December 14, 1777

George Washington and his men

In his General Orders, George Washington makes the preparationsfor the upcoming trip to Valley Forge for the winter:  “The officers are without delay to examine the arms andaccoutrements of their men, and see that they are put in good order.

Provisions are to be drawn,and cooked for to morrow & next day—A gill of Whiskey is to be issued immediately to each officer, Soldier, and waggoner.

The weather being likely tobe fair, the tents are not to be pitched: But the axes in the waggons are to besent for, without delay, that the men may make fires & hut themselves for the ensuing night in the most comfortable manner.  The army is to be ready to march precisely atfour o’clock to morrow morning.  Anofficer from each regiment is to be sent forthwith to the encampment on theother side Schuylkill, to search that and the houses for all stragglers, andbring them up to their corps—All the waggons not yet over are also to be sentfor and got over as soon as possible.”

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 Warbuffs, 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

December 11, 1777

General Cornwallis

In Norristown, the Continental army, while crossing theSchuylkill River at Matson’s Ford, engages with troops under General CornwallisGeorge Washington orders thebridge destroyed, and both sides face each other across the river.  The battle is a draw, although Cornwallis isable to capture 2,000 sheep and cattle.

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 for our Valley Forge Tour.   For those interested in the Civil War’s seminal battle, come see Gettysburg. 

December 10, 1777

Samuel B. Webb

An American raid by Colonel Samuel B. Webb and his regimenton Long Island is foiled by British ships. Webb and his regiment are captured.

In the Continental Congress, George Rogers Clark presents hisplan to capture Detroit.

Nathan Rice writes a congratulatory letter to John Adams for his return to Braintree, perhaps unaware that already Adams has beeninformed that he is to leave his family once again, this time to go toFrance.  Rice also writes about theupcoming Massachusetts Constitution, which is being formed:  “Permit me to congratulateyou on your return to your family and frends, of which I am advertised by the weekly Gazette.  It must afford not less satisfaction to the state in general to have your presence and council at this critical period, on the transactions of which depend its future happiness andtranquility—than it does to your family and private connections, to imbraceafter a tedious absence, the tender companion kind parent, and generous Friend.

When I hold up to view the welfare, and prosperity of the continent in general, to those of a single state or family—I’m at a loss whether most to rejoice at your return to Massachusetts or regret your absence from Congress.

It will ever remain asingular mark of honor to you, and a convincing proof of your Patriotism and attachment to the liberty and happiness of Mankind that no sinister views orprivate concerns, could call your attention from Congress untill you had notonly effected the union of the Colonies, but formed a plan which will both confirm that union and render it indissoluble—that being now sent forth for the acceptance of the states. God grant it may meet their speedy and hearty approbation.

The public (of whose gratitude however I do not entertain the most exalted idea) must ever acknowledge the great services you have rendered them; and however you may not think convenient to contribute further to their happiness in that exalted station you have ever held since the commencment of the dispute, yet the samevirtuous principle and generous sentiments, which have heitherto stimulated you to further the cause of mankind in general will still induce you to serve that state with which you are particularly connected, and which now in an important manner calls for the exertion of your abilities.

A Constitution is now forming—a supreme Majistrate is to be appointed—a post of the greatest honorand importance to be confered on an individual. The popular manner in which this is to be done is perhaps the best which at this crisis could have been adopted: Caprices and trifleing accidents too often actuate and govern the populace. Alarmed at this truth, I felt the most sencible pleasure on the news of  your arrival in Boston persuaded that your prudence and advice would prevent the many dangerous extravagancies of so popular a measure. Happy must it be for the good people of Massachusetts should they make chose of  [left blank] the gentleman to whom they are so greatly indebted, and who without pomp or pageantry, superiour to the wiles of a courtier or the applause of individuals would study to promote the happiniss and gain the approbation of his countrymen by a steady adhearance to the principles of vir[tue and] justice.”

