Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1 April: TO JOSEPH REED. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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1 April: TO JOSEPH REED. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
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TO JOSEPH REED.
Cambridge, 1 April, 1776.
By the express which I sent to Philadelphia a few days ago, I wrote you a few hasty lines; I have little time to do more now, as I am hurried in despatching one brigade after another for New York, and preparing for my own departure by pointing out the duties of those that remain behind me.
Nothing of importance has occurred in these parts, since my last, unless it be the resignations of Generals Ward and Fry, and the reassumption of the former, or retraction, on account as he says, of its being disagreeable to some of the officers. Who those officers are, I have not heard; I have not enquired. When the application to Congress and notice of it to me came to hand, I was disarmed of interposition, because it was put upon the footing of duty, or conscience, the General being persuaded that his health would not allow him to take that share of duty that his office required.
The officers to whom the resignation is disagreeable, have been able, no doubt, to convince him of his mistake, and that his health will admit him to be alert and active. I shall leave him till he can determine yea or nay, to command in this quarter. General Fry, that wonderful man, has made a most wonderful hand of it. His appointment took place the 11th January; he desired ten days ago, that his resignation might take place the 11th April. He has drawn three hundred and seventy-five dollars, never done one day’s duty, scarce been three times out of his house, discovered that he was too old and too infirm for a moving camp, but remembers that he has been young, active and very capable of doing what is now out of his power to accomplish; and therefore has left Congress to find out another man capable of making, if possible, a more brilliant figure than he has done; add to these the departure of Generals Lee and Thomas, taking some little account of S[pencer] and H[owe?], and then form an opinion of the G[enera]ls of this army, their councils, &c.1
Your letter of the 15th ultimo contained a very unfavorable account of the Carolinas, but I am glad to find by the subsequent one of the 23d, that the prospect brightens, and that Mr. Martin’s first attempt, (through those universal instruments of tyranny, the Scotch,) hath met with its deserved success.2 The old proverb, of the first blow being half the battle, cannot better apply than in these instances, the spirits of the vanquished being depressed in proportion as the victors get elated.
I am glad to find my camp equipage in such forwardness; I shall expect to meet it, and I hope you, at New York, for which place I am preparing to set out on Thursday or Friday next.
The accounts brought by Mr. Temple,1 of the favorable disposition in the Ministry to accommodate matters, does not correspond with their speeches in Parliament;—how then does he account for their inconsistency? If the commissioners do not come over with full and ample powers to treat with Congress, I sincerely wish they may never put their feet on American ground, as it must be self-evident, (in the other case,) that they come over with insidious intentions; to distract, divide, and create as much confusion as possible; how then can any man, let his passion for reconciliation be never so strong, be so blinded and misled, as to embrace a measure evidently designed for his destruction? No man does, no man can, wish the restoration of peace more fervently than I do, but I hope, whenever made, it will be upon such terms, as will reflect honor upon the councils and wisdom of America. With you, I think a change in the American representation necessary; frequent appeals to the people can be attended with no bad, but may have very salutary effects. My countrymen I know, from their form of government, and steady attachment heretofore to royalty, will come reluctantly into the idea of independence, but time and persecution bring many wonderful things to pass; and by private letters, which I have lately received from Virginia, I find “Common Sense” is working a powerful change there in the minds of many men.1
The four thousand men destined for Boston on the 5th, if the ministerialists had attempted our works on Dorchester, or the lines at Roxbury, were to have been headed by Old Put. But he would have had pretty easy work of it, as his motions were to have been regulated by signals, and those signals from appearances. He was not to have made the attempt, unless the town had been drained, or very considerably weakened of its force.
I believe I mentioned in my last to you, that all those who took upon themselves the style and title (in Boston) of government’s men, have shipped themselves off in the same hurry, but under greater disadvantages than the king’s (I think it idle to keep up the distinction of ministerial) troops have done, being obliged in a manner to man their own vessels; seamen not being to be had for the king’s transports, and submit to all the hardships that can be conceived. One or two of them have committed what it would have been happy for mankind if more of them had done, long ago; the act of suicide. By all accounts a more miserable set of beings does not exist than these; taught to believe that the power of Great Britain was almost omnipotent, and if it was not, that foreign aid was at hand, they were higher and more insulting in their opposition than the regulars themselves. When the order issued therefore for embarking the troops in Boston, no electric shock, no sudden flash of lightning, in a word, not even the last trump, could have struck them with greater consternation; they were at their wit’s end and conscious of their black ingratitude, chose to commit themselves in the manner before described, to the mercy of the winds and waves in a tempestuous season, rather than meet their offended countrymen, and with this declaration I am told they have done it, that if they could have thought that the most abject submission would have procured peace for them, they would have humbled themselves in the dust, and kissed the rod that should be held out for chastisement.
Unhappy wretches! Deluded mortals! Would it not be good policy to grant a generous amnesty, and conquer these people by a generous forgiveness? I am, with Mrs. Washington’s compliments joined with my own to Mrs. Reed, dear sir, &c.1
P. S. I have this instant received an express from Governor Cooke, informing me that a man of war is just arrived in the harbor at New Port, and that twenty-seven sail of vessels (supposed to be part of the fleet from Boston) are within Seconet Point. I have ordered General Sullivan’s brigade, which marched from hence on Friday afternoon, to file off immediately for Providence, and General Greene’s, which was to begin its march to-day, to repair immediately to that place.1
TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL ARNOLD, IN CANADA.
Cambridge, 3 April, 1776.
