Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOSEPH REED. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776)
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TO JOSEPH REED. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. III (1775-1776).
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TO JOSEPH REED.
Cambridge, 28 November, 1775.
By post I wrote you yesterday in answer to your letter of the 16th, since which your favors of the 15th and 17th are come to hand. In one of these you justly observe, that the sudden departure of Mr. Randolph must cause your absence to be the more sensibly felt. I can truly assure you, that I miss you exceedingly, and if an express declaration of this be wanting to hasten your return, I make it most heartily; and with some pleasure, as Mr. Lynch in a letter of the 13th (received with yours) gives this information. “In consequence of your letter by Colonel Reed, I applied to the chief justice, who tells me the Supreme Courts are lately held, and that it will be some time before their term will return; that he knows of no capital suit now depending, and that it is very easy for Colonel Reed to manage matters so as not to let that prevent his return to you; I am sure Mr. Chew is so heartily disposed to oblige you, and serve the cause, that nothing in his power will be wanting.” I could wish, my good friend, that these things may give a spur to your inclination to return; and that I may see you here as soon as convenient, as I feel the want of your ready pen, &c., greatly.
What an astonishing thing it is, that those who are employed to sign the Continental bills should not be able, or inclined, to do it as fast as they are wanted. They will prove the destruction of the army, if they are not more attentive and diligent. Such a dearth of public spirit, and want of virtue, such stock-jobbing, and fertility in all the low arts to obtain advantages of one kind or another, in this great change of military arrangement, I never saw before, and pray God I may never be witness to again. What will be the ultimate end of these manœuvres is beyond my scan. I tremble at the prospect. We have been till this time enlisting about three thousand five hundred men. To engage these I have been obliged to allow furloughs as far as fifty men a regiment, and the officers I am persuaded indulge as many more. The Connecticut troops will not be prevailed upon to stay longer than their term (saving those who have enlisted for the next campaign, and mostly on furlough), and such a dirty, mercenary spirit pervades the whole, that I should not be at all surprised at any disaster that may happen. In short, after the last of this month our lines will be so weakened, that the minute-men and militia must be called in for their defence; these, being under no kind of government themselves, will destroy the little subordination I have been laboring to establish, and run me into one evil whilst I am endeavoring to avoid another; but the lesser must be chosen. Could I have foreseen what I have, and am likely to experience, no consideration upon earth should have induced me to accept this command. A regiment or any subordinate department would have been accompanied with ten times the satisfaction, and perhaps the honor.1
I think I informed you in my letter of yesterday that we had taken possession of, and had fortified Cobble Hill, and several points round the Bay, between that and Roxbury. In a night or two more, we shall begin our work on Lechmore’s Point; when doubtless we shall be honored with their notice, unless General Howe is waiting the favorable moment he has been told of, to aim a capital blow; which is my fixed opinion.
The Congress already know, from the general estimate given in (for a month), what sum it will take to supply this army; and that little less than two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars will answer the purpose.
Pray impress this upon the members, and the necessity of forwarding the last sum voted, as one hundred thousand dollars will be but a flea-bite to our demands at this time. Did I not in one of my late letters inform you that I had sent Mr. Knox through New York to General Schuyler to see what artillery I could get from those places? He has been set out upon this business about ten days, and I hope will fall in with the Committee of Congress. Powder is also so much wanted, that nothing without it can be done.
I wish that matter respecting the punctilio, hinted at by you, could come to some decision of Congress. I have done nothing yet in respect to the proposed exchange of prisoners, nor shall I now, until I hear from them or you on this subject. I am sorry Mr. White met with a disappointment in the Jerseys; as I could wish not to be under the necessity, from any former encouragement given him, of taking him into my family. I find it is absolutely necessary that the aids to the Commander-in-chief should be ready at their pen, (which I believe he is not,) to give that ready assistance, that is expected of them. I shall make a lame hand therefore to have two of this kidney. It would give me singular pleasure to provide for those two gentlemen, mentioned in your letter; but, believe me, it is beyond the powers of conception to discover the absurdities and partiality of these people, and the trouble and vexation I have had in the new arrangement of officers. After five, I think, different meetings of the general officers, I have in a manner been obliged to give in to the humor and whimsies of the people, or get no army. The officers of one government would not serve in the regiments of another, (although there was to be an entire new creation;) a captain must be in this regiment, a subaltern in that company. In short, I can scarce tell at this moment in what manner they are fixed. Some time hence strangers may be brought in; but it could not be done now, except in an instance or two, without putting too much to the hazard.1
I have this instant by express received the agreeable news of the capitulation of Montreal. The account of it, you also undoubtedly have. Poor Arnold, I wonder where he is. Enos left him with the rear division of his army, and is now here under arrest.
What can your brethren of the law mean, by saying your perquisites as secretary must be considerable? I am sure they have not amounted to one farthing. Captain Blewer waits, and therefore I shall add no more than that I am, dear Sir, your most obedient and affectionate servant.
P. S. Please to let Col. Lee know that I answered his query by last post respecting the armed vessels of this Province, and those fitted out by the Continent.
[1 ]“His Excellency is a great and good man. I feel the highest degree of respect for him. I wish him immortal honor. I think myself happy in an opportunity to serve under so good a general. My happiness will be still greater if fortune gives me an opportunity to contribute to his glory and my country’s good. But his Excellency, as you observe, has not had time to make himself acquainted with the genius of this people. They are naturally as brave and spirited as the peasantry of any other country; but you cannot expect veterans of a raw militia of only a few months’ service. The common people are exceedingly avaricious; the genius of the people is commercial, from their long intercourse with trade. The sentiment of honor, the true characteristic of a soldier, has not yet got the better of interest. His Excellency has been taught to believe the people here a superior race of mortals; and finding them of the same temper and dispositions, passions and prejudices, virtues and vices of the common people of other governments, they sink in his esteem. The country round here set no bounds to their demand for hay, wood and teaming. It has given his Excellency a great deal of uneasiness that they should take this opportunity to extort from the necessities of the army such enormous prices.”—General Greene to Henry Ward, 18 December, 1775.
[1 ]“As the troops are considered continental and not colonial, there must be some systematical plan for the payment without any reference to particular colonies; otherwise they will be partly continental and partly colonial. His Excellency has a great desire to banish every idea of local attachments. It is next to impossible to unhinge the prejudices that people have for places and things they have had a long connection with. But the fewer of those local attachments discover themselves in our plan for establishing the army the more satisfactory it must be to the Southern gentry. For my own part, I feel the cause and not the place. I would as soon go to Virginia as stay here. I can assure the gentlemen to the southward that there could not be any thing more abhorrent proposed, than a union of those [these] colonies for the purpose of conquering the southern colonies.”—General Greene, to Governor Ward, 16 October, 1775. It would have had great effect with the troops, who are exceedingly turbulent and even mutinous. My vexation and distress can only be alleviated by reflecting on the great public advantages, which must arise from my unparalleled good fortune. I shall clothe the troops completely, who engage again. I find with pleasure, that my politics have squared with the views of Congress, and shall lose no time in calling a convention, when my intended expedition is finished. Will not your health permit you to reside at Montreal this winter? I must go home, if I walk by the side of the lake, this winter. I am weary of power, and totally want that patience and temper, so requisite for such a command. I wish some method could be fallen upon of engaging gentlemen to serve. A point of honor, and more knowledge of the world to be found in that class of men, would greatly reform discipline and render the troops much more tractable.