June 30, 1777

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General John Burgoyne’s army begins to arrive near Fort Ticonderoga.

British General William Howe leaves New Jersey for New York City and Staten Island.  He intends to carry out the plan to begin an offensive attack against Philadelphia.

George Washington’s aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, writes the following letter warning General Charles Scott about possible surprise attack from Great Britain:  “I wrote you this moment by His Excellency’s order; but he is so anxious you should be acquainted with his apprehensions on the score of the enemy’s leaving Amboy, with some of their stores remaining in it, that fearing a miscarriage of my former letter he desires me to write another to the same effect.  The enemy have had their own leisure to go off and carry whatever they thought proper. What then should induce them to leave any stores behind unless by way of ensnaring some party of ours that should be tempted by them to venture incautiously into the place they have quitted? This is much to be suspected, and you are strongly enjoined to reconnoitre well before you trust any part of your men into the Town. It will be the easiest matter in the world if you are not exceedingly vigilant to throw a party across the river upon your rear and intercept you. You had better not send your whole Brigade in; but only send in a small party to take possession of the stores, and convey as many out as you can to some other place. For this purpose you will collect as many waggons as you can about the neighbourhood. You are, by no means, to remain in Amboy all night; but retire immediately after you have put an end to any endeavours to carry off the remaining stores. Keep parties reconnoitring from Amboy to Elizabeth Town point and take every precaution to avoid a surprise.  I have ordered down provisions to Bonum Town. You can either go that place or send for the provisions from thence.

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May 29, 1777

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In the opening move of the campaign of 1777, General George Washington’s army marches from Morristown, New Jersey to Middle Brook Valley.

Benjamin Franklin wrote the following letter to George Washington:  “Count Pulawski of Poland, an Officer famous throughout Europe for his Bravery and Conduct in Defence of the Liberties of his Country against the three great invading Powers of Russia, Austria and Prussia, will have the Honour of delivering this into your Excellency’s Hands. The Court here have encouraged and promoted his Voyage, from an Opinion that he may be highly useful in our Service. Mr. Deane has written so fully concerning him, that I need not enlarge: and only add my Wishes that he may find in our Armies under your Excelly. Occasions of distinguishing himself.”

Of the many services Franklin gave to his country, his record of referring individuals from other countries here to help with the cause was exceptional, and included luminaries such as “The Baron” Von Steubon and Thomas Paine.  His referral of Pulaski was another striking example.  Pulaski would fight heroically in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, but was killed in the Seige of Savannah.

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.

 

 

 

April 25, 1777

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British troops under the command of General William Tryon attack Danbury, where they destroy houses, barns, storehouses, and more than 1,500 tents.  As the British withdraw they are attacked by American forces under Benedict Arnold, Davis Wooster, and Gold Silliman.  The outnumbered American troops are unable to stop the British who march through Ridgefield and Compo Hill, Connecticut enroute to their ships at Long Island Sound.  Thjis encounter lasted until April 28th.

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.

March 13, 1777

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Congress issues a call for qualified foreign military experts throughout Europe.

While patrolling waters off the coast of France, the USS Reprisal captures a British warship.  Lieutenant Lambert Wicks the commander takes what he needs, and hauls the ship to a nearby French port.

From Morristown, Alexander Hamilton writes to Major General Adam Stephen on behalf of General Washington regarding Washington’s insistence that members of the army receive small pox innoculations:  “In a letter Just received from Colonel Ward, there appears to be an objection made against innoculating his regiment, in consequence of some former order, not to innoculate Militia ’till all the Continental troops had undergone the operation. His Excellency desires that this objection, with respect to Colonel Wards regiment, should cease; and that they may immediately be admitted to the benefit of innoculation, in the usual proportion. He begs also that the present opportunity, while the roads continue incommodious for any movements of the enemy, may be improved to the greatest advantage, as we do not know how long it may last; and shall have no time to spare, even if the utmost diligence is used. There is no need to wait precisely for the moment the Hospital becomes vacant, before the infection is communicated to others. Four or five days before one set is fit to leave it, another set may be preparing to go in; which would save a great deal of time, and forward the business exceedingly. Let this be urged upon the Doctors, and every thing else done which may be conducive to dispatch, in a matter of so great importance.”

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March 9, 1777

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American troops under the command of Brigadier General William Maxwell defeated the British at Amboy, New Jersey.

John Adams writes to Nathanael Greene describing both the disappointments and the hopes regarding the army and its generals.  “I am not yet entirely convinced, that We are playing a desperate Game, tho I must confess that my feelings are somewhat less Sanguine than they were last June. This diminution of Confidence is owing to Disappointment. I then expected that the Enemy would have Seen two or three Bunker Hills, between the Point of Long Island and the Banks of the Delaware River. Two or three Such Actions would have answered my Purpose, perhaps one alone.  I have derived Consolation however, from these Disappointments; because the People have discovered a Patience under them, greater than might have been expected. It was not very surprising to me that our Troops Should fly in certain situations, and abandon Lines of such extent, at the sudden Appearance of a formidable Enemy in unexpected Places, because I had learn’d from Marshall Saxe, and from others that Such Behaviour was not only common but almost constant among the best regular Troops. But there was Reason to apprehend, that the People would be Seized with Such a Panick, upon Such a Series of ill success, that in the fright and Confusion whole States would have revolted, instead of a few paltry Individuals. Whereas every State has stood firm, and even the most confused and wavering of them, have gained Strength and improved in order, under all this Adversity. I therefore do not yet despair.  You Say you “are sensible I have not the most exalted Opinion of our Generals.” From this Expression I Suspect, that Some busy Body has been endeavouring to do Mischief, by Misrepresentation. Be this as it may, I am generally So well Satisfied in my own Opinions, as to avow them.  I dont expect to see Characters, either among the Statesmen or the Soldiers of a young and tender State like ours equal to Some, who were bred to the Contemplation of great Objects from their Childhood in older, and more powerfull Nations. Our Education, our Travel, our Experience has not been equal to the Pro­duction of such Characters, whatever our Genius may be which I have no Reason to Suspect to be less than that of any Nation under the sun.  I dont expect to see an Epaminondas, to be sure, because in the opinion of Dr. Swift all the Ages of the World have produced but Six such Characters, which makes the Chances much against our seeing any such. When such shall appear I shall certainly have an exalted opinion.

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untill then, I believe my Opinion of our Generals will continue not very exalted

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Notwithstanding this I have a sincere Esteem of our General Officers taken together as a Body, and believe them upon the whole the best Men for the Purpose that America affords. I think them Gentlemen of as good Sense, Education, Morals, Taste and Spirit as any we can find, and if this Opinion of them is not exalted enough I am Sorry for it but cannot help it. I hope however that my Opinion as well as that of the World in general, will be Somewhat more sublimated, before next Winter. I do assure you that two or three Bunker Hill Battles, altho they might be as unsuccessfull as that was would do it. I lament the Inexperience of all of them and I am Sure they have all Reason to lament mine. But not to disguise my sentiments at all, there are Some of them, particularly from New England that I begin to think quite unequal to the high Command they hold.  It is very true that Success generally marks the Man of Wisdom, and in Some Instances Injustice is done to unsuccessfull Merit: But Still it is generally true that Success is a Mark of Wisdom, and that Misfortunes are owing to Misconduct. The sense of Mankind has uniformly Supported this Opinion and therefore I cannot but think it just. The Same Sense, has uniformly attributed the ill Success of Armies to the Incapacity or other Imperfections of the General Officers, a Truth which I have Sometimes presumed to Hint to some of our General Officers, with whom I could make So free. There Seems to be Justice in this because the Glory of Successfull Wars is as uniformly attributed to them.  I shall join with you, very chearfully, in burying past Errors, and in wishing to concert and execute the most effectual Measures to free America, from her cruel oppressors.  You ask why G. Lee is denyed his Requests? You ask, can any Injury arise? Will it reflect any Dishonour upon Congress. I dont know that it would reflect any dishonour, nor was it refused upon that Principle. But Congress was of Opinion that great In­juries would arise. It would take up too much Time to recapitulate all the Arguments which were used upon occassion of his Letter. But Congress was never more unanimous, than upon that Question. Nobody I believe would have objected against a Conference, concerning his private Affairs or his particular Case. But it was inconceivable that a Conference should be necessary upon Such Subjects. Any Thing relative to those might have been conveyed by Letter. But it appears to be an Artfull Stratagem of the two gratefull Brothers to hold up to the public View the Phantom of a Negotiation, in order to give Spirit and Courage to the Tories, to distract and divide the Whiggs, at a critical Moment, when the Utmost Exertions are necessary to draw together an Army.  The Words of the Count La Tour, upon a similar Occasion, ought to be adopted by Us. ‘Remember that now there is room neither for Repentance, nor for Pardon. We must no longer reason, nor deliberate. We only want Concord and Steadiness.—The Lot is cast. If We prove victorious, We shall be a just free and Sovereign People; if We are conquered, We shall be Traitors, perjured Persons, and Rebels.’  But further. We see what use G. and the two Houses make of the former Conference with Lord How. What a Storm in England they are endeavouring to raise against Us from that Circumstance.  But another Thing. We have undoubted Intelligence from Europe, that the Embassadors and other Instruments of the B. Ministry at foreign Courts made the worst Use of the former Conference. That Conference did Us a great and essential Injury at the french Court you may depend Upon it. Ld How knows it—and wishes to repeat it.  ‘The Princes of the Union were not diligent enough in preparing for War: they Sufferd themselves to be amused with Proposals of Accommodation, they gave the League time to bring together great Forces, and after that, they could no longer brave it. They committed the fault which is very common in civil Wars viz that People endeavour to Save Appearances. If a Party would Save Appearances, they must lie quiet, but if they will not lie quiet, they must push Things to an Extremity, without keeping any Measures. It rarely happens, but that otherwise they are at once both criminal and unfortunate.’ Bailes Life of Gustavus Adolphus.  They meant farther to amuse Opposition in England, and to amuse foreign Nations by this Maneuvre, as well as the Whiggs in America, and I confess it is not without Indignation, that I See Such a Man as Lee Suffer himself to be duped by their Policy So far as to become the Instrument of it, as Sullivan was upon a former occasion. Congress is under no concern about any Use that the disaffected can make of this Refusal. They would have made the worst Use of a Conference. As to any Terms of Peace—look into the Speech to both Houses—the Answers of both Houses—look into the Proclamations.—it is useless to enumerate Particulars which prove that the Howes have no Power but to murder or disgrace Us.  The Retaliation that is to be practiced, on Lees Account, was determined on, when I was absent, So that I can give no Account of the Reasons for that Measure. Yet I have no doubt of the Right. And as to the disagreable Consequences you mention these I hope and presume will not take Place—if they do, they will be wholly chargeable on the Enemy. The End of Retaliation is to prevent a Repetition of the Injury. A Threat of Retaliation is to prevent an Injury, and it seldom fails of its design. In Lees Case, I am confident, it will Secure him good Treatment. If Lees Confinement is not Strict, that of Campbell and the Hessians ought not to be. The Intention was that they should be treated exactly as Lee is.  Our late Promotions may possibly give Disgust: But that cannot be avoided. This delicate Point of Honour, which is really one of the most putrid Corruptions of absolute Monarchy, I mean the Honour of maintaining a Rank Superiour to abler Men, I mean the Honour of preferring a single Step of Promotion to the Service of the Public, must be bridled. It is incompatible with republican Principles. I hope for my own Part that Congress will elect annually all the general officers—if in Consequence of this Some great Men should be obliged at the Years End to go home, and serve their Country in some other Capacity, not less necessary and better adapted to their Genius I dont think the public would be ruined. Perhaps it would be no Harm.  The Officers of the Army, ought to consider that the Rank, the Dignity, and the Rights of whole States, are of more Importance, than this Point of Honour, more indeed than the Solid Glory of any particular officer. The States insist with great Justice and Sound Policy, on having a Share of the General Officers, in Some Proportion to the Quotas of Troops they are to raise. This Princi­ple has occasioned many of our late Promotions, and it ought to Satisfy Gentlemen. But if it does not, they as well as the Public must abide the Consequences of their Discontent. I shall at all Times think myself happy to hear from you, my dear sir, and to give the Utmost Attention to whatever you may suggest. I hope I shall not often trouble you to Read So Long a Lurry of small Talk.”

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February 27, 1777

 

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In Baltmore, Congress adjourns and make plans to return to Philadelphia now that General Washington has eliminated the British threat to the city.

General Howe sends the following letter to General Washington, complaining of the treatment of some of his captured officers:  “Some Days having elapsed since the Conference between Lt Col. Walcott and Lt Col. Harrison without hearing from You for the further Prosecution of the Business relative to Prisoners of War, I am to trouble You with my Request to have a second Meeting at the same, or at any other Place You shall appoint, and to desire You will vest Lt Col. Harrison with proper Powers for reducing to the Form of a regular Cartel, the Agreement already concluded between us, for the Exchange of Prisoners.  With much Reluctance I am to remonstrate against the Treatment of Lt Col. Campbell of the 71st Regiment, who, Instead of being exchanged, to which he has an indubitable Right, is, I am credibly informed, put into close Confinement at Concord in the Massachusetts Bay, contrary to the Tenour of his Parole, which is binding to both Parties.  Serjeant McConkie and Serjeant Andrews are also, I hear, still in close Confinement in that Province.  These Grievances requiring Your immediate Interposition, I am hopeful You will give them the speediest Redress, and that All Prisoners of War at present in Your Possession, will be returned without further Delay; Their Detention being contrary to the Agreement subsisting between us. I am Sir, your most obedient humble Servant…”

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.