Your favor of the 27th of February is come to hand. I much fear you will be much disappointed in the number of troops you expected in that month, as the lakes were impassable. Major General Thomas will, long before you receive this, have informed you [of] the success of our operations here. The enemy have quitted this harbor last week. We have no certain accounts of their destination. It is generally believed they are gone to Halifax. If true, it is probable they will attempt to penetrate Canada on the opening of the St. Lawrence. I hope before that happens you will be in full possession of Quebec, and have its avenues well secured, upon which depends the fate of this campaign in these parts. I have despatched two companies of Colonel Knox’s regiment of artillery to you hence, two mortars, &c. as you will see at the foot hereof. If any thing else is wanting that cannot be had in Canada, and in my power to send, they shall be forwarded with all possible expedition, upon my being informed thereof. The chief part of the troops are marched from hence towards New York. I will set off to-morrow. If the enemy will not find us full employment and it is necessary, you may expect a detachment from thence to your assistance. I am very sorry that the gentlemen from New York and other officers should think themselves neglected in the new arrangement. It is true that I reserved places in this army for those officers, who went from hence under your command. The Congress have since informed me, that they would be provided for in the army raised for Canada. I was not acquainted with the gentlemen, who complain, nor with their circumstances. There is little doubt, but their merits will be rewarded in due time.1 I am very sensible of the many difficulties you have had to encounter. Your conduct under them does you great honor. As General Thomas will take the burthen off your shoulders, I hope you will soon gather strength sufficient to assist in finishing the important work, which you have with so much glory to yourself and service to your country hitherto conducted.
As I am informed, that there is a furnace somewhere near you, where shells and shot of any size can be cast, I would recommend to General Thomas to have what quantity of each, that may be wanting, immediately prepared. The roads are so very bad, that it is impossible to send you any great number of these necessary articles from hence. I have appointed Captain Lamb, who is a prisoner at Quebec, to be second major in the regiment of artillery, commanded by Colonel Henry Knox. The gentlemen of this family return you their compliments, and my best wishes attend General Thomas. I remain, Sir, yours, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Cambridge, 4 April, 1776.
I was honored with your favors of the 21st and 25th ulto. on the 2d. instant, the former by Mr. Hanson, &c. the latter by Fessenden. I heartily wish the money had arrived sooner that the militia might have been paid as soon as their time of service expired. The disappointment has given them great uneasiness, and they are gone home much dissatisfied, nor have I been without severe complaints from the other troops on the same account. When I get to New York I hope a sufficient sum will be there ready to pay every claim.1
It is not in my power to make report of the deficiency of arms, in compliance with the direction of Congress, at this time, as some of the regiments are at and most of the others on their march to New York; nor do I know that it would answer any good purpose, if it were, having made repeated application to the several assemblies and conventions upon the subject, and constantly received for answer, that they could afford no relief.
When I arrive at New York I shall in pursuance of the order of Congress detach four battalions to Canada, if the situation of affairs will admit of it, and shall be extremely happy if they and the troops already there can effect the important end of their going.
In my letter of the 1st inst. and per post, I enclosed you a copy of a letter from Governor Cooke advising me of the arrival of a ship of war, &c., at and near the harbor of Newport. I have now the pleasure to inform you that the report was entirely premature and without any foundation. You have a copy of his letter of the 1st inst. to this effect. I wish the alarm had never been given. It occasioned General Sullivan and his brigade to make an unnecessary and inconvenient diversion from their route.
Enclosed is a copy of an account presented by the Honorable General Court of powder furnished the Continental Army by this Colony. From the account it appears that part of it was supplied before the army was under my command, and, therefore I know nothing of it; but have not the smallest doubt of the justice of the charge. I shall leave about two hundred barrels of this article with Major General Ward, out of which Congress will direct him to make a return, if they think proper, and also repayment of what may have been furnished by the other governments.
A proclamation of General Howe’s, issued a few days before his departure from town, having fallen into my hands, I have enclosed you a copy, which may probably have been the occasion of large quantities of goods being carried away, and the removal of many persons, which otherwise would not have happened.1
Colonel Warren, paymaster-general, finding the army likely to be removed from hence, informed me the other day, that the situation of his affairs and engagements in the business of the colony are such, as to prevent him personally attending the army; and offered, in case it should be required, to resign. This was rather embarrassing. To me it appears indispensably necessary that the paymaster-general, with his books, should be at or near head-quarters. Indeed it is usual for the head of every department in the army, however dispersed that army may be, to be with the commanding general, keeping deputies in the smaller departments. On the other hand, Colonel Warren’s merit and attachment to the cause are such, that I could do nothing less than desire, (as some money must be left for the pay and contingent charges of the army which will remain here,) that he would wait here till Congress shall be pleased to give their sentiments upon the matter,1 sending in the meantime some person in whom he could confide with the money, (but little of which there will be to carry, tho’ great the demands, as nine of the regiments which have marched to New York have only received £500 each towards their pay for the months of February and March, and others not one farthing). I hope therefore this matter will be considered by Congress and the result transmitted me as soon as done.
I would also mention to Congress, that the militia regiments, which were last called upon, in making up their abstracts, charged pay, the officers from the time they received orders to raise companies, and the privates from the time they respectively engaged to come, or were called upon, though they did not march for a considerable time after, some not within three, four, to twenty days, and during all which they remained at home about their own private affairs, without doing any thing else than preparing for the march, as they say by way of plea. This appeared to me so exceedingly unreasonable, and so contrary to justice, that the public should pay for a longer time than from the day of their march to that of their return, that I ordered the abstracts to be made out accordingly, and refused to give warrants on any other terms. They say that the enlisting orders, which went out from their governments, give them the pay they claim. The fact may be, that something in these may seem to authorize it; but I must submit it to Congress, and wish for their decision, whether the Continent must pay it.1 I am, &c.
P. S. I shall set off to-day.2
TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.
Cambridge, 4 April, 1776.
Your favor of the 26th ult. came to my hands last night, by the post; but as I am upon the point of setting out for New York, (by the way of Providence and Norwich,) I can do little more than acknowledge the receipt of it, and thank you for the proceedings and ordinances of the Virginia Convention, which came safely to hand.
At present, the lakes are in an impassable state, neither being clear of ice, nor covered with such as will admit of transportation; at present also, our troops are at different stages, on their march from hence to New York; nor is it possible for me, till I get there, as the Congress have annexed conditions to my sending the four battalions to Canada, to tell whether they can be spared or not, as I am unacquainted with the number of men, or strength of the works at that place. No time shall be lost in forwarding three battalions if there is a possibility of doing it with safety; as no person can be more sensible of the importance of securing Canada than I am. A letter of the 27th ult. from General Schuyler, informs me that there are many men now stopped at Albany, on account of the state the ice is in on the lakes. I thank you for your friendly congratulations on the retreat of the king’s troops from Boston. It was really a flight; their embarkation was so precipitate; their loading so confused, (after making greater havoc of the king’s stores than Dunbar did upon Braddock’s defeat, which made so much noise,) that it took them eleven days to fit their transports, adjust the loads of them, and take in water from the islands in Nantasket Road after they had fallen down there. The coast is now clear of them, except the Renown, (a 50 gun ship,) and one or two frigates, which remain here for the protection of such transports as shall be bound to this port. I pray you to make my best wishes acceptable to the good doctor, his lady, and family, &c., and believe me to be, as I really am, &c.1
TO COMMODORE ESECK HOPKINS.2
New York, 14 April, 1776.
