Dear Sir

The day after you left York, I moved Congress for an Order in the following words. “Whereas it is of the greatest Importance that Congress should, at this critical conjuncture be well informed of the State of affairs in Europe, and whereas Congress have resolved that the honble. Silas Deane Esqr. be recalled from the court of France & have appointed another Commissioner to supply his place there,

“Ordered that the Committee for foreign affairs write to the honble. Silas Deane, and direct him to embrace the first opportunity of returning to America & upon his arrival to repair with all possible dispatch to Congress.”

This I have sent with the other Papers to Mr. Adams and shall send tomorrow a duplicate to Baltimore to go with the packet which you left there.

I did not think it necessary to move that the Committee should be filled up on such a petty occasion, and therefore I spread a small Plaister for a large wound myself by the following.1


“By accident I find myself called upon singly to execute the duty of the Committee for foreign affairs, in communicating to you an order of Congress of this day respecting your return to America.

“The order stands in need of no comment from the Committee to elucidate it; and, being drawn in terms complimentary to your abilities of serving these United States upon your arrival here, I take pleasure in conveying it, being, sir, your very humb. Servt.”

I hope, Dear Sir, you will consider this proceeding as giving some sort of definition to the Recall, and in moderate language; as it stood before, he was to be recalled, but the time when was not in any measure marked out.

As to news I can only give you an Extract from the Committee’s Letter at Head Quarters dated Saturday. Decr. 6th 1/2 past 10 A.M. “Genl. Howe’s army left the city about 12 o’Clock that Night (4th) and reached the Neighbourhood of this camp about 5 the next morng. They are within sight of our quarters being posted on Chesnut hill opposite to the right wing of the American army, and from their motions yesterday Genl. Washington & his Gl. Officers expected an attack at noon or this Morning, but hitherto they remain quiet. There was yesterday some skirmishing between the militia & the enemy, in which Genl. Erving was wounded & taken prisoner; Capt. Marshall of the Militia was killed & one or two privates wounded. On the other hand about fifteen British & Hessian privates were made prisoners. Their killed & wounded we have no account of. We have reason to think that the enemy have come out with their whole force; and from the present appearances that a general engagement will take place, the consequences of which must be very important. We shall therefore postpone the further consideration of the business on which we were sent, until the event of this motion of the enemy shall be known. We have the pleasure to inform Congress that the army is much stronger than it has (been this Campaign)2 yet been, and appears to be desirous of engaging the Enemy; may God grant them resolution & Spirit, and crown their endeavours with success.


Morris, Geary, Jones.

P.S. A Deserter from the enemy this morning informs that they have brought out on Carriages a number of boats; which is confirmed through various channels. Camp at Whitemarsh.”

Mr. Geary writes further to Genl Roberdeau at 1/2 past one in the afternoon of the same day, that there was nothing new in the motion of the enemy since the date of his former letter. That a Mr. Colvill had just arrived from Elizabeth Town who informed that Inhabitants of Reputation, Whigs, from Staten Island gave account that a Fort was ordered to be immediately built on the “pitch of the Narrows” and that the Inhabitants were obliged to work every 3d day. This was confirmed by another Gentleman who was lately on the Island with Genl. Dickinson. This wears the appearance of a French War.

Decr. 10th. As we have nothing new this morning, I conclude no action has taken place either Saturday P.M. or Sunday. All accounts prove that the enemy & the Inhabitants of the City are greatly distressed.

I am, Dear Sir, your affectionate, very humble Servt.

James Lovell

Receiver’s copy, University of Virginia Library.

1 A copy of the Committee for Foreign Affairs’ letter to Silas Deane, this date

2 Lovell placed an asterisk in the manuscript at this point and noted in the margin “I give you Gearys correction exactly.”