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British in Philadelphia.
A much valued friend placed it, the hands of the editor a large volume of papers, containing the correspondence of brig. gen. Lacer, of Pennsylvania, who commanded the militia stationed on the east side of the Schuylkill, to watch the motions of the enemy and prevent his obtaining supplies, during the period at which he occupied Philadelphia. This volume contains a great deal of curious matter—though not much of it seems to come within the prospectus of this work. Such articles fol. low as may serve to shew the spirit and necessities of the times. Gen. Washington to gen. Lacey—dated at Valley Forge, Jan. 23, 1778. [Extract.] “I am well informed that many persons, under pretence of furnishing the inhabitants of Germantown, and near the enemy's lines, afford immense supplies to the Philadelphia markets—a conduct highly prejudi. cial to us and contrary to every order. It is there. fore become proper to make an example of some guilty one, that the rest may expect a like fate, should they persist. This I am determined to put in execution; and request you, when a suitable object falls into your hands, that you will send him here with the witnesses; or let me know his name —when you shall have power to try, and if proved guilty, to execute. This you will be pleased to make known to the people, that they may again have warning.” From the same, dated Feb. 8, 1778. [Extract.] “The communication between the city and country, in spite of everything hitherto done, still continuing, and threatening the most pernicious consequences, I am induced to beg you will exert every possible expedient to put a stop to it. In order to this, to excite the zeal of the militia under your command, and make them more active in their duty, I would have you let every thing taken from persons going into and coming out of the city, redound to the benefit of the parties who take them. At the same time, it will be necessary to use great precaution to prevent an abuse of this privilege; since it may otherwise be made a pretext for plundering the in. nocent inhabitants. One method to prevent this will be, to let no forfeiture take place but under the eye and with the concurrence of some com. missioned officer. Any horses captured in this manner, fit for the public service, either as light or draught horses, must be sent to camp to the quarter master gene.
ral, who will be directed to pay the value of them to the captors.”
Gen. Lacey to the council of Pennsylvania—dated Warwick, Bucks, Feb. 15, 1778. [Extracts.] “My force is reduced almost to a cypher. Only sixty remain fit for duty in camp. With this number, you must of course suppose that we are in no wise capable of guarding so extensive a country as this, nor even safe in our camp.” [Gen. Lacey's force continually fluctuated—sometimes it amounted to several hundred; at other times it was wholly inefficient, and hardly exceeded fifty in all. At one moment he had several times more men than arms; at another, many times more arms than men. The militia were called out for short tours, and his command was a most perplexing one. The officers and men hardly knew each other before they separated.]
On the 21st of Feb. 1778, gen. Washington orders the destruction or removal of certain quantities of hay, in places accessible to the enemy.
Gen. Washington to gen. Lacey, dated at Valley Forge, March 2, 1778. [Extracts.] “I don’t well know what to do with the great numbers of people taken going to Philadelphia. I have punished several severely, fined others heavily, and some are sentenced to be imprisoned during the war.” He then expresses a wish that the state will take charge of them, punish them as criminals, or hold them to exchange “for those inhabitants lately taken from their families.” But in a postscript adds, “If either or any of the persons now in your custody are such that you think are proper to make examples of, and you have sufficient evidence to convict then, send them over to me, with the witnesses, and I will have them immediately tried by a court martial.”
Gen. Lacey to the council, dated camp, near White JMarsh, March 11, 1778. [Extract.] "As soon as I approach within eight or ten miles of the enemy's lines, the inhabitants, having their horses concealed in bye places, mount them, and taking their way through the fields and private paths, repair directly to the city, with the intelligence that the rebels are in the neighborhood. Not one word of intelligence can we procure from them,-not even the direction of the roads.
There are large sums of counterfeit money circulating in the lower part of Bucks and Philadelphia counties, which are brought out of the city by the market people.”
...A letter from gen. Wayne to gen. Lacey, by order of gen. Washington, notifies gen. L. that he is di
rected “to collect and drive in all the cattle, horses Gen. Lacey's orders to his scouting pcrties, JMarch 9, 1778. [Extract.] “If your parties should meet with any people going to market, or any persons whatever going to the city, and they endeavor to make their escape, you will order your men to fire upon the villains. You will leave such on the roads —their bodies and their marketing lying together. This I wish you to execute on the first offenders you meet, that they may be a warning to others.”
and waggons, in the counties of Bucks and Philadelphia, likely to fall into the hands of the enemy, —especially the property of tories.”
