THE DIARY OF ROBERT MORTON
Pennsylvania Military History
KEPT IN PHILADELPHIA WHILE THAT CITY WAS OCCUPIED BY THE
BRITISH ARMY IN 1777
[Source: The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol I, Philadelphia, 1877]
SAMUEL MORTON, the father of Robert Morton, whose diary is here given, was a merchant of Philadelphia, the
son of James Morton, of Aberdeen, Scotland. In 1758 he married Phebe, daughter of Robert and Mary Lewis, of Philadelphia.
Robert Morton was b. 10 mo. 30, 1760. His father died when he was quite young, and in 1775 (7 mo. 12th) his mother
became the third wife of James Pemberton (see page 6). On the 10 mo. 14th, 1784, Robert Morton married his stepsister,
Hannah, third child of James Pemberton and his first wife, Hannah Lloyd. He died on the 17th of Augt., 1786, in
his 26th year. His wife died on the 4th of Sept., 1788.
The diary of Robert Morton was written when he was between sixteen and seventeen years of age, and shows him to have possessed a well-cultivated mind for one of his years, a facility of expression, and much observation.
The events he records can nearly all be corroborated, and the picture he gives of our city during the occupation of it by the British is, in some respects, the most graphic that has come down to us; especially interesting is the change of sentiment towards the English, on the part of those who at first welcomed them, which appears to have resulted from the conduct of the army, and it is to be regretted the MS. does not continue until the retirement of the troops under Sir Henry Clinton, that we might learn from the same source what the state of feeling was at that time.
There can be no doubt that the sympathies of Morton and the family with whom he was connected were biased in favor of the Royal cause so far as was consistent with their religious convictions. This feeling had no doubt been stimulated by the oppressive measures that a number of the prominent members of the Society of Friends had been subjected to by order of the Continental Congress and the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. Many of them had been arrested on a groundless charge and sent to Winchester, Va., among whom were the husband of Phebe Pemberton and his two brothers, John and Israel. A full statement of the facts connected with this painful incident in the revolutionary history of our State will be found in Gilpin's interesting "Exiles in Virginia," etc. etc., Phila. 1848.
Philada., September 16th, 1777.-This afternoon about 4 o'clock, I, in company with my agreeable Friend Dr. Hutchinson,(1) set off on a journey to Reading, on business relating to the Friends now confined there on their way to Winchester in Virginia. We rode about 4 Hours in an excessive hard rain, when we arrived at Thomson's Tavern,(2) about 20 miles from Philada., where upon Enquiry we found nothing to our Satisfaction, the house being filled with militia. From thence we went to Mrs. Toy's, in the upper Reading Road, who, apologizing for her not being able to accommodate us, directed us to an old Dutchman's, about ¼ of a mile from her house. Upon asking him for lodgings he at first hesitated, thinking we were military officers, but upon scrutinizing us he found we made a different appearance, and introduced us with many apologies for the meanness of his house, the badness of his beds, and other excuses of the same nature. We thanked him for his kindness, and kindly accepted of his mean tho' grateful Fare. In the morning we crossed Skippack though very rapid, and proceeded on to Perkioming, where we found it dangerous to pass owing to the rapidity of the stream and the inconvenience attending the swimming of our horses. We enquired the distance of the head of the creek, and found it was about 20 miles, and in our way had to cross many small creeks which were impassable at that time without great danger. Upon mature deliberation we thought it most advisable to proceed to Pawling's Ferry upon Schuylkill, which having raised above 8 feet perpendicularly, and great number of trees and other rubbish coming down so fast, the Boatman would not go over. Every safe means of proceeding on our journey being now out of our power, and sensible that our consequence at Reading would be inadequate to the risque we run, both of ourselves and our horses, we determined to proceed home, where we arrived about 6 o'clock Wed. Ev'g after an agreeable journey and no other misfortune than a fall from my horse, which hurt my left arm, which I hope shall soon be recovered of. 17th and 18th included in the above.
(1)Dr. James Hutchinson, a native of Bucks Co., Pa. B. 1752, d. 1793. A nephew of Israel Pemberton. He served as a surgeon in the American Army, and held many important positions. In the zealous pursuit of his profession, he fell a victim to the yellow fever in 1793, having acquired, at an early age, a reputation that gives his name prominence in the medical annals of Philadelphia.
(2) Now Norristown
Sept. 19th.-This morning, about 1 o'clock, an Express arrived to Congress, giving an acco. of the British Army having got to the Swede's Ford on the other side of the Schuylkill, which so much alarmed the Gent'n of the Congress, the military officers and other Friends to the general cause of American Freedom and Independence, that they decamped with the utmost precipitation, and in the greatest confusion, insomuch that one of the Delegates, by name Fulsom (1), was obliged in a very Fulsom manner to ride off without a saddle. Thus we have seen the men from whom we have received, and from whom we still expected protection, leave us to fall into the hands of (by their accounts) a barbarous, cruel, and unrelenting enemy.(2)
(1) Nathaniel Folsom, of New Hampshire. He was a captain in the expedition against Crown Point in 1755; was present when Baron Dieskau was defeated. He was a member of the 1st Congress (1774), and of that of 1777, and held many positions of public nature in his own State, among which were those of Judge, Member of the Committee of Safety, and Maj.-Gen. He died May 26, 1790.-See Vol. of N. H. Historical Society, vol.v.
(2) John Adams, writing to his wife from York Town, Pa., on the 80th of Sept., says: In the morning of the 19th instant, the Congress were alarmed in their beds by a letter from Mr. Hamilton, one of General Washington's family, that the enemy was in possession of the fords over the Schuylkill, and of the boats, so they had it in their power to be in Philadelphia before morning. The papers of Congress belonging to the Secretary's office, the War office, the Treasury office, &C., had, before this, been sent to Bristol. The president and all the other gentlemen had gone that road, so I followed, with my friend, Mr. Marchant of Rhode Island, to Trenton, in the Jerseys. -Letters to Mrs. Adams, vol. ii. p. 7.
This afternoon we rec'd a letter from my Father, I. P., informing us that Alex. Nesbit,(3) who was one of the Guards, had arrived at Reading with advices from the Executive Council of this State, from which they were apprehensive we were to be deprived of a hearing, and sent off to Winchester immediately.
(3) Alexander Nesbit and Samuel Caldwell, both members of the light horse of the City of Philadelphia, were detailed from that body to conduct the prisoners to their place of exile. Mr. Nesbit was an early member of what is now known as the "First Troop of Philadelphia City Cavalry," and also of the "Friendly Sons of St. Patrick," from the history of which society we learn he was a highly respectable dry goods merchant, and partner of General Walter Stewart. He died Sept. 1791.
O Philada. my native City, thou that hast heretofore been BO remarkable for the preservation of thy Rights, now sufferest those who were the Guardians, Protectors, and Defenders of thy Youth, and who contributed their share in raising thee to thy present state of Grandeur and magnificence with a rapidity not to be paralleled in the World, to be dragged by a licentious mob from their near and dear connections, and by the hand of lawless power, banished from their country unheard, perhaps never more to return, for the sole suspicion of being enemies to that cause in which thou art now engaged; hadst thou given them even the form of a trial, then thou wouldst have been less blameable, but thou hast denied them that in a manner more tyrannical and cruel than the Inquisition of Spain. Alas, the day must come when the Avenger's hand shall make thee suffer for thy guilt, and thy Rulers shall deplore thy Fate.
Sept. 20th.-Went with Charles Logan to his Plantation, and returned about 5 o'clock; my mother recd a letter from my Father, giving a particular Acco. of his Journey to Reading, and the Treatment they rec'd there,(1) being all confined in one house, but kindly treated by their Friends, who are residents there from this City, and as much hated and despised by the deluded multitude.
(1) "On going through the town, there appeared to be much enmity amongst the people, and some stones were thrown at us .... On our getting into the Widow Withington's, a house provided for ns, we found ourselves made close prisoners. Guards were put around the house, and the face of everything much changed. Our friends, Isaac Zane and James Starr, coming to the door to speak to us, were violently pulled away, struck, and stoned, the former of whom was considerably bruised and hurt.
"Our friends were kept from us, Samuel Morris, who kindly sent us a dinner and some wine, soon after our arrival, being the only person admitted, for it did not appear any provision had been made for us." -See Journey to Virginia, Gilpin, p. 136.
The next day their friends were allowed to visit them, and amongst others, came Alexander Graydon, then a paroled prisoner residing at Reading. In his memoir he writes that Miers Fisher, one of the prisoners with whom he was acquainted, told him " he did not look as if he had been starved by those sad people the British," and he returns the sally by recording that "the prisoners were not much dejected, probably looking upon themselves as martyrs to the cause of their country; among the prisoners he found his old fencing master Pike, whose affections clung so close to his native England that it was considered best he should accompany the friends to Virginia." "His laced hat and red coat," says Graydon, " were to be seen strikingly in contrast with the flat brims and plain drab-colored garments of the rest of the assemblage; nevertheless, from an internal similarity, this seemingly discordant ingredient incorporated perfectly well with the mass and friend Pike, as he was called, officiating in the capacity of a major domo. or caterer at the inns they put up at, was a person of no small consideration with his party."
Sept. 21st.-Nothing remarkable this day.
