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General Washington to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety



Head-Quarters, Bucks County, 15th December, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: With the utmost regret I must inform you of the loss our Army has sustained by the captivity of General Lee, who was made a prisoner on the morning of the 13th, by a party of seventy of the enemy' s Light-Horse, near a place called Vealtown, in the Jerseys. For the particulars, I refer you to the enclosed from General Sullivan.

The spirit of disaffection that appears in this country, I think deserves your serious attention. Instead of giving any assistance in repelling the enemy, the Militia have not only refused to obey your general summons and that of their commanding officers, but I am told exult at the approach of the enemy and our late misfortunes.

I beg leave to submit to your consideration, whether such people are to be trusted with arms in their hands. If they will not use them for us, there is the greatest reason to apprehend they will against us, if opportunity offers. But even supposing they claimed a right of remaining neuter: in my opinion we ought not to hesitate a moment in taking their arms, which will be so much wanted in furnishing the new levies. If such a step meets your approbation, I leave it to you to determine upon the mode. If you think fit to empower me, I will undertake to have it done as speedily and effectually as possible. You must be sensible that the utmost secrecy is necessary, both in your deliberations on, and in the execution of, a matter of this kind; for if the thing should take wind, the arms would presently be conveyed beyond our reach, or rendered useless.

Your favours of the 13th and 14th instant are this moment come to my hands. I am glad to find, from the latter, that the Militia of Lancaster County are in motion; and I am in hopes that General Mifflin' s appearance in the different Counties will have as good an effect as it had in Philadelphia. I have received information that the body of the enemy which lay at Pennington, under Lord Cornwallis, moved this morning back towards Princetown; if so, it looks as if they were going into quarters; and this corresponds with the account brought last night by a prisoner,


a servant belonging to General Vaughan' s family, who says he heard his master talk of going soon into winter quarters. The body, that lay at Trenton, are likewise filing off towards Allentown and Bordentown, with their baggage; which makes me conjecture they are taking the road to South-Amboy. I have a number of small parties out to make discoveries; and if the motions of the enemy are really such as I have mentioned above, I shall soon have information of it. In the mean time, my troops are so stationed as to prevent them from crossing the river at any place without our knowledge. But I am in great hopes that the disappointment in boats, and the lateness of the season, which now begins to put on the face of winter, will prevent their making any attempt upon Philadelphia till spring. This, however, should not in the least slacken your exertions in making the necessary preparations for the fortification and defence of the rity, by land and water; for you may be assured that will be their first and great object in the spring.

I have the honour to be, &c˙,


To the Council of Safety of Pennsylvania.