"It is likely we shall have hot work in this Neighbourhood ‘ere long—I wish it most cordially..."
August of 1777 found the Continental and British Armies facing off in Maryland, at the beginning of the campaign for Philadelphia, the then-capital of the United States. Having failed to bring Washington to battle during several campaigns in North Jersey during the opening months of 1777, British General Sir William Howe embarked his men in mid-summer and sailed south to the Chesapeake. His design was to quickly overrun Philadelphia through bypassing the formidable American defenses set across Delaware Bay by moving overland from his landing spot at Head of Elk in Maryland's eastern shore. In today's Letter from the Front, we catch a window into Washington's maneuvers as he concentrated his portion of the Continental Army to face this new threat. Mounted troops were essential to his operation, providing a flexible reaction force as well as a desperately-need body of scouts who could keep tabs on the British advance. Short of horsemen, Washington called on Baylor to bring his regiment of dragoons, which had not finished recruiting, into action. Attached to the bottom of the letter is a post-script by Washington's aide, R. H. Harrison, who replaced Joseph Reed. Harrison's note references the opening salvos of the other campaign of 1777-- British General John Burgoyne's invasion of Upstate New York, which focused on capturing Albany, forging a link with British forces in New York, and successfully cutting the United States in half. As Harrison's note shows, the American forces were full of fight and ready to engage with the redcoats on multiple fronts. For the full transcript of the letter, please read below. Our thanks go out to David Swain for this transcript.