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Washington Asks MA Militia to Join General Glover Before Battle of Rhode Island; Two Years Earlier Glover Ferried Washington Across Delaware River
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Washington asks the Massachusetts Council President (in effect, the governor) to send the militia to join with the army under General John Glover, then preparing for battle in Rhode Island. Two years earlier, Glover had ferried Washington across the Delaware River in the surprise Christmas attack that turned around the American war effort.

GEORGE WASHINGTON. Letter Signed, [to Jeremiah D. Powell, Massachusetts Council President.] n.p., n.d. [but White Plains, August 2, 1778], 1 p., 8 x 12 ¾ in. Text in the hand of Robert Hanson Harrison. (Recipient, place and date according to The Papers of George Washington, per a photocopy in the Massachusetts State Archives.)

Inventory #23888       Price: $27,500



            As General Glover’s brigade has been detached to Rhode Island—and is intended to form a part of the Troops—which are to operate in that Quarter, I take the liberty to request, that such of the recruits of your State as have not actually marched, may proceed and join him. This will not only place them in a way of rendering immediate service; but will prevent them the trouble of a long and fatiguing march at this season. Your recruits now here will join the Massachussets [sic] Brigades—which compose a part of this Army.

            I have the Honor to be/with the greatest respect & esteem/Sir

                                    Yr most Obedt Servt

                                                Go: Washington

Historical Background

George Washington (1737-1799) was sending Glover’s brigade from the main army in White Plains to reinforce General James Sullivan’s army near Newport, Rhode Island. The effort culminated in the Battle of Rhode Island (also known as the Battle of Quaker Hill or the Siege of Newport) on August 29, 1778. Glover’s brigade joined that of James Mitchell Varnum, both under the leadership of the Marquis de Lafayette in the march to Rhode Island. Powell did indeed send Massachusetts militiamen directly to Rhode Island, though it took more time than expected to organize them. The battle was one of the first attempts at collaboration between French and Continental forces. It resulted in an American loss due to poor communication between the two armies, and a large hurricane that scattered the French fleet—forcing them to sail to Boston for repairs.


Given to Hollywood director Michael Curtiz (1886-1962) in 1945 by the sponsors of the Shearson-Lehman Radio Hour during a 1945 broadcast of “Vox Pop.” This episode promoted the Motion Picture Relief Fund, and also featured Joan Crawford and Jack Carson. Descended in his family until our acquisition in 2015.


Some toning, minor glassine remnants at top margin, loss at top right infilled on verso, horizontal fold separation repaired with archival tissue, else very good.


The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition, ed. Theodore J. Crackel (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2008).

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