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History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

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Lieut. Jacob Hetrick; 2nd Lieut. Frederick
Mayer ; Ensign, Jacob Bear. Rank and tile
70 men. Whole number in regiment 489.


York County Militia — Col. Henry Slagle ;
Lieut. -Col. ; Maj. Joseph Lilly.


First Company — Capt. Nicholas Gelwis ;
1st Lieut. Adam Hoopard ; 2nd Lieut. George
Gelwix ; Ensign, Henry Feltz. Bank and
file 86 men.

Second Company — Capt. Josh Reed ; 1st

Lieut. Robert Smith; 2nd Lieut. ;

Ensign, Samuel Collins, Rank and file 53

Fourth Company — Capt. William Gray ;
1st Lieut. James Patterson; 2nd Lieut. Hum-
phrey Anderson ; Ensign, William McCul-
lough. Rank and file 69 men.

Fifth Company — Capt. ; 1st

Lieut. Andrew Warrick; 2nd Lieut. Samuel
Moor ; Ensign, Thomas Allison. Rank and
file 64 men.

Sixth Company — Capt. John Reppey ;
Lieut. John Caldwell. Rank and file 44

Seventh Company — Capt. Joseph Reed.
Rank and file 59 men.

Eighth Company — Capt. Thomas McNery.
Rank and file 54 men. Whole number of
men in regiment 487.

Whole number of men of York County
Militia 4,621. Return April, 1778.

The associators were originally volunteers,
but Congress having recommended the organ-
ization of companies of miJitia, and persons
claiming exemption from conscientious scru-
ples being compelled by the Assembly to pay,
the association became a compulsory militia,
and they were divided into classes, and then
were drafted by the county Lieutenants. In
1777 and 1778, and subsequently, the York
County associators or militia were called out
to guard Hessian prisoners.



EVENTS were occurring toward the close
of the year 1777, which conspired to
bring into conspicuous prominence the town
of York, and make it for a time the capital
of the now independent states of America.
The Continental Congress was in session
here for nine months, and its proceedings
were of great importance, while the occur-
rences during its sittings were of intense
interest. Information gleaned from various
sources shows how much of anxiety was
centered here, and how the salvation of the
country depended upon the wisdom for which

that Congress is noted. The advance of Sir
William Howe on Philadelphia brought the
Congress to York.

On the 23d of August, 1777,* John Adams
from Philadelphia: "It is now no longer a
secret where Mr. Howe's fleet is ; we "have
authentic intelligence that it is arrived at
the head of the Chesapeake Bay, above the
river Patapsco, upon which the town of
Baltimore stands. We have called out the
militia of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and
Pennsylvania to oppose him, and Gen.
Washington is handy enough to meet him. "
And on the 26th : " Howe's army, at least
about five thousand of them, besides his
light horse, are landed upon the banks of
the Elk River. The militia are turning out
with great alacrity both in Maryland and
Pennsylvania. They are distressed for want
of arms. Many have none, others have only
little fowling pieces. " And on the 29th :
"The militia of four states are turning out
with much alacrity and cheerful spirits. "
And on September 2 : " Washington has a
great body of militia assembled and assem-
bling, in addition to a grand continental
army. "

On the 11th of September, 1777, occurred
the great battle fought upon the bloody field
of Brandywine. John Adams wrote on the
14th of September : "Mr. Howe's army is
at Chester, about fifteen miles from this town.
Gen. W^ashingtoQ is over the Schuylkill,
awaiting the flank of Mr. Howe's army. How
much longer Congress will stay is uncertain.
If we should move it will be to Reading,
Lancaster, Y'ork, Easton or Bethlehem, some
town in this State. Don't be anxions aljout
me, nor about our great and sacred cause.
It is the cause of truth and will prevail. If
Howe gets the city it will cost him all his
force to keep it, and so he can get nothing

On the 14th of September, Congress re
solved to leave Philadelphia and meet at
Lancaster on the 27 th. They were in session
at Philadelphia on the I8th of September,
and had adjourned for the day. During
the evening word came that the enemy would
be in Philadelphia before the next morning.
The members assembled at Lancaster, under
a resolution adopted on the 14th. They
met at Lancaster on the 27th, the day the
city of Philadelphia was occupied by Gen.
Howe ; bat they resolved that " the Susque-
hanna should flow betw~een them and the
enemy, '' and on the same day adjourned
to Y'ork. They met in the old court house
in Centre Square on the 30th of September,

*Letters of John Adams Vol. 1, p 2sn.


