first Opportunity presents, 100 picked Men, who are acquainted with the Water, & who are the most suitable on other Accounts, to assist in Embarkg & forwarding the Stores at this Place under active officrs.

Genl Knoxs Letter, which accompanies this, will help you to determine respecting the Conveyance of the Cannon & Military Stores.

The Waggons & whatever else go by Land, will proceed by the shortest Rout, immediately to the Head of Elk—There is no better rout than by this City—the march will be so ordered as not to encamp by or near this City—the Troops who march by Land, will move on by slow & easy marches—that they may not be fatigued.

You will appoint an active officer to superintend, the Embarkation at Trenton—whose Arrangements must be callculated for Dispatch, & to save Confusion—another Officer of like Character must go on with the first Embarkation to Christiana, to Superintend the Debarkation—with this officer, some Troops must go down to the Place of Debarkation—to assist in unloadg & forwardg the Stores &ca.

You will please to use every Exertion for Dispatch in your movement—as not a moments Time is to be lost. With much Regard & Esteem I am D. Sir Your most Obedt Servant

Go: Washington

P.S. inclosed is a List of Craft sent up—the Topsail Vessels will not be sent—& the Wood Craft will be wanted for other Purposes here—Send down Colo. Guvion to me as soon as possible—prepared to go on directly to Virginia.


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