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Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Thomas Burke
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
December 08, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 693-695

[From Executive Letter Book.]

York, Pennsilvania Dec. 8th 1777.

Dear Sir:—

I have not received one line from you since I had the pleasure of seeing you here. As much as I do dislike letter writing, this is the fourth of mine, in one of which I enclosed one from Mrs. Trist. She is now at Lancaster, and “begs” (in her letter to me of the 2nd) “to know what has become of our friend Burke.” She and Mrs. Ross were to have come to this town on a visit to Mrs. Swoops, and my carriage was to have been sent for them, but the capricious vixens have put it off for another day. Mrs. Trist desires that when I write to you, that I will “tender you her best services.” Inclosed is a hand bill printed by order of Congress the particulars of which you have perhaps seen.

As to our Army, it is still near Philadelphia, and we hourly expect very interesting news, as Gen. Howe with his whole force, on the 6th Instant, was in sight of our lines and a general action hourly expected. The flower and force of the contending parties are now ready to engage.

The enemy have drawn a strong reinforcement from New York, and Gen. Washington a much stronger from Gen Gates' victorious Army. I fear however we shall suffer ourselves to be attacked, instead of attacking. This conduct I believe has often proved disadvantageous. A Committee of Congress now at Head Quarters, informs us, that our soldiers are exceedingly anxious to come to a

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general engagement, and are in high spirits. Who knows but this Battle may put a glorious end to the Land War in America?

The Virginians in Assembly, have set a glorious example to the Southern States and indeed to every State in the Union, by not only ordering a reinforcement of 5.000 Militia to join Gen. Washington immediately, but also to fill up their Continental Battalions with great dispatch. The recruiting Service ought to be attended to in our State in case of accidents, as nothing is to be expected from Pennsilvania. Should our Army be defeated, our utmost exertions will be requisite.

The several resolutions of Congress sent to the Governors of the States will require particular attention. That of taxation, is essential above all. The credit of our Continental Currency depends upon it. The opening the Courts of Law, for the recovery of Debts, surely ought to be attended to. The calling in your paper Currency, especially that issued under the Authority of the British Government (as a distinction is made by the Tories and sordid Whigs already of at least 100 per cent. which in its consequences must ruin our public Credit) ought to command the attention of our Legislature.

Col. Martin has been tried and acquitted and has since resigned. Mr. Penn and myself have desired the Governor to apply to the General Assembly to recommend some one or more of our Colonels as Brigadiers. Our troops are uneasy, at not having a General Officer of our State to command them.

You know we have a right to more than one General Officer, should the Assembly think it expedient. I wish you and the rest of my friends would push this matter. Our Officers are exceedingly anxious about it. Col. Sumner writes to me that it is absolutely necessary.

We are daily entertained by Members of Congress, with paragraphs of Letters, giving an account of the surprising exertions of their Constituents.

I beg that you will inform me what has been done by our General Assembly in this way. We have often been before them, I hope we shall never be behind them.

Be pleased to tell Mr. Hooper and Mr. Mclaine I shall write to them by next opportunity and hope to have it in my power to inform them of Gen. Howe's defeat.

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I wish to hear from you and beg you will be very particular in regard to what is going forward in a Political way.

I am with real esteem, Dear Sir
Your most obed't and Hum. Serv't