Washington's December 10 Report to Congress

Sir: I have the honor to inform you, that in the course of last week from a variety of intelligence I had reason to expect that General Howe was preparing to give us a general Action. Accordingly on Thursday night he moved from the City with all his Force, except a very inconsiderable part left in his line and redoubts, and appeared the next morning on Chestnut Hill, in front of, and about three miles distant from our Right wing.

As soon as their position was discovered, the Pennsylvania Militia were ordered form our Right to skirmish with their Light, advance parties, and I am sorry to mention, that Brig. Gen'l Irvine, who led them on, had the misfortune to be wounded and made prisoner. Nothing more occurred on that day.

On Friday night the Enemy changed their Ground and moved to our left within a mile of our line, where they remained quiet and advantageously posted the whole of the next day. On Sunday they inclined still further to our left, and from every appearance, there was reason to apprehend they were determined of an Action. In their movement their [line] advanced [against] Maryland Militia under Colo. Gist. Their loss I cannot ascertain, but I am informed it was considerable, having regard to the number of Corps who engaged them.

About sunset, after various marches and countermarches they halted, and I still supposed from their disposition and preceding manoeuvers, that they would attack us in the night or early the next morning, but it this I was mistaken. On Monday afternoon, they began to move again and instead of advancing filed off from their Right, and the first certain account that I could obtain of their intentions was, that they were in full march toward Philadelphia by two or three routes. I immediately detached light parties after them to fall upon their Rear, but, they were unable to come up with them.

The Enemy's loss, as I have observed, I cannot ascertain. One account from the City is, that five hundred wounded have been sent in; another is that 82 wagons had gone in with men in this situation. These I fear are both exaggerated and not to be depended upon. We lost 27 men in Morgan's Corps in killed and wounded, besides Major Morris [1st New Jersey Regiment], a brave and gallant officer, who is among the latter. Of the Maryland Militia, they were 16 or 17 wounded. I have not received further returns yet.

I sincerely wish they had made an attack, as the issue, in all probability, form the disposition of our troops, and the strong situation of our camp, would have been fortunate and happy. At the same time I must add, that treason, prudence, and every principle of policy, forbade us quitting our post to attack them. Nothing but success would have justified the measure; and this could not be expected from their position.

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Philadelphia Campaign 1777