Gen. Washington to gen. Lacey, dated at Valley Forge, 20th March, 1778–'Sunday next being the time on which the quakers hold one of their general meetings, a number of that society will probably be attempting to go into Philadelphia. This is an intercourse that we should by all means endeavor to interrupt, as the plans settled at these meetings are of the most permicious tendency". I would therefore have you dispose of your parties in such a manner as will most probably fall in with these people, and if they should, and any of them should be mounted upon horses fit for draft or the service of light dragoons, I desire they may be taken from them, and sent over to the quarter-master general. Any such are not to be considered as the property of the parties who may seize them, as in other cases. Communicate the above orders to any of the officers who may command scouting parties on your side of the Schuylkill.
*I was in much doubt whether I ought to pub. lish or suppress this letter—but, on reflection, have thought it best to insert it. It must be admitted, that a great majority of the quakers in Pennsylvania, were “well inclined” to the British, and some of them went great lengths out of the rules of their profession to aid and comfort the enemy of their country; others, by adhering to those rules and refusing to take any part in the contest, even by the payment of taxes, were improperly suspect. ed of disaffection, when in fact they were only neutral, refusing to have any thing to do with the war; a few, however, laid aside their testimony against fighting, and contended gallantly for freedom. Persons of this religious persuasion in some other states, were sincerely attached to the cause of independence, and did all that consistently they could do to assist the whigs. A stoppage of the inter. course with Philadelphia, at the time, was indubi. tably necessary and proper; but gen. Washington was misinformed, I apprehend, when he spoke of the “plans” settled at the meetings of the quakers —whatever they might have done as individuals, their “meetings” must have passed without t', adoption of any plans of a political nature—for such things are not suffered to be mentioned in them.
[Gen. Lacey, in reply, says he had ordered out his horse to stop the quakers, with orders, “if they refused to stop when hailed, to fire into them, and leave their bodies lying in the road.”]
[So great was the intercourse with Philadelphia, and so numerous the sufferings of the whigs in conequence of intelligence carried to the enemy, that an idea was entertained of removing all the people within fifteen miles of that city; but Washington said “the measure was rather desirable than practi. cable,” and preferred a rigid conduct towards “notorious characters,” who, he again directed, should be tried by courts martial. But in a letter of the 11th April, in consequence of a resolve of congress, he says “it will be needless to apprehend any more. If found going to Philadelphia with provisions, you may take that and their horses from them.”
Gen. Green to gen. Lacey, dated Valley Forge, April 21, 1778. The wife of maj. T. complains that some of your people have taken from her husband, one of their horses, which they are in want of to enable them to move up to Reading. I wish you to inquire into the matter, and if there is no capital offence, to order the beast to be delivered to the owner again. The war is a sufficient calamity under every possible restraint, but where people are influenced by avarice and private prejudice, they increase the distresses of the inhabitants beyond conception. Those evils can only be restrained by the generals, whose duty it is to protect the distressed inhabitants, as well as govern and regulate the affairs of the army. I hope you will pay particular attention to this affair, as the age and distress of the complainants appear to claim it.”
[In reply, gen. Lacey states that he finds the horse was taken by a person who “calls himself a volunteer, and has made a practice of riding with my parties.” He was called upon to arswer for his conduct, and fresh instructions given not to molest the inhabitants “unless found favoring the enemy.”]
Gen. Lacey surprised. In a letter to gen. Washington, dated camp near Neshaminy bridge, York road, May 2, 1778, gen. Lacey gives an account of his being surprised by a superior force of the enemy, near the Crooked Billet, at day break on the preceding day, by the neglect of a lieut. whose duty it was to keep a look-out, which he neglected to do and was cashiered for it. Though the attack was wholly unexpected and very vigorous, Lacey made out to get his people embodied, and retreated fighting for upwards of two miles, when be
reached a wood and extricated himself. He lost
thirty killed, and seventeen wounded. A number o: yourself by your exertions, you have little to of the enemy were killed. . We notice this affair
o from their lenity or gratitude. I should to give the following extract from gen. Lacey's not have said this much if I did not feel myself letter.
much hurt and the public service injured, by giv“Some tof his men] were butchered in the most ing way to a little clamor, after the most odious - - and difficult part of the business was done. savage and cruel manner—even when living, some - were thrown into buck-wheat straw, and the straw I am, sir, your obedient, humble servant,
set on fire. The clothes were burnt on others; - - JOS. REED. and scarcely one left without a dozen wounds, with Philadelphia, Aug. 11, 1780. bayonets and cutlasses.” H. W. esq. Bucks county.
Gogen. Lacy and his corps was discharged by an order of the executive of Pennsylvania, on the 12th October, 1781, with the thanks of the council.
[These things are repeated, with additional par. ticulars, in a letter to gen. Armstrong.]
Letters from gen, Washington.