1777, and continued in session here until the
27th of June, 1778.*


YoRKTOWN. Penn., |

Tuesday, 30th of Septemper, 1777. I
In the morning of the 19th instant, the Congress
were ahumed in their beds by a letter from Mr.
Hamilton, one of Gen. Washington's family, that
the enemy was in possession of the ford over the
Schuylkill and. the boats, so that they had, in their
power to be in Philadelphia before morning. The
papers of Congress belonging to the Secretary s of-
tice the War office, the Treasury office, etc.. were
before sent to Bristol. The President and all the
other gentlemen were gone that road, so I followed
with rSy friend. Mr. Marchant. of Rhode Island, to
Trentoi in the Jerseys. We staid at Trentc.n until
the 21st when we set off to Baston. upon the forks ot
the Delaware. ProraEaston we went to Bethlehem,
from thence to Reading, from thence to Lancaster,
and from theuce to this town, which is about a
dozen miles over the Susquehanna River. Here
Contrress is to sit. In order to convey the papers
with^ safety, which are of more importance than
•ill the members, we were induced to take this cir-
cuit which is near 180, whereas this town, by direct
road is not more than 88 miles from Philadelphia.
The tour has given me an opportunity of seeing
many parts of 'this country, which I never saw be- j
fore . This morning Maj. Troup arrived here

with a verv large packet from Gen. Gates, contain-
ing very agreeable intelligence,t which I need not

■ilaapnper prepared bv I Barnitz Bacon for " Frank Leslie's
Chimney Corner." we liave the lollowing inlorniation:

"Mr. Smilh-s law office was at the south side ol the old square
AtcClean's residence was on the north side. They were both ,
ardent patriots. Within the daily view of e-ich of them on he
pavement beside the court house, rested a bell presented to the .
English Episcopal congregation by Queen t aroline in 1/74,
which had not yet been placed in position on their cliurch^ Im-
mediatelT after the passage of the Declaration, Smith and i
Mcriean with other citizens, hoisted the bell to the court house
cuDOla and rang out a peal summoning the people to ratify in.
denendence Then they removed the royal escutcheon and the 1
broad arrow, and enlisted a battalion for the Continental Fly-
ing Camp which forthwith marched to defend the City of New

repeat, as you have much earlier intelligence from
that part than we have. I wish affairs here wore as
pleasing an aspect. But alas, they do not

York " "During the session of Congress here the same pape
■•The mansion of Archibald McClean became the .-eat o
vhile, jnst across the scj '

1..0 Treasury, , .^ , ,

Smith was occupied by the Board of

Foreign Affairs. Tom Pai

and there wr»te several nv

■"Our Picture' (and this applies to the
work) is a view of the original, with the e.vcepiiuu o. lue "ea-

.1 ,„= whir'li at first represented the 'broad arrow ot tn-

■ ■ hich was removed in 177G. After
'evated over the
elaborate cupola
Pulaski and Armand recruited their
from the countrv round, and their success and
> court house its crowning and enduring revo-
iuUonary^ornament. A gilded dragoon, in panoply of sword
and heliuet, was elevated as a vane to ref' ' " "

on the top spire It was widely kn
there it remair

"land, a mark of sovereignty,

the Revolution two additional gables

north and south fronts, and a loliii

the broad ;
'The Little Man,' and
1 the demolition of the court house in 1840.
s a sacred relic of the times."
writing fron Yorktown, October 1, 1777,
ir, wi'
press this day, are referred ..■,..

for publication. The express gives a verbal account that two
spies were descried by some continental troops round our Gen.
Clinton's quarters, habited like unto the British soldiers for the

r preserved

easing an aspect. iJut aias, tuey ao not.

I shall avoid everything like history, and make no
reflections. However, Gen. Washington is in a
condition tolerably respectable, and the militia are
now turning out from Virginia, Maryland and Penn-
sylvania in small numbers. All the apology that
can be made for this part of the world is, that Mr.
Howe's march from Elk to Philadelphia, was
through the very regions of passive obedience. The
wliole country through which he passed is inhabited
by Quakers. " There is not such another body of
Q'uakers in all America, perhaps not in the world.
I am still of opinion that Philadelphia will be no loss
to us. I am very comfortably situated here in the
house of Gen. Roberdeau, whose hospitality has
taken in Mrs. S. Adams, Mr. Gerry, and me.

