Loammi Baldwin Letter of Dec. 1776

 

To Loammi Baldwin as a Currency Signer

Letter from Loammi Baldwin

Describing the March from White Plains, NY to near Trenton, NJ.

Note: The original letter is in the collection of Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and filed as a letter from Loammi Baldwin to Mary Baldwin, Dec. 21, 1776.

This letter is an invaluable description of the hardships suffered by all the footsoldiers of the regiments that were 'led' by General Lee. It describes also Baldwin's thoughts on the capture of General Lee. Remember also that for most New Englanders, NY, NJ and Pennsylvania were VERY foreign countries, and this comes out in the descriptions of Loammi Baldwin, especially in Pennsylvania.


December 19th 1776

Camp at Buckingims 5 miles west of the River Delaware and 30 miles above Philadelphia

My Dear

This with my kind Love and Tender Affection for you and our little son; Duty to our honor'd Parents, love to Brothers, Sisters, Respects to all Friend.

Earnestly hoping this will find you well in health as it leaves me tho if I was at home, should think myself sick enough to keep house, but here feel my self in good spirits. Should enjoy my self well if I knew what we have been and are still about. But I am determined to exert my self to the last & have no neglect of mine to reflect upon. I trust in the skill of my Commanders and cheerfully execute the orders I have from time to time rece'd from them. The same has been done I believe by all the officers & soldiers in the Army.

However the Enemy have penetrated much further into the country than I expected they would be able to do this fall. They have made good destruction in their rout through New Jersey and they now lay at Burlington and Trent town on the East side of the River Delaware and General Washington's Army on the West over against them where I expect we shall arrive and form a junction tomorrow. Am informed this evening that upwards of 20,000 troops from the southard have passed the Schoolkill River at Tweed Ford in order to join General Washington. Head Quarters is about 30 miles above Philadelphia. The inhabitants in general have moved out of the City of Philadelphia.

You will please to excuse me for not giving you a particular account of the state of affairs in the Army for it is not in my power as I am now upon a long roundabout fatiguing march a bare sketch of which I will give you in the following manner.

1776 Nov

26 Recd orders in the morning to strike our tents & march from that encampment (which was near the White Plains) to North Castle Church (the whole of the Brigade to which I belonged had the same orders that I did). The day proceeded very rainy & was very bad marching. I was on foot without any great coat [&] I was sufficiently soaked. Arrived at the Church above 7 o'clock in the evening. After getting my men under cover, which was very difficult, there being but very few houses or barns, and them to share among 5 regiments. I got into Quarters myself about 10 o'clock wet and cold.

27 Set out from North Castle for Crompond, very rainy forenoon. Come to Crompond just at night. The men chiefly got Quarters in Houses that night.

28 Pitchd our tents & lay at Crompond. General Lee come up.

29 Continued at Crompond.

30 Remaind at Crompond very Rainy.

1776 Dec. 1 Sunday, Marchd from Crompond to Peekskill on the North River about 60 miles above York City.

2 Lay at Peekskill. About this time Col. Sergant's Brigade and General McDougalls and General Nixon's come up and joined Col. Glover's.

3d Marchd from Peekskill for Kings Ferry. Very rainy all day. Crossed the river just before night. Pitched our tents in N. Jersey by the side of the mountains. Took my lodging in a common tent upon the wet ground very late, there being no house to go to. In the night the rain increased and the flood come down the mountains and ran in torrents among and through our tents and allmost washd them away. I had no bed nor blanket except a thin piece of druggit in form of a small blanket. All the marching Army under General Lee reced orders at Peekskill not to take anything with them but one shirt and one pr. hose more than what they commonly wore.

4th Struck our tents in the morning and marchd to Haverstraw. Raind by showers all day. Exceeding bad travelling. Ordered to pitch our tents about one o'clock which we did. Soon after came. orders to strike and march 2 miles further which we did and pitchd under the grand mountains at the Landing at Haverstraw Bay. Lay in my tent.

5th Marchd from Haverstraw to Cakaac

6th From Cakaac to part of Pumptown

7th From part of Pumptown to another part of Pumptown.

8th From Pumpton to Troy

9th From Troy to Chatham

10th From Chatham to Morristown. Place pritty thick settled , court house, jail there.

11 Continued at Morristown began to snow this evening, the first flakes I have seen this siason.

12 From Morristown to Bedminster.

13 From Bedminster to Germintown; this day around 10 o'clock A.M. General Lee was taking by a party of the Enemy's Light Horse about 5 or 6 miles in the Rear of our Army, a French officer was taken with him, but nobody else. I think he is chargable with the highest degree of imprudence for suffering himself to be at such a distance from his Army when he knew he was amongst some the most iveterate Tories and the Publick Enemy nigh at hand. Our Army marchd for several days about this time, ready to form a line of battle at the shortest notice. About 6,000 of the Enemy Grenadiers and Light Infantry were making up in order to intercept our March but we took a different road from what they expected which frustrated their design. The Comand now falls upon General Sulivan, the only General we have with us tho the Army consists of 4 Brigades amounting to something better than 3,000 Men, 120 Baggage Waggons and Carages.

14th marchd from Germintown to Labenon. Extreme Cold weather. I lay in my tent but slept none, being in the most excrutiating paine with the Piles.

15 This morning struck our tents at 4 o'clock and marchd from Lebanon, very early. We drew a little salt pork, being the first we have drawn since we began this March. Took a juice of boild pork (without any bread for dinner - ate no breakfast). After stopping about 15 or 20 minutes we set out on our march again & proceeded on till we come to Phillipsburg about where we arrived about one o'clock at night & remaind there till break of day. Then it come to my turn to cross the River Delaware over the ferry from Phillipsburg in N. Jersey to Easton in Pennsylvania.

Dec. 16 After crossing the River this morning & ordering the Reg't where to pitch the tents, I went to a house and got a hot breakfast being the first mouthful of victuals or drop of drink I have taken in any house since the 2nd inst. Neither have I lodged in any house since that time nor ate a mouthful of any kind of sauce or any kind of spoon victuals whatever since the 2nd Inst. Thus I have lived 14 days upon nothing but fresh beef without salt and dry flower (which we have cooked in the best manner we could without even so much as a camp kittle half the time). Except 1 day allowance of salt pork, a fowle or two and a few sasages my waiter bought of some of the inhabitants and brought in camp & a little salt they beged. I know by this time what sickness and hardship in conjunction are though I have in general a pritty good apetite to my food as coric as it is.

17 Marchd from East town in the morning. arrivd at Bethlehem about sunset. General Gates with about 200 troops arrivd in Bethlehem from Ticonderoga about 2 hours before General Sulivan's Army. My Reg't crossed the River Lehi, the troop in boats and the baggage crossed the ford. I procured Liberty of General Sulivan to tarry in Bethlehem that night in order to see the curiosities of the Meravians in the morning.

18 This morning was conducted by one of the overseers of the Public House , first through the young women's house, a large elegant stone building 5 stories high, was led into all the Apartments where was young women very industriously at work at all sorts of women's imploy - spinning, weaving, kniting, quilting, imbroidering, lined drawing, limning, painting in water colour, writing, etc...

I was then conducted into one of the young women's sleeping Halls, where was sixty bed in one hall, all single beds as they are not sufferd to sleep two in a bed. The Hall is so contrived that they receive no disadvantage from their breath or perspiration: they have lamps burning and a watch standing or walking all night in their hall where they sleep.

I then was carried into their dining hall which was hung with paintings, writings, etc, and from thence into the kitchen which was so ingeniously contrived that three women with the greatest ease cook for one hundred and twenty young women who all dined together. Their kitchen is something like a confectioner's shop. every thing throughout their whole house is extremely neat and clean. The women's dress is plain and modest tho exceeding neat and clean, their head dresses are all uniform, diferent from any that ever I saw before.

I then went to the young men's House, another bigger stone building, six stories high, 50 windows on one side. The young men in this serve many occupations and follow much the same method of life that women do. They have 90 beds in one of their sleeping halls. There is also the Widows' House where a Woman, as soon as she becomes a widow, enters and receives a fifteen pound annuity every year during her widowhood.

There is also the children's or Youth's House where the children are educated , vitualled, sleep and their church and church musick is grand.

Their water work are simple yet well contrived whereby all the town consisting of about 100 fine stone houses is watered, even in their chambers. They have water only by turning a close cock. In short then Oeconomy, industry, benevolence and monnies in general are truly astonishing but to give a particular account of this place would require more time than I have at present and more ink too. I have but poor conveniency for writing.

18 Movd from Bethlehem to part of Buck County. Continuously cold.

19 Marchd from part of Bucks County to Buckingham. Marchd this day without stopping on March from morning to night. I have not been able to ride a step for 5 days past; procured a house to lodge in this night.

20 This morning snowed very fast. Recd orders to march. The orders were soon after countermanded. It continued snowing the forepart and raind the later part of the day. The troops remain here with orders to march at 6 o'clock tomorrow morning. Expect there will be a push made against the Enemy before close of the campaign. I must beg you to excuse this scroll for I assure you I should as leave undertake to write in the Broad Alley of our Meeting House upon a town meeting when the affairs of the school are adjutated as to write here. The opirtunity by Mr. Crofts I am very fond of embracing, [for] I have had no opertunity to write to you since I wrote by Capt. Rice.

When I get to the end of this march which will probably be tomorrow, I shall be about 400 miles from you the way I suppose I must return; which distance I propose to begin to shorten so soon as I can settle my affairs if I live through this campaign. Perhaps I shall be at home some time the latter part of January next, and sooner if Possible.

I am my Dear with much Esteem your Affectinate Husband

Loammi Baldwin.

Pray keep this scroll to yourselfe and I beg you would want for nothing while you have money in your possession.

William Brewster is well. I have taken him for one of my aides. I saw one of Mr. Ebenezer Richardson's sons since I have been upon this march and he was well