[Collected from among the papers of CesAR Ropxer,
of Delaware, a member of the “stamp-act con
gress” and of the revolutionary congress, whose
name is signed to the declaration of indepen
dence. He was repeatedly chosen governor of To H W-, esq. Bucks county.—SIn—Having the state, and performed several tours of duty expressed myself so fully to you and Mr. T. upon as a brigadier general, during the revolution.] the necessity of procuring a number of horses, I am not a little surprised that you should have disenerged those that had been taken under the di-, pean sin–I last night read your favor of the reston of gen. Lacey; and 1 cannot help consider-21st, and am much obliged to you for the book. ing it as adding to my embarrument. at a time this, and the one taken in the action at Chadswhen you gave me reason to expect assistance. Ford, complete general Howe's orders from April
It is much to be wished that gentlemen in pub." the 10th inst. I am sorry for the captivity of lic office, who, from motives of compassion, or a Mr. neiro, whom you mention to be a young man fear of offending, cannot take part in these neces. of merit, but no proposition for his exchange can sary measures, would on such occasions avoid any be made at this time, nor can he be exchanged interference; and leave persons of more decision but in due course, which is the only rule by which, to proceed. The legislature having vested the equal justice can take place. The conduct of the power of declaring martial law in us, I apprehend militia is much to be regretted. In many instances, you had not authority to counteract the orders they are not to be roused, and in other: they come given; which were to send such horses as were into the field with all possible indifference, and, taken immediately down to this place, for the ac- to all appearance, entirely unimpressed with the commodation of the militia, about to march, agreea. importance of the cause in which we are engaged. bly to gen. Washington's order. It will be a great Hence preseea. a total mattention to order and disappointment if they do not come down, and will to discipline, and too often a disgraceful departure throw us all in confusion. As Mr. T. and yourself." the army st the instant their aid is most by my accounts, discharged all the horses, after wanted. l am inclined to think, the complaints taken, I must esteem you accountable for them. It and objections offered to the militia laws are but too is no season for such lax and indecisive measure. well founded. The interest of the community has and you will probably ere long, if the enemy are!" been well consulted in their formation, and, not driven from the country, experience that tho’ | generally speaking, those I have seen are unequal.
temporizing measures appear at first view easy and I wish I could inform you that our affairs were in
desirable, they are ruinous in the end. You have a happier train than they now are. After various
already done enough, and have property enough, manoeuvres and extending his army high up the
to make you an object of the vengeance of the ene-Schuylkill, as if he meant to turn our right flank,
my and their tory adherents; and if you do not se. 'gen. Howe made a sudden countermarch on Mon\
Gen. Lacey was relieved by gen. Potter about the middle of May, 1778, but resumed his old sta. tion in the autumn of 1780, to collect troops, waggons, horses, &c. by order of the council of Pennsylvania. The following letter from presi. dent Reed may serve to shew the state of things, as to the subjects to which it relates—
CAMP, Foun Miles FROM ports' Grove,
day night, and in the course of it and yesterday morning, crossed the river, which is fordable in almost every part, several miles below us; he will possess himself of Philadelphia in all probabilitybut I think, he will not be able to hold it. No exertions shall be wanting on my part to dispossess him. I am, in haste, dear sir, your most obedient ser
SIR-In a letter which I had the honor of addressing your excellency on the 22d May, I took the liberty of mentioning the inconveniences which had prevailed for want of system in the clothing department, and the necessity there was for an early appointment of state or sub-clothiers, agreeably to the ordinance established by congress, by their act of the 23d March, with which I presumed your excellency had been made acquainted. I am now under the necessity of troubling you with a further address on the subject of clothing itself. IFrom the best information I have been able to obtain, both from returns and particular enquiries, I fear that there is but too much reason to apprehend, that unless the respective states interfere with their exertions, our supplies of this essential article will be very deficient, and that the troops may again experience on this account a part of those distresses which were so severely and injurously felt in past stages of the war, and which a regard to the interests of the states, as well as to the duties of humanity, should prevent if it be practicable. I do not know exactly how mat. ters will turn out with woolen clothing. I should hope tolerably well; but if the attention of the state should ever go to this, there will be little probability of our having an over-supply. But the articles to which I would take the liberty to solicit your excellency's more particular attention, are— blankets–shirts—shoes and hats—more especially the two first, as our prospects of them are by no means pleasing, and such indeed as decides that the supply from the continental clothiers and agents will fall far short, or at least stand upon too critical and precarious a footing. The importance and advantages of good supplies of clothing are evident—and they have been most remark
ably and happily demonstrated in the health of
the troops, since they have been pretty comfortably provided for in this instance—a circumstance of all others the most interesting.
While I am on the subject of clothing, I would also beg leave to add, that the condition of the officers in this respect, appears to me to require the attention of their states. It is really in many instances painfully distressing. The want of neces. saries and the means of procuring them, at the present exorbitant prices, have compelled a great many officers of good reputation and merit to resign their commissions;–and, if they are not relieved, it must be the case with many others, as they will have no alternative.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect and esteem, your excellency's most obedient servant, GEO. WASHINGTON. His excellency Cesar Rodney, esq.
