When the British withdrew after Washington's victories at Trenton (26 December 1776) and Princeton (3 January 1777), Putnam was put in command of the American wing posted at Princeton. Both armies were in want of supplies, and General Putnam reports to the Council on desertions and on a skirmish with a British foraging party.
"Capt. Echard [Conrad Eckert, 1741–1791] and Capt. Fisher of Berks County have just informed me that their Companies have run away to a Man, except Lieut. Wright & a drum. I hope Gentlemen, no Pains or Cost will be spared to apprehend these Men and bring them back to their Duty. I think it is of the last importance that this spirit of Desertion should be crush'd in its Infancy & the Militia taught that there is a Power than can & will detain them." Putnam advises as part punishment, an extension of their enlistment terms or "we shall in a few Days have not a Man of the Militia left."
"A foraging party of the Enemy of about 1000 men came Yesterday as far as Somerset Court House with 200 Waggons & 4 field pieces —they collected 6 or 700 Head of Cattle had plundered Fowls, Hams, Butter, Cheese etc. when a small party of the Jersey Militia posted near that place attacked them and obliged them to give way ... they were most seasonably reinforced to the Amount of about 400 in all, renewed the attack and put them to flight, retook the whole of their plunder, with about 50 waggons & 100 horses, many of them English, and eight prisoners."
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