I have just received information that the Nautilus sloop of war is arrived here from Newport, said to be sent express from thence for the Asia, Phœnix, and Savage, and that they are intended for New London in order to block up your squadron in that harbor. I thought it my duty to give you notice of this by express, that you might take your measures accordingly.1 The Phœnix, Savage, and Nautilus sailed this morning. The Asia still remains in the harbor. I should be much obliged to you, if you would forward the cannon and stores I left a list with you for, as soon as possible; and as the men-of-war are now out, I should be extremely glad if you would keep a good look out to see that the coast is clear, before any more of the Continental troops embark from New London. I am, very respectfully, Sir, your most obedient servant.2
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 15 April, 1776.
I am now to inform you, that on the 4th instant I set out from Cambridge, and arrived here on Saturday last. I came through Providence, Norwich, and New London, in order to see and expedite the embarkation of the troops. The third brigade, under the command of General Greene, was at New London when I left it, where there was a sufficient number of transports to embark them; and most probably they would have arrived here before this, had it not been for a severe storm, which happened the night they sailed, which dispersed them, and, I fear, has done them some injury.
General Spencer, with the last brigade, marched from Roxbury the day I left Cambridge, and would be at New London, ready to embark in the return transports, which brought General Sullivan’s division to this place. The whole of the troops may be reasonably expected here in the course of this week. The badness of the roads, and difficulty of procuring teams for bringing the stores and baggage, have greatly prolonged their arrival at this place.
I have not had time, since I came, to look fully about me; but find many works of defence begun, and some finished. The troops are much dispersed, some on Long Island, others on Staten Island, &c.
I have ordered four battalions from hence to Canada, and am taking measures to have them forwarded to Albany by water, with all possible expedition. This will greatly expedite their arrival, and ease the men of much fatigue. I have written General Schuyler of their coming, that he may have necessary measures taken to hurry their march to General Thomas.1
I am informed by General Putnam that the militia, that were called in for the support of this town, in case the ministerial army had arrived before our troops, are all discharged, it being unnecessary to keep them longer.
All the ships of war, besides the Asia, moved out of this harbor on Saturday, and the Asia yesterday; some of which are now below the Narrows, and the rest gone to sea.
Your favor of the 10th instant by Major Sherburne, directed to General Putnam or the commanding officer here, came to hand on Saturday evening, with three boxes of money, which I shall deliver to the paymaster as soon as he arrives, and transmit you his receipt for the same.
Having received information from hence before my departure from Cambridge, that thirty pieces of heavy cannon were wanting, and essentially necessary for the defence of this place, in addition to those already here, I took the liberty of applying to Admiral Hopkins, whom I saw at New London, for that number, with the mortars and stores he brought from Providence Island, a list of which he had transmitted you. He told me, that, as many were wanting for the defence of Providence River and the harbor at New London, it was uncertain whether I could have all I wanted; but that he would send me all that could be spared.1 I have not been able to get a return of the troops since I came. As soon as I do it, I will send it to you. I am, Sir, &c.2
TO JOSEPH REED.
New York, 15 April, 1776.
My Dear Sir,
Your favor of the 13th was this instant put into my hands, scarce time enough to acknowledge the receipt of it (by this Post,) and to thank you for your great care and attention in providing my Camp Equipage. Whatever the list you sent may fall short of your intention of providing, can be got here; and may be delayed; as the want or not of them, will depend upon circumstances.
I am exceedingly concerned to hear of the divisions and parties, which prevail with you, and in the southern colonies, on the score of independence. These are the shelves we have to avoid, or our bark will split and tumble to pieces. Here lies our great danger, and I almost tremble when I think of this rock. Nothing but disunion can hurt our cause. This will ruin it, if great prudence, temper, and moderation is not mixed in our counsels, and made the governing principles of the contending parties.1 When, my good Sir, will you be with me? I fear I shall have a difficult card to play in this Government [New York], and could wish for your assistance and advice to manage it. I have not time to add more, except that with great sincerity and truth I am, dear Sir, your most obedient and affectionate humble servant.
P. S. Mrs. Washington, &c., came the Hartford Road, and not yet arrived—detain’d by the illness (on the Road) of poor Mr. Custis, who is now better and coming on.1
TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF NEW YORK.
Head-Quarters, 17 April, 1776.
There is nothing that could add more to my happiness, than to go hand in hand with the civil authority of this, or any other government, to which it may be my lot to be ordered; and, if in the prosecution of such measures as shall appear to me to have a manifest tendency to promote the interest of the great American cause, I shall encounter the local convenience of individuals, or even of a whole colony, I beg it may be believed, that I shall do it with reluctance and pain; but, in the present important contest, the least of two evils must be preferred.
That a continuance of the intercourse, which has hitherto subsisted between the inhabitants of this colony and the enemy on board their ships of war, is injurious to the common cause, requires no extraordinary abilities to prove. A moment’s reflection not only evinces this truth, but points out the glaring absurdity of such a procedure. We are to consider ourselves either in a state of peace or of war with Great Britain. If the former, why are our ports shut up, our trade destroyed, our property seized, our towns burnt, and our worthy and valuable citizens led into captivity, and suffering the most cruel hardships? If the latter, my imagination is not fertile enough to suggest a reason in support of the intercourse.