Yorktown, October 2.5, 1777.

This town is a small one, not larger than Ply-
mouth. There are in it two German churches, the
one Lutheran, the other Calvinistical. The congre-
gations are pretty numerous, and their attendance
upon public worship is decent. It is remarkable
that the Germans, wherever they are found, are
careful to maintain the public worship, which is
more than can be said of the other denominations
of Christians, in this way. There is one church
here erected by the joint contributions of Episco-
palians and Presbyterians, but the minister, who is
a missionary, is confined for Toryism, so that they
have had for along lime no public worship. Con-
gress have appointed two chaplains, Mr, White and
Mr. Duffield. the former of whom, an Episcopalian,
is arrived, and opens Congress with prayers every
day. The latter is expected every hour. Mr.
Duche, I am sorry to inform you. has turned out an
apostate and a traitor. Poor man ! I pity his weak-
ness and detest his wickedness

Yorktown, October 26, 1777.

.... Congress will appoint a Thanksgiving;
and one cause of it ought to be, that the glory of
turning the tide of -..rms is not immediately due to
the Commander-in-chief, nor to Southern troops. If
it had been, idolatry and adulation wouldhave been
unbounded, so excessive as to endanger our liber-
ties, for what I know. Now, we can allow a cer-
tain citizen to be w se, virtuous and good, without
thinking him a deity or a Savior.*

Yorktown, October 28, 1777.
We have been three days soaking and poaching
'in the heaviest rain that has been known for several

*"This is the only letter, in the large collection of Mr. Adams'
private correspondence with his wife, which makes any allusion
to the position of Gen. Washington in Congress at this time. It
is verv well known that the Conway cabal, in its origin; exclu-
sively a military intrigue, with very base motives, obtained its
■Greatest source of influence in Congress from the coincidence
Tn time between the defeats of Washington at Brandy wine and
Germantown. and the victory of Gates over Burgoyne in the
North. Mr. Adams does not appear ever to have favored that
cabal, but he always looked with some apprehension upon the
powers with which Washington had been invested. Inji mail-

• Clii



5 presence.

1 surprise, they said he T
.„e'Gen'.''ciint'on they enquired for. He replied he could do
their business, and accordingly ordered them to be hanged in
an hour, but upon discovering some important intelligence, t hey
were respited— via consequence of this mlormation Gen Clin-
ton Gov Clinton and Gen. Putnam were suddenly in motion.
He 'then relates what he calls a singular anecdote- -One of tne
spies when discovered, swallowed a small silver ball, which he
was made to disgorge by the immediate application ol an emetic,
It contained intelligence from the British officer Clintou, who
commiinded at theBighlands, to Gen. Burgoyne. These anec-
dotes will not be published, nor are th-y said to be depended
upon, nevertheless, as I believe them, they are offered for your
amusement.— V. Archives, 630; Wilkenson's Memoirs, vol. 1., p.

urrender to the General the power of ap-
pointing' his own officers, but no such motion appears on the
journal It is more probable that the proposition was made in
(he course of the debate that took place on that day upon going
into the election of five Major-Genenils, but was never put into
form, and therefore was not recorded Upon that proposition,
Dr Rush reports Mr. Adams to have said these words: "There
are certain principles which foUow us through life, and none
more certainly than the love of the first place. We see it in the
forms in which children sit at schools. It prevails equally to
the latest period of life. I am sorry to find it prevail so little in
this house. I have been distressed to see some of our members
disposed to Idolize an image which their own hands have molten.
I speak of the superstitious veneration which is paid to Uen.
Washington. I honor him for his good qualities, but in this
house I feel mvself his superior. In private life, I shall always
acknowledge liini to be mine "—No/e to Adams' Letters.


years, and what adds to gloom is, the uncertainty
in whicli we remain to this moment, concerning the
fate of Gates and Burgoyne. We are out of pa-
tience. It is impossible to bear this suspense with
any temper.

1 am in comfortable lodgings, which is a felicity
that has fallen to the lot of a very few of our mem-
bers. Yet the house where I am is so thronged that
I cannot enjoy such accommodations as I wish. I
cannot have a room as I used, and therefore cannot
find opportunities to write as I once did. . . .

