I wrote a few lines from Head Quarters on Brandy-wine near Chad's Ford on the tenth Instant, and in them gave you the hopes I then entertained of seeing in a few hours our Armies triumphant over our enemies. I am sorry I cannot now tell you those hopes were realized—I am constrained to give you a detail of circumstances, which have grieved me to the soul, and I know will give you and my Country great concern.
On the morning of the Eleventh, about eight O'clock, the enemy appeared on heights to the Southward of the Creek, and a little to the westward of Chad's ford, they drew up in order, and erected Burlect Batteries from whence they kept up a cannonade on our lines which were formed on the north side of the Creek in a meadow flanked by Hills to the right and left, on which we had several pieces of artillery posted to advantage, and from whence a well directed fire was kept up very hot until Eleven, by which time the enemy's Batteries were silenced, and their Troops driven from the grounds on which they had first formed in the morning. During the cannonade the Light Troops on both sides skirmished very warmly
None of the reinforcements had time to get up so as to engage, except Weedon's Brigade, who checked the Enemy, and very gallantly covered the retreat of the whole army. The Enemy did not dare to pursue, but retired from the field of Battle that night.
During this action I had an opportunity of observing that our Troops and inferior officers are exceedingly good, but that our Major Generals (one only excepted) are totally inadequate, they were so disconcerted by the unexpected attack of the Enemy, that they knew not what to do but to permit, (some say to order) a precipitate retreat. Sullivan to complete his blunder made a circuit of two miles, one quarter in the direct road would have brought him to his grounds and he arrived so late that it was preoccupied, but as he was commander in that wing, he insisted on changing his disposition, and while he was attempting it, his Troops which were brought up in great confusion were pressed by the Enemy, and not being able to form into any order fled without resistance. These miscarriages snatched from my hopes the glory of a complete victory, which was certainly in our power, if Sullivan had not by his Folly and misconduct ruined the fortune of the day. Judge, Sir, how disagreeable must be my reflections on this occasion when my sanguine and well founded hopes were at once cut off, not by the superiority of the Enemy, but by so glaring an insufficiency in our officers? Could the Commander in Chief's ideas be executed I should deem our success certain, but I have the melancholy conviction that his principal officers are incompetent, and I fear it is an evil that can not be remedied.
Sullivan was three days posted on the right wing, and furnished with Horse and light Troops for reconnoitering, yet so uninformed was he of the ground, that he knew not even the roads by which the Enemy might march to attack his Flank, and altho' he was warned by the General, that the Enemy would in all likelihood make that movement and was ordered to keep out reconnoitering parties in order to know certainly their force and motives, yet he relied on the information of a countryman who passed along one road while the Enemy were marching on the other. This unfortunate General has ever been the Marplot of our Army, and his miscarriages are I am persuaded owing to a total want of military Genius, and to one of that sort of understandings which is unable to take a full comprehensive view of an object, but employs its activity in subtle senseless refinement. Thus persuaded I thought it my duty to endeavour to have him removed from his command, and I succeeded so far as to have a resolution passed for recalling him, but General Washington remonstrated against it at so critical a time,
Our affairs in the Northern department bear a very promising aspect. General Gates has a formidable army under his command, and was by the last accounts on the point of attacking General Burgoyne.
There are certain accounts of a plot of a very extensive nature formed in this State, for blowing up our Magazines, and destroying our Stores, the particulars are not yet come to light, but the execution is prevented.
Captain Caswell is well. I shook hands with him on the field of Battle.