Tyler, John (1747-1813) to Colonel
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Comments on the undisciplined behavior of his correspondent's regiment in camp. He cannot discern "what plan the Genl. [George Washington] has" but believes "this maneuver is the most likely to produce neglect of duty." Would like himself and the other officers present to join the regiment; he believes that he could bring discipline to the regiment and promote health among those recently inoculated, possible for small pox. Reports that on 12 December 1777, the army was marching along the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania. That evening they were completely "surprised to find the Enemy on the other side." A brief skirmish followed. Remarks that he expects to be ordered to Winter Quarters (at Valley Forge) at any moment. Discusses army's suffering and his activities at camp. Mentions supply (especially clothing) and troop level problems, remarking that "we suffer all the inconvenience of being in an Enemy country." Advises his correspondent to obtain as much clothing as possible if he is to join them in June. Comments on the kindness of General Henry Knox. Tyler was a major in Henry Jackson's regiment during the Revolutionary War. He was among the officers who took the Oath of Allegiance at Valley Forge in the spring of 1778.
Dear Coll. Camp Gulph Creek Dec. 16
I wrote you last week's Post giving you a particular account of the disagreable [sic] situation of your Regt. lines which the officers that remains have been strolling about camp without any command, more than is sufficient to procure them provisions. We remain including Lieut. Hendley with 17 officers & 25 men. What plan the Genl. has in agitation, cannot ascertain, but this much is certain, that this maneuver is the most likely to produce a neglect of duty, both in officer & men. At present we are in no kind of command & intensely [illegible] from any. If his Excel. would permit me with the officers to join the Regt. it would have this good effect. That I could discipline the men, thereby be of service to the Regt & it would much conduce to their Health, as men, after inoculation should be continually in the air & use some kind of exercise. But it's the command of my superior therefore must not dare to think it contrary to the rules of order & Discipline. [crossed out]
News on the 12 at 3 o'clock in the morg [sic], the army moved in one column to pass the Schuylkill, we had [strung] a Bridge across for that purpose, after marching till 8 o'clock was very much surprised to find the Enemy on the other side. This maneuver was the most extraordinary & surprising that happened  this war & many Gen. officers, assert it will not turnup in 100 years. What think of two armys [sic] meeting without the least knowledge of the marching of either, the prospect was the most agreeable I ever beheld; I was very fortunately in the Tr[?] & had the pleasure of seeing the Enemy's Grenidiers [sic] & Light Troops, it brought on a small skirmish attend with a little loss on our side. Both armys [sic] thought proper to leave the Schuylkill, we retired on a Height & then remained till [dark], & then marched a few miles in our Rear.
On the 13 at 9 in the Evening we took up the Line of March & cross'd without the least molestation & hear we are in peace & quietness, expecting ever moment to be order of the Ground I believe to Winter Quarters. The army has suffered much in these late marchings. Gentlemen say, they never have suffered more during the War, the Fatigue was great. During my stay in camp, I have at no one time been undressed, for this week past my Boots, & Spurs, on continually, my Horse saddled, and sometimes asleeping [sic] with one Foot in the Stirrup, to prevent surprise, but this [method] of rest you will acquire in a short space of time, after the Fatigueness a ten nights. But my Fatigues are nothing  to the poor fellows many of them (to the amount at least 2000) without shoes, stockings, or breeches & this dam state not strength enough in their Government sufficient to take them were there one to be found. What think you of a Dirty Fellow keeping 400 [ps] shoes & as many Breeches for this dam'd reason that they will not give three pounds for shoes & silver for breeches, & this state dare not take them. If they were in Massachusetts I believe the lads would not be barefoot very long.
In this state they have 60,000 militia capable to Move Arms & they with all their boasted Virtue have never had more than 1500 in the Field. We had almost as good; be in an Enemy's country, & for several reasons it would be much better, we then could supply our Army with necessary for its support without applying to a power that is not able to support its own authority. In short we suffer all the inconveniences of being in an Enemy Country without reaping any of the advantage of a Friendly one. You write Col. Coll you shall joyn [sic] us in Jan. & if so, give me leave to recommend that you purchase as much clothing as is possible. For you cannot have more than is useful, for many of your men at this [illegible] moment are without shoes. You will have no use for shoe 4 [ps] Boots is not two [sic] many as no officer ever appears without Boots.
Pleas'd to write me I shall give you ever movement of the Army such as one officer gives to another therefore it will remain a secret. At all times [illegible - lost text] by your Maj. & Friend.
Since writing the above rec'd an agreeable order from the Gen. to joyn [sic] the Regt. at Lancaster. Shall sett [sic] out the first Fair Day. You'll direct for me as Gen. Knox he will [see] them sent forward. I have remained ever same my [illegible] as your Friend Knox Quarter who has behaved more like the father than the polite Gentleman, his kindness will ever be remembered by me with pleasure. I hope I may have an opportunity to make as agreeable to some friend of his as his hospitality has been to me.
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