To his Excellency Thomas McKean [August or September, 1781]

To his Excellency Thomas McKean [August or September, 1781]


Thursday Morning.



It was my intention to have waited on you this morning, but a circumstance having prevented me, I take the liberty of troubling you with a thought or two on the reports of yesterday.

As I see no practicable military object for Clinton to attempt, I think his march this way is probable. It was suggested to me last night by a gentleman that Clinton may have in view to ransom Cornwallis by threatening to burn Philadelphia. But taking it for granted that Cornwallis is a certain object, it may be as properly declared on our part that he and his garrison shall be put to the sword if any further burning or depredation is committed on the inhabitants.

I think Clinton will not attempt the river, [but] probably take the nearest route cross the Jersies. And considering that his operations will be only exclusive, and to return as soon as possible, he will be more apprehensive of a force collected in his rear than in his front, and the garrison at Pecks kiln or West Point should move the instant he moves could it be possible; for those posts will scarcely require defence, because there will then be no force to act against them, and they may be garrisoned by militia.

As the force against Cornwallis is quite sufficient, and as the French fleet cannot contribute to his reduction, they would render double service by being off the Hook; for supposing the British fleet at sea, they have no transport to bring off Cornwallis. Neither would they in my opinion venture up a river, while a superior fleet was at sea and might shut them in. But supposing them (the British) at the Hook, the French fleet by being stationed off, would overcome all the intended operations of Clinton, and eventually deprive Cornwallis of assistance and at the same time secure all this part of the Country by confining Clinton to defensive measures.

I am Sir your obedient Humble Servant,


P. S. If there is any occasion to send information to the Army, further than what a common Express is sufficient to transact, Congress are welcome to my services.