December 10, 1776

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The Congress prepares and publishes an address to the American people.  It is a plea for military support against the advancing British army.  “What a pity it is then that the rich and populous city of Philadelphia should fall into the enemy’s hands.”

General Washington is uncertain whether General Charles Cornwallis will cross the Delaware above here or below from Trenton.  He also writes to General Charles Lee at Chatham, New Jersey, once again requesting that he join him to save Philadelphia:  “I last night received your favor by Colo. Humpton & were it not for the weak and feeble state of the force I have, I should highly approve of your hanging on the Rear of the Enemy and establishing the Post you mention; But when my situation is directly opposite to what you suppose it to be, and when Genl Howe is pressing forward with the whole of his Army except the Troops that were lately embarked & a few besides left at N. York, to possess himself of Philadelphia, I cannot but request and entreat you & this too by the advice of all the Genl Officers with me, to march and join me with your whole force with all possible expedition. The utmost exertions that can be made, will not be more than sufficient to save Philadelphia, without the aid of your force, I think there is but little if any prospect of doing it. I refer you to the Route Majr Hoops would inform you of. The Enemy are now extended along the Delaware at Several places. By a prisoner who was taken last night, I am told that at Penny Town there are two Battallions of Infantry—3 of Grenadiers, The Hessian Grenadiers, 42d of Highlanders & 2 Others—Their object doubtless is to pass the river above us or to prevent your joining me. I mention this that you may avail yourself of the information. do come on, your arrival may be happy & if it can be effected without delay may be the means of preservg a City whose loss must prove of the most fatal consequence to the Cause of America. I am &c.

pray exert your influence & bring with you All the Jersey Militia you possibly can, Let them not suppose their State is lost or in any danger because the Enemy are pushing thro it. if you think Genl Sinclair or Genl Maxwell would be of Service to command em I would send either.”

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.

 

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December 8, 1776

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From the Falls of the Delaware, across from Trenton, New Jersey, General Washington reports his further retreat to congress:  “Colo. Reed would inform you of the Intelligence which I first met with on the Road from Trenton to Princeton Yesterday. Before I got to the latter, I received a Second express informing me, that as the Enemy were advancing by different Routs and attempting by One to get in the rear of our Troops which were there & whose numbers were small and the place by no means defensible, they had judged it prudent to retreat to Trenton—The retreat was accordingly made, and since to this side of the River.  This information I thought it my duty to communicate as soon as possible, as there is not a moments time to be lost in assembling such force as can be collected and as the object of the Enemy cannot now be doubted in the smallest degree. Indeed I shall be out in my conjecture (for it is only conjecture), if the late imbarkation at New York, is not for Delaware river, to cooperate with the Army under the immediate command of Genl Howe, who I am informed from good authority is with the British Troops and his whole force upon this Route.  I have no certain intelligence of Genl Lee, although I have sent frequent Expresses to him and lately a Colo. Humpton to bring me some accurate Accounts of his situation. I last night dispatched another Gentn to him—Major Hoops, desiring he would hasten his march to the Delaware in which I would provide Boats near a place called Alexandria for the transportation of his Troops. I can not account for the slowness of his March.  In the disordered & moving state of the Army I cannot get returns, but from the best accounts we had between Three thousand & 3500 Men before the Philadelphia Militia and German Batallion arrived, they amount to about Two thousand.”

Meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin writes to Congress to apprise then that he has arrived in France:  “Our Friends in France have been a good deal dejected with the Gazette Accounts of Advantages obtain’d against us by the British Troops. I have help’d them here to recover their Spirits a little, by assuring them that we shall face the Enemy, and were under no Apprehensions of their two Armies being able to compleat their Junction. I understand Mr. Lee has lately been at Paris, that Mr. Deane is still there, and that an underhand Supply is obtain’d from the Government of 200 brass Field Pieces, 30,000 Firelocks, and some other military Stores which are now shipping for America, and will be convoy’d by a Ship of War. The Court of England, Mr. Penet tells me (from whom I have the above Intelligence) had the Folly to demand Mr. Deane to be deliver’d up, but were refus’d. Our Voyage tho’ not long was rough, and I feel myself weakned by it: But I now recover Strength daily, and in a few days shall be able to undertake the Journey to Paris. I have not yet taken any publick Character, thinking it prudent first to know whether the Court is ready and willing to receive Ministers publicly from the Congress; that we may neither embarras her on the one hand, or subject ourselves to the Hazard of a disgraceful Refusal on the other. I have dispatch’d an Express to Mr. Deane, with the Letters I had for him from the Committee, and a Copy of our Commission, that he may immediately make the proper Enquiries, and give me Information. In the mean time, I find it is generally suppos’d here that I am sent to negociate, and that Opinion appears to give great Pleasure, if I can judge by the extream Civilities I meet with from Numbers of the principal People, who have done me the Honour to visit me. I have desired Mr. Deane, by some speedy and safe Means to give Mr. Lee Notice of his Appointment. I find several Vessels here laden with military Stores for America, just ready to sail: On the whole there is the greatest Prospect that we shall be well provided for another Campaign, and much stronger than we were the last. A Spanish Fleet has sail’d, with 7000 Land Forces, Foot, and some Horse. Their Destination unknown, but suppos’d against the Portuguese in Brasil. Both France and England are preparing strong Fleets, and it is said that all the Powers of Europe are preparing for War, apprehending a general one cannot be very distant. When I arrive at Paris, I shall be able to write with more Certainty.”

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.

 

December 6, 1776

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Major General Robertson orders that soldiers are not to pull down houses, fences, or damage the property of any person whatever under severe penalty.

George Washington writes the following letter to John Hancock, the President of the Congress:  “I have not received any intelligence of the Enemy’s movements since my Letter of Yesterday; from every information, they still remain at Brunswic, except some of their parties who are advanced a small distance on this side. to day I shall set out for Princeton myself, unless something should occur to prevent me, which I do not expect.

By a Letter of the 4th Inst. from a Mr Caldwell, a Clergyman & a Staunch friend to the Cause & who has fled from Eliz. Town & taken refuge in the Mountains about Ten miles from thence, I am inform’d that Genl or Lord Howe was expected in that Town to publish pardon & peace. His words are, “I have not seen his Proclamation, but can only say, he gives 60 days of Grace & Pardons from the Congress down to the Committee. No one man in the Continent is to be denied his Mercy.[”] In the language of this Good man, the Lord deliver us from his mercy.”

Major General William Heath writes to George Washington about a citing of General Clinton’s ships travelling toward Rhode Island.  I have Just received Intelligence that on the 4th Instant about Sun sit Seventy Sail of ships of war and Transport with Troops on Board Sailed with a fair Wind Down the Sound towards New England, Probably to Rhode Island.

I have Sent an Express to Governor Trumbull, and to Massachusetts Bay, and have Desired Governor Trumbull to Send an Express to Rhode Island, I have at this Post, Three Regiments of General Parsons’s Brigade and Three of General Clintons, and a number of Convalisents Lame and Rag[g]ed left By General Lee, General Clinton is pushing the obstructions in the River, any orders from your Excellency to move the Troops or any Part of them shall be Instantly obeyed, by him who has the Honor to be with the greatest respect

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.

 

 

December 1, 1776

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George Washington writes to Congress on this day that he did not have the troops to stop the enemy at the Raritan River and had started moving stores toward Philadelphia.

British Corporal Thomas Sullivan heard that General Charles Corwallis’ vanguard had reached New Brunswick and found the bridge destroyed and was unable to follow the “enemy” to Princeton.

