January 21, 1777

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General John Burgoyne submits a plan to the government designed to isolate New England from the other colonies.

General Washington writes to Brigadier General Philemon Dickinson about a disturbing phenomenon among the troops:  “Genl Putnam communicated to me last Night the disagreeable Account that Lt. Colo. Preston’s party of Militia from Cumberland County in this State has deserted him; This practise in the Militia so generally prevails, that unless some effectual Check can be speedily applied I apprehend the most fatal Consequences. The Mischief is not confined to the Desertion alone, They stay ’till they are properly equipped to render essential Service, and by that Means plunder the Public of the Necessaries that were at first otherwise intended & would be better applied.  Now I recommend to you That you call immediately into service (by such Ways as you think best) at least one third of all the Militia of this State, making it generally known amongst them that they must come prepared to stay ’till the first of April, unless sooner discharged by Authority—It will occur to them That nothing but their most vigorous Exertion at this Time will enable me to oppose any design of the Enemy, & that therefore they ought to continue with me ’till relieved by the Regular Troops now raising—I mean however that every possible Indulgence should be shewn to those Men who have been in actual Service & were regularly discharged; and that no Excuse shall be admitted for those who have shamefully remained at Home when their everything was at Stake.”

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January 20, 1777

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A skirmish between British foragers and militia occurs around the Somerset Court House.  This is known as the Battle of Millstone and is considered an American victory.

John Adams writes to Abigail about his continued trip.  This Morning We crossed the North River at Poughkeepsie, on the Ice, after having ridden many Miles on the East side of it to find a proper Place. We landed at New Marlborough, and passed through that and Newborough [Newburgh] to New Windsor, where We dined. This Place is nearly opposite to Fish kill, and but little above the Highlands, where Fort Constitution and Fort Montgomery stand. The Highlands are a grand Sight, a range of vast Mountains, which seem to be rolling like a tumbling Sea.—From New Windser, We came to this Place, Where We put up, and now We have a free and uninterrupted Passage in a good Road to Pensilvania.  General Washington with his little Army is at Morris town. Cornwallis with his larger one at Brunswick. Oh that the Continental Army was full. Now is the Time.  My little Horse holds out, finely, altho We have lost much Time and travelled a great deal of unnecessary Way, to get over the North River.  We have Reports of our Peoples taking Fort Washington again, and taking 400 more Prisoners and six more Pieces of Cannon—but as I know not the Persons who bring these Accounts I pay no Attention to them.”  Good thing that Adams discounted such rumors, since they were absolutely untrue.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours, including the best tour regarding the crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton in existence!  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

 

January 19, 1777

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Congress reprints the Declaration of Independence with the names of all the signers.

John Adams, as he does his best to make it home to Braintree, takes note of the attitudes of the citizenry in a letter to Abigail:  “There is too much Ice in Hudsons River to cross it in Ferry Boats and too little to cross it, without, in most Places, which has given Us the Trouble of riding up the Albany Road as far as this Place, where We expect to go over on the Ice, but if We should be dissappointed here, We must go up as far as Esopus about fifteen miles farther.  This, as well as Fish-kill is a pretty Village. We are almost wholly among the Dutch—Zealous against the Tories, who have not half the Tranquillity here that they have in the Town of Boston, after all the Noise that has been made about N. York Tories.  We are treated with the Utmost Respect, wherever We go, and have met with nothing like an Insult, from any Person whatever. I heard ten Reflections, and twenty Sighs and Groans, among my Constituents to one here.  I shall never have done hoping that my Countrymen will contrive some Coup de main, for the Wretches at Newport. The Winter is the Time. Our Enemies have divided their Force. Let Us take Advantage of it.”

Benjamin Franklin responds to a letter from Juliana Ritchie which warned Franklin about a number of conjectures, including the possibility that his valet was a British spy.  “Madam, I am much oblig’d to you for your kind Attention to my Welfare, in the Information you give me. I have no doubt of its being well founded. But as it is impossible to discover in every case the Falsity of pretended Friends who would know our Affairs; and more so to prevent being watch’d by Spies, when interested People may think proper to place them for that purpose; I have long observ’d one Rule which prevents any Inconvenience from such Practices. It is simply this, to be concern’d in no Affairs that I should blush to have made publick; and to do nothing but what Spies may see and welcome. When a Man’s Actions are just and honourable, the more they are known, the more his Reputation is increas’d and establish’d. If I was sure therefore that my Valet de Place was a Spy, as probably he is, I think I should not discharge him for that, if in other Respects I lik’d him.  The various Conjectures you mention concerning my Business here, must have their Course. They amuse those that make them, and some of those that hear them; they do me no harm, and therefore it is not necessary that I should take the least Pains to rectify them. I am glad to learn that you are in a Situation that is agreeable to you, and that Mr. Richie was lately well. My Daughter and her Children were so when I left them, but I have lost my dear Mrs. Franklin now two Years since.”