Sept. 22nd.-This morning I saw Benj. Bryan, who has just returned from Thos. McKean, Esq's, Chief Justice of this State, by whom I understand that the Executive Council have deprived the Justices of executing part of their Offices, by virtue of an Act of Gen'l Assembly passed last week, to suspend the Granting of Writs of Habeas Corpus, to persons who are taken up on suspicion of being inimical to the United States. He made many professions of his disapprobation of the unprecedented measure, and would willingly, were it in his power, grant them a hearing, but as the Council had prevented him, he would receive no payment for the granting the writs. An instance worthy of imitation. This morning they went about to the inhabitants seeking for Blankets, Clothes, &c. From some they rec'd a little, but not generally so.(1) They got one from us. My mother rec'd a letter from my father, I. P.,(2) dated 20th inst., giving an acco. of the Prisoners moving from Reading on their way to the place of Banishment. The two armies having moved up Schuylkill yesterday, it is thought the British have crossed the river,(3) a heavy cannonade being heard this evening it is supposed near to Potts Grove.
(1) On the 22d of Sept. 1777, Hamilton wrote to the President of Congress, "I left camp last evening, and came to this city (Phila.) to superintend the collection of blankets and clothing for the army."
Hamilton's letter to the ladies of Philadelphia on this occasion was highly spoken of by Washington.
(2) James Pemberton, the fifth son of Isaac and Rachel Pemberton, was born in Philadelphia, 26th of 6 mo. (August), 1723. A successful and upright merchant, he devoted a great part of his time to objects of benevolence and charity. He was a director of the Pennsylvania Hospital, one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, an active member of the Friendly Association for preserving peace with the Indians. He was a prominent member of the Society of Friends, and was a member of the Meeting for Sufferings, from its commencement in Philadelphia, in 1756, until the year 1808, when he resigned.-See Friends' Miscellany, vol. vii. p.49.
(3) Howe crossed the Schuylkill on the afternoon and night of the 22d, and morning of the 23d.
Sept. 23rd.-Employed this day in making hay. In the evening the inhabitants were exceedingly alarmed by an apprehension of the City being set on fire. The British troops being within 11 miles of the City, caused the disturbance, and gave rise to those womanish fears which seize upon weak minds at those occasions-Set up till 1 o'clock, not to please myself, but other people.
Sept. 24th.-This day 4 Row Gallies were set up at 4 cross streets with 2 field pieces at Market Street Wharf to annoy the enemy on their march thro this City, but they not coming according to expectation, they fell down with the tide about 12 o'clock. N. B. Yesterday, in the evening a number of horses were taken out of the City to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy.
Sept. 25th.-This morning the news arrived of the British army being about 5 miles from the City. In the evening they sent a letter to T. Willing desiring him to inform the inhabitants to remain quietly and peaceably in their own dwellings and they should not be molested in their persons or property. Set up till 1 o'clock patrolling the streets for fear of fire. 2 men were taken up who acknowledged their intentions of doing it.
Sept. 26th.-About 11 o'clock A. M. Lord Cornwallis with his division of the British and Auxiliary Troops amount'g to about 3000, marched into this city, accompanied by Enoch Story,(1) Jos. Galloway,(2) Andw. Allen, William Allen and others, inhabitants of this city, to the great relief of the inhabitants who have too long suffered the yoke of arbitrary Power;
(1) "Enoch Story, of Penna. In 1775, when he attempted to establish a newspaper at Phila., a distinguished Whig said that he knew no more about printing and composition than an old horse. When Sir Wm. Howe occupied that city, Story was inspector of prohibited goods. In 1778 he was attainted for treason, and went to England."-Sabin's Loyalist.
(2) An interesting notice of Joseph Galloway will be found in the seventh volume of the works of Franklin, edited by Sparks, from the pen of the late J. Francis Fisher. It is also printed in the appendix of Littell's Graydon. Sketches of Wm. and Andrew Allen will be found in Mr. Sabine's excellent volumes.
and who testified their approbation of the arrival of the troops by the loudest acclamations of joy.(1) Went with Chas. Logan to Head Quarters to see his Excell'y Gen. Sir Wm. Howe,(2) but he being gone out, we had some conversation with the officers, who appeared well disposed towards the peaceable inhabitants, but most bitter against, and determined to pursue to the last extremity the army of the U. S. The British army in this city are quartered at the Bettering House,(3) State House and other Places, and already begin to show the great destruction of the Fences and other things, the dreadful consequences of an army however friendly. The army have fortified below the town to prevent the armed vessels in our River coming to this city-likewise have erected a Battery at the Point. This day has put a period to the existance of Continental money in this city. "Esto Perpetua."
(1) J. P. Norris told Watson (see vol. ii. p. 256): "I recollect seeing the division march down Second Street when Lord Cornwallis took possession of the city-the troops were gay and well clad. A number of our citizens appeared sad and serious. When I saw him there was no huzzahing." A lady told Mr. Watson, " I saw no exultation in the enemy, nor indeed in those who were reckoned favorable to their success."
(2) When Gen. Howe first entered the city, he made his quarters at the house of Gen. Cadwalader, on 2d St. below Spruce. He afterwards removed to the house on the south side of Market St. east of 6th, which afterwards was the residence of Washington, while President.
(3)The Bettering or Alms House stood on the south side of Spruce St. between 10th and 11th Sts.
Sept. 27th.-About 9 o'clock this morning 1 Ship of 34 guns, 1 of 18, 4 Row gallies and a schooner came opposite to the Batteries erected in this city, who fired upon them when at a proper distance. The engagement continued for an hour when the Frigate got aground and struck to the British troops. The other ship immediately made sail and got off with the 4 gallies, the schooner coming down was fired at several times, when a shot struck her foremast and carried it away, which bro't her to and run her aground, when all the men on board escaped.
This execution was done by 4 pieces of Artillery.(1) This afternoon about 3 o'clock an engagement happened near my Uncle's plantation, between 100 C. Troops and 30 British, the Con. troops gave way, their loss unknown. 3 officers and 1 private wounded, and 1 private killed on the side of the British, whom I see-
(1) "As soon as the British had taken possession of Philadelphia, they erected three batteries near the river to protect the city against such American shipping and craft as might approach the town. On the 26th of Sept., before the batteries were finished, Commodore Hazelwood, by the advice of a council of officers, ordered two frigates, the Delaware and Montgomery, each of twenty-four guns, the sloop Fly, and several galleys and gondolas, to move up to Philadelphia and commence a cannonade on the town, should the enemy persist in erecting fortifications. The Delaware anchored within five hundred yards of the batteries, and the other vessels took other stations as were suited to their object. At ten on the morning of the 27th the cannonade began; but on the falling of the tide the Delaware grounded. In this disabled condition the guns from the batteries soon compelled her colors to be struck, and she was taken by the enemy. A schooner was likewise driven on shore, but the other frigate and small craft returned to their former stations near the fort." The above note, from the writings of Washington (vol. v. p. 77), is appended to a letter of Washington's mentioning the incident it illustrates, and giving a rumor of the day, that the crew of the frigate Delaware had mutinied. Mr. Sparks continues: "The suspicion that the crew mutinied was never confirmed, nor was there any such hint in the British commanders describing the event." As Morton, an inmate of the city, fails to mention the story, it probably had its origin within the American lines. Marshall says " this repulse of the American fleet was rendered material by its giving the enemy the entire command of the ferry, and, consequently, free access to the Jersey shore, while it interrupted the communication between the forts below and above Trenton, from whence garrisons were to have been supplied with military stores."-Marshall's Washington, vol. iii. p. 174.
Sept. 28th.-About 10 o'clock this morning some of the Light Dragoons stationed near Plantation(2) broke open the house, 2 desks, 1 Book Case and 1 closet besides several drawers and other things, and ransacked them all. I apply'd to their officer, who informed me that if the men were found out they should be severely punished.
I have been informed that a soldier this day rec'd 400 lashes for some crime, which I do not know.
(2) Now the site of the Naval Asylum, on the Schuylkill
Sept. 29th.-Went with Dr. Hutchinson to Israel Pemberton's Plantation where we found a destruction similar to that at our Plantation, 3 closets being broke open, 6 doz. wine taken, some silver spoons, the Bedcloaths taken off 4 Beds, 1 rip'd open, the Tick being taken off, and other Destruction about the Plantation. The officers were so obliging as to plant a centry there without application. Upon our return home we pass'd thro' part of the camp and saw a man hanging.
Sept. 30th.-This morning my mother and I went to Col. Harcourt,(1) Com. of the Light Dragoons, near our plantation, to make intercession for the men who are apprehended for breaking and ransacking our plantation and house. The Col. upon my application, behaved very unlike a Gent'n by asking me " what I wanted" in an ungenteel manner, and told me he could not attend to what I had to say, and said that the trial was coming on and I must attend to prosecute them. I informed him there was a lady who would be glad to speak with him. He then came to my mother and behaved in a very polite genteel manner, and assured her that he could not admit her application as the orders of the General must be obeyed, and that the soldiers were not suffered to commit such depredations upon the King's subjects with impunity. Some of the British troops came to my mother's pasture on 6th and 1st days last and took away 2 loads of hay without giving a Raft or offering Paym't.
We had a verbal acco't this morning of the Prisoners being seen on 4th day last at Carlisle on their way to Banishment.
It is reported that the Con. Troops have erected several batteries on the other side of the River to annoy and distress their enemy. One at White Hill, one at Trenton, and one nearer to the city.
