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, 1 Feby, 1776.
My Dear Sir,
I had wrote the letter herewith enclosed before your favor of the 21st came to hand. The account given of the behavior of the men under General Montgomery, is exactly consonant to the opinion I have formed of these people, and such as they will exhibit abundant proofs of, in similiar cases whenever called upon. Place them behind a parapet, a breast-work, stone wall, or any thing that will afford them shelter, and, from their knowledge of a firelock, they will give a good account of their enemy; but I am as well convinced, as if I had seen it, that they will not march boldly up to a work, nor stand exposed in a plain; and yet, if we are furnished with the means, and the weather will afford us a passage, and we can get in men, for these three things are necessary, something must be attempted.1 The men must be brought to face danger; they cannot always have an intrenchment or a stone wall as a safeguard or shield; and it is of essential importance, that the troops in Boston should be destroyed if possible before they can be reinforced or removed. This is clearly my opinion. Whether circumstances will admit of the trial, and, if tried, what will be the event, the All-wise Disposer of them alone can tell.
The evils arising from short, or even any limited inlistment of the troops, are greater, and more extensively hurtful than any person (not an eye-witness to them) can form any idea of. It takes you two or three months to bring new men in any tolerable degree acquainted with their duty; it takes a longer time to bring a people of the temper and genius of these into such a subordinate way of thinking as is necessary for a soldier. Before this is accomplished, the time approaches for their dismissal, and you are beginning to make interest with them for their continuance for another limited period; in the doing of which you are obliged to relax in your discipline, in order as it were to curry favor with them, by which means the latter part of your time is employed in undoing what the first was accomplishing, and instead of having men always ready to take advantage of circumstances, you must govern your movements by the circumstances of your Inlistment. This is not all; by the time you have got men arm’d and equip’d, the difficulty of doing which is beyond description, and with every new sett you have the same trouble to encounter, without the means of doing it.—In short, the disadvantages are so great and apparent to me, that I am convinced, uncertain as the continuance of the war is, that Congress had better determine to give a bounty of 20, 30, or even 40 Dollars to every man who will Inlist for the whole time, be it long or short. I intend to write my sentiments fully on this subject to Congress the first leizure time I have.
I am exceeding sorry to hear that Arnold’s wound is in an unfavorable way; his letter to me of the 14th ulto. says nothing of this. I fancy Congress have given some particular direction respecting Genl. Prescott. I think they ought for more reasons than one. I am, &c.
Be so good as to send the enclosed letter of Randolph’s to the Post-office.1
[1 ]“I think then we might have attacked ’em long before this and with success, were our troops differently constituted; but the fatal persuasion has taken deep root in the minds of the Americans from the highest to the lowest order that they are no match for the Regulars, but when covered by a wall or breast work. This notion is still further strengthened by the endless works we are throwing up. In short unless we can remove the idea (and it must be done by degrees) no spirited action can be ventured on without the greatest risk.”—Charles Lee to Benj. Rush, 19 September, 1775.
[1 ]“The Continental Congress having been pleased to order, and direct, that there shall be one Chaplain to two Regiments and that the pay of each Chaplain shall be Thirty-three dollars & one third, pr. Kalendar Month. The Revd. Abiel Leonard is appointed Chaplain to the Regiment of Artillery, under the command of Col. Knox, and to the 20th Regiment, at present commanded by Lt. Col. Durkee.