December 13, 1777

General Conway

In a direct rebuff of General Washington, Congressestablishes the Inspector General Department of the Continental Army, andpromotes General Thomas Conway to Major General above other senior Generals andin a position that, from the civil side, is equal to that of Washington.  This indicates a move by several in congressto replace Washington with General Horatio Gates, who has had more success oflate.  Thomas Conway had been involved inwhat historians call the “Conway cabal,” which was a loose attempt by severalin the army and out of the army to replace Washington with Gates.  As a younger man Washington would haveresponded to this action with an angry letter of resignation, but this olderand wiser Washington will bide his time.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours forPhiladelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours. Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to IndependenceHall, 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 forour Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg

December 12, 1777

George Washington

A parol boat sent out from the HMS Emerald, anchored in the PotomacRiver, is captured by local militia while on guard duty.

George Washington writes to William Shippen regarding the care of the armies sick and injured:  “In answer to your Favor of today, I cannot think Princeton underthe present situation of affairs by any means a proper place for the sick.Should they remain there they would be liable to be taken. At the same time, Ido not wish you to precipitate their removal in such a manner as to endangerthem. In respect to the Hospitals at Easton & Bethelem, I also am ofOpinion, that they should be removed. But these, as their situation is not sodangerous, may be deferred till the last. We must keep the Sick always in theRear of the Army, or they will be subject to captivity. As to Colonel Nichola& his Corps I shall have no Objection to their being at the Hospitals, ifthere is no Resolution of Congress assigning them to other duty. Colonel Nichola will know if this is the case.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours forPhiladelphia’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 forour Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg

February 9, 1777

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The imprisoned Charles Lee writes the following to General Washington:  “My Dr Sir:  As Lord and General Howe have given me permission to send the inclosd to the Congress, and as the contents are of the last importance to me and perhaps not less to the Community, I most earnestly entreat, My Dr General, that You will despatch it immediately and order the Express to be as expeditious as possible — They have likewise indulgd me with the permission of sending for one of my Aid de Camps—I must therefore, request that You will consent to either Bradford or Eustace returning with the flag of Truce—He will have leave to stay here for one day—and a safe conduct back—my reason for this request is that I have many things material with respect to my private affairs which can be settled better by conference than letter—I am likewise extremely desirous that My Dogs should be brought as I never stood in greater need of their Company than at present.”  Eventually, Lee was able to retain one of his dogs while in custody.

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 29, 1777

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General William Howe writes the following letter to George Washington regarding prisoners:  “I am to acknowledge the receipt of your Letter of the 20th January 1777, in which you propose to establish Mr Lewis Pintard, a Merchant of this Town, as your Agent to reside here under Parole to transmit no Intelligence but what belongs to his Office, whose Business it shall be to provide Necessaries for such Prisoners as fall into my Hands, I have not any Objection to your appointing the Gentleman you mention, Mr Lewis Pintard your Agent to reside here, but it must be only for the Purpose of receiving & distributing to the Prisoners such Necessaries as you are pleas’d to send in from Time to Time for their Use; This being the Mode I wish to have adopted on both Sides.  With respect to the sending from Pennsylvania a Supply of Meat & Flour for your Prisoners here I believe you will judge it unnecessary, as in pursuance of the Agreement subsisting between us for the Exchange of Prisoners, I have sent to you so many of your People, as that the inconsiderable Number now remaining here scarcely makes such a Step an Object of any Consequence.”

George Washington writes to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety:  “If some Mode is not adopted for obliging the Officers of the Militia to return the Arms and Accoutrements that are lent to them, we shall be in the greatest want of them when the regular Regiments are raised. I have lately taken the liberty, to make them leave their public Arms and Accoutrements here, upon their being discharged, and have given the Officers Receipts for what were delivered up, with which they may cancel the Receipts given at Philada. My Reason was this, I know very well, that the Men, when discharged, instead of returning by the way of Philadelphia, take the nearest Road home, and consequently either drop their Arms by the way, or carry them with them, by which means they are lost to the public Stock. If there is any deficiency between the Rect & delivery the Officer should be obliged to account for it.  I am glad to find that your House of Assembly are about framing a Law to make your Militia turn out more generally, till that is done, the Service falls partially upon a few Individuals, who complain, with great Justice, of risquing their lives in defence of those who upon your present plan do not even make a pecuniary Satisfaction for the exemption of their persons. But I would wish to see every Man (who is not really conscientiously scrupulous) obliged to turn out, when the good of his Country demands it. For we now want Men more than Money.  I wish it was in my power to procure the Release of all our prisoners, the Feild Officers in particular; but when we have not those of equal Rank to propose for them, what is to be done? Colo. Miles signifyed to me that Mr Foxcroft would be accepted in Exchange for him, I immediately proposed the Matter to Genl Howe, but have never recd any Answer. Colo. Atlee also desired me to propose him in Exchange for some Gentleman whose Name I have forgot, this I did, but the Matter rested in the same Manner. Of the prisoners that have been released, by far the greatest proportion were from Pennsylvania, and least there should be some Jealousy on that Acct I directed that in future, whenever an Exchange took place, there should be a due proportion of those, belonging to the Eastern States, set at liberty.  I am sorry that so deserving an Officer as Colo. Johnson, should be over looked by any Mistake of yours, but it is not at present in my power to do any thing for him.