Mercy Otis Warren writes to her friend Abigail Adams, voicing the concerns all parents of their time lived with.  “It is A Long time since I had the Happiness of hearing from my Braintree Friends. Dos my dear Mrs. Adams think I am Indebted a Letter. If she dos Let her Recollect A Moment and she will find she is mistaken. Or is she so wholly Engrossed with the Ideas of her own Happiness as to think Little of the absent. Why should I Interrupt for a moment if this is the Case, the Vivacity and Cheerfulness of Portia Encircled by her Children in full health (her kind Companion sharing this felicity,) to Look in upon her Friend in this hour of solitude, my Husband at Boston, my Eldest son abscent, my other four at an Hospital Ill with the small pox, my Father on a bed of pain Verging fast towards the Closing scene, no sisters at hand nor Even a Friend to step in and shorten the tedious hour. I feel with the poet, ’poor is the Friendless Master of a World.’ But before I quit talking of myself I must tell you that the Lovely Image of Hope still spreads her silken Wing, and Resting on her pinion I sooth myself into tranquility and peace amidst this Group of painful Circumstances. A few days will make a very material Change in the feelings of my Heart. It may be filled with the Highest sentiments of Gratitude for the preservation and Recovery of my Children, with their Father siting by my side partaking the Delight. Or! I May—My pen trembles. I have not the Courage to Reverse the scene. I Leave the Theme, When you in unison with my soul shall Have Breathed a sigh that your Friend may be prepared for Every designation of providence.”

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 American History Vacation Packages

 

 

 

November 25, 1776

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British Colonel Guy Johnson, Indian Superintendent in New York, reports to Lord Germain in England that the Indians have kept their promises to him of last year and that he had sent an officer in disguise to the Six Nations.

In New York, William Franklin writes in a letter to his wife in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, regarding their son going to Paris with his father, Benjamin, “if the old gentleman has taken the boy with him, I hope it is only to put him in some foreign university, which he seemed anxious to do when he spoke to me last about his education.”  William and Benjamin are at odds, since William has chosen to support the British in the conflict.

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November 23, 1776

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George Washington has 5,410 troops with him.  Enlistments for 2,060 will expire on December 1st.  Congress sent Washington a supply of blank commissions to issue at headquarters.  Washington writes the following letter to John Hancock, President of the Congress:  “I have not yet heard that any Provision is making to supply the place of the Troops composing the Flying Camp, whose departure is now at hand. The situation of our Affairs is truly critical & such as requires uncommon exertions on our part. From the movements of the Enemy & the information we have received, they certainly will make a push to possess themselves of this part of the Jersey. In order that you may be fully apprized of our Weakness and of the necessity there is of our obtaining early Succours, I have by the advice of the Genl Officers here, directed Genl Mifflin to wait on you. he is intimately acqu[ainte]d with our circumstances and will represent them better, than my hurried state will allow. I have wrote to Genl Lee to come over with the Continental Regiments immediately under his command; those with Genl Heath, I have ordered to secure the Passes, through the Highlands; I have also wrote to Govr Livingston requesting of him such aid as may be in his power, and would submit it to the consideration of Congress, whether application should not be made for part of the Pensylvania Militia to step forth at this pressing time.

Menawhile, in New York City, British General Orders assign troops for winter residence, order the outlines of old Fort Washington leveled and usable construction materials to be sent to New York.

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 those interested in the Civil War, come see our Gettysburg Tour and check out our exciting new blog.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

 

November 16, 1776

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General Washington began the day at Fort Lee with Generals Greene and Putnam, trying to get reinforcements to Fort Washington.

The Battle of Fort Washington takes place.  American troops were under Colonel Robert Macaw; he had 2,967 troops, 53 killed in action, 96 wounded n action, and a disastrous 2818 captured!  British General William Howe has 8,000 troops, 78 killed in action, 374 wounded in action, Hessians have 272 wounded in action and 58 killed in action.

The blame will fall on Greene and Washington for allowing so many troops to reman and to be captured.

While the British were attacking Fort Washington, Lord Hugh Perry and a column of men drove the American pickets from Harlem Cove.  Once accomplished, the British launched an attack on old Harlem Heights.

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 those interested in the Civil War, come see our Gettysburg Tour.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.