May 9, 1777

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Congress appoints William Lee as the United States’ representative to Vienna and Berlin.

John Adams writes to Nathaniel Greene about the many causes that were keeping people away from the army, one of which was the “debauchery” to be found there:  “The Indifference of the People about recruiting the Army, is a Circumstance, which ought to make Us, consider what are the Causes of it. It is not, merely the Melancholly, arising from the unfortunate Events of the last Campaign, but the Small Pox, and above all the unhappy State of our Finances, which occasion this Evil. There are other Circumstances, which are little attended to, which contribute, much more than is imagined, to this unfavourable Temper in the People. The Prevalence of Dissipation, Debauchery, Gaming, Prophaneness and Blasphemy, terrifies the best People upon the Continent, from trusting their Sons and other Relations among so many dangerous snares and Temptations. Multitudes of People, who would with chearfull Resignation Submit their Families to the Dangers of the sword, shudder at the Thought of exposing them, to what appears to them, the more destructive Effects of Vice and Impiety. These Ideas would be received by many with Scorn. But there is not the less Solidity in them for that. It is Discipline alone that can Stem the Torrent. Chaplains are of great Use, I believe, and I wish Mr. Leonard might be in the Army, upon such Terms as would be agreable to him, for there is no Man of whom I have a better opinion. But there is So much difficulty in accomplishing any Thing of the Kind, that I wish G. Washington would either appoint him, or recommend him to Congress.  The Utility of Medals, has ever been impressed Strongly upon my Mind. Pride, Ambition, and indeed what a Philosopher would call Vanity, is the Strongest Passion in human Nature, and next to Religion, the most operative Motive to great Actions. Religion, or if the fine Gentlemen please, Superstition and Enthusiasm, is the greatest Incentive, and wherever it has prevailed, has never failed to produce Heroism. If our N. Englandmen were alone, and could have their own Way, a great deal of this would appear. But in their present Situation, I fear We have little to expect from this Principle, more than the Perseverance of the People in the Cause. We ought to avail ourselves then of even the Vanity of Men. For my own Part I wish We could make a Beginning, by Striking a Medal, with a Platoon firing at General Arnold, on Horseback, His Horse falling dead under him, and He deliberately disentangling his Feet from the Stirrups and taking his Pistolls out of his Holsters, before his Retreat. On the Reverse, He should be mounted on a Fresh Horse, receiving another Discharge of Musquetry, with a Wound in the Neck of his Horse.1 This Picture alone, which as I am informed is true History, if Arnold did not unfortunately belong to Connecticutt, would be sufficient to make his Fortune for Life. I believe there have been few such Scenes in the World.”

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February 6, 1777

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The HMS Soleby captured the sloop USS Speedwell and sent it to Jamaica, the following day the Solebay captured the schooner USS Hope and the brig USS Fortune, Solebay captured four ships in three days, sent all to Jamaica.

“The Secret Committee,” headed by Benjamin Franklin, signs a contract with John and Nicholas Brown to obtain material for uniforms, etc.:  “The Browns will procure in Europe 10,000 good blankets at approximately 4s. 6d. to 5s. sterling apiece; 9,200 yards of blue and brown broadcloth for uniforms and 800 yards of different colors for facings, most of the cloth, being for privates, at about 4s. sterling per yard and the rest, for officers, at 6s.; ten tons of lead; 250 stands of good arms such as are used by French infantry; and fifty 100-pound barrels of good gunpowder. Gov. Cooke will value the vessels and estimate their hire or the freight to be paid on the goods exported and imported.6 The Browns are hereby advanced $24,000 for which they will be accountable to the committee. Signed for the Browns by Josiah Hewes, who has their power of attorney, and for the committee by Franklin, John Alsop, Josiah Bartlett, Joseph Hewes, Francis Lewis, and Samuel Ward

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.

 

February 2, 1777

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John Adams describes to his wife Abigail his travels throughout the American colonies:  “Last Evening We arrived safe in this Town after the longest Journey, and through the worst Roads and the worst Weather, that I have ever experienced. My Horses performed extreamly well.  Baltimore is a very pretty Town, situated on Petapsco River, which empties itself into the great Bay of Cheasapeak. The Inhabitants are all good Whiggs, having sometime ago banished all the Tories from among them. The Streets are very dirty and miry, but every Thing else is agreable except the monstrous Prices of Things. We cannot get an Horse kept under a Guinea a Week. Our Friends are well.  The continental Army is filling up fast, here and in Virginia. I pray that the Massachusetts may not fail of its Quota, in Season.  In this Journey, We have crossed four mighty Rivers, Connecticutt, Hudson, Delaware, and Susquehannah. The two first We crossed upon the Ice, the two last in Boats—the last We crossed, a little above the Place where it empties into Cheasapeak Bay.  I think I have never been better pleased with any of our American States than with Maryland. We saw most excellent Farms all along the Road, and what was very striking to me, I saw more sheep and more flax in Maryland than I ever saw in riding a like Distance in any other State. We scarce passed a Farm without seeing a fine flock of sheep, and scarce an House without seeing Men or Women, dressing Flax. Several Times We saw Women, breaking and swingling this necessary Article.  I have been to Meeting, and heard my old Acquaintance Mr. Allison, a worthy Clergyman of this Town whom I have often seen in Philadelphia.”

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.

 

Go Eagles!