In the weak and defenceless state, in which this city was some time ago, political prudence might justify the correspondence, that subsisted between the country and the enemy’s ships of war; but, as the largest part of the Continental troops is now here; as many strong works are erected and erecting for the defence of the city and harbor, those motives no longer exist, but are absorbed in others of a more important nature. To tell you, Gentlemen, that the advantages of an intercourse of this kind are altogether on the side of the enemy, whilst we derive not the smallest benefit from it, would be telling what must be obvious to every one. It is, indeed, so glaring, that even the enemy themselves must despise us for suffering it to be continued; for, besides their obtaining supplies of every kind, by which they are enabled to continue in your harbors, it also opens a regular channel of intelligence, by which they are, from time to time, made acquainted with the number and extent of our works, our strength, and all our movements; by which they are enabled to regulate their own plans, to our great disadvantage and injury. For the truth of this, I could produce instances; but, as it may be the subject of future discussion, I decline it at present. It would, Gentlemen, be taking up too much of your time, to use further arguments in proof of the necessity of putting an immediate and total stop to all further correspondence with the enemy. It is my incumbent duty to effect this, convinced as I am of the disadvantages resulting from it; and it cannot be thought strange or hard, that, under such conviction, I should be anxious to remove an evil, which may contribute, not a little, to the ruin of the great cause we are engaged in, and may, in its effects, prove highly detrimental to this colony in particular.
In effecting the salutary purposes above mentioned, I could wish for the concurrence and support of your honorable body. It certainly adds great weight to the measures adopted, when the civil authority coöperates with the military to carry them into execution. It would also redound much to the honor of the government, and of your Committee in particular; for the world is apt to judge from appearances;1 and, while such a correspondence exists, the reputation of the whole colony will suffer in the eyes of their American brethren.
It is therefore, Gentlemen, that I have taken the liberty to address you on this important subject, relying on your zeal and attachment to the cause of American liberty, for your assistance in putting a stop to this evil, and that you will coöperate with me in such measures as shall be effectual, either to prevent any future correspondence with the enemy, or in bringing to condign punishment such persons, as may be hardy and wicked enough to carry it on, otherwise than by a prescribed mode, if any case can possibly arise to require it. I have the honor to be, with the utmost respect, Gentlemen, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.1
New York, 18 April, 1776.
Permit me, through you, to convey to the honorable Congress the sentiments of gratitude I feel for the high honor they have done me in the public mark of approbation contained in your favor of the 2d instant, which came to hand last night. I beg you to assure them, that it will ever be my highest ambition to approve myself a faithful servant of the public; and that to be in any degree instrumental in procuring to my American brethren a restitution of their just rights and privileges, will constitute my chief happiness.
Agreeable to your request, I have communicated, in general orders, to the officers and soldiers under my command, the thanks of Congress for their good behavior in the service; and I am happy in having such an opportunity of doing justice to their merit. They were indeed, at first, “a band of undisciplined husbandmen”; but it is, (under God,) to their bravery and attention to their duty, that I am indebted for that success, which has procured me the only reward I wish to receive, the affection and esteem of my countrymen.
The medal, intended to be presented to me by your honorable body, I shall carefully preserve as a memorial of their regard. I beg leave to return you, Sir, my warmest thanks for the polite manner in which you have been pleased to express their sentiments of my conduct; and am, with sincere esteem and respect, Sir, your and their most obedient and most humble servant.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 19 April, 1776.
Yours of the 12th instant from Fort George was delivered me (with the enclosures) yesterday by express. I agree with you, that the intelligence is very alarming and requires the strictest attention.1 The four regiments ordered from hence are now embarking, and I hope will soon be with you. I need not urge the necessity of forwarding them from Albany with all possible despatch. You will have with the troops five hundred barrels of provisions. The commissary-general expects every moment a large quantity from Connecticut, and what can be spared of it shall be sent to you in the same bottoms, without delay. What General Lee contracted for is not yet delivered. His sudden and unexpected departure to the southward left the contractors at a loss where to deliver the provisions, and apply for the pay. The commissary-general has since renewed the contract, and ordered them to send provisions here.
I have ordered a return to be made of the state of our magazine, and if the powder you request can possibly be spared, you shall have it.
I have wrote to Congress to know whether they would incline to send you a further reinforcement of men; but we are yet in a very uncertain situation, not knowing where the enemy may bend their force, and constant applications [are made] from all quarters of the seacoast for a supply of men and ammunition. The recruits, that have been raised here, are totally unfurnished with arms, and, what is still worse, we do not know where to procure them.1
You, who know the temper and disposition of the savages, will, I doubt not, think with me, that it will be impossible to keep them in a state of neutrality. I have urged upon Congress the necessity of engaging them on our side, to prevent their taking an active part against us, which would be a most fatal stroke under our present circumstances.1 The commotions among the Canadians are really alarming. I am afraid proper measures have not been taken to conciliate their affections; but rather that they have been insulted and injured, than which nothing could have a greater tendency to ruin our cause in that country. For human nature is such, that it will adhere to the side from whence the best treatment is received. I therefore conjure you, Sir, to recommend to the officers and soldiers in the strongest terms to treat all the inhabitants, Canadians, English, and savages, with tenderness and respect, paying them punctually for what they receive, or giving them such certificates as will enable them to receive their pay.
As you are perfectly well acquainted with the country and its inhabitants in and about Albany, I think it would be best for you to remain there, at least until the troops and all their supplies are forwarded from thence to Canada. Besides the four regiments ordered for that service, I shall send a company of riflemen, a company of artificers, and two engineers. I beg you will continue to furnish me with intelligence of every interesting occurrence, and believe me, most affectionately, your obedient humble servant.
TO THE NEW YORK COMMITTEE OF SAFETY.
20 April, 1776.
I thank you for the polite and ready attention you paid to my requisition of the 17th Instant. When the Civil & Military Powers Co-operate, and afford mutual Aid to each other there can be little doubt of things going well—I have now to request the favor of your information in what manner and in what time a Body of 2000 or 2500 Militia might be collected from this Colony for actual Service upon any Sudden Emergency.
Although we may not, and I trust in God shall not have occasion for their Aid—common prudence does nevertheless dictate the Expediency of a preconcerted Plan for calling them in. that in Case of necessity they may be drawn together in proper Corps without tumult or disorder, and at the same time with the utmost expedition—This will not be the Case if men are not regularly embodied and notified that they are to step forth at a moments warning.
