Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg letter to George Weedon, 1781 July 29


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John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg letter to George Weedon, 1781 July 29



Letter of Brigadier General Muhlenberg to Brigadier General Weedon in which Muhlenberg discusses the Battle of Green Spring fought July 6, 1781. The American forces were led by Lafayette and Anthony Wayne. Muhlenberg was critical of Wayne noting that "Green Springs ... might have proved fatal to this Army & the State, owing to the impetuosity of our Brother Brigadier." Muhlenberg describes for Weedon the course and outcome of the battle but advises Weedon that "... it will not do to make it public."


Text Item Type Metadata


Page 1

Camp July 29th: 1781.

This Morning My Dear General at half past 9 oClock
I was favored with Yours of the 27th: enclosing two Sheets
of paper; this Seasonable Supply enables me to convince
you, that I am not only a Man of my Word, but also
a fair Correspondent for here, let me see, exactly at 10
oClock I am writing away full well, with a borrowed pen
& Ink, on the very paper You sent me.

News You say must naturally originate with the operating
Army, This may have been the case heretofore, & may happen
again, but at present it will not apply, we have now
been ten days encampt in Malvern Hills, without being
able to find out what His Lordship has in view, This
much is certain that a Fleet of Transports is now lying
in Hampton Road with Some troops on Board, but You
know They may as well be destined up the Bay as for Sea.
Spies have been sent in from every Quarter, but the Deel on
one has [1 word illegible], so that at present we deal alltogether in
Conjectures & Guesswork. I am happy to hear that
Affairs look promising in other parts. If Lord
Cornwallis cannot brag much of his Jaunt thro' Virginia
We may likewise be Silent on that Score. The Affair at
Green Springs, Subrosa might have proved fatal to this
Army, & the State, owing to the impetuosity of our Brother
Brigadier. For your own Satisfaction I will give You a little
Sketch, of the matter, but it will not do, to make it public.

On the Morning of the 6th The Marquiss recd intelligence

Page 2

that half of the British Army had crossd over the river
& that the remainder was in Motion. Anxious to give them
a Slap at parting I was ordered to March with the Continental
Light Infantry as far as I thought prudent. Wayne with the
Pensa Line was ordered to follow & the Militia with the Park
of Artillery was halted near [1 word illegible] 15 Mile from Jamstown
when I got within four Mile of the Enemy's Camp we took a
prisoner, from him we learnt that the whole British Army
lay still in their Camp & that nothing but their Baggage
& Negroes had Crossd on this intelligence I halted until The
Marquiss & Wayne came up. The Question was askd, Shall
we with the two Continental Brigades risque anything Serious!
My Opinion was totally agt it, as the Main dependance of the
Army rested on those two Brigades & the Militia were 15
mile distant, The Enemy might destroy us by piece meal
The Marquiss was of the same Opinion, & as there was no Water
where we halted I was ordered to march three mile back
with the light Infantry & two Pensylvania Regts & to leave,
Colo. Stewarts Regt with one piece of Cannon who were to
act as a covering party to some Horse who were sent to
reconnoitre. At 3 oClock p.m. I recd. intelligence that the Riflemen were engagd
with the Enemys picketts & that the Pensa Line had advanced so
far that they could not retreat without engaging. We had now
seven mile to March to their Assistance which we completed in
one hour & fifteen Minutes, when we got to Green Springs we met
the Pensylvania Line, broke all to pieces not more than Six or Seven
in a Body. Their field pieces lost, the Regtof L. I. entirely Separated
from them. The British Infantry in pursuit & Tarlton with
500 Horse within a Mile ready to Charge. in this Nick of time

Page 3

we came up & began to display on the rising Ground near
the Springs, amidst Such Clouds of Dust, that the Enemy
thought our whole force was there ; & this Tarlton gives as
a reason why he did not Charge:/ some of them attempted to
turn our right Flank, but on receiving two rounds from about
200 of my Men they Halted. We Staid upon the ground about
two Hours after the Pensylvanians had left it & then Marchd
Slowly for our old Camp. The Enemy did not pursue us
Here. from this my Dr Sir You will be able to Judge
whether the Step on our Side was prudent, & whether the
Enemy if they had acted properly, might not have
totally destroyd both Brigades. Should anything
new turn up in a day or two, as I have still a sheet
of paper, I shall certainly write You imediatly
Be [one word illegible] to present my most respectfull Complim[ents]
to Your Lady.

I am Dear General,
with respect & Esteem
Your Most Obed Servt
P. Muhlenberg

Address leaf

The Honble
Brigadier General Weedon
P Muhlenberg BG.

Original Format

Ink on paper


Muhlenberg, John Peter Gabriel, 1746-1807, “John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg letter to George Weedon, 1781 July 29,” Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed May 29, 2024, https://cwfjdrlsc.omeka.net/items/show/433.