January 15, 1778

Written by Isaac from Valley Forge

The Continental Army had been at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for less than a month when Sergeant Isaac How Davenport wrote home to his brother, Samuel, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Isaac had joined the Continental Army shortly after Lexington and Concord and served as a member of General George Washington’s Commander in Chief’s Guard. A company of mounted Guardsmen were commanded by Captain George Lewis, Washington’s nephew. In early 1777, they were consolidated into the 3rd Regiment of Continental Dragoons commanded by Colonel George Baylor. Davenport served as a sergeant through the campaigns of 1777 with this regiment. In this letter, he reflects on conditions at Valley Forge in early 1778. James and Isaac had three other brothers, Josiah, Joseph, and Samuel.

Transcript PDF
An Annotation Added

It appears that someone added an annotation in pencil well after the letter was transcribed — "slain by the British Sept 28 1778" — noting Isaac How's death at the Baylor Massacre, also known as the Tappan Massacre.

The Clap Sisters

Esther, Polly, and Sally Clap were sisters who lived in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and were friends with Isaac How and James Davenport.