(1) Col. Harcourt, subsequently Earl Harcourt. While commanding the 16th Dragoons, with a patrol of thirty men he captured Gen. Charles Lee, at Basking Ridge, N. J., in Dec. 1776.
Oct. 1st.-The man who was found guilty of robbing our Plantation rec'd punishment this day, which was __ lashes The man found coming out of Mary Pemberton's (1) plantation House is sentenced to be executed. M. P. has petitioned the Gen'l for a mitigation of the punishment. The British are erecting batteries from Delaware to Schuylkill on the north side of the city. Great numbers of officers and men belonging to the Row Gallies have deserted their posts at this time of approaching danger;(2) and, among the rest, to his eternal disgrace and immediate death, if taken by the Con's, is Dr. Dun, Jr., who, I am told, served as Surgeon Gen'l to the Fortifications upon the River.
(1) "Gen. Howe, during the time he stayed in Philadelphia, seized and kept for his own use Mary Pemberton's coach and horses."- Watson, ii. p. 285.
(2) Washington wrote (Oct. 7): "It is to be lamented that many of the officers and seamen on board of the galleys have manifested a disposition that does them little honor. Looking upon their situation as desperate, or probably from worse motives, they have been guilty of the most alarming desertions. Two whole crews, including the officers, have deserted to the enemy."-See Sparks, vol. v. p. 84.
Oct. 2nd.-The Quarter M. Gen'l of the Light Horse took 1 load of hay from our Pasture, which he promises to give a Rec't for the 2 loads taken before by order of the Quarter Master, 2d Batt. Grenadiers, he has given me a Rec't for 100 lbs. which 2 loads Jacob declares was near 1000 lbs. 'Tis said Lord Howe with the Fleet arrived in the River last week.
Oct. 3rd.-10 of the Row Gallies men have deserted and come up this morning, who gave an acco of the Forts at Billingsport(3) and Red Bank being taken and a universal disaffection among the men.
(3)This report was true only so far as Billingsport was concerned. Marshall (vol. iii. p. 176) says (Sept. 29): "Col. Stirling with two regiments was detached to take possession of the forts at Billingsport, which he accomplished without opposition; the garrison, which was entirely of militia, having spiked their artillery and set fire to the barracks, withdrew without firing a gun. This service being effected, and the works facing the water entirely destroyed, so that the attempts to cut away and weigh up the obstructions to the passage of vessels up the river could no longer be impeded by the fire from the fort, Col. Stirling returned to Chester, from whence he was directed to escort a large convoy of provisions to Philadelphia," probably that mention by Morton in his MS.
Enoch Story is appointed to administer the oath of allegiance to those who come in and put themselves under his Majesty's protection.(1) A foraging party went out last week towds Darby and brought in a great number of cattle to the great distress of the inhabitants. A paper is handing about to be signed by the inhabitants agreeing to take the old lawful money,(2) which I signed.(3) The following report is this day prevalent concerning the defeat of Gen'l Gates near Albany-Gen'l Washington on last 1st day orderd a feu-de-joie to be fired in his camp by way of rejoicing for a victory obtained by Gen'l Gates over Burgoyne on the 18th(4) Ulto. A letter is come to town, the postscript of which being wrote in Irish, gives an acco. of a Battle being fought on the 18th of Sept. in which Gen'l Gates was successful, that Gen'l Burgoyne returned on the 19th to bury his dead, which brot. on a general engagement in which Burgoyne was successful, and that he was advancing towards Albany. A man is arrived in town who left Albany since the 19th, and says that there was no acco. of Burgoyne advancing when he left it. An intercepted letter of Dr. Potts(5) is arrived in Town which says that he was going to Albany to establish a Hospital for the sick and wounded. From which Accot. if true, we may infer that there has been an engagement, but which party is successful is dubious
(1)A fact not mentioned by Sabin in The American Loyalists.
(2) That issued under the colonial government " sanctioned by the King."
(3) The list of those who signed this paper will be found in Westcott's History of Philadelphia, Chap. ccli.
(4) Probably the 19th should be the date, as on that day Gates gained his first important victory.
(5) Jonathan Potts, a native of Berks Co., Pa., graduated at the Philadelphia College, 1771, appointed medical director of the N. Department, Jan. 1777. "I cannot close my letter," Gen. Gates wrote to the Pres. of Congress (Oct. 20, 1777), " without requesting your Excellency to inform Congress of the great care and attention with which Dr. Potts and the gentlemen of the general Hospital have conducted the business of their department. It must be that some honorary mark of the favor of Congress may be shown to Dr. Potts and his subordinate associates." Dr. Potts was the first surgeon of the Philadelphia City Troop. Several volumes of his MS. papers are in the possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.-See also N. E. Hist, and Geneal. Register, vol. xviii. p. 21, and Potts' Memorial.
Oct. 4th.-This morning early the picquet of the British near Germantown was surprised by the Americans, which brought on a very severe engagement in which the British lost 500 men killed and wounded and the Americans about 400 prison'rs, their killed and wounded is uncertain. I went this morning to the plantation, from thence to the middle ferry, where I saw a number of the citizens with about 30 of the Light Dragoons on Foot watching the motions of the enemy on the other side. I waited there about an hour during which time there were several shots from both sides without much execution, when 3 columns of the Americans with 2 field pieces appeared in sight marching tow'ds the River. The Dragoons were order'd under arms and an express sent off for a reinforcement immediately, after which the Americans fired a field piece attended with a volley of small arms. I thought it most advisable to leave the Ground, and rode off as fast possible. The Americans afterwards came down to the River side with 2 Field Pieces, which they fired with some small arms and run and left them; soon after they returned and brought them back without any considerable loss, 1 man being wounded on their side and none on the other.(1) The British in the engagement of this morn'g lost a Gen'l Agnew, Col. Bird, and 1 Lieut. Col.(2) besides an amazing number wounded; the loss of the Americans is undetermined, as they carryed off as many of their killed and wounded as they could. It is reported that Gen'l Wayne is among the slain.
(1) These troops composed the extreme right of Washington's army. They were Pennsylvania militia under the command of Gen. James Potter, and the attack, or feint, made by them was to attract the attention of the British, and prevent the sending of reinforcements to Germantown. The movement is not often mentioned in accounts of the battle of Germantown, though very favorable results were hoped from it. Major Jno. Clark, Jr., wrote to Washington (Oct. 6, 1777) that one of his friends told him that "if the troops had arrived at the middle ferry earlier 'twould have prevented the enemy's reinforcement from the city joining the main body."
(2) The remains of Gen. Agnew and Lt.-Col. Bird lie in the burying ground at the corner of Fisher's Lane and Main St., Germantown, the spot being marked with a neat marble slab placed there by the late John F. Watson. In Lossing's Field Book (vol. ii. p. 113, 2d ed.) will be found a very interesting letter to the widow of Gen. Agnew, from his servant, giving an account of his death.
Oct. 5th.-This morning I went to Germantown to see the destruction, and collect if possible a true acco. of the Action. From the acco's of the Officers and Sold'rs it appears that the Americans surprised the picquet guard of the English, which consisted of the 2d Batt. Grenadiers, some Infantry, and the 40th Regt., altogether about 500. The English sustained the fire of the Americans for near an hour (their numbers unknown), when they were obliged to retreat, the ammunition of the Grenadiers and infantry being expended. The 40th Regt. retreated to Chew's House, being about 120 men, and supported the fire of the Americans on all sides. The Americans came on with an unusual firmness, came up to the Doors of the House, which were so strongly barricaded they could not enter. One of the Americans went up to a window on the N. side of the house to set fire to it, and just as he was putting the Torch to the window he rec'd a Bayonet thro. his mouth, which put an end to his existence. The Americans finding the fire very severe retreated from the house. A small party of the Americans which had gone in near the middle of Germantown and had sustained the fire in the street for some time, perceived the British coming up in such numbers that they retreated. Gen'l Grey(1) with 5000 men pursued them to the Swedes Ford, his men being much fatigued and very hungry, and the Americans running so fast, that he gave over the chase and returned to his old encampment. The greatest slaughter of the Americans was at and near to Chew's Place. Most of the killed and wounded that lay there were taken off before I got there, but I lay in the field at that time opposite to Chew's Place.
1 Subsequently Earl Grey, the same officer who surprised Wayne at Paoli and Baylor at Tappan. He was the father of the celebrated Charles Grey, afterwards Lord Howick and Earl Grey, well known for his earnest advocacy of the reform measures introduced into the British Parliament in the early part of the present century.
The Americans were down as far as Mrs. Mackenet's Tavern.(1) Several of their balls reached near to Head Qur's, from all which Accost, I apprehend with what I have heard that the loss of the Americans is the most considerable. After I had seen the situation of Chew's House,(2) which was exceedingly damaged by the Balls on the outside, I went to Head Qur's,(3) where I saw Major Balfour,(4) one of Gen'l Howe's Aid de camps, who is very much enraged with the people around Germantown for not giving them intelligence of the advancing of Washington's Army, and that he should not be surprised if Gen'l Howe was to order the country for 12 miles round Germantown to be destroyed, as the People would not run any risque to give them intelligence when they were fighting to preserve the liberties and properties of the peaceable inhabitants. On our setting oil' we see His Excellency the Gen'l att'd by Lord Cornwallis and Lord Chewton,(5) the Gen'l not answer my expectations.
