Upcoming Auctions and Events

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
[BROADSIDE]. Pennsylvania War-Office, April 13th, 1777. This board think it their duty to publish a letter received from Mr. Henry Fisher, at Lewistown [Lewes, Delaware]....as it is of importance at this critical period, that all the inhabitants be made acquainted...of the approaches of the enemy...for the defence and security of this State... [signed] Owen Biddle, Chairman..., [Philadelphia:] Printed by John Dunlap [1777]. Folio, edges untrimmed, small dampstain at extreme right-hand edge, otherwise in good condition. Evans 15541.

Details
[BROADSIDE]. Pennsylvania War-Office, April 13th, 1777. This board think it their duty to publish a letter received from Mr. Henry Fisher, at Lewistown [Lewes, Delaware]....as it is of importance at this critical period, that all the inhabitants be made acquainted...of the approaches of the enemy...for the defence and security of this State... [signed] Owen Biddle, Chairman..., [Philadelphia:] Printed by John Dunlap [1777]. Folio, edges untrimmed, small dampstain at extreme right-hand edge, otherwise in good condition. Evans 15541.

THE BRITISH ARE COMING!

A broadside notice to Pennsylvanians of the presence of British warships in Delaware Bay, reflecting American fears of an expected British incursion. A new offensive by General William Howe had been expected since February; as early as March General Washington correctly deduced that the target of the next campaign would be Philadelphia, seat of the Continental Congress. The building of troop transports by the British in New York was carefully watched, and coast residents in the Chesapeake alerted to watch for British ships. Fisher's letter from Lewes, dated 12 April, reports that an American ship, the Morris, has been pursued and fired upon by British warships. The American Captain, Anderson, "returned the fire for near three hours in the most brave and gallant manner," but "finding he could defend her no longer, he laid a train [of powder] and blew the ship up, and I am sorry to tell you that so brave a man has fell [sic] in the attempt....The scene was horrible to behold." Anderson succeeded before his death in landing "his packet [of mail] for the Congress, which I have sent up by two French Gentlemen." Beneath, the broadside prints two further communications from Fisher, one stating that there are "Nine of the Enemies ships of War in Delaware," and giving their approximate locations; the second dated 14 April reports that "the Alarm Guns being just fired, gives us notice that a Fleet of Transports appear off the Capes."

General Washington, at his Headquarters at Morristown, received copies of Fisher's letters on the 13th and wrote to reassure the alarmed Pennsylvania War-Office the following day, correctly surmising the British intentions: "The Ships...are certainly meant for no other purpose, than to distress and cut off the Trade in Delaware Bay. You may depend, that when an attack upon the Works below the Town is really intended, there will be a coordination of their Land and Sea forces" (Washington, Writings, ed. J.C. Fitzpatrick, 7:410-411). Howe's move on Philadelphia was not launched until late July.
;

More from Printed Books & Manuscripts

View All
View All