January 15, 1777

 Dear Will,

             We haven’t heard from you in months and are so worried.  Do you have enough food?  Boots?  Warm clothes?

            Ned Johnson and Tim Green have returned home from the war.  Their enlistments are up.  They are footsore and thin, but happy to be home.  They’ve told us how demoralizing the last few months have been, with one victory after the next for the British.

            A few months ago, our hopes were raised by the signing of the Declaration of Independence with its lofty words.  Have you heard them? Jefferson wrote “whenever any form of government becomes destructive…it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”  This is what you are fighting for, son.  Isn’t it uplifting to think of ourselves as Americans?  But it was sobering, indeed, for us to see the huge British fleet in New York harbor as we were celebrating the Declaration.

            Ned was at the Battle of Long Island in August.  He was one of the lucky ones who survived General Howe’s surprise attack.  He told us that more then 1400 Americans were killed, wounded or captured in this battle.  When the rest retreated to Manhattan , close to where we live, we got a firsthand look at our sorry-looking army.

            We’ve heard that General Washington was very discouraged by defeats on Long Island , and at Forts Washington and Lee and has said, “I am wearied to death.  I think the game is pretty near up.” Have you heard this report, too?  Do you think that Washington has unrealistic expectations, dreaming about a European-style disciplined army?  After all, isn’t ours an army of farmers?  Will, we are anxious to hear your thoughts about this.

            We’ve both read Tom Paine’s pamphlet, The Crisis. His words are most encouraging.  We hope that your commander has read the pamphlet to the troops.  Paine has such great respect for the troops.

            Tim Green told us how general Washington led his troops across the icy Delaware River on Christmas night, surprising the Hessians who were guarding Trenton .  Tim said a soldier wrote in his diary:  “Hessian population of Trenton at 8 a.m.- 1408 men and 39 officers; Hessian population at 9 a.m. – 0.”  Can you believe that so many Hessian prisoners were taken?

            Son, your brother James is growing up.  He’s trying to follow in your footsteps and is most helpful when it comes to chores.

            We hope to hear from you soon and perhaps the war will end, so you can come home to us.


                                                                                       Your loving parents