(1) In 1765 Daniel Mackenet owned a lot of ground on the east side of the Main Street above where the Market House stood, and it is probable the tavern kept by his widow in 1777 stood there.
(2) The doors of Chew's house, perforated with balls, can be seen in the National Museum in Independence Hall.
(3) Howe's quarters were then at Stenton.
(4) Nisbet Balfour, a native of Edinburgh. A sketch of this officer will be found in Gents' Magazine, May, 1823. He served during a greater part of the Revolution; was wounded at Bunker Hill and Long Island. He commanded at Charleston, S. C., at the time of the execution of Col. Haynes for which act he has been censured. He was Maj.-Gen. in 1793, Gen. 1803.
950 Probably George Lord Chewton, subsequently fourth Earl of Waldegrave, a great nephew of Horace Wai pole. Gen. Fitzpatrick wrote to the Countess of Ossory, from the head of Elk, Sept. 1777: "Lord Chewton was very ill during our voyage, and is yet hardly recovered; his good nature is heartily disgusted at these scenes of iniquity and horror, and he is impatient for the winter, when he will probably return to England with Lord Cornwallis."
Oct. 6th.-A heavy firing this morning down by Billingsport; I went to see the wounded soldiers now in this City, some at the Seceeder meeting house, some at the Presbyterian meeting house in Pine Street, some at the Play House, and some, and those the most, at the Penns'a Hospital,(1) where I see an Englishman's leg and an American's arm cut off. The American troops are mostly at 2 new houses in Fourth Street near to the Presbyterian meeting house, amt'g to about 30 and not so much attended to as might be. The British have about 300 wounded in this city. A heavy firing all this evening, supposed to be at the Forts down the river. An acco. come of the fleets being in the River.
(1) The Seceders" Meeting House, on Spruce St. above Third; the Pine St. Presbyterian Church, situated on south side of Pine, between Fourth and Fifth Streets; the Play House was on the south side of South St. east of Fifth St.; a portion of the walls of this building forms a part, we believe, of the brewery now standing on the site. Mr. Westcott, in his History of Philadelphia, mentions (in addition to the above) the following edifices, which were used for hospital purposes: The First Presbyterian Church, Market St. below third ; the Second Presbyterian Church at Third and Arch Streets; Zion's and St. Michael's Lutheran Churches at Fourth and Fifth and Cherry Streets; and Cornman's sugar refinery.
Oct. 7th.-A certainty of the Fleets being below, 14 men have deserted from the Row Gallies, who give an acco. of their disabling a British Brig last ev'g, and that the men belonging to the American Fleet would desert were it in their power. News arrived this morning of 3000 men being arrived at New York, and 5000 at Quebec. No further intelligence of Burgoyne's movements. No certain acco. of the Chevaux de Frise being as yet raised. The wounded Americans in this city are removed to the State House.
Oct. 8th.-Admiral Howe is arrived at Chester. David Sproat(2) is come to town, who reports that there is a letter in the fleet from Gen. Clinton to Gen. Howe, giving an acco. of Gen. Burgoyne defeating Gen. Gates, and that he is now on his march to Albany. I went to see Doe. Foulke(3) amputate an American soldier's leg, which he completed in 20 minutes, while the physician at the military hospital was 40 ms. performing an operation of the same nature. A report that some of the Chevaux de Frise are raised.
(2) David Sproat; previous to the Revolution he was a merchant in Philadelphia. He was commissary of naval prisoners. The mortality of persons under his care at New York was very great, but it is impossible to state facts which concern him personally with accuracy. He was attainted of treason in Pennsylvania, and his estates forfeited. He died at his house, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, in 1799, aged sixty-four years.-Sabine.
(3)Dr. John Foulke was the earliest demonstrator and lecturer on human anatomy in the Medical College of Philadelphia. He was polished and liberal, zealous and humane; during the epidemic of yellow fever, he would be absent from his home for several days at a time, devoting himself to medical attendance on the sick in the infected district,''- Memoir of W. Parker Foulke.
Oct. 9th.-A heavy cannonade last night and this morning. The British are about to open. Batteries to bombard the Fort at Mud Island. Cap. Ewald called this morning with a letter from my uncle, N. L., dated New Jersey, Dec. 12th, 1776, at which time many in Jersey were apprehensive that the British would take possession of this city as soon as the river was fastened by the ice, but Gen'l Washington's taking the Hessians at Trenton turned the scale against them, disconcerted their measures, and prevented their coming that winter. At the time of his coming into the house I was not within, but being sent for, and presenting myself to him, he handed me ye letter, and behaved in other respects much like a gentleman. After a long conversation and he offering to go, I invited him to dine with us, but he politely excused himself and promised to wait upon us when he again comes to the City, being stationed at the Widow Lewis' Plantation.
Oct. 10th.-Nothing remarkable this day.
Oct. 11th.-A heavy cannonade this morning. A report that the battery erected by the British on Province Island was taken. Went with a number of Gent'n to Hollander Creek's mouth, where we had a sight of the American Fleet and 5 of the British lying a little way below the Chevaux de Frise. From all appearances the British Fort was not taken, as from the Acco's of numbers who were present at the time of the American Boats landing at the Fort (the access of their numbers are various and contradictory) and the boats returning without their men and the Gondolas 2 hours afterwards firing upon the Fort, it is reasonable to conclude that the Report is groundless and that the Fort is not taken.
Oct. 12th.-About 1 o'clock this morning, the inhabitants were alarmed by the cry of fire, which happened at a stable above the Barracks, supposed to have been occasioned by a number of Hessians lodging in the Stable, but was happily extinguished notwithstanding the inactivity of the inhabitants, and a 3 story adjoining house which caught 3 Times, in less than 2 hours. Went this afternoon to the middle Ferry at Schuylkill, where I see a man from Chester who said that last night about 300 militia came into that town and took off the Sheriff of Sussex, whom Governor McKinley(1) some time since advertised with a reward of 300 Dol's. Several Acco's at this ferry of the Americans approaching this City, particularly one who said that they were within 7 miles and that his Brother was taken off.
(1) Gov. McKinley, of Delaware, was taken from his bed and made prisoner by the British the night after the battle of Brandywine. The arrest of the Sheriff of Sussex was probably an act of retaliation.
Oct. 13th.-This morning about 1 o'clock there was the most severe cannonade that has yet been heard, near Province Island, supposed to be from the British ship, upon the American ships and battery. I went down there this morning and perceive the British ships to have altered their stations and come up higher, the American fleet nearly in the same place they were some time since. This ev'g I see a man from Chester County who says that Gen'l Potter (2) with 1600 militia is now in Newton Township about 16 miles from this City.
(2)Gen. James Potter, of the Pennsylvania Militia, of whom little is known. "In order to prevent Gen. Howe from obtaining supplies for his army in the well-cultivated district west of the Schuylkill, Gen. Potter with 600 militia was ordered to scour the country between that river and Chester."-Smith's Del. Co.
Oct. 14th.-This ev'g my mother rec'd a letter from my Father, J. P. dated 1 and 6 inst. by which we find that the prisoners had arrived at Winchester, that the people were very much enraged at them and declared that they should not stay there long; that they had petitioned Gov. Henry of Vir. and the Congress for a Releasement from their confinement and their return to their families.(1) The British are erect'g a strong Battery upon Province Island, and they suppose will be completed and opened this morning.
(1) See Exiles in Va., pp. 164, 167.
Oct. 15th.-A heavy firing this morning near to Province Island. The American Fort is abandoned by a number of their men who have carried a great deal of their Stores, Baggage, &c. to Redbank and the American Fleet is moved further up the River. The Americans came down to the middle Ferry upon Schuylkill and cut the rope about 4 o'clock this morning, which caused some platoon firing between them and the Light Dragoons.
Oct. 16th.-Some bombs were this day thrown at the American Fort, and it is reported set fire to their Barracks. The Americans are fortifying at Red Bank. The British at Wilmington have marched to take their Fort. Provisions are very scarce. Good beef sells for 2/6 Mutton 2/6 Veal 2/ Butter 7/6. A prospect of starvation.
This day the English Battery burnt some of the Barracks belonging to the American Fort.
Oct. 17th.-No remarkable occurrence this day.
Oct. 18th.-Went to the mouth of Hollanders Creek this morning, where I had a view of the American and 4 of the British Fleets. The upper and lower British Batteries fired several times at the Mud Island Fort, but I believe without execution. The American Fort returned the fire. The lower English Battery fired 3 Bombs. The American Fleet lay nearly under Red Bank to be out of the way of the bombs. The American Flag was this day hoisted at Red Bank. The British troops that left Wilmington and were supposed to have gone to take Red Bank y's ev'g came up as far as Geo. Gray's Ferry and bro. a number of their sick and wounded into Town. A smart platoon firing this ev'g above Germantown.
Oct. 19th.-A firing this morning at the fort. Went this afternoon to the Plantation. When I had got as far as I. Pemberton's Place, I see about 100 Hessians(1) com'g down the road on a foraging, or rather plundering, party. As soon as they came to the corner of the road, their com. gave them permission to take all the cabbage and Potatoes they could find. Being afraid y't they would take our cabbage, I applied for a guard to the House and Garden, which was immediately granted, and by that means prevented our cabbage from being plundered. After they had taken all Jno. King's Cabbage and Potatoes they marched off. Bro't our cabbage home. It was surprising to see with what rapidity they run to, and with what voraciousness they seized upon Jno. King's Cabbage and Potatoes, who remained a silent spectator to their infamous depredations.