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 3, 1777

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During the early morning hours of this day, General Washington and his troops attack the British rear guard at Princeton.  The Battle of Princeton was vital to bosting Washington’s prestige and American morale.  (Learn all about it in our Washington’s Crossing Tour!)

Washington has a force of 1,400 men, with 30 killed in action, 75 wounded in action.  The British force is led by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood, who had a force of 1,200 with 60 killed in action, 150 wounded in action, and 244 captured.

Meanwhile, Thomas Wharton of the Committee of Safety writes Washington regarding an important article:  “The Council of Safety understanding that our Army is in want of Liquor have sent forward twenty Hogsheads of Rum as a present Supply. It is to be forwarded to Bristol and delivered to the Commanding Officer at Burlington, if there be any at that place—Your Excellency will take the proper measures to have it brought to your Camp. It goes by Captain Watkins of our Armed Boats who is directed to take especial care to have it Safely delivered.”

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 1, 1777

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Hessian prisoners taken at Trenton are marched through the streets of Philadelphia.

General Charles Cornwallis, who had been about to leave for England, rode 50 miles from New York to take command at Princeton, NJ.  The total troops there numbered 8,000; General Washington at Trenton commanded 5,000 troops.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Benjamin Franklin was appointed commissioner to Spain, in addition to his duties in France.

General Washington authorized inoculation of the entire army against smallpox.

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.

December 21, 1776

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Robert Morris receives a shipment of blankets and cloth on a Continental sloop and sends the blankets off to General Washington.  There were 16 bales, and 856 blankets, intended for the recruits but, “as the inclemency of the weather and the exceeding severe duty of the troops now with him entitles them to every comfort we can supply.”