The Idea that strikes me as the properest to be pursued at present, is, to establish out of the Continental Forces, good lookouts on the Heights and Head Lands at the Entrance of the Harbor, who, upon the appearance of a Fleet shall make such signals as being answered from place to place shall convey the earliest intelligence to Head Quarters of the strength and approach of the Enemy—These signals for greater Certainty to be followed by Expresses, and then, in Case anything formidable should appear for the Committee of Safety, if sitting, if not those to whom the power shall be delegated, upon application from the Commanding officer of the Continental Forces to order in two or more Battallions as the Exigency of the Case may require, or for greater dispatch such Militia or part of them as shall be allotted to this Service by the Committee might be assembled (if in the Town or Vicinity) by Signals to be agreed on.
A mode of proceeding of a similar kind concerted with Jersey would bring in a reinforcement speedily and without those irregularities and unnecessary Expences which but too frequently attend the movement of Militia.
Thus Gentlemen, I have express’d my Sentiment to you upon the occasion—Your prudence will suggest to you the necessity of adopting these, or other methods of a like nature, and your wisdom will point out the most effectual and expeditious manner of carrying them into Execution.—I therefore submit them to your Consideration and am with great respect, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 22 April, 1776.
I was this day honored with the receipt of your favor of the 20th instant.
I have now the pleasure to acquaint you, that the four regiments designed for Canada embarked yesterday with a fair wind for Albany, under the command of Colonels Greaton, Patterson, Bond, and Poor; besides which there was a company of riflemen, a company of artificers, and two engineers, the whole commanded by Brigadier-General Thompson.
I have repeatedly mentioned to the honorable Congress the distressful situation we are in for want of arms. With much pains and difficulty I got most of the regiments from the eastward tolerably well furnished; but I find the [New] York regiments very badly provided. Colonel Ritzema’s has scarcely any; and yet these men, being enlisted during the war, and at five dollars per month, ought not, (in my judgment), to be discharged; as we find it almost as difficult to get men as arms. This is a matter of some importance, which I should be glad to receive the particular opinion of Congress upon.1 Mr. Baldwin is one of the assistant-engineers ordered to Canada. He is indeed a very useful man in his department, but he declined the service on account of his pay, which he says is inadequate to his support. In order to induce him to continue, I promised to represent his case to Congress; and would recommend an increase of his pay, and that he should have the rank of lieutenant-colonel, of which he is very deserving. I beg leave therefore to recommend him to the Congress, and that they would make provision for him accordingly.2
A few days ago, application was made to me by the Committee of Safety for this colony for an exchange of prisoners. For the particulars I beg leave to refer you to their letter, a copy of which you have, enclosed. As there is a standing order of Congress, that no sailors or soldiers shall be exchanged for citizens, I did not incline to comply with the request without the particular direction of Congress; but I have been since informed, that the prisoners, mentioned in the Committee’s letter as citizens, are really seamen taken from private vessels, but not in arms. How far this may alter the case, or how far the reasons which induced the Congress to pass the resolve abovementioned may still exist, must be left to their determination.
The militia, who, on my application, were ordered to this place to keep possession, until I should arrive with the Continental forces, were obliged to return home without their pay, as there was not then money sufficient in the treasury for that purpose, and to answer the exigencies of the army. This occasioned great uneasiness among them, and may be attended with very bad consequences, in case we should have occasion for their service on any future emergency. I therefore beg the Congress would make provision for their pay, and point out particularly whether it is to be done by the commander of the Continental forces, or by the Provincial Assemblies or Conventions from whence they are sent.
As the time for which the riflemen enlisted will expire on the 1st of July next, and as the loss of such a valuable and brave body of men will be of great injury to the service, I would submit it to the consideration of Congress, whether it would not be best to adopt some method to induce them to continue. They are indeed a very useful corps; but I need not mention this, as their importance is already well known to the Congress. It is necessary they should pay an early attention to this matter, as we know from past experience that men are very slow in re-enlisting.1
When I had the honor of seeing Admiral Hopkins at New London, he represented to me the weak state of his fleet, occasioned by sickness and the damage he received in his engagement with the enemy2 ; and requested I would spare him two hundred men to assist him in a design he had formed of attacking Wallace. This I readily consented to; and the men are to be returned as soon as the service is performed. I wish it was in my power at present to furnish General Lee with the companies of artillery he desires.3 I have already sent two companies to Quebec; and I have not yet been able to procure a return of those that are here. I expect Colonel Knox every moment, and shall then be able to determine whether any can be spared from hence.4 Blankets we are in great want of ourselves; and it was with great difficulty a few could be procured for the riflemen, that were ordered for Canada.
I enclose you Mr. Winthrop’s receipt for two hundred thousand dollars brought some time ago from Philadelphia by Major Sherburne, which you will please to deliver to the Continental treasurers.
On my arrival here I found that Mr. Livingston had been appointed by the Provincial Congress a Commissary to furnish the Continental troops stationed in this city, with provisions. I suppose this was done because there was no Continental Commissary then on the spot. Mr. Livingston still claims a right of furnishing all the troops but those lately arrived from Cambridge. Mr. Trumbull is now here, and as I consider him as the principal in that office I should be glad to know whether any part of the Continental troops is to be furnished by any other than the Commissary General. I must needs say that to me it appears very inconsistent, and must create great confusion in the accounts as well as in the contracts. I intended to have laid before Congress the amount of the rations as supplied by Colonel Trumbull and Mr. Livingston, and called upon those gentlemen to furnish me with a separate estimate for that purpose. Col. Trumbull has given me his, by which it appears he supplies the troops at 8⅓d per ration. I have not yet received any from Mr. Livingston but am informed his contract is at 10½d. The difference is immense as it will amount to no less than two hundred pounds per day for 20,000 men. It is indeed to be considered that Mr. Livingston’s contract is including every other charge, and that to Mr. Trumbull’s must be added store hire, clerks, and every other contingent expense, but even then it will not amount to so much as Mr. Livingston’s by a penny per ration which in the gross will be something very considerable. I thought it my duty, without prejudice or partiality to state the matter fairly to Congress that they might take such order upon it as to them shall seem necessary. I cannot however in justice to Mr. Trumbull help adding that he has been indefatigable in supplying the army, and I believe from his connections in New England, is able to do it on as good terms as any person in America.
The several matters contained in the foregoing I must beg the early attention of Congress to, and that I may be favored with an answer as soon as possible.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 23 April, 1776.
