Archiver > AMERICAN-REVOLUTION > 2003-07 > 1057805689

From: "Ed St.Germain" <>
Subject: [AMER-REV] Re: British knew
Date: Wed, 09 Jul 2003 19:57:11 -0700
References: <>


Here's the story as it came off the AP wire:

Papers Show Spy Knew of Delaware Crossing


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Through a spy, the British were tipped off that
George Washington would be making his famous Christmas night crossing of
the Delaware, but the information went unheeded, according to newly
reviewed papers of the British commander.

The papers from the archive of Gen. James Grant were found in the tower
of his Ballindalloch Castle, northwest of Aberdeen, Scotland.

A day after Washington's 1776 victory at Trenton, Grant wrote what
apparently was a draft of a report to an unnamed superior. He said that
he had relayed good information on Washington's plan at 5 p.m. Christmas
Day to Col. Johann Rall, who commanded the Hessian garrison at Trenton,
but that Rall had failed to take precautions.

``It is some comfort to me that I gave them previous notice,'' Grant
wrote. ``It was rather better intelligence than I could be expected to
have so soon after I was appointed to this command. No man in America
knows the channel through which it came except the Genl. who I let into
the secret before this cursed affair happen'd.''

Grant's spy is still unidentified.

Some historians say Washington had a spy of his own, John Honeyman, who
supplied food and liquor to the Hessians for a Christmas party. There is
no mention in Grant's account of the party or its effects, usually given
as a cause of Washington's easy success early next morning.

After the war, a British intelligence officer said Washington had not
been militarily superior to the British commanders but had prevailed
because he had a better spy network.

Three weeks after the Battle of Trenton, Grant drafted another letter
saying his worst fears after the British surrender there had come true.
Washington, who had foreseen possible disaster before Trenton, got
reinforcements and was on his way to attack Princeton. After a short
campaign he won back New Jersey, which he had given up the autumn

Grant seems to have run several spies on Washington's headquarters.
Another of his papers records:

``Mr. Wharton is gone to Philadelphia for Intelligence will be at
Washington's tomorrow. Lowrie is to meet him there, will be in the
Jerseys next (day?) & I shall hear from him immediately. Lowrie is to
purchase Rum to the amount of twenty thousand Dollars at Philadelphia
with Continental money & to store it there till the (money?) arrives.''

He also records information ``given by Genl. Mercer's deputy.'' American
Gen. Hugh Mercer died at the Battle of Princeton. Wharton and Lowrie are
not identified on this page of short notes. Nor do they say what was to
be done with the rum.

The Library of Congress learned of the collection at Ballindalloch in
1999. Its owner, a descendant of Grant, said the library was welcome to
look. James Hutson, head of the library's manuscript division, went to
Scotland and had Grant's 12,000 papers copied onto 50 rolls of microfilm
now at the library.

For Revolutionary War information on the Internet, your first choice

This thread: