Head of Elk: American Revolutionary War: 1780

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    In preparation for sending a detachment southwards, under Major Lee, Washington ordered vessels to be provided at the Head of Elk, to transport the Troops, with the Baggage, down Chesapeak Bay to meet the Horse at Petersburgh, Virginia.  [1]

    Further intelligence confirming the British intent to move from New York to reinforce Sir Henry Clinton, Washington applied to Congress to "detach the Maryland division to that quarter." Washington wrote to Major General Nathanael Greene,

    Should a passage down Chesapeak be determined upon,
  in preference to a march the whole way, the more the
  motive for preparing Vessels at the Head of Elk can be
  covered the better, as the enemy may, if they have
  sufficient notice, endeavour to interrupt the communi-
  cation.  [1]

    Washington issued orders to Captain William Riley, 4th Maryland Regiment, to marshall

  ... such Men of the Maryland line as may be in the
  Provost Guard; and also for one, who is with Mr
  Lodwick the Baker [Christopher Ludowick, Baker General
  of the Continental Army
]. When you have got these, you
  will proceed with the whole of the Party under your
  command, to Trenton, where the Men with an Officer will
  embark and go down the River to Wilmington in a Vessel
  or Vessels to be provided by the Quarter Master at the
  former place, on your application. After you arrive at
  Trenton and have put matters in train for the Party's
  proceeding, you will go on yourself to Philadelphia
  and inform the Honourable the Board of War of your
  command and of the Orders you have received, who will
  give such directions as they may think necessary, with
  respect to your farther destination and will order
  Vessels to be provided at the Head of Elk to take
  yourself and Party down the Bay. [1]

    In July, 1780, the captain of a small bay craft
  came to the Head of Elk and lay in the river for
  several days till a favorable opportunity occurred,
  one night during a heavy thunder storm, when he
  entered the warehouse of Zebulon Hollingsworth,
  which stood on the wharf in the 'Hollow,' and stole
  therefore about forty pieces of check, which he took
  to Baltimore and sold, except three pieces which he
  gave to one of his crew, who sold them for five
  hundred dollars each. This person, whose name was
  Green Jimmet, became dissatisfied with his share of
  the plunder and informed the officers of the law, who
  arrested him and sent a copy of his confession to
  the authorities of this county. [2]

To Henry Hollingsworth Esqr.  Head of Elk.
  Sir: Inclosed you have a letter for the Commanding Officer of the Regiment intended to be raised by the State of Maryland in lieu of the Militia demanded of her. This Regiment was appointed to rendezvous at the Head of Elk by the last of July, but as some disappointments may have happened in the raising of it, perhaps it may not be punctual to the time. I must therefore request you to keep the letter by you, if no part of the Troops should have arrived when it gets to hand, and deliver it to the first Officer who comes upon the Ground.
  I am, &c.
  G. Washington.
  Head Quarters  Peekskill  August 1st 1780. [1]

To the Officer commanding the Addl Maryd Battalion.
Head of Elk.
  Sir: By the time this arrives at the Head of Elk, I would willingly hope, that the Battalion which the Legislature determined to raise for the War, in lieu of the number of Militia required by the Honourable the Committee of Congress, acting with the Army, will have assembled and be in readiness to join me. If this is the case, I am to request, that you will proceed with it and join the Army on the East side of Hudson's River, with all the expedition you can, compatible with the health of the men. Should it happen that not more than a part of the Battalion is assembled, you will send the men forward under proper Officers and follow with the remainder as soon as possible.
  I am, &c.
  G. Washington.
  Head Quarters  Peekskill  Augt 1st 1780. [1]



United States Government. George Washington Papers, 1741–1799. Library of Congress. Online at https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html (accessed 2015-12-09 to -17). Synopsis and extracts by Alison Kilpatrick.


Johnston, George. History of Cecil County, Maryland. Elkton: published by the author, 1881 (pp. 322ff). Extracts transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

Please cite your sources.

Return to Head of Elk and the American Revolution index page.
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