Thursday, May 17, 2012

Letters from the Front: Languishing at Lancaster

"...none fight more for the approbation of Genl. Washington, as to publick Virtue & Love of one Country, that all my Eye, Its Honour & thanks in Genl. Orders, which I esteem of more Value than all the Gold medals & Sword"

The late winter of 1778 did not find all of Washington's Army at Valley Forge: many of the additional regiments raised from the start of the year were posted further to the west, such as at Lancaster, PA, where the men of the 16th Massachusetts Regiment (Henry Jackson's Additional Continental Regiment) languished, with a significant portion of the regiment sick in hospital. The first of a series of letters from the regiment's field commander, Major John Steel Tyler, demonstrates the renewed fighting spirit with which American troops approached the new campaign season of 1778, following on the heels of significant victories in 1777. Despite the deaths of several key officers (occasioning recommendations for replacements in Tyler's letter), the Major assured his commander that the new regiment was ready to do his name justice. Tyler's letter (presented in full below) also testifies to the personal loyalties that officers and men felt to General George Washington, which occasionally eclipsed the larger issues around which the Revolution is generally considered to have turned. Our thanks go to Library Research Assistant David Swain for tackling some particularly challenging handwriting and grammar.


Sol Feinstone Collection No. 1404
J[ohn Steel] Tyler to [Henry Jackson], Lancaster, [PA], 3 Feb. 1778
Transcribed by David Swain October 2011

Lancaster Feby. 3 1778
Dear Coll.
            I have not recd. any letters from you since yours to Col Cobb of Jany. 1—The situation of your Regt. is pretty much as when the Col left us, except on Saturday last I attend Serj Majr. Hallet to his Grave. I gave him a Funeral equal to his Rank, God rest his Soul. I shall take the liberty knowing it to be perfectly agreable to you, to put in to morrows Orders the promotion of Serj Leeland of the Grenadiers to the Rank of Serj Maj. who good Conduct as a Soldier merits it—And Coll. give me leave to say word for Serj. Brown of the Light Compy. who as done the Duty of Quarter Master for this 2 months past & as given great satisfaction to Officers & Soldiers. If our Quarter Master Grant leave us, I am sure you can never gett a person so attentive. His attention to the men whilst they was in Hospital & his good conduct since, together with his abilitys for the post, induce me to recommend him to your particular Notice—Mr. Adj Caren has been very Unwell, so Ill as not to able to do his Duty Mr Walker attends to it & with a Grace, your Officers & Soldiers are as attentive to their duty, as

[pg 1]

men can be, if their is a choice it lays between Capt. Dolliver & M Walker, the latter merits everything as an Officer & Gent. He exeeds the Character that you had formd. of him. Indeed they all act up to the Character of Soldier figting for Washington—you see Col I give you my mind very freely thinking you have a desire to hear, & relying upon your knowlidge of the Genl. for Secrecy. at present I am very Happy with my command & would not wish to be deprivd. of it, till I can present you with some laurels gaind. by your Regt. & those to be acquired with the Loss of a few officers & men, for Indeed Col., none fight more for the approbation of Genl. Washington, as to publick Virtue & Love of one Country, that all my Eye, Its Honour & thanks in Genl. Orders, which I esteem of more Value than all the Gold medals & Sword, than can be related [?] in a Thousand Years, but Mum—
            Its give [?] an extract of a letter this day recd. from Genl. Washington, “As soon as the detachment under your command is fit to leave the Hospital, I desire that you may march immediately to this Camp. They are much wanted here,” Col Smith goes for camp to represent the matter to his  Excely if the Shoes Arrivd. should be very easy, but the men cannot march till they procure them for us, I drew out of the Continental Sore, 40 Shirt, expect tomorrow

[pg 2]

To get as many Hoes, Shall [tear in letter] [b]y the post—
Respect to Gen Kere                                                   J Tyler
Compt. [illegible] Officers—&c

M. Adt Caren fever his very unsure, & Mr. Turner his dangerous with a fever     I shall write you P post—

[pg 3]

Have something you want to share, such as a question, research find, or a personal story about the Library? Email Will Tatum at 

No comments:

Post a Comment