In a letter, which I had the honor to receive from Congress some considerable time ago, they were pleased to ask what rank aids-de-camp bore in the army; from whence I concluded, that they had adverted to the extraordinary trouble and confinement of those gentlemen, with a view to make them an adequate allowance. But nothing being since done or said of the matter, I take the liberty, unsolicited by, and unknown to my aids-de-camp, to inform your honorable body, that their pay is not by any means equal to their trouble and confinement.
No person wishes more to save money to the public, than I do; and no person has aimed more at it. But there are some cases in which parsimony may be ill-placed; and this I take to be one. Aids-de-camp are persons in whom entire confidence must be placed; it requires men of abilities to execute the duties with propriety and despatch, where there is such a multiplicity of business, as must attend the Commander-in-chief of such an army as ours; and persuaded I am, that nothing but the zeal of those gentlemen, who live with me and act in this capacity, for the great American cause, and personal attachment to me, have induced them to undergo the trouble and confinement they have experienced, since they have become members of my family.
I give in to no kind of amusements myself; and consequently those about me can have none, but are confined from morning till eve, hearing and answering the applications and letters of one and another, which will now, I expect, receive a considerable addition, as the business of the northern and eastern departments, (if I continue here,) must, I suppose, pass through my hands. If these gentlemen had the same relaxation from duty as other officers have in their common routine, there would not be so much in it. But, to have the mind always upon the stretch, scarce ever unbent, and no hours for recreation, makes a material odds. Knowing this, and at the same time how inadequate the pay is, I can scarce find inclination to impose the necessary duties of their office upon them. To what I have here said, this further remark may be made, and it is a matter of no small concernment to me, and, in its consequences, to the public, and that is, that, while the duty is hard and the pay small, it is not to be wondered at, if there should be found a promptness in them to seek preferment, or in me to do justice to them by facilitating their views; by which means I must lose their aid, when they have it most in their power to assist me. Influenced by these motives, I have taken the liberty of laying the matter fully and with all due deference before your honorable body, not doubting its meeting with a patient hearing.1 I am, &c.2
TO JOSEPH REED.
New York, 23 April, 1776.
My dear Sir,
I have been favored with several of your Letters since I came to this place, some of them indeed after getting pretty well advanced on the Road towards Boston—My extreame hurry with one kind of business and engagement or another, leaves me little more than time to express my concern for your Indisposition and the interposition of other obstacles to prevent me from receiving that aid from you which I have been wishing for & hourly expecting.
Your Letter of the 18th descriptive of the jealousies and uneasinesses which exist among the Members of Congress is really alarming—if the House is divided, the fabrick must fall, and a few Individuals perish in the Ruins.—For the occurrences of this place I shall beg leave to refer you to Mr. Palfrey, who at the particular request of Mr. Hancock comes to Philadelphia.
The sooner my Camp Equipage is sent to this place the better, that it may be ready for any Service I may be sent, or find necessary to go upon—If you could hire Horses to bring the Waggon &c. to this place and could conveniently and readily, sell those two you bought I would now rather wish it as the use for them is uncertain, and the expense of keeping (Provender being both scarce and dear) great—to which may be added that I have not the same occasion now as when I first required them, having taken four of the Troop Horses, which were found in Boston and which answered the purpose exceeding well from Cambridge here to fit out my Baggage Waggons. I do not mean however by what I have said that you should with hold the Horses if you cannot immediately & readily dispose of them without loss.
Inclosed is a letter to Mr. Hancock for payment for the whole. I am with sincere esteem and regard Dr. Sir, &c.
TO SAMUEL TUCKER.1
New York, 24 April, 1776.
The Readiness shewn by the Committee of Safety for the Province of New Jersey to succor this Place with their Militia on a late occasion when they where at my Request called upon by Brigadier General, the Earl of Stirling, and the Alacrity with which I am Informed the Militia then stepped forward in Defence of their Country, are sufficient Proofs of the Important Service the province of New Jersey is capable of rendering in Support of the Great cause of American Liberty, especially if the Millitia of that Province be put under such regulations, as will enable them to give their aid at the very time it may be wanted and without the least Delay possible. What renders such a regulation the more Necessary is that in the present Situation of Affairs, it is more than probable that the approach of the Enemy will be sudden and without our having long Notice of their being on the Coast. Late Experience has taught us that under the present Regulation it will take at least a fortnight (after the necessity of the requisition is seen) to assemble and embody any considerable Detachment of the Militia, whereof it seems absolutely necessary that there be a resolution of your Congress or Committee of Safety for alloting a particular number of your Millitia to March on the first Notice of the Approach of the Enemy; the Detachment from each Regiment should be fixed upon, who should March to Certain Places of Rendezvous on the first Alarm by regulated signals. A Regulation of such Signals was lately made by Lord Stirling for the Highlands of Neversinks and Staten Island a copy of which with some Alteration I now send you, and which I think are very proper for the purpose—the two last of which should be Repeated at a number of Eminences in your Province—And if on the Signal of the Appearance of a large Fleet the Detachments of your Militia were ordered to Rendezvous at Brunswick, Amboy, Woodbridge, Raway, Elizabeth Town, Newark, and Bergen, they might be ready in a day or two to March to such Place either in your Province or in this, as would be found to stand most in need of their Assistance. And in order to avoid the Inconveniences which may arise from the Absence of your Provincial Generals from that Part of the Country where the troops may assemble, it will be necessary that the Colonels and Commanding Officers of every Corps or Detachment be Directed Strictly to obey the Orders they may Receive from the Continental General to whom that Department may be allotted. I am, &c.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 25 April, 1776.
I have not yet heard, that there has been any trial of the prizes carried into Massachusetts Bay. This procrastination is attended with very bad consequences. Some of the vessels I had fitted out are now laid up, the crews being dissatisfied that they cannot get their prize-money. I have tired the Congress upon this subject; but the importance of it makes me again mention, that, if a summary way of proceeding is not resolved on, it will be impossible to get our vessels manned. I must also mention to you, Sir, that Captain Manly and his crew are desirous to know when they may expect their part of the value of the ordnance stores taken last fall. They are anxious to know what the amount may be. As the inventory of that cargo is in the hands of Congress, I would humbly submit it to them, whether a valuation thereof should not be made, and the captors’ dividend be remitted to them as soon as possible. It will give them spirit, and encourage them to be alert in looking out for other prizes.