The people of this country are chiefly Germans,
who have schools in their own language, as well as
prayers, psalms and sermons, so that multitudes are
born, grow up and die here, without ever learning
the English. In politics they are a breed of mon-
grels or neutrals, and benumbed with a general tor-
por. If the people in Pennsylvania,' Maryland,
Delaware and Jersey had the feelings and spirit of
some people that I know, Howe would be soon en-
snared in a trap more fatal than that in which, as it
is said, Burgoyne was taken. Howe is completely
in our power, and if he is not totally ruined, it will
be entirely owing to the awkwardness and indolence
of this country.*

From Moore's Diary of the Revolution is
extracted the following:

the resignation op pkesident hancock.

October 39, 1777.

This morning President Hancock took leave of
the Congress in the following speech : "Gentle-
men, Friday last completed two years and five
months since you did me the honor of electing
me to fill this chair. As I could never flatter
myself your choice proceeded from any idea of
my abilities, but rather from a partial opinion of
m}' attachment to the liberties of America, I felt
myself under the strongest obligations to discharge
the duties of the oftice, and I accepted the appoint-
ment with the firmest resolution to go through the
business annexed to it in the best manner I was able. ■
Every argument conspired to make me exert myself,
and I endeavored by industry and attention to make
up for every other deficiency. As to my conduct, I
both in and out of Congress, in the execution of
your business, it is improper for me to say anything, j
You are the best judges. But I think I shall be for- ;
given, if I say I have spared no pains, expense or
labor, to gratify your wishes, and accomplish the
views of Congress. My health being much im-
paired, I find relaxation so absolutely necessary .
after such constant application; I must therefore
request 3'our indulgence for leave of absence for two
months. But I cannot take my departure, gentle-
men, without exi5ressing my thanks for the civility
and politeness I have experienced from you. It is
imj^ossible to mention this without a heart felt
pleasure. If in the course of so long a period as I
have had the honor to fill this chaii-, any expressions
may have dropped from me that may have given
the least offense to any member, it was not inten-
tional, so I hope his candor will pass it over. |

"May every happiness, gentlemen, attend you,
both as members of this house and as individuals ;
and I pray Heaven that unanimity and persever-
ance may go hand in hand in this house ; and that
everything which may tend to distract or divide
j'our councils, may be forever banished."!

On the first of November, Congress elected ;
Henry Laurens to the chair made vacant by
Hancock's resignation.

. Ad.i

, Vol. II,

British Account of Hancock' n Speech:— 'Deacon
Loudon* has taken upon himself lo give, in his ex-
traordinary -Packet, a garbled account of the late
squabble among the Congress rapscallions, which
terminated in easy John's leaving the chair. Aa
this production is calculated to mislead the public,
we are happy to present to our readers a statement
by an eye-witness, who has been watching the Con-
gress since it left Philadelphia:

"As soon as the rebels learned that the British
fleet was at the head of the Chesapeake, a motion
was made in Congress for an adjournment to some
place at least lOu miles from any part of God's
kingdom where the British mercenaries can possibly
land; which, after some rapturous demonstration,
was carried nem. con. Immediately the rCongress
commenced the retreat, leaving old Nosey Thomson
to pick up the duds and write promises to pay
(when the Congress should return), the Congress
debts. In the flight as in the rebellion, Hancock
having a just apprehension of the vengeance which
awaits him, took the initiative and was the first lo
carry out the letter of the motion of his associates.

"In four days they met at York. At the opening
of the session, the President, having performed his
journey on horseback, and much more like an ex-
press than a lord, was unable to take his seat, and
for several days the chair was filled by upro tern-
pore. On the return of Hancock he gave many in-
dications of the intense fright he had experienced,
and was observed to assume tlie chair with more
than usual care and quiet seriousness, whether from
soreness or a desire for the further remove of the
Congress, his best friend could not tell.

"Out of this silent discontent, murmurs soon
sprang, and one day before the dinner hour of Con-
gress, he offered a motion 'that this body do ad-
journ, until the troops under the Howes, now pur-
suing the freemen of America, retire altogether
from the State of Pennsylvania.' This was not
adopted. Hancock then arose and delivered the
following, which is a fair specimen of rebel elo-
quence, and 'much to the p'int,' as the Yankee par-
sons say:

