Washington left Wayne with these orders on the 17th: "As I have receiv'd information that the enemy have turned down the road from the White Horse which leads to Swedes Ford on Schuylkill I have desired you that you will halt your troops wherever this meets you. I must call your utmost exertion in fitting yourselves in the best manner you can for following harassing... [the enemy's rear], General Maxwell will have a similar order and will assist you with the corps under his command."
Washington then sent another message which never reached Wayne, saying that Maxwell's orders were canceled and a request by Washington for Wayne to apprise him of his position and plans. In the interim Wayne wrote back to Washington a message asking for clarification of his orders. Washington wrote back again somewhat testily, "having wrote you twice already, to move forward upon the enemy I have but little to add. General Maxwell and Potter are ordered to do the same. I could wish you and those general to act in conjunction, to make your advance more formidable, but would not have too much time delayed on this account. The British were successfully swiping most of the messages between Wayne and Washington. Because of this they would know Wayne's position and intentions in advance.