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The river was so full of ice that it was impossible to pass above Bristol, where I intended, and there fore concluded to make an attempt at Dunks's Ferry. As soon as it was dark, I sent down all the boats I could muster, and marched down about eight o clock. I embarked a few men to line the river, and prevent any person escaping to give intelligence to the enemy ; and these were followed by a part of the first battalion of militia, then two field-pieces, with which I went over to see if it was practicable to land them, and, upon examination, found it was impossible, the ice being very thick. Upon reporting this to the field-officers, they were all of opinion that it would not be proper to proceed without can non. During this time the third battalion was land ed. We concluded to withdraw the troops that had passed, but could not effect it till near four o clock this morning. The whole then were ordered to march for Bristol.
I imagine the badness of the night must have prevented you from passing, as you intended.! Our men turned out cheerfully. We had about eighteen hundred rank and file, including artillery. It will be impossible for the enemy to pass the river till the ice will bear. Would it not be proper to attempt to cross below, and join General Putnam, who was to go over from Philadelphia to-day, with five hundred men, which number, added to the four hundred Jersey militia which Colonel Griffin left there, would make a formidable body. This would cause a diver sion, that would favor any attempt you may design in future, and would expose their baggage and stores, if they attempt to cross. It is impossible, in our present situation, to cooperate with General Putnam. The militia will be easier kept together by being in motion. We shall have some service from Colonel Hitchcock's brigade, whose time of enlistment will be up in a few days. We have procured a considerable number of shoes, stockings, and breeches for them. They are in good spirits, and enlist very fast, I am, Sir, with great respect,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
- John Cadwalader
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume I., Jared Sparks, 1853