'Brethren, freemen and legislators: — It's now
more'n two years sence you done me the honor of
puttin' me in this seat, which, however humbly I
have filled, I was determined to carry out. It's a
a responsible situation, and I've been often awak-
ened of nights a hearin' them reglars a comin' fer
my head. I can't bear it. It's worked on me, and
already I feel as though I was several years older
than I was. My firmness, which has made up for
all my other infirmities, has been the cause of many
heartburnings, which I am sure the candor of those
among you who don't like it, will pass over. As to
the execution of business, I have spared no pains,
and shall return to my family and folks with that
satisfaction. In taking leave of you. my brethren,
let me wish that we may meet soon under the glo-
ries of a free, but British government.' After re-
questing Congress to pass around his chair and
shake his hand, the afflicter of his countr3' retired,
satisfied as usual with himself and the Congress,
who, with equal satisfaction, welcomed his de-


That session of Congress held the fate of
the nation and the fame of Washington iu its
hands. One of its members has said that
the history of its proceedings regarding
Washington would never be written. "As
the old Congress daily sat with closed doors,



the public knew no more of what passed
within, than what it was deemed expedient
to disclose." ' "From the tirst to the last there
was a most bitter party against him." The
Fabian policy of the Commander-in-Chief
gave umbrage to some in Congress, and in
the army. The disastrous defeat and i-etreat
from Long Island had been brilliantly atoned
by the masterly stroke of crossing the Dela-
ware and the capture of the Hessian forces at
Trenton. Bat the loss of the bloody field of
Brandy wine; and the failure of the attack
upon the enemy at Germantown, contrasted
strongly with the brilliant, if not decisive,
achievements of the Northern army at Ben-
nington and Saratoga. The unanimous
thanks of the Congress, assembled here, had
scarcely been given "to Gen. Washington,
for his wise and well concerted attack upon
the enemy's army near Gennautown, and
to the officers and soldiers of the army
for their brave exertions on that occasion —
Congress being well satisfied that the best
designs and the boldest efforts may sometimes
fail by unforseen accidents, trusting that on
future occasions the valor and virtue of the
army will, by the blessing of Heaven, be
crowned with complete and deserved suc-
cess," — than it became their duty to present
•'the thanks of Congress in their own name,
and in behalf of the inhabitants of the thir-
teen United States, to Maj.-Gen. Gates,
commander-in-chief in the northern depart-
ment, an<i to Maj.-Gen. Lincoln and Arnold,
and the rest of the officers and troops
under his command, for their brave and suc-
cessful efforts in support of the independence
of their country, whereby an army of the
enemy, of ten thousand men. had been totally
defeated; one large detachment of it con-
quered at Bennington, another repulsed from
Fort Schuyler, and the main army of six
thousand men, under Lieut. -Gen. Bur-
goyne, reduced to the necessity of surrender-
ing themselves upon terms honorable and
advantageous to these States, to Maj.-Gen.
Gates; and that a medal of gold be struck
under the direction of the board of war in
commemoration of this great event, and in the
name of the United States, presented by the
President to Maj.-Gen. Gates."

This gave occasion to the enemies of Wash-
ington to concert their plans; and it is said
that a movement was in progress, supported
by members of Congress, signers of the Dec-
laration, and by general officers of the army,
for the supplanting of the Commander-in
Chief. .4. cabal, which took its name from
an Irish- French soldier of fortune. Gen.
Conway, is said to have exercised its

intrigues here at that time. Gen. Gate
was summoned by Congress to York, as the
bead of the board of war. Here he held his
court, an ace implished soldier and scholar,
a man of fine presence, social and popular.
The hilarity surrounding his reception and
sojourn here, was in striking contrast with
the gloomy prospects'^'^Tni-Tlreary encamp-
ment of the Commander-in-Chief at Valley
Forge, with his reduced and wretched army,
exposed to hunger, Trakethress and cold. A
far different^cene wasTrahsacting in York,
where ovations wefFpaid~to the conqueror of
Burgoyn^a The name of Horatio Gates lin-
gers here^ioiThe'had m'aSy friends, and the
glittering renown of his late victories, in that
dark period, made him the rising sun.

Here, too, at that time, came Lafayette,
who was summoned by Congress to Y'ork, to
further the plans of new conquests and lead
an expedition to Canada. The faith and
devotion of this young and gallant French
nobleman never faltered toward the man
whom he so loved and honored. A feast
was given in his honor, at which, in spite of
the frowns and silence accompanying it, he
gave as his toast: "The Commander-in-Chief
of the American armies." The movement;
however, was not so formidable as it
appeared. It ended in personal questions of
honor, as one incident, which happened here,
will illustrate. The bearer of the despatches
to Congress, of the victory at Saratoga, was

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