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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Penn to Richard Caswell
Penn, John, 1740 or 1-1788
October 05, 1777
Volume 22, Pages 972-973


York, Pa., October 5th, 1777.


Your favor of the 2nd September I this minute received, and am glad to hear that the money, though very late, was arrived. The Congress left Philadelphia about the 20th, and are now at this place doing business. Our military affairs have taken an unexpected turn. General Howe is in possession of Philadelphia without a second battle. This, in some measure, has been owing to very great rains that happened on the instant of the armies engaging, as our soldiers were without tents, the baggage having been sent some distance; their guns and powder were so wet that General Washington was obliged to retire some distance to refit and get other powder, etc.

I understand that General Howe has not suffered his troops to march into the city, and have done little violence as yet to any of the inhabitants.

General Washington’s army is greatly reinforced by the militia from Virginia and New Jersey, so that I expect it will not be long before he attacks the enemy. I am not able to give you an account whether the enemy or we are in possession of the Delawre, not having heard for several days.

General Burgoyne and his army are in a situation very critical, he having lately met with a repulse in an attack on General Gates, who has upwards of 9,000 men with him, and 6,000 or 7,000 behind Burgoyne. Under the command of General Lincoln we have taken the greater part of the enemy’s water craft and are in possession of the lines near Ticonderoga, so that we expect that fort is in our possession again, as it was besieged more than ten days ago. It is said Burgoyne has not more than 6,000 or 7,000 soldiers with him. The Indians have all declined on our side, and, of course, have left him. Should we be able to destroy that army, General Howe must retire to New York or run a very great risk of suffering that place to fall

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into our hands, as he cannot keep that and Philadelphia without the assistance of Burgoyne.

The inhabitants of this State are much divided in their sentiments. They are all Tories the way that General Howe marched; they wish him success, but have not courage to join his army. I was lately at camp, when your son was well. I am in hopes soon to be able to give you a more pleasing account of our affairs here. I shall apply to Congress to give some directions relative to the pork you mention to-morrow.

I am, with due respect, sir,
Your obedient servant,

Sunday morning.