 

 

 

January 4, 1777

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Benjamin Franklin writes to the Committee of Secret Correspondence about his goings on in France:  “I arrived here about two Weeks since, where I found Mr. Deane. Mr. Lee has since join’d us from London. We have had an Audience of the Minister, Count de Vergennes, and were respectfully receiv’d. We left for his Consideration a Sketch of the propos’d Treaty. We are to wait upon him tomorrow with a strong Memorial requesting the Aids mentioned in our Instructions. By his Advice we had an Interview with the Spanish Ambassador, Count d’Aranda, who seems well dispos’d towards us, and will forward Copies of our Memorials to his Court, which will act, he says, in perfect Concert with this. Their Fleets are said to be in fine Order, mann’d and fit for Sea. The Cry of this Nation is for us; but the Court it is thought views an approaching War with Reluctance. The Press continues in England. As soon as we can receive a positive Answer from these Courts we shall dispatch an Express with it.”  Franklin will do what he can to convince the French to enter into a treaty,  but everyone knows that they will be more convinced by victories that Washington can secure on the battlefield then anything Franklin says.

Major General William Heath writes from Peach-Kill New York to George Washington:  “That no time should be lost I have been sending over a Quantity of provisions to Haverstraw, and as soon as the Militia arrive in sufficient numbers shall pass over with them—A Body of the Militia belonging to this State, have Rendezvous’d at North Castle, & Col. Thomas’s Regiment below white plains—A Number of the Disaffected have been taken, & the night before last 37 Recruits who were going to join Rodgers—They were all armed with Pistols, & had Two Musquets in the Company—About 300 it is said are engaged with the Enemy, and are to march down from the upper parts of Dutche’s County in small parties, lying concealed in the day time—We have found out some of their Stages on the Roads, and have a number of parties out to intercept them—We have just taken one Strang, with his Warrant from Rodgers to enlist men, secreted in the inside of his Breeches; we also suppose him to be a Spy—I have ordered a General Court Martial to sit this day, for his Tryal.  I learn from some of the Deserters that Rodgers is alarmed at our Motions on this Side, which are making towards him, and am this moment told that they have drawn in all their parties, that were without Fort Independence & it is said have moved their Cannon from the Fort—The Expedition to that Quarter which has been long meditating by the Convention, is now in a fair way to be attempted; this is to secure Rodgers and Collect Forage—Upon the Request of the Committee I have ordered General Parsons to take the Command, and we are determined to keep the Enemy within narrow Limits.  I have lately been informed that Your Excellency is impowered to raise 12 New Regiments & to appoint the Officers—I beg leave to recommend to your Excellency’s notice Colonel Wm Malcom, late Commander of one of the New York Battalions, whose Conduct I have observed to be such as I think makes it my duty to recommend him.  Some doubts have arisen here with respect to the Arms, that are lost or missing, there are a number ought to be paid for, the Question arises what Sum is to be stopped for them, & where it is to be stopped, in the Hands of the Deputy paymaster or with the paymaster of the Regt. I should be happy to know your Excellency’s Opinion and Direction in this matter and as soon as agreable to your Excellency.”

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September 4, 1776

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British Ambassador to Versailles, Lord David Stormont, sends a gloomy report to London that a powerful French fleet would soon sail for the West Indies.  The capable, energetic Governor of St. Domingo, M Dennery, has agreed to serve one more year and will continue his pro-American policies.

On board ship, Lord Dunmore notifies Lord Germain that the lack of watering places and the ravages of disease which reduced his force to 108 effective rank-and-file forced him to abandon Virginia and move to New York where he could provide the Howe brothers with intelligence on the southern states.  London authorities were highly critical of Dunmore’s conduct since the eruption of the colonial difficulties, especially the policy enlisting Negro slaves as soldiers

George Washington writes to the President of Congress, John Hancock:  “Since I had the Honor of addressing you on the 2d Our affairs have not undergone a change for the better, nor assumed a more agreable aspect than what they then wore. The Militia under various pretences of sickness &c. are daily diminishing & in a little time I am persuaded, their number will be very inconsiderable.  On Monday night a Forty Gun Ship passed up the Sound between Governor’s & Long Island & Anchored in Turtle bay. In her passage she received a discharge of Cannon from our Batteries but without any damage & having a favourable wind & Tide soon got out of their reach. Yesterday morning I dispatched Majr Crane of the Artillery with Two Twelve pounders & a Howitz to annoy her, who hulling her several times forced her from that Station & to take shelter behind an Island where she still continues.1 There are several other Ships of War in the sound with a good many Transports or Store Ships, which came round Long Island, so that that communication is entirely cut off. The Admiral with the main body of the Fleet is close in with Governor’s Island.  Judging It expedient to guard against every Contingency as far as our peculiar situation will admit, and that we may have resources left, If obliged to abandon this place, I have sent away & am removing above Kingsbridge All our Stores that are unnecessary & that will not be immediately wanted.”

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August 30, 1776

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General George Washington lists three reasons for the American retreat:  the need to reunite his forces, the extreme fatigue of the soldiers, and the lack of proper shelter from the weather.  General John Sullivan also visits George Washington with Generals William Howe’s proposals for reconciliation and desire to meet with members of Congress.  Washington refuses to accept the papers but gave Sullivan the permission to deliver them to Philadelphia.

Major General Charles Lee writes a letter to the Governor of Haiti describing the vast economic and political benefits that would derive to France if the Americans maintained their independence.  Therefore, he argued, it is in their own best interest to assist the country by sending military hardware, clothing and artillerymen.

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.

 

August 27, 1776

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On Long Island, General Sir Guy Clinton’s troops begin to roll up the unprotected left flank, and General John Sullivan is pinned down by frontal attacks until he is forced to surrender.  On the right General James Grant was surrounded on three sides and ordered his soldiers to retreat to Brooklyn Heights.  The British Victory is rapid and complete.

In Brooklyn, and American force under General George Washington, with approximately 1700 men faced General Charles Cornwallis with an estimated 10,000 men.  The Americans were forced to evacuate.  Marylanders under Colonel Mordecai Gist distinguished themselves.

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.