Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - 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 THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Cambridge, 13 March, 1776.
In my letter of the 7th and 9th instant, which I had the honor of addressing you, I mentioned the intelligence I had received respecting the embarkation of the troops from Boston; and fully expected, before this, that the Town would have been entirely evacuuated. Although I have been deceived, and was rather premature in the opinion I had then formed, I have little reason to doubt but the event will take place in a very short time, as other accounts, which have come to hand since, the sailing of a great number of transports from the harbor to Nantasket Road, and many circumstances corresponding therewith, seem to confirm and render it unquestionable. Whether the town will be destroyed is a matter of much uncertainty; but it would seem, from the destruction they are making of sundry pieces of furniture, of many of their wagons and carts, which they cannot take with them as it is said, that it will not; for, if they intended it, the whole might be involved in one general ruin.
Holding it of the last importance in the present contest, that we should secure New York, and prevent the enemy from possessing it, and conjecturing they have views of that sort, and their embarkation to be for that purpose, I judged it necessary, under the situation of things here, to call a council of general officers to consult of such measures, as might be expedient to be taken at this interesting conjuncture of affairs. A copy of the proceedings I have the honor to enclose to you.
Agreeable to the opinion of the council, I shall detach the rifle regiment to-morrow, under the command of Brigadier-General Sullivan, with orders to repair to New York with all possible expedition; and which will be succeeded the day after by the other five in one brigade, they being all that it was thought advisable to send from hence, till the enemy shall have quitted the town. Immediately upon their departure, I shall send forward Major-General Putnam, and follow myself with the remainder of the army, as soon as I have it in my power, leaving here such a number of men, as circumstances may seem to require.
As the badness of the roads at this season will greatly retard the march of our men, I have, by advice of the general officers, written to Governor Trumbull by this express, to use his utmost exertions for throwing a reinforcement of two thousand men into New York, from the western parts of Connecticut1 ; and to the commanding officer there, to apply to the Provincial Convention or Committee of Safety of New Jersey, for a thousand more for the same purpose, to oppose the enemy and prevent their getting possession, in case they arrive before the troops from hence can get there; of which there is a probability, unless they are impeded by contrary winds. This measure, though it may be attended with considerable expense, I flatter myself will meet with the approbation of Congress. Past experience, and the lines in Boston and on Boston Neck, point out the propriety, and suggest the necessity, of keeping our enemies from gaining possession and making a lodgment. Should their destination be further southward, or for Halifax, (as reported in Boston,) for the purpose of going into Canada, the march of our troops to New York will place them nearer the scene of action, and more convenient for affording succour.
We have not taken post on Nook’s Hill, and fortified it, as mentioned that we should in my last. On hearing, that the enemy were about to retreat and leave the town, it was thought imprudent and unadvisable to force them with too much precipitation, that we might gain a little time and prepare for a march. To-morrow evening we shall take possession of it, unless they are gone.
As New York is of such importance, prudence and policy require that every precaution, that can be devised, should be adopted to frustrate the designs, which the enemy have of possessing it. To this end I have ordered vessels to be provided, and held ready at Norwich, for the embarkation and transportation of our troops thither. This I have done with a view not only of greatly expediting their arrival, as it will save several days’ marching, but also that they may be fresh and fit for intrenching and throwing up works of defence, as soon as they get there, if they do not meet the enemy to contend with; for neither of which would they be in a proper condition, after a long and fatiguing march in bad roads. If Wallace, with his ships, should be apprized of the measure, and attempt to prevent it by stopping up the harbor of New London, they can but pursue their march by land.
You will please to observe, that it is the opinion of the general officers, if the enemy abandon the town, that it will be unnecessary to employ or keep any part of this army for its defence; and that I have mentioned, on that event happening, I shall immediately repair to New York with the remainder of the army not now detached, leaving only such a number of men here as circumstances may seem to require. What I partly allude to is, that,—as it will take a considerable time for the removal of such a body of men, and the divisions must precede each other in such order as to allow intermediate time sufficient for them to be covered and provided for, and many things done previous to the march of the whole, for securing and forwarding such necessaries, as cannot be immediately carried, and others which it may be proper to keep here,—directions might be received from Congress respecting the same, and as many men ordered to remain for that and other purposes, as they may judge proper. I could wish to have their commands upon the subject, and in time, as I may be under some degree of embarrassment as to their views.
Congress having been pleased to appoint Colonel Thompson a brigadier-general, there is a vacancy for a colonel in the regiment he commanded, to which I would beg leave to recommend Lieutenant-Colonel Hand. I shall also take the liberty of recommending Captain Hugh Stephenson, of the Virginia riflemen, to succeed Colonel Hand, and to be appointed in his place as lieutenant-colonel, (there being no major to the regiment, since the promotion of Major Magaw to be lieutenant-colonel of one of the Pennsylvania battalions, who is gone from hence.) He is, in my opinion, the fittest person in this army for it, as well as the oldest captain in the service, having distinguished himself at the head of a rifle company all the last war, and highly merited the approbation of his superior officers.
Col. Mifflin informed me to day of his having received tent cloths from Mr. Barrell of Philadelphia, to the amount of £7500 Pennsylvania currency, and applied for a warrant for payment of it. But as our fund is low and many necessary demands against it which must be satisfied and our calls for money are and will be exceedingly great, I could not grant it, thinking it might be convenient for payment to be made in Philadelphia by your order on the treasury there. I have the honor, &c.1
[1 ]In his letter to Governor Trumbull, after speaking of the “shameful retreat” the British were making from Boston, Washington wrote:—
[1 ]Read in Congress March 22nd.