Samuel Wharton writes to Benjamin Franklin about the rejoicing in the colonies over his safe arrival, and the distress in England.  “I take the earliest Opportunity of expressing my sincere Congratulations on your safe Arrival in France. An Event of the greatest Importance to all America, and particularly regarding your own personal Safety; As the Resentment of your and our Country’s Enemies is not in the least abated, and They would have exceedingly rejoiced, If one of their Cruizers had conveyed you to this despotick Shoar: But Thanks to that all gracious Providence, Which has hitherto, so wonderfully animated and supported you in the great Cause of an oppress’d, virtuous, and gallant People. Your unexpected Arrival in France has afforded Administration much Uneasiness, and made a vast Noise through the City. The three per centum Consol. fell half per Centum on that Account,3 and if a general Insensibility, and Ignorance, blended with a savage Vindictiveness against Us, did not prevail over the whole Kingdom, all the subtle Arts of the Minister and his Friends, could not keep Them, as high as They are; They however continue to deceive the People with the foolish Idea of a Reconciliation being effected by the two Brothers, during the Winter, or That General Howe will before the Spring, totaly rout the grand American Army; and the News just arrived of his success near Kingsbridge, affords Them favorable Ground to establish that Idea.
The Minority in both Houses, a little before their Adjournment, declined attending Parliament; But it was neither a formal Secession, nor done by Agreement between the Heads of the different Parties in Opposition, of Course, as might have been expected, it made little Impression on Administration; and especialy, as each Party remains as unconnected, and jealous of the other, as When you was here; But Yet most of Them write in discovering Disapointment and Displeasure, at the Declaration of Independence, as it deprived Them, of what They esteemed, Their best stepping Ladder into Office.4 The confidential Language nevertheless of a few of the Leaders in Opposition, such as No. 34. 35. 193, and 206 . . .,5 is, That if America Persists in her Resolution of Independence, The Situation of the Kingdom requires, That no Time ought to be lost, before a federal Union is made with Her; But the Pride and Ignorance of the Court and Nation are yet too high, to listen to such Wise Tho’ humiliating Council, and nothing, in my Opinion, but the honest Adversity, or Dread of a Union with France and Spain (on the part of America) will awaken No. 125 of 72 from his brutal Lethargy. Lord Chatham declines fast, and it is generaly thought, will never be able again to assume a publick Character. He foretells the greatest Calamitys to be experienced by the Kingdom, in consequence of the rash and unjust Measures prosecuting against the American States. Mr. Deane is in Possession of his Prediction; It is founded in Experience and Wisdom.6 The Losses occasioned by the successes of our Privateers, will be felt at the yearly Settlement in January, much to the Injury of commercial Credit. Several Failures are expected to follow from these Captures. At New Lloyds’ They have a List of 160 Vessels taken by our Cruizers,7 and doubless They do not know the Names of all, which are taken, and yet They compute the British Loss, at a Million Sterling. The Impress goes on heavily, and Lord Sandwich begins to find, and acknowledge, That it is impossible to man twenty Sail of Men of War, Whilst the Transports are detained in America. In Truth, The Nation cannot furnish Seamen for the Navy, The Transport Service, and for carrying on its remaining Commerce; And if a large Fleet is required, In Addition to what is employed in America, either the Transport, or Merchant Service, or perhaps both of Them, must be sacrificed to it. It is fortunate however for the Admiralty, That One hundred and Thirty Sail of Transports were, from their leaky State, obliged to be sent hither to be repaired, otherwise the impressing Parties would have been a long Time, before They could have procured, as many Men, as are on Board these Transports: But for farther Particulars relative to the Plans of Administration, and the State of the Kingdom, I must beg the Favor of referring you, to our Friend Dr. Bancroft.8 Last Spring I wrote you many Letters, after the Ones I sent you by Mr. Cumming, But I fear several of Them were intercepted, and particularly One, conveying to you, a circumstantial Account of what Passed between Lord Howe and Me on the Subject of America, and what were the real Designs of Administration. I now send you under Cover, a State of the Conference between his Lordship, and Myself, and I would fain flatter myself, That my Propositions, (when considered, in Reference to the Time They were made) may meet your Approbation. I acted for the best, and thought, I was discharging a Duty I owed to my Country.
From the Moment I was favored with your kind Letter of Septr. 1775, (Which I considered, and therefore circulated among the Great, as a fair Warning, as well to Administration, as to their Opponents, of What would happen, if They delayed to do immediate and substantial Justice to America) I was convinced of the indispensable Propriety, and Necessity of the Colonies asserting their Independence, and Therefore I have faithfully and zealously endeavoured as far as was in my Power, To countenance, and support it, And May I add, That I shall be happy, While I remain in Europe (Which will be for a few Months) to dedicate my poor Abilities, If you think They may be usefully employed, To the service of our Country? I lament exceedingly the mistaken Conduct of Mr. Galloway, my Brother, and too many of our former Friends (on Political Subjects) in Pennsylvania.9 My Correspondence for many Months, on that Head, has been very offensive to Them, and They blamed my liberal Communications, and Sentiments; But I have been long convinced of the arbitrary System and sad Depravity of this Court and People, and That if the Liberties of America were to be saved and Perpetuated, It must be done by the Americans Themselves, and Not by any Man, or Set of Men of this Country; And Therefore I have been inexpressibly rejoiced, in Perusing the new Forms of Goverment in the several American States, and especiely That of Pennsylvania, because it communicates equal civil, and religious Liberties to all, and particularly establishes an Equality of Representation in all the Counties, on a broad and fair Basis; Thereby destroying the narrow System of the Quakers, and emancipating the Inhabitants of a Majority of the Counties from the partial Views, of Sectarian Politicans. Lord Camden highly extolls the New Form of Goverment of Pennsylvania and says, That the bad Part of the British Laws is therein wisely corrected; and let me add, That the highest Honor and Thanks are due to you, for effectuating a Form of Goverment, so wonderfully replete with true Wisdom and Liberality.

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 20, 1776

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Benjamin Franklin arrives in Versailles and writes the following letter to Silas Deane, who is already there:  “Finding myself too much fatigu’d to proceed to Paris this Evening, and not knowing whether you have receiv’d my Letter wherein I requested you to provide me a Lodging, I have concluded to remain here to-night. If you are in Paris, I hope to hear from you to-morrow Morning before I set out, which will hardly be till about Noon.”

In Baltimore, Maryland, Congress meets and acts to improve the quarters in which prisoners are held and to provide provisins and clothing.  They also ask General William Howe concerning the conditions under which General Charles Lee is held in New York.

The British frigate HMS Pearl captures the Continental Navy brig USS Lexington.

Adam Stephen writes to his friend Thomas Jefferson:  “The Enemy like locusts Sweep the Jerseys with the Besom of destruction. They to the disgrace of a Civilisd Nation Ravish the fair Sex, from the Age of Ten to Seventy. The Tories are Baneful in pointing out the friends to the American Cause, and giving Notice of every Motion we make.The Enemy have made greater progress than they themselves expected owing to the Weakness of our Counsels and our Attempt to mantain The Forts Washington and Lee.Our Salvation under Heaven, depends on our Raising an Army Speedily. Every lover of Liberty should with Spirit promote the Recruiting Service.Genl. Lee had the misfortune to be taken prisoner to the 13th Inst. He had Saunterd about three miles and a half from his Army -lodged the night before at a house recommended to him by a Colo. Vanhorn, a person in the Enemys Service, who is appointed to Sign pardons on the peoples Submission; and Stayd at the place untill ten O’Clock on the 13th, when 50 light horsemen Supposd to be detachd by Advice of Vanhorn, came to the house and carryd him off. He had thirteen men of a Guard but they were Stragling and Absent except three.By accounts from Old France of Octob 1st. That Nation is on the Eve of a War with England.I expect that we shall have hot Work as soon as the Delawar is frozen over.If we lose Philadelphia and let it Stand, it will go near to Ruin us. They will open the port, give great prices for Wheat and flour and Seduce the Body of the People.Three of Mr. Aliens Sons, and Jo. Galloway are with the Enemy in Trenton. A Frigate went in pursuit of the Reprisal Capt. Wicks with Franklin on Board; Must they not have had Intelligence from a member of Congress? Would it not be adviseable to open the doors of Congress and have the Debates in publick? Let the Secret Business be done, by a Committee, or the Boards of Admiralty and War; after the plan has been Settled by Committees of the Whole house in Secret. We Should then have a better Chance of distinguishd [distinguishing] the Spirited from the Languid Members.”

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 16, 1776

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British General Charles Cornwallis returns to Trenton after a short march to inspect the Delaware and “the weather having become too severe to keep in the field, the troops marched to their respective stations in the neighborhood.”

Lord Stirling, (William Alexander), wrote to General Washington, “If our troops were not so worn out, I would propose, that about twelve hundred good men  cross over at Tinicum, Pennsylvania, and come down on them suddenly from the north.”

From information beginning to come back from the spies sent across the Delaware, General Washington surmises that the British are beginning to pull back the supply forces for their troops and they show no signs of forcing a river crossing.

Captain John Paul Jones arrives in Boston.  He is blown off course from Newport, Rhodew Island.

John Trumbull writes to his father Governor Trumbull of Connecticut that he has crossed the Delaware to this city with General Horatio Gates.  “But I despair of joining General Washington, his army is still inferior to the enemy and the country is quite stupid.  My situation is dull, but I cannot desert in such a critical time.”

Robert Morris writes John Hancock that Congress may have been better advised to havew asked for help in the form of a committee of delegates in Philadelphia to act for Congress.

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 5, 1776

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General Washington writes to the Board of War not to bring three ranking British prisoners to Trenton for passage to New York, because they would report to William Howe the condition of the American Army.

Washington writes to John Hancock, as well, in regards to his continued concern over General Lee’s failure to join his army with Washington’s:  “Since I had the honor of addressing you Yesterday, I received a Letter from Genl Lee. On the 30th Ulto he was at Peeks Kills, and expected to pass the River with his division two days after. From this intelligence you will readily conclude, that he will not be able to afford us any aid for several days. The report of Genl Sinclair’s having Joined him with Three or four Regiments, I believe to be altogether premature, as he mentions nothing of it. It has arisen, as I am informed, from the return of some of the Jersey & Pensylvania Troops from Ticonderoga, whose time or service is expired. They have reached Pluckemin where I have wrote to have ’em halted and kept together, if they can be prevailed on, till further orders.”

Meanwhile, Charles Lee writes to Washington about, among other things, his concern over his horse:  “I have receiv’d your pressing letter—since which intelligence was sent me that you had quitted Brunswick—so that it is impossible to know where I can join you—but ⟨a⟩ltho I shou’d not be able to join you at all the service which I can render you will I hope be full as efficacious[.] the Northern Army has already advanced nearer Morris Town than I am—I shall put myself at their head tomorrow—We shall upon the whole compose an Army of five thoushand good Troops in spirits—I shoud imagin, Dr General, that it may be of service to communicate this to the Corps immediately under your Command—it may encourage them and startle the Enemy—in fact this confidence must be risen to a prodigious heighth, if They pursue you, with so formidable a Body hanging on their flank, or rear—I shall cloath my People at the expence of the Tories—which has a double good effect—it puts them in spirits and comfort and is a correction of the iniquity of the foes of Liberty.  It is paltry to think of our Personal affairs when the whole is at stake—but I entreat you to order some of your suite to take out of the way of danger my favourite Mare which is at Hunt Wilsons three miles the other side of Princeton.”

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