(1)Capt. Henrichs, the German officer who wrote the letters printed on page 40, must have been stationed in the neighborhood of Pemberton's plantation.
Oct. 20th.-Went to the plantation to see about the potatoes, &c., and when I got to the corner of ye road I see another party of Hessians com'g down with Horses, Carts, bags, &C., to carry off Hay, potatoes, &c. The com'r rode up to Jno. King's House, and I followed him. He said he was come by orders of the General to take the Hay and Potatoes. I told him who it belonged to, but to no purpose. By this time a guard which Col. Harcourt had sent came up and declared they should not take it. From thence they went to J. Bringhurst's Place(2) where they took all the Hay and most of ye Potatoes which belonged to the Tenant, to the great distress of the family. I went a little further and see a number of Hessians crossing over the bridge of boats lately made for that purpose, with Bennett(3) of W-n, a prisoner.
(2) On the opposite side of the road from Pemberton's place and nearer to Gray's Ferry.
(3)Possibly Caleb P. Bennett, who died at Wilmington, Del., May 7, 1836, while governor of that State. He held the rank of major, was in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, and in the Southern campaign. We have no record of his being taken prisoner, and are unable to connect him with the person mentioned by Morton.
14 of the Eng. flat bottomed boats came by the Che-de-Frise this morning, which occasioned some firing. I went this afternoon to see the British encampment, which extends in nearly a line from Delaware to Schuylkill. The reason of their leaving Germantown was because their lines were too extensive for the number of ye men.(1) The troops appeared in good spirits, good health and heartily desirous for the fleets getting up that they might pursue General Washington. The most heavy firing at the fort y't we have had yet: On 1st day, the 19th, Gen'l Howe came to his quarters at Jno. Cadwalader's house in consequence of the Army contracting their lines. The B. Camp is below Kensington. We see a number of the Con. troops about ½ mile from the British Piquet, having exchanged several shots.
(1) Sargent, in his Life of Andre (p. 117), says: The troops that entered with Cornwallis had been quartered at the State House, the Bettering (or Poor) House, &C., and had at once set to fortifying, the river front against our ships and galleys. The disposition made of the main army placed the Hessians and grenadiers on Noble and Callowhill, between Fifth and Seventh Sts.; the British grenadiers, Fourth, Fortieth, and Fifty-fifth, &c., on the north side of Callowhill, from Seventh to Fourteenth Sts.; eight other regiments were on the higher grounds of Bush Hill from Fourteenth St. in about a line with Vine to the upper Schuylkill Ferry, near which was a Hessian post; while the Yagers were on a hill at Twenty-second St. and Pennsylvania Ave. Infantry corps were at Eighth, near Green Sts. and by Thirteenth, on the Ridge Road. The 16th Dragoons and three foot regiments were by a pond between Vine and Race, and Eighth and Twelfth Sts.; and a body of Yagers at the Point house on the Delaware. When winter came on, the men were quartered in the public buildings and private houses, and in the old British Barracks in the Northern Liberties. The artillery were on Chestnut from Third to Sixth Sts., and their park in the State House Yard, now Independence Square. On the north side of the town ten redoubts, connected by strong palisades, were erected from the mouth of Conoquonoke Creek on the Delaware near Willow St. to the upper or Callowhill St. Ferry. They were thus situated: Near the junction of Green and Oak Sts., where the road then forked for Kensington and Frankford; a little west of Noble and Second Sts.; between Fifth and Sixth and Noble and Buttonwood Sts.; on Eighth St. between Noble and Buttonwood; on Tenth between Buttonwood and Pleasant; on Buttonwood between Thirteenth and Broad; on Fifteenth between Hamilton St. and Pennsylvania Ave.; at Eighteenth St. and Pennsylvania Ave.; at Twenty First and Callowhill Sts., and on the Schuylkill bank near the Upper Ferry. These works were begun on the 1st of October. To a British officer writing in October, our city did not present a very favorable appearance. He says: "I cannot say much for the town of Philadelphia, which has no view but the straightness and uniformity of the streets. Till we arrived I believe it was a very populous city, but at present it is very thinly inhabited, and that only by the canaille and the Quakers, whose peaceable disposition has prevented their taking up arms, and consequently has engaged them in our interests, by drawing upon them the displeasure of their countrymen."
Oct. 21st.-This morning about 2500 Hessians, under the Command of Count Donop, crossed the River in order to attack Red Bank, and marched from Cooper's Ferry tow'ds Haddonfield. No firing this day at the fort.
Oct. 22nd.-Went to the Plantation this morning and found that the British had taken 1 load of hay without paying or giving a Rec't. A number of the British have crossed the lower ferry in expectation of an attack with the Continental Troops, and keeping a communication open with Chester. The British have taken 2 more loads of hay upon the same conditions as the first. Last 7th day I rec'd a Rec't for the load of hay taken for the Light Horse, which I omitted mentioning at that time. The Hessians having taken all the Stores belonging to the A. Army at Haddonfield, proceeded on tow'ds Red Bank.
Oct. 23rd.-5th day of the week. An acco. is just arrived of Count Donop having attacked the fort at Red Bank, and his being repulsed 3 times with the loss of about 300 killed and wounded; and the great Count, who petitioned for the command in order to signalize himself and his famous Hessians, rec'd a fatal blow of which he shortly died. The wounded are brot. to town, and a number of Grenadiers and infantry gone over to make another effort. From this instance we see the important effects of despising the American army, and of Red Bank not being possessed by the British at the time they took Billingsport.(1) This morning 20 of the British ships moved nearer to the fort in order to do more execution than they have yet been able to do. After the British batteries, erected on Province Island, and the British ships had been firing near 6 hours at the Mud Island Fort, the Augusta, a new 64 Gun Ship, by some means or other, caught fire and burnt near 3 hours and then blew up; and the Zebra, a 16 gun sloop, likewise caught fire, and about 3 o'clock in the afternoon likewise blew up, to the great amazement of the inhabitants and the disappointment of the soldiery, who having a number of troops embarked to storm the fort, and which in all probability would have surrended in ½ an hour and the beseiged fallen victims to their vengeance. The Hessians this morning broke open the Plantation house, but did no considerable damages. The British that crossed Schuylkill yesterday, have returned and broke up the bridge at Gray's ferry, where they are erect'g a Facine Battery to defend the pass instead of carrying it to the upper ferry, where its proximity to ye camp would render it more conveniently protected and where, from the situation of the ground, it would be impossible to demolish it from the opposite side.
(1) Lee's Memoirs, and the Travels of Marquis de Chastellux both Contain interesting accounts of the attack on the fort at Red Bank.'
Oct. 24th.-No firing this morning. The Hessians and British Soldiers have taken above 50 Bus. of our Potatoes, notwithstanding the gracious proclamation of his Excell'y to protect the peaceable inhabitants in a quiet possession of their property. The ravages and wanton destruction of the soldiery will, I think, soon become irksome to the inhabitants, as many who depended upon their vegetables, &c. for the maintenance of their families, are now entirely and effectually ruined by the soldiers being permitted, under the command of their officers, to ravage and destroy their property. I presume the fatal effects of such conduct will shortly be very apparent by the discontent of the inhabitants, who are now almost satiated with British clemency, and numbers of whom, I believe, will shortly put themselves out of the British protection; I mean not to dictate to men of whose superior abilities I have a just appreciation, but had the necessities of the army justified the measures, and they had paid a sufficient price for what they had taken, then they would have the good wishes of the people, and perhaps all the assistance they could afford; but contrary conduct has produced contrary effects, and if they pursue their present system, their success will be precarious and uncertain. It is reported that Count Donop, after he had taken a view of the American Fort, found it impossible to take it without great loss; but as his orders were peremptory, he must take it or nobly fall in the attack. He del'd his watch and purse to Lord Bute's natural son, and then bro. on the attack; being soon after wounded, he fainted and he died.
Oct. 25th.-Great part of this day employed at Plantation taking down the fences to prevent the soldiery taking them. A report is this day prevalent, that Gen'l Burgoyne with 4000 men, surrendered prisoners of War on the 15th inst.(1)
(1) If what we have of General Burgoyne's situation be true, and that he and his whole army are literally prisoners, I think neither the war nor the Ministry can possibly last another campaign.-Gen. R. Fitzpatrick to Countess of Ossory, Philadelphia, Oct. 26, 1777.
Oct. 26th.-This day employed at Plantation taking down the fences. About 3 o'clock P. M., a small party of the Americans, chiefly militia, attacked a sentry of the British upon the Hill opposite Ogden's house at the middle ferry, which bro. on a smart firing between them and the British Picket. It continued about 15 min., when a Regiment marched over the Bridge to reinforce them. Upon their appearance, the Americans marched off, and the firing ceased.
Oct. 27th.-Nothing remarkable this day.
Oct. 28th.-Remarkably rainy weather, and nothing very material except that the English had burnt the Town of Esopus in New York Province.
Oct. 29th.-A firing at the fort about 1 o'clock.
Oct. 30th and 31st, and Nov. 1st.-These three days employed at the plantation taking up the posts and rails. A report in town that Esopus,(2) in the Province of New York, was burnt, and that a number of the inhabitants had fired upon the British troops from out of the windows, for which reason the town was set on fire, and guards placed at all the avenues to prevent the inhabitants from making their escape, which, if true, is an instance not to be paralleled in the annals of any nation who have so long boasted of their civilization, and yet proffer no milder conditions than servitude or death.
(2) The burning of Esopus, or Kingston, N. Y., occurred on the 10th of October, and, although an act of severity hardly warranted, was not attended with the atrocities mentioned in the text. A full account of the event will be found in the " Collections of the Ulster Historical Society," vol. i. p. 109.
The Americans have advanced to the borders of Schuylkill on acco. of the British at the destruction of their bridge being obliged to retreat to this side, which has occasioned a smart firing from each side. Having mentioned all that is necessary of my particular affairs, I shall now take a review of the conduct of the great, and candidly deliver my sentiments concerning their measures, and my opinion of their success provided they pursue them. Previous to their taking this city, their Gen'l published a proclamation warranting security and protection to those who should quietly remain in their dwellings, and thereby give a convincing proof of their attachment to his Majesty's government. Relying on the General's candor and generosity, they embraced the benefit of his proclamation, and remained quietly in their dwellings, expecting him to afford them that protection which the subjects of the British Empire are of right entitled to, but alas! melancholy experience has convinced them of the contrary, and the ruin of numbers has stamped it with infallible certainty. After they had, without much opposition, taken possession of the City, they sent a number of troops and took possession of Billingsport, and at the same time might have possessed Red Bank with a very inconsiderable loss had not their confidence dictated to the contrary.
The City being well fortified, they erected batteries on the Province Island, to silence the Mud Island Fort,(1) they fired to no purpose till the 23 ult., when 3 ships and the batteries engaged the Fort. After a few hours firing, the Augusta, 64 gun ship, and a small sloop blew up. The same morning ye Count Donop, with a body of Hessians, attacked the Fort at Red Bank and was repulsed, with a great number killed and wounded, himself mortally, and now among the slain.
(1) Gen. Fitzpatrick, writing to the Countess of Ossory from Philadelphia, on the 26th of October, 1777, entered his complaint at the delay in the capture of the forts on the Delaware as follows: "We arrived at this place above a month since, though we cannot possibly be said to be in possession of it all yet, as the ships cannot get up the river, and in spite of all their exertion, do not seem more likely to succeed in that object than they were three days after our arrival."
Here we have an additional instance of the experience of their confidence. As the last resource they are building 2 Floating Batteries, to make another attempt, and if that should fail, the consequences will be dreadful. But as by their expectations heightened by their confidence they will make great efforts, it is highly probable they will take the fort and their shipping come to the city. The Fort or bomb-battery was, by the last rain, so overflowed that the men were up to their middles in water. A certain acco. arrived by one of Gen'l Burgoyne's captains sent for the purpose, that on the 16th (1) ult., the army consisting of 3500 men, 13,000 stand of arms, 40 pieces brass cannon, and marched out with the honors of war and surrendered themselves prisoners.
(1) The articles of capitulation were signed on the 17th instant.
Nov. 2nd.-This afternoon I took a walk to see the camp, and went by the way of Schuylkill where we see some of the Americans on the other side. The soldiers appeared clean and neat.
Nov. 3rd.-No occurrence remarkable this day, a firing in the eve'g. We rec'd a letter from Winchester giving an acco. of the Friends, that they had a large room to dine in, that they were all very healthy, and that they had rec'd no answer to their address to Gov. Henry, and their remonstrance to Congress.
Nov. 4th.-An acco. of Burgoyne's surrender given out to day in General orders. The terms of capitulation are, " That the army should march out of their entrenchments and pile up their arms on the Bank of the Hudson River, that the men should march to, and encamp as nearly as convenient to the Town of Boston, there to remain at the expense of Congress till transports should be sent to carry them to G. B.," agreed to on the 16th Oct. 1777. Burgoyne's army ammo. to 1900 British,(1) 1600 Germans, Gates' Army to 16,000 men Con. and Militia. For the Particulars see Humphrey's paper, Nov. 5th.
(1) Bancroft gives the number at 5791, and 1856 prisoners previously captured.
Nov. 5th.-Nothing remarkable this day. Have heard that one of the floating batteries was launched yesterday. They report that the Fort is to be attacked the beginning of next week.
Nov. 6th.-No remarkable occurrence. Men employed at Plantation cutting our wood.
Nov. 7th.-Nothing remarkable this day.
Nov. 8th.-A report prevails that the British have, by orders evacuated Rhode Island. I went this morning to see the floating batteries upon the banks of Schuylkill, one of which had been launched the day before and was found very leaky and insufficient for that purpose. They are now repairing her, expecting to be ready to make the attack in a few days. A proclamation is at last published to prevent the soldiers plundering the inhabitants, and persons appointed to patrole.
Nov. 9th.-No remarkable occurrence. 10th. Monday Morning, a smart firing this morning at the Fort.
Nov. 11th.-Went to the mouth of Schuylkill and see the firing between the Mud Island Fort and the British Batteries upon Province Island. This ev'g 2 Brigs and 2 Sloops came from the fleet with provisions for the Army and went up Schuylkill.
Nov. 12th, Fourth day.-This day a severe firing by which the American Barracks was several times set on fire, but soon extinguished. I went this ev'g down to Province Island where I see the 2 Brigs, one called the Lord Howe and the other the Betsy, and the 2 sloops. One of the floating batteries has got to the mouth of Schuylkill and the other at Everley's, preparing with all possible dispatch and we may soon expect a general attack to be made upon the Fort.
Nov. 13th.-A firing this day on the Fort. 14th. Ditto.
Nov. 15th, 7th day of the week.-This morning about 11 o'clock the Vigilant and 6 more ships of war came up and attacked the fort together with the 6 gun, 2 do:, and other batteries on Province Island, The Vigilant took her station between the Province and Mud Islands and the other 6 ships just above the Hog Island. The firing continued till 6 o'clock P. M., and then ceased, being returned but seldom by the American Fort. The damage which the Fort sustained by an almost incessant fire for 7 hours, which burnt the Barracks, knocked down the Block Houses, dismounted the cannon and otherwise rendered the Fort untenable, obliged the besieged to evacuate and retire to Red Bank.1 The damage sustained by the British Ships and Batteries is unknown, but the Vigilant was huld several times by the Gondolas. Thus by American perseverance and the Fort's situation a British Army of 12,000 men and a fleet of 300 sail had been detained in their operations near 7 weeks by a power far inferior to theirs and which has always appeared contemptible in the eyes of men who have uniformly despised the Americans as a cowardly insignificant set of People. We rec'd a letter from my father by way of Wilmington giving an acco. of their being enlarged and permitted to ride 6 miles from their Dwellings. The British Troops entered the Mud Island fort this morning the 16th inst., and by the appearance of the Fort apprehended the Americans must have lost great numbers killed and wounded. They found a flock of sheep and some oxen in the Fort, besides 18 pieces of Cannon.
Nov. 18th.-This ev'g Lord Cornwallis with 2500 men marched over the Bridge at the middle ferry, with intentions as is supposed to attack the Fort at Red Bank. The next morning on their march tow'ds Darby they surprised the American Piquet, who retreated to the House called the Blue Bell1 and fired from the windows and killed 2 Grenadiers, some of the Grenadiers rushed into the House, bayoneted five, and the others would have shared the same fate had not the officers interfered.
1 An interesting account of the attack on Fort Mifflin may be found in a letter, written by Lt. Col. John Laurens, to his father, printed in Materials for History, edited by Frank Moore, N. Y., 1B61.
Nov. 19th.-This ev'g a Body of Hessians marched over Schuylkill.
Nov. 20th.-A report this day that the Americans last night set fire to the 2 floating batteries. A fireship, gondola, Armed ship or floating battery, unknown which belonging to the Americans, was this afternoon seen on fire between the city and Gloucester point. The cause of her being fired is unknown, she burnt for several hours and extinguished without doing further damage. We, this morning, rec'd a letter from my Father dated at Winchester the 12th inst., informing us that they had rec'd no intelligence from hence these 6 weeks, expressing an earnest solicitude for our welfare in this time of general calamity and distress; but they had rec'd an answer from Gov. Henry to their remonstrance by which they apprehended they are not to be sent further, but we imagine they have rec'd an answer by no means conducive to their releasem't. They had seen a Baltimore paper doubtless filled with gross misrepresentations and falsehoods respecting our situation, which, added to their not hearing from us for such a length of time, must have occasioned alarming apprehensions concerning us. That on the 24 ulto. the roaring of cannon had been heard within 100 miles of the city; that he had wrote 15 letters since their arrival at Winchester, 5 only of which we have received. A firing heard this evening supposed to be at Red Bank.
Nov. 21st.-This morning about 4 o'clock the inhabitants were alarmed by a very severe firing, which proved to be from the Delaware Frigate at the Gondolas as they passed the town on the other side of the river. I walked down to the wharf and see all the American Navy on fire coming up with the flood tide, and burning with the greatest fury. Some of them drifted within 2 miles of the town and were carried back by the ebb tide. They burnt nearly 5 hours; 4 of them blew up. This manoeuvre is supposed to have been occasioned by the British having taken Red Bank. The Gondolas passed by in the fog. Lord Cornwallis being joined in the Jerseys by 4000 men from the fleet, it is said is to proceed to Burlington, to cross the Delaware and come in the rear of Washington's Army.
1 Situated on the Darby Road near Cobb's Creek, and still standing, with its ancient came judiciously preserved.
Nov. 22d.-Seventh day of the week. This morning about 10 o'clock the British set fire to Fair Hill(1) mansion House, Jon'a Mifflin's and many others amo'tg to 11 besides out houses, Barns, &c. The reason they assign for this destruction of their friends' property is on acco. of the Americans firing from these houses and harassing their Picquets. The generality of mankind being governed by their interests, it is reasonable to conclude that men whose property is thus wantonly destroyed under a pretence of depriving their enemy of a means of annoying y'm on their march, will soon be converted and become their professed enemies. But what is most astonishing is their burning the furniture in some of those houses that belonged to friends of government, when it was in their power to burn them at their leisure. Here is an instance that Gen'l Washington's Army cannot be accused of. There is not one instance to be produced where they have wantonly destroyed and burned their friends' property. But at the last action at Germantown with the same propriety as the British, could have destroyed B. Chew's house, and then would have injured a man who is banished in consequence of his kingly attachment. On the other side they have destroyed most of the houses along the lines, except Wm. Henry's, which remains entire and untouched, while J. Fox's, Dr. Moore's, and several others are hastening to ruin, so that if they want to make any distinction, it is in favor of their open, professed and determined enemies. I went to the top of c. steeple(1*) and had a prospect of the fires. A passage being made through the chevaux de frize, several sloops came up to the city this evening. Price of provisions in market on the day of the fleet's coming to the city, Beef-, Pork-, Veal-, Butter-.
(1) Mrs. Logan in her letter to Col. Garden states that there were seventeen houses burned on this occasion, others say twenty-seven. The Fair Hill (Fairhill) mansion was owned by the Norris family and occupied by John Dickinson, a portion of whose valuable library was destroyed.
(1*) Christ church
Nov. 23d.-Several reports concerning Lord Cornwallis' expedition, but not to be depended upon. The kitchen at Evergreen burnt by the carelessness of some Hessian soldiers that were in it. The numbers of people who have by permission of Washington been going to Pennapack for these some weeks past for flour at 40 sh. per est., c. m.,(2) are now stopped by his order.
(2) continental money
Nov. 24th.-Twenty or thirty sail of vessels came up this morning from the fleet that the city now begins to receive. People in expectation that Germantown will be shortly burnt.
Nov. 25th.-The fleet daily arriving in great numbers. Burnt about one-half of a house near Gloucester belonging to one Hogg, a person that is reported to be an American Patriot. Lord Cornwallis, with the detachm't under his command, arrived in town this ev'g and brought over 400 head of cattle from the Jerseys.
Nov. 26th.-This morning I had an opportunity of seeing 63 sail of vessels coming to the city between this and the Point. Lord Howe arrived in town this morning. It is supposed that none of the larger vessels will come up to the city. From all appearances I am of opinion that the Army will not follow Gen'l Washington this winter. A report that additional number of soldiers are to be quartered on the inhabitants this winter. Rob't Ritchie of this city, merch't, is apprehended and secured on suspicion of giving intelligence to Gen'l Washington's Army.(3)
(3) Some accounts say the wife of Ritchie. See Marshall's Remembrancer, p. 169. Phila. 1839-1849.
Nov. 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th.-These 4 days the fleet coming up in great numbers. Some part of the army have marched over Schuylkill, and reports are prevalent that the main part of the army will soon move off. The Americans are moving off their heavy cannon. Gen'l Washington, it is said, is going to Virginia in a few weeks, and the command to devolve upon Gen'l Gates. Great exertions are making, both by the men and women of this city, to support the credit of the paper money legally issued. The women are determined to purchase no goods with hard money. Some of those who agreed to receive paper money have refused it for their goods, and among the rest some of our Society.
Dec. lst, 2nd, 3rd.-Numbers of the Fleet daily arriving. None of the large ships have yet come up. A contest has subsisted in this City since the arrival of the fleet, concerning the legal Paper Currency. The English merchants that came in the fleet will not dispose of their goods without hard money, alleging that no bills are to be bought, no produce to be obtained, and no method can be adopted by which they can send remittances. Numbers of the most respectable inhabitants are using all their influence to support it, and numbers of others who have no regard for the public good, are giving out the hard money for what they want for immediate use, thus purchasing momentary gratifications at the expense of the Public, for if the circulation of this money should be stopt, many who have no legal money but paper, and have no means of obtaining gold and silver, will be reduced to beggary and want, and those who are so lost to every sense of honor, to the happiness of their fellow citizens, and eventually their own good, as to give out their hard money, either for the goods of those who are newcomers, or in the public market where it is now exacted for provisions, will, by their evil example, oblige those who possess hard money, to advance it and ruin the credit of the other money for the present. The consequence of which must be that we shall be shortly drained of our hard cash, the other money rendered useless, no trade by which we can get a fresh supply, our ruin must therefore be certain and inevitable. This depreciation of the Paper Currency will not only extend its baneful influence over this City, but over all the continent, as the friends of government and others have been collecting this legal tender for several mo's past, expecting that in those places in the possession of the British Army it will be of equal value with gold and silver. But from the enemies of the British constitution among ourselves, who give out their hard money for goods, from the almost universal preference of private interest to the public good, and from a deficiency of public virtue, it is highly probable the paper money will fall, and those newcomers having extracted all our hard money, will leave us in a situation not long to survive our Ruin.1 Reports prevail, I suppose with some foundation, that the British Army are to march to-morrow. By the packet which sailed the first of this mouth for England, I wrote a letter to Dr. Fothergill in answer to one he wrote my father, also to Jno. and R. Barclay, acknowld'g the rec't of theirs of ye 1st Jany. last. Welsh, the Deputy Barrack Master, seized upon the house at Chestnut Street, late T. W.'s, for the 64th Regt. to put their baggage in it. I applied to Mr. Robinson the Barrack Master, and he ordered the house to be immediately del'd up.
1 The transports brought to the city a number of merchants who seized upon the most desirable vacant stores, and filled the papers with the advertisements of their wares. Christopher Marshall, who retired to Lancaster, Pa., previous to the occupation of Philadelphia by the British, records in his Remembrancer Feb. 28, 1778, News from Philadelphia, that there are one hundred and twenty-one new stores, amongst which is one kept by an Englishman, one by an Irishman, the remainder being one hundred and eighteen Scotchmen or Tories, from Virginia. Westcott, in his History of Philadelphia, gives a list of a number of these itinerant traders and the stores they occupied, with two poetical effusions which appeared at the time (relating to the trouble caused by their refusal to receive the paper money), one entitled " Song by Flotilla" on the agreement to support the Old Paper Currency, beginning-
Come, all ye good people, attend:
Pray, hear what a newcomer offers,
I've all sorts of good things to vend,
If you will but open your coffers.
Here we go, up, up, up,
Here we go, down, down, downward.
The other, by Joseph Stansbury, called " The Petition of Philadelphia to Sir Wm. Howe," ends with the following lines:- We pray the General in a general way Would grant redress, and that without delay; And value give the paper we possess, And then we'll sign the long since penned address
Dec. 4th.-5th day of the week. This evening about 8 o'clock, the British Army under the com'd of his Ex'y Sir Wm. Howe, marched out of the entrenchments and advanced towards Germantown, leaving a few regiments to keep possession of the City. Their advanced party arrived at Chestnut Hill about daylight, the rear of the army about leaving Germantown. On their march they took an American picket and a Brig. Gen'l Erwin of the P. Militia. A report that they had an engagement on Chestnut Hill. The Continentals at Frankford, not hearing of the British advancing till 12 o'clock, moved off to Germantown, when they took Christ'r Sower, Jun., who went with a division of the Army to that place. 6th.-Several of the inhabitants went out to day and brought in provision. 7th.-No certain acco. of the situation of the armies.
Dec 6th.-No reports to be depended upon concerning the armies.
Dec. 6th.-Nothing material.
Dec. 7th.-Gen'l Erwin(1) came in with a few Continental troops as prisoners yesterday morning.' A heavy firing this day.
(1) A sketch of Gen. James Irvine, the officer here alluded to, will appear in a future number of the Magazine.
Dec. 8th.-Several reports about the armies, but this ev'g, to the great astonishment of the citizens, the army returned. The causes assigned for their speedy return are various and contradictory, but ye true reason appears to be this, that the army having marched up to Washington's lines near to White Marsh, and finding him strongly posted, thought it most prudent to decline making the attack. The Hessians on their march committed great outrages on the inhabitants, particularly at John Shoemaker's, whom they very much abused. Bro't off about 700 head of cattle, set fire to the house on Germantown Road, called the Rising Sun,(1) and committed many other depredations, as if the sole purpose of the expedition was to destroy and to spread desolation and ruin, to dispose the inhabitants to rebellion by despoiling their property, and to give their enemies fresh cause to alarm the apprehensions of the people by these too true melancholy facts. John Brown(2) of this city, is now confined in Lancaster gaol for carrying a verbal message to Rob't Morris from Thos. Willing, the purport of which was, that if the Congress would rescind independence, they should be put into their situation in 1763. This is said to have come from Gen'l Howe to T. W. R. Morris communicated it to Congress; they demanded the name of the person who bro. the message, ordered him, thro. the council of safety, to be imprisoned for his attempting to lull them into security by these fallacious proposals. Flour excessively scarce at 23/9 pr Quarter of cwt, Beef 3/9, Mutton 2/3, Veal 3, Pork 2/3. The poor are very much necessitated, are turned out of the Bettering house, put into Fourth Street meeting house, the Lodge, and the Carpenters' Hall. No prospect of the paper money being established. Joseph Galloway, Esq., is appointed Superintendent General(3) with three other citizens as magistrates, to regulate the police of the City. Jos. Parker is dead at Lancaster. A report that the British Army is to go to Wilmington(4) in a few days. Several boats have come up with provisions, one to day with ab't 200 Hogs, some sheep, fowls, &C., from Dover.