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January 15, 1777

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Vermont declares itself an independent state and petitions Congress to join the union, thus splitting away from Connecticut.

George Washington writes to Philip Schuyler:  “The pleasure I felt on Learning your Success At Trentown Occassioned Feelings which are Better Conceived than discribed, I very Sincerely congratulate you on that Event and the Succeding ones, may Heaven Continue To Crown you with a Succession of Laurels, and make you the happy Instrument of preserving Liberty to this much Injured Country.  About one Thousand men from the Massachusetts engaged for three month are marched to Tionderoga none are yet moved from any of the other States, Altho I have made the most Pressing Applications, Colo. Wayne Gives me hopes that the Pensylvanians will not Leave the post untill regularly relieved, But should the relief be Withheld too Long, I fear their patience will wear out and that they will come away, At Present there is nothing to Apprehend, But when Lake Champlain is Frozen over we ought to have a very strong Garrison Least the Enemy Should Attempt a Coup-de-main.  Van Schaicks Regiment which is raising in The neighbourhood of Albany, Consists of about four hundred men, But with every Effort I have not been able to Procure more then one Hundred Blankets, so that not more than that number of men are as yet Marched to garrison Fort George, which was abandoned by Colo. Phinneys Regiment.  I am makeing every preparation for next Campaign which I Possibly can, but the great Scarcity of Materials retards every work and where to procure a Competent number of Cannon I do not know, by the Inclosed you will see what I expect from Connecticut my application to the other Eastern States have Proved frutless, I arrived here on the 12th Instant to Sollicet an aid of many articles I stood in need of, none of which I can procure Because the Convention has not any of them.  I am so much Indisposed that I write with great Pain and therefore beg Leave to refer Your Excellency to the Inclosed Copy of a Letter to Congress.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours, including the best tour regarding the crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton in existence!  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

 

 

January 12, 1777

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Benjamin Franklin writes to his friend, Mary Hewson, and notes the new clothing style he is sporting in order to impress the French with the honest republicanism of his country:  “My dear dear Polley – Figure to yourself an old Man with grey Hair appearing under a Martin Fur Cap, among the Powder’d Heads of Paris.  It is this odd Figure that salutes you; with Handfuls of Blessings on you and your dear little ones.”

Meanwhile, George Washington writes to congress about his concerns over the treatment by the British of American prisoners:  “I have your several Favors of the 7th and 9th instant. Complaints of the usage of the prisoners both in the land and Sea Service have been the subjects of many of my Letters to Lord and General Howe, but all the Satisfaction or Answer, that I could ever obtain, was, that the Reports were groundless. However upon the Authority of Capt. Gambles relation, and the miserable emaciated Countenances of those poor Creatures who have lately been released, I shall take the Liberty of remonstrating sharply to his Lordship and the General, and let them know in very plain terms, that if their rule of Conduct towards our prisoners is not altered, we shall be obliged, however disagreeable it may be, to make retaliation.  I think your plan of appointing Agents to attend the prisoners would answer many good purposes, that particularly of seeing them regularly and honestly supplied with whatever their Allowance may be. And then any Accounts of ill Usage coming thrô them, would be so authentic, that we might safely proceed to take such measures towards their prisoners as would be fully justifiable.”

To John Hancock, President of the Congress, Washington writes concerning his attempts to trade prisoners with the British in order to obtain the release of Charles Lee:  “I am honored with yours of the 6th inclosing several Resolves of Congress respecting an Exchange to be proposed between General Lee and the Hessian Feild Officers taken at Trenton. Colo. Rall died the day after the Action and we left one of the Majors so ill of his Wounds, that I am in doubt of his recovery. I can however make an Offer of all that remain, in exchange for Genl Lee, except one, who you order to be proposed by Colo. Allen.  If the offer is rejected by Genl Howe, I shall think myself then at liberty to remonstrate to him on his treatment of Genl Lee. If he will not exchange him, he should at least admit him to his Parole, as we have ever done their prisoners who have fallen into our Hands.  I understand from undoubted Authority, that they intend to try the General by a Court Martial, as a deserter from their Service, pretending that his Resignation was never accepted of. But I shall inform General Howe that if any such Step is taken, under so shallow and illegal a pretext, and their Sentence should extend either to affect his Life or Liberty, that they may depend upon the most severe and adequate Retaliation upon our part.”   It was not until years after Lee’s death that evidence was recovered showing his aid to the British during his time as prisoner .

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours, including the best tour regarding the crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton in existence!  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

 

 

January 9, 1777

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George Washington writes General Orders complimenting those who burned down houses that were being used by Loyalists near Bunkers Hill:  “The General thanks Major Knolton, and the Officers and Soldiers, who were under his command last night; for the Spirit, Conduct and Secrecy, with which they burnt the Houses, near the Enemy’s works, upon Bunkers-hill—The General was in a more particular manner pleased, with the resolution the party discover’d in not firing a Shot; as nothing betrays greater signs of fear, and less of the soldier, than to begin a loose, undirected and unmeaning Fire, from whence no good can result, nor any valuable purposes answer’d.  It is almost certain, that the enemy will attempt to revenge the Insult, which was cast upon them last Night, for which reason the greatest Vigilance, and Care, is recommended; as it also is, that the out-posts be always guarded by experienced Officers, and good Soldiers, who are to be considered in other duties: It is also again, and again ordered, that the men are not suffered to ramble from, or lie out of their quarters, contrary to repeated Orders on this head, and that their Arms, and Accoutrements, be always in order.  To remove present doubts and prevent future Mistakes, it is hereby expressly order’d and directed, that no persons do proceed to discharge the duty of any Office, without a regular Appointment, by Commission from the Congress, Warrant or General Order from the Commander in Chief; no allowance will be made to any one, who acts contrary to this order: All Persons therefore for their own-sakes are desired to take notice of it, and govern themselves accordingly, that no Complaints may hereafter be exhibited for services unwarranted.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

 

 

January 8, 1777

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The Royal Governor of East Florida, Patrick Tonyn, writes to Lord Germain that the estates of Sir James Wright (Royal Governor of Georgia and South Carolina) and others have been seized in Georgia.  A battery is being built at Tybee Island, Georgia.

British withdraw all forces from New Jersey except posts at West Brunswick and Perth Amboy.

John Adams writes the following letter to Mercy Otis Warren:  “Pray Madam, are you for an American Monarchy or Republic? Monarchy is the genteelest and most fashionable Government, and I dont know why the Ladies ought not to consult Elegance and the Fashion as well in Government as Gowns, Bureaus or Chariots.For my own Part, I am so tasteless as to prefer a Republic, if We must erect an independent Government in America, which you know is utterly against my Inclination. But a Republic, altho it will infallibly beggar me and my Children, will produce Strength, Hardiness Activity Courage Fortitude and Enterprice; the manly, noble and Sublime Qualities in human Nature, in Abundance.  A Monarchy would probably, somehow or other make me rich, but it would produce So much Taste and Politeness, So much Elegance in Dress, Furniture, Equipage, So much Musick and Dancing, So much Fencing and Skaiting; So much Cards and Backgammon; so much Horse Racing and Cock fighting; so many Balls and Assemblies, so many Plays and Concerts that the very Imagination of them makes me feel vain, light, frivolous and insignificant.  It is the Form of Government, which gives the decisive Colour to the Manners of the People, more than any other Thing. Under a well regulated Commonwealth, the People must be wise virtuous and cannot be otherwise. Under a Monarchy they may be as vicious and foolish as they please, nay they cannot but be vicious and foolish. As Politicks therefore is the Science of human Happiness, and human Happiness is clearly best promoted by Virtue, what thorough Politician can hesitate, who has a new Government to build whether to prefer a Commonwealth or a Monarchy? But Madam there is one Difficulty, which I know not how to get over.  Virtue and Simplicity of Manners, are indispensably necessary in a Republic, among all orders and Degrees of Men. But there is So much Rascallity, so much Venality and Corruption, so much Avarice and Ambition, such a Rage for Profit and Commerce among all Ranks and Degrees of Men even in America, that I sometimes doubt whether there is public Virtue enough to support a Republic. There are two Vices most detestably predominant in every Part of America that I have yet seen, which are as incompatible with the Spirit of a Commonwealth as Light is with Darkness, I mean Servility and Flattery. A genuine Republican can no more fawn and cringe than he can domineer. Shew me the American who can not do all. I know two or Three I think, and very few more.  However, it is the Part of a great Politician to make the Character of his People; to extinguish among them, the Follies and Vices that he sees, and to create in them the Virtues and Abilities which he sees wanting. I wish I was sure that America has one such Politician, but I fear she has not.  [. . .] Letter begun in Gaiety, is likely to have [ . . . conc]lusion while I was writing the last Word [. . .] Paragraph; my Attention was called off [. . .] and most melodious sounds my Ears [ . . . Can]non Mortars and Musquettes.  A very hot Fire both of Artillery and small Arms has continued for half an Hour, and has been succeded by a luminous Phoenomenon, over Braintree North Common occasioned by Burning Buildings I suppose.  Whether our People have attacked or defended, been victorious or vanquished, is to me totally uncertain. But in Either Case I rejoice, for a Defeat appears to me preferable to total Inaction.  May the Supreme Ruler of Events, overrule in our Favour! But if the Event of this Evening is unfortunated I think We ought at all Hazards, and at any Loss to retrieve it tomorrow. I hope the Militia will be ready and our Honour be retrieved by making Boston our own. I shall be in suspense this Night, but very willing to take my Place with my Neighbours tomorrow, and crush the Power of the Enemies or suffer under it.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.