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Middle Brook March the 19th 177[9]*

My Dear Children,

Not having received any letters from you, the two Last posts – I have only to tell you, that the general and my self are well, all is quiet in this quarters. It is from the southward that we expect to hear news, we are very anxious to know – how our affairs are going in that quarter Colo. Harrison is not yet arrived at Camp we have heard that he is in philad. several days agoe.

I hear so very seldom from you, that I don’t know whare you are or wheather you intend to come to alexander. to live this spring or when, the last Letter from Nelly she tha[r]e Says Boath the Children have been very ill, they were she hoped getting better – if you doe not write to me – I will not write to you again or til I get Letters from you – Lett me know how all friends below are they have for got to write me I believe.

Remember me to all inquireing Friends give the dear Little Girls a Kiss for me, and tell Brett I have got a pretty new doll for her – but don’t know how to send it to her – The General joins me in love to you Boath – and begs to be rememberd to all our friends that enquire after us – I am with sincear Love your truly affectionate Mother

Martha Washington


* Martha Washington originally dated this letter 1778 by mistake – the true date of the letter is assumed to be 1779.

Transcript courtesy of The Papers of Martha Washington. Charlottesville, VA; University of Virginia Press, 2022.

Consider the following while reading Martha's letter:

  • Why was this letter written? What is Martha's goal in writing this letter? Who is Martha writing to?
  • What is going on in the American Revolution at the time of Martha's letter? Why would they want to hear news from the south?
  • Why were letters important in the 18th century? Why would Martha be upset that her children were not replying to her frequent letters? What do you think her previous letters might have said?

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Martha Washington wrote this letter from Middlebrook, New Jersey during the American Revolution. Washington used Middlebrook as a defensive position, since the Continental Army was largely unprepared for an offensive effort. Martha accompanied Washington to this encampment, writing to her "dear children" during a moment of quiet.