(1) The Widow Nice's.
(2) A biographical sketch of Thomas Willing (with an account of his connection with John Brown) will be printed in a future issue of the Magazine.
Philadelphia, December 8,1777.
Under which the inhabitants may purchase the enumerated articles mentioned in the proclamation of his Excellency Sir William Howe, K. B., General-in-Chief, etc. etc. etc.
1. No rum or spirits of inferior quality, are to be sold (except by the importer) at one time, or to one Person, in any greater quantity than one hogshead, or in any less than ten gallons, and not without a permit first obtained for the quantity intended to be purchased, from the inspector of the prohibited articles.
2. Molasses is not to be sold (except by the importer) in any quantity exceeding one hogshead, at one time, nor without a permit as aforesaid.
3. Salt may not be sold (except by the importer) in any quantity exceeding one bushel at one time, for the use of one family, nor without the permit as aforesaid.
4. Medicines not to be sold without a special permit by order of the Superintendent General.
By order of His Excellency Sir William Howe.
Joseph Galloway, Superintendent General.
(4)Washington was of the opinion that the British would establish a fort at Wilmington, for the purpose of countenancing the disaffected in the State of Delaware, and drawing supplies from the surrounding country and the lower part of Chester County, Pa. To prevent this, he ordered Gen. Smallwood to occupy Wilmington, and recommended President Geo. Read, of Delaware, to call out the militia.-See Sparks, vol. v. p. 190, 191, 196.
Dec. 9th, 10th.-This Evg., Lord Cornwallis, with a division of the Enemy, marched over Schuylkill.
Dec. 11th.-This morning, Gen'l Washington left his strongholds, which he demolished, and marched over Schuylkill to watch Cornwallis' movements. A firing this morning on the Lancaster Road.(2)
(2) Washington writes to the President of Congress on the 14th inst., 1777, from head-quarters near the Gulf:-
"On Thursday morning we marched from our old encampment, and intended to pass the Schuylkill at Madison's [Matson's] Ford, where a barge had been laid across the river. When the first division and a part of the second had passed, they found a body of the enemy, consisting, from the best accounts we have been able to obtain, of four thousand men, under Lord Cornwallis, possessing themselves of the heights on both sides of the road leading from the river and the defile called the Gulf, which, I presume, are well known to some part of your honorable body. This unexpected event obliged such of our troops as had crossed, to repass, and prevented our getting over till the succeeding night. This manffiuvre on the part of the enemy was not in consequence of any information they had of our movement, but was designed to secure the pass whilst they were foraging in the neighboring country. They were met in their advance by General Potter, with part of the Pennsylvania militia, who behaved with bravery and gave them every possible opposition, till he was obliged to retreat from their superior numbers. Had we been an hour sooner, or had the least information of the measure, I am persuaded we should have given his Lordship a fortunate stroke, or obliged him to return without effecting his purpose, or drawn out all General Howe's force to support him. Our first intelligence was that it was all out. Lord Cornwallis collected a good deal of forage, and returned to the city the night we passed the river. No discrimination marked his proceedings. All property, whether of friends or foes, that came in his way was seized and carried off."-Sparks, vol. v. p. 185.
Dec. 12th-Provisions scarce, people daily going out for it. Hard to pass the paper money.
Dec. 13th.-Nothing material.
Dec. 14th.-This Evg., Dr. D. Smith returned from Winchester, to the great amazement of his friends and fellow citizens, having been confined better than 3 mos. He says that the Lieutenant of the County told them they were at liberty to go where they pleased. He, with the knowledge of his fellow-prisoners, left them on 2nd day last.(1) This extraordinary and unexpected affair may occasion the remainder being more closely confined, or else have a discharge with a permission to return home. It appears that no orders have been given concerning them, since the election of our new council, by the Assembly. The British Army, on their last excursion to Abington and Chester County, plundered a number of the inhabitants of everything they had upon their farms, and abused many old, inoffensive men. Some of them have applied for redress, but have not obtained it. Dr. Hutchinson entered into the Am. Army, as a surgeon, with 22/6 Con. money per diem. Paper money entirely dropt, and not passable.
(1) The journal of the exiles states the case as follows: 11th m., 8th, " Wm. Drewet Smith soon afterwards rode out to take the air, as we expected, but not returning as usual, we apprehend he has gone to Philadelphia."
Dec. 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th.-E. E. returned this week from his journey, and left Winchester the 3rd inst., came thro' Yorktown, and says the friends are to be removed to Stanton, owing to Owen Jones (2) selling J Joes @ £22 10, Continental, by which means the support of their cause is injured. The American Army lay near the Gulph Mill,(1) about 16 miles from the city. Rec'd a letter from Winchester, of the 10th inst. Lord Cornwallis went to England this week.
(2) In the diary of Christopher Marshall we find the following (Lancaster Co., Dec. 1lth, 1777] : "By some letters intercepted, there appears to have been a combination between the Friends sent into Virginia by the President and Council, and some inhabitants of Lancaster, in order to depreciate the Continental currency. Some of the letters are from Owen Jones, Jr., to John Mercer (Musser), Matthias Slough, and Matthias Graeff. This discovery has obliged the Board of War to send all the Quaker prisoners to Staunton, in Augusta Co., Va., and Owen Jones to close confinement, without the use of pen, ink, and paper, except in the presence of the Lieutenant of the County or his deputy."
The letters spoken of by Marshall will be found in Pa. Archives, vol. vi. p. 53-56. The order of the Board of War was not carried into effect.
(1) Gulph Mills-situated on the west side of the Schuylkill, about thirteen miles from Philadelphia, at the mouth of a creek of the same name. Washington's army remained here from the 12th of Dec. 1777, until about the 21st, when it removed to Valley Forge. It is possible that at one time, Washington thought to make this place his winter-quarters; such, at least, was the idea of Albigence Waldo, a surgeon, who writes in his journal, Dec. 13th: "The army marched three miles from the west side of the river, and encamped near a place called the Gulph, and not an improper name, neither. For this Gulph seems well adapted, by its situation, to keep us from the pleasures and enjoyments of this world; or being conversant with anybody in it. It is an excellent place to raise the ideas of a Philosopher beyond the glutted thoughts and reflections of an Epicurean. His reflections will be as different from the common reflections of mankind, as if he were unconnected with the world and only conversant with material beings. It cannot be that our superiors are about to hold consultations with spirits infinitely beneath their order-by bringing us into these utmost regions of the Terraqueous Sphere. No! It is, upon consideration, for many good purposes, since we are to winter here: 1st, There is plenty of wood and water; 2d, there are but few families for the soldiers to steal from-though far be it from a soldier to steal; 3rd, there are warm sides of hills to erect huts on; 4th, they will be heavenly-minded, like Jonah in the belly of a great fish; 6th, they will not become homesick, as is sometimes the case when men live in the open world, since the reflections which must naturally arise from their present habitation, will lead them to the more noble thoughts of employing their leisure hours in filling their knapsacks with such materials as may be necessary on the journey to another home."
This journal, giving an excellent picture of the army at this time, will be found in the Historical Magazine for 1861.
Dec. 21st, 22nd. - This morning, the main body of the Army marched over Schuylkill on a foraging party.
Dec. 23rd.-Nothing material this day.
Dec. 24th.-This Ev'g, about 7 o'clock, 1 Brigade of the Americans, with 3 pieces of cannon, attacked the British lines. After firing 6 ps. they retreated.(1)
(1) This attack was made by the Pa. Militia, on the British outposts in the Northern Liberties.-See Life of Gen. John Lacy, by W. W. H. Davis, p. M. Marshall records (Dec. 28th, 1777): "News of the day is that Col. Bull, on the twenty-fifth instant, made an excursion into Fourth Street in Philadelphia, with two thousand militia, and alarmed the city by firing off some pieces of cannon into the air, whereby some of the balls fell about Christ Church. He then made a good retreat back to his station, without the loss of a man."-Remembrancer, p. 173.
See Exiles in Virginia, pp. 164 and 167.
Dec. 25th.-Lord Howe, sailed for New York a few days ago.
Dec.26th.-Nothing very material except very hard weather.
Dec. 27th, 28th, 29th.-Exceeding cold.
Dec. 30th.-Last night severely cold. The navigation obstructed by the ice for the first time this season. The Army returned on the 28 inst., after collecting a great deal of Forage and taking a few prisoners. Some of the Transports in the River have been drifting with the ice. One was cast on the Jersey shore and plundered by the inhabitants, who came down in great numbers to participate of the plunder. One of the transports caught fire, was loaded almost with powder, but was happily extinguished without doing much damage.
THE DIARY OF ROBERT MORTON