Several officers belonging to the regiments raised in these middle colonies inform me, that their men, (notwithstanding their agreement,) begin to murmur at the distinction of pay made between them and the regiments from the eastward. I should be glad that the Congress would attend to this in time, lest it may get to such a pitch as will make it difficult to suppress. They argue that they perform the same duty, undergo the same fatigue, and receive five dollars, when the eastern regiments receive six dollars and two thirds per month.1 For my own part, I wish they were all upon the same footing; for, if the British army will not face this way, it will be necessary to detach a great part of our troops. In that case, I should, for many reasons, be sorry there should be any distinctions of regiments, that are all in pay of the United Colonies. The deficiency of arms (in the New York regiments especially) is very great. If I am rightly informed there are scarce as many in Colonel Ritzema’s regiment as will arm one company. Can the Congress remedy this evil? If they can, there should not be lost a moment in effecting it, as our strength at present is, in reality on paper only. Should we think of discharging those men who are without arms, the remedy would be worse than the disease, for by vigorous exertions I hope arms may be procured, and I well know that the raising men is extremely difficult, especially to be engaged during the continuance of the war, which is the footing on which Col. Ritzema’s regiment is engaged.
April 26th.—I had wrote thus far before I was honored with your favor of the 23d instant. In obedience to the order therein contained, I have directed six regiments more for Canada, which will embark as soon as vessels and other necessaries can be provided.1 These regiments will be commanded by General Sullivan. I shall give him instructions to join the forces in that country under General Thomas as soon as possible. With respect to sending more troops to that country, I am really at a loss what to advise, as it is impossible at present to know the designs of the enemy.1 Should they send the whole force under General Howe up the river St. Lawrence, to relieve Quebec and recover Canada, the troops gone and now going will be insufficient to stop their progress; and should they think proper to send that or an equal force this way from Great Britain, for the purpose of possessing this city and securing the navigation of Hudson’s River, the troops left here will not be sufficient to oppose them; and yet, for any thing we know, I think it not improbable they may attempt both; both being of the greatest importance to them, if they have men.
I could wish, indeed, that the army in Canada should be more powerfully reinforced; at the same time I am conscious, that the trusting of this important post, (which is now become the grand magazine of America,) to the handful of men remaining here is running too great a risk. The securing of this post and Hudson’s River is to us also of so great importance, that I cannot at present advise the sending any more troops from hence; on the contrary, the general officers now here, whom I thought it my duty to consult, think it absolutely necessary to increase the army at this place with at least ten thousand men, especially when it is considered, that, from this place only, the army in Canada must draw its supplies of ammunition, provisions, and, most probably, of men; and that all reinforcements can be sent from hence much easier than from any other place. By the enclosed return, you will see the state of the army here, and that the number of effective men is far short of what the Congress must have expected.1
I have found it necessary to order Colonel Dayton’s regiment from New Jersey to march as one of the six to Canada; wherefore I must reccommend it to Congress to order two companies of one of the regiments still in Pennsylvania to march to Cape May, which can be done much sooner2 ; for, had this destination of that regiment not taken place, it would have been very inconvenient to detach two companies from it to that place, as the march would, (according to Lord Stirling’s and other accounts,) have been at least two hundred miles from Amboy, and they must have passed within twenty miles of Philadelphia, there being no practicable road along the seacoast of New Jersey for their baggage to have passed. Doctor Potts who is bearer hereof, was, I understand, appointed director of the hospital for the Middle Colonies, but the army being removed with the general hospital from the eastward, does in course supercede him. He is inclined to go to Canada, where he may be very useful, if a person is not already appointed for that department. I would humbly beg leave to ask the Congress, whether in all these appointments it would not be best to have but one chief, to whom all the others should be subordinate.1
TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.
New York, 26 April, 1776.
When you did me the honor of a visit at Norwich, on my way to this place, I communicated to you the recommendation I had received from Congress for sending four battalions from hence to reinforce our troops in Canada. I now beg leave to inform you, that, in compliance therewith, on Saturday and Sunday last, I detached four regiments thence, under the command of Brigadier-General Thompson; and, by an express received last night, I am ordered by Congress, in addition to those already gone, to send six more immediately.2 Our regiments being incomplete and much wanting in numbers, I need not add, that the army here felt a sensible diminution by this detachment; and, when the second is gone, it will be weak indeed, considering the importance of this place, and the many extensive posts, which must be guarded for its defence; and added to this, almost the whole of our valuable ordnance, stores, and magazines will be deposited here. For these reasons, it appears to me expedient, that some mode should be adopted, without loss of time, by this, your, and the Jersey government, for throwing in immediate succors, upon the appearance of the enemy, or any case of emergency. I have wrote to the Congress of New Jersey upon the subject, praying them to form such regulations respecting their militia, (they being the only resource we have,) that assistance may be had on the earliest notice of an approach by the enemy, for preventing the fatal and alarming consequences, which might result from the common, tedious, and slow methods generally used for obtaining their aid; And would take the liberty of mentioning, that, if the same should be done by you and your honorable Council, respecting your militia, or such part of them as are nearest to this place, the most salutary ends might result therefrom.
The benefits flowing from a timely succor being too obvious for repetition, I shall propose with all possible deference, for your consideration, whether it would not be advisable to have some select corps of men appointed, under proper officers, in the western parts of your government, to repair to this place on the earliest notice from the general, or officer commanding here, of the appearance of an enemy. If it should be thought necessary upon an emergency, in the first instance to resort to you, and for all the ordinary forms to be gone through, before any succors can be ordered in, it is to be feared, that the relief would be too late to answer any good purposes. This, however, I shall submit to you, in full confidence of your most ready assistance on every occasion, and that such measures, as appear to you most likely to advance the public good, in this and every other instance, will be most cheerfully adopted. I am, Sir, with great esteem, &c.
TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF NEW YORK.
New York, 27 April, 1776.