Meanwhile,George Washington, having suffered yet another defeat, this time at Whitemarsh,must now make plans to gather his troops and march them to winterquarters.  He sends out the followingGeneral Order:  “The army to march at four o’clock in the morning from the right—ASubaltern from each regiment and a Captain from each brigade, under the commandof a Field Officer from the line, are to assemble at General Knox’s quarters in the morning and remain ’till the Army moves off the ground, and then see that all stragglers in the camp, and its environs, are collected and marched after it—They are also to see that no baggage, entrenching tools or other articlesare left, or that they are, secured under proper guards taken from the Pennsylvania Militia, by application to the commanding officer thereof.”

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 Warbuffs, come see Gettysburg. 

December 3, 1777

From the very start, Charles Lee has felt no doubt that, despite what story might need to be peddled for public consumption, that he, and not George Washington, was the man who should be leading the army.  His pedigree, education, and level of experience clearly exceeded that of the man who had been given the position.  Lee never felt any compunction in peddling his personal theories to members of congress and other leaders about how he felt the army should be run, and the revolution conducted.

In this letter, sent in December 3rd, Charles Lee explains his theories to Benjamin Franklin – 

Dear Sir,
I am very happy that my letter to Lord Thanet meets with your approbation. I send you here some crude notions of what ought be adopted.
1st  A solemn league and covenant defensive and offensive to be taken by every man in America, particularly by those in or near the Sea Port Towns; all those who refuse, to have their estates confiscated for the public use, and their persons remov’d to the interior par[t of] the Country with a small pension res[erved?] for their subsistance.
2dly  New York to [be] well fortify’d and garrison’d or totally destroy’d.
3dly  No Regiments to be rais’d f[or any?] particular local purposes, but one general g[reat?] Continental Army adequate to evry purpose. South Carolina may be excepted from its distance and peculiar circumstances.
4thly.  The Regiments to be exchang’d those who are rais’d in one Province to serve in another rather than in their own, viz. the New Englanders in New York the N. Yorkers in New England and so on. This system will undoubtedly make ’em better Soldiers.
5thly.  A general Militia to be establishd and the regular Regiments to be formd by drafts from the Militia or their substitutes.
6thly.  A certain portion of lands to be [assign]ed to evry Soldier who serves one campaign [a d]ouble portion to him who serves two, and so on.
7thly.  A strong flying camp to be kept about Hampton Bay, another about Annapolis and Charles Town in S. Carolina to be well watch’d and guarded.6
8thly.  The greatest [pains?] to be taken and no expence to be spar’d in securing the Indians to our interest.
These measures may appear bold but I am sure they will be efficacious and decisive decision is the onset[?] of success.

By pushing for militias instead of a regular standing army, Lee has made himself popular among the pro-democracy Whig elements in Congress.  This popularity is growing due to George Washington’s recent military defeats.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s BestHistorical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, GraffHouse, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church. If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us forour Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil Warbuffs, 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 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 31, 1776

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General Washington gives a speech to his troops, hoping to persuade some of them to reenlist for six weeks.  As one sergeant recalled, Washington “told us our services were greatly needed and that we could do more for our country than we ever could at any future date and in the most affectionate manner entreated us to stay.”  When drums rumbled out a roll call for volunteers, nobody at first stepped forward.  One soldier spoke up, told Washington that they had already sacrificed greatly and that they all dreamed of going home.  Pulling up his horse, Washington wheeled about and rode along the line of men.  “My brave fellows,” he said, “you have done all I asked you to do and more than could be reasonably expected.  But your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear…If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty and to your country which you probably can never do under any other circumstances>’’As the drums resumed beating, the soldiers huddled and conferred among themselves.  One was overheard to say, “I will remain if you will,” while another said, “we cannot go home under such circumstances.”  A small group of men reluctantly stepped forward, followed by others.  Ultimately, two hundred joined in.

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 27, 1776

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The Battle of Trenton, on the 26th, was the first major American victory.  George Washington has 2,400 troops, the Hessians under Colonel Johann Rall has 1,400 troops, of which 22 were killed in action, 92 wounded in action, and 948 prisoners taken.  James Monroe, who will later become the 4th President of the United States, was wounded in battle.

In Philadelphia, spirits rose over the news.  Christopher Marshall noted, “News brought this day of our troops under General Washington’s attacking Trenton yesterday morning, have beat the enemy and drove them out of town.”

General Washington, who is granted 6 more months of dictatorial powers, resolves to raise 16 regiments at-large.

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 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.