[c1aculan.] HEAD quantens, west Forst, .August 26, 1779. Sin—I have the honor to enclose your excellency a list of sundry officers belonging to your state who have been in captivity and are reported by the commissary of prisoners, as violators of parole. A conduct of this kind, so ignominious to the individuals themselves, so dishonorable to their country, and to the service in which they have been engaged, and so injurious to those gentlemen who were associated with them in misfortune, but preserved their honor—demands that every measure should be taken to deprive them of the benefit of their delinquency and to compel their return. We have pledged ourselves to the enemy to do every thing in our power for this purpose, and in consequence I directed Mr. Beatty, cottamissary of prisoners, to issue the summons which you will probably have seen in the public papers. But as it is likely to have a very partial operation, I find it necessary in aid of it to request the interposition of the executive powers of the different states to enforce a compliance. Most of these persons never having been and none of them now being in continental service, military authority will hardly be sufficient to oblige them to leave their places of residence and return to captivity, against their inclination: Neither will it be dif. ficult for them to elude a military search and keep themselves in concealment. I must therefore entreat that your excellency will be pleased to take such measures as shall appear to you proper and effectual to produce their immediate return. This will be rendering an essential service to our officers in general, in captivity, will tend much to remove the difficulties which now lie in the was
of exchanges, and to discourage the practice of violating paroles in future.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect and esteem, your excellency's most obedient,
humble servant, GEO. WASHINGTON.
[cInculan.] HEAD quant Ens, Monnrstown, 16th December, 1779.
Sin—The situation of the army with respect to supplies, is beyond description alarming. It has been five or six weeks past on half allowance, and we have not more than three days bread, at a third allowance, on hand, nor any where within reach. When this is exhausted, we must depend on the precarious gleanings of the neighboring country. Our magazines are absolutely empty every where, and our commissaries entirely destitute of money or credit to replenish them. We have never experienced a like extremity at any period of the war. We have often felt temporary want from an accidental delay in forwarding supplies, but we always had something in our magazines and the means of procuring more. Neither one nor the other is at present the case.
This representation is the result of a minute examination of our resources. Unless some extraordinary and immediate exertions be made by the states from which we draw our supplies, there is every appearance that the army will infallibly disband in a fortnight. I think it my duty to lay this candid view of our situation before your excellency, and to entreat the vigorous interposition of the state to rescue us from the danger of an event, which, if it did not prove the total ruin of our affairs, would at least give them a shock they would not easily recover, and plunge us into a train of new and still more perplexing embarrassments than any we have hitherto felt.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your excellency's most obedient servant,
G. WASHINGTON. His excellency
Ertract of a letter from gen. Washington, to congress, dated head quarters, Springfield, 20th June, 1780. “The honorable the committee will have inform. *] congress, from time to time, of the measures
which have been judged essential to be adopted for co-operating with the armament expected from France and of their requisitions to the states in consequence. What the result of these has been I cannot determine, to my great anxiety, as no answers on the subjects of them have been yet received. The period is come when we have every reason to expect the fleet will arrive—and yet, for want of this point of primary consequence, it is impossible for me to form or fix on a system of co-operation. I have no basis to act upon—and, of course, were this generous succour of our ally now to arrive, I should find myself in the most awkward, embarrassing and painful situation. The general and the admiral, from the relation in which I' stand, as soon as they approach our coast, will require of me a plan of the measures to be pursued; and these ought of right to be and prepared, but circumstanced as I am, I cannot give them conjectures. From these considerations, I have sug. gested to the committee, by a letter I had the honor of addressing them yesterday, the indispensable necessity of their writing again to the states, urging them to give immediate and precise information of the measures they have taken and of the result. The interest of the states, the honorand reputation of our councils, the justice and gratitude due our allies, a regard to myself—all require that I should, without delay, be enabled to ascertain and inform them what we can or cannot undertake. There is a point which ought now to be determin. ed, on which the success of all are future operations may depend, which, for want of knowing our prospects, I am altogether at a loss what to do in. For fear of involving the fleet and army of our allies in circumstances which, if not seconded by us, would expose them to material inconvenience and hazard, I shall be compelled to suspend it, and the delay may be fatal to our hopes.
Besides the embarrassments I have mentioned above, and upon former occasions, there is another of a very painful and humiliating nature. We have no shirts, from the best enquiry I can make, to distribute to the troops when the whole are in great want; and when a great part of them are absolutely destitute of any at all. Their situa. tion too with respect to summer overalls, I fear is not likely to be much better. There are a great many on hand, it is said, at Springfield, but so indifferent in their quality as to be scarcely worth the expense of transportation and delivery. For the troops to be without clothing at any time, is highly injurious to the service and distressing to our feelings: but the want will be more peculiary