In answer to your favor of the 25th delivered to me yesterday I shall beg leave to inform you, that it was my design to have included the Militia of this City in the 2000 or 2500 Men which I thought might be wanted upon an emergency, but whether common prudence may not dictate the expediency of extending your views to a greater number in case of necessity is submitted to the wisdom of your Board—
The Signals which I intended should convey the first notice of the approach of an Enemy’s fleet you will find in the inclosed paper, but if you will please to appoint a Committee of your body I will desire the Brigadiers Sullivan, Greene and Lord Sterling to meet them & adopt a better if a better can be thought of. New Jersey is already advertized of these signals.
If the four Battalions which were directed to be raised under the Command of the Colonels McDougall, Clinton, Ritzema and Wynkoop, are placed under the immediate care of the Committee of Safety for this Colony by Congress, I should be glad to know how far it is conceived that my powers over them extend, or whether I have any at all. Sure I am that they cannot be subjected to the direction of both, and I shall have no small reluctance in asuming an authority I am not vested with powers to execute, nor will my Solicitude (further than as a well-wisher to the Cause) on account of arms for, and returns of these Regiments continue, if they are not considered as within the line of my Command. It becomes therefore my indispensable duty to be ascertained of this matter and to know whether these Regiments cannot be ordered out of the Colony—for Instance, to New Jersey if necessity should require it.1
It would give me singular pleasure to advance you the sum asked for, but the low state of our Cash and heavy demands upon the paymaster render it altogether impracticable at this time. The Quarter Master and Commissary are both wanting money and cannot be supplied, nor can Genl. Ward get what he has sent for, to pay the five Regiments to the Eastward till a fresh Supply arrives, of which Congress is informed. Genl. Heath since my arrival here, has obtained a Warrant upon the Pay-Master for Money to replace the Sum which your Committee kindly lent him, and to the best of my recollection Genl. Thompson told me that he also meant to do the same, these matters shall be enquired into. I am &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL WARD.
New York, 29th April, 1776.
It is with great concern I learn, from every hand, that your works for the defence of Boston and the Harbour, go on exceeding slow. I must entreat you therefore to push Colo. Gridley on to a diligent and faithful discharge of his duty in this particular—We cannot possibly tell where the Enemy will pitch their Tents next—if Boston is left open, and unguarded, it may be a temptation to go there; but at any rate, no time should be lost in putting the Town in the best posture of defense the nature of the case will admit of.
I shall be glad, in your next, to receive a particular acct. of what has been done towards Fortifying the Harbor. Four Regiments to wit, Poor’s, Patterson’s, Seaton’s, and Bond’s are already off for Canada. Reed’s and Stark’s will Imbark this day for Albany on their Road to the same place, and four others will follow in a day or two. I am Sir, &c.1
TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
New York, 29 April, 1776.
Since my arrival at this place, I have been favored with two or three of your letters, and thank you for your kind and frequent remembrance of me. If I should not write to you as often as you do to me, you must attribute it to its true cause, and that is, the hurry and multiplicity of business in which I am constantly engaged, from the time I rise out of my bed till I go into it again. I wrote to you a pretty full account, just before I left Cambridge, of the movements of the two armies, and now refer you to it. Since that time, I have brought the whole army, which I had in the New England governments (five regiments excepted, and left behind for the defence of Boston and the stores we have there), to this place; and eight days ago detached four regiments for Canada; and am now embarking six more for the same place, as there are reasons to believe, that a push will be made there this campaign, and things in that country not being in a very promising way, either with respect to the Canadians or Indians. These detachments have weakened us very considerably in this important post, where, I am sorry to add, there are too many inimical persons. But as our affairs in Canada can derive no support, except what is sent to them, and the militia may be called in here, it was thought best to strengthen that quarter at the expense of this; but I am afraid we are rather too late in doing it. From the eastern army, (under my immediate command,) it was impossible to do it sooner.
We have already gone great lengths in fortifying this city and the Hudson River. A fortnight more will put us in a very respectable posture of defence. The works we have already constructed, and which they found we were about to erect, have put the King’s ships to flight; for, instead of lying within pistol-shot of the wharves, and their sentries conversing with ours, (whilst they received every necessary that the country afforded,) they have now gone down to the Hook, near thirty miles from this place, the last harbor they can get to, and I have prevailed upon the Committee of Safety to forbid every kind of intercourse between the inhabitants of this colony and the enemy. This I was resolved upon effecting; but I thought it best to bring it about through that channel, as I now can pursue my own measures in support of their resolves.
Mrs. Washington is still here, and talks of taking the smallpox; but I doubt her resolution. Mr. and Mrs. Custis will set out in a few days for Maryland. I did not write to you by the ’Squire, because his departure, in the first place, was sudden; in the next, I had but little to say. I am very sorry to hear, that my sister was indisposed when you last wrote. I hope she is now recovered of it, and that your family are well. That they may continue so, and that our once happy country may escape the depredations and calamities attending on war, is the fervent prayer of, dear Sir, your most affectionate brother.
Mrs. Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Custis join in love to my sister and the rest of the family.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 30 April, 1776.
I mean, through you, to do myself the honor of laying before Congress a copy of an address transmitted to them some time ago by the Assembly of Rhode Island, which Governor Cooke favored me with in the month of January, at the same time requesting me to interest myself in procuring a body of forces on the Continental establishment, for the defence of that colony. I doubt not but the address and subject of it have had the attention and consideration of Congress before now. But if they have not decided upon the matter, I would beg leave to mention, that I have made inquiry into the situation and condition of the colony, and find it to be as stated in the address; and, with all deference to the opinion of Congress, conceive it highly necessary and expedient, that they should adopt some measures for relieving their distress, and granting the aid prayed for. The importance of it [Rhode Island] in the chain of union, its extensive seacoast, affording harbors for our shipping and vessels, at the same time exposing and subjecting the inhabitants to the ravages and depredations of our enemies, the zeal and attachment which it has shown, and which still actuate it towards the common cause, their incapacity to pay a sufficient number of men for its defence, should they be able to furnish them after so many engaged in other services; these, and many other reasons, which are too obvious to be mentioned, plead powerfully for the notice and attention of Congress, and seem to me to claim their support.
Having thus stated the matter to Congress, for their consideration, agreeable to my promise to Governor Cooke when I had the honor of seeing him on my way hither, I shall leave it with them, not doubting but they will duly weigh its importance, and give such assistance as they may think reasonable and just. What they chiefly wish for is, that the troops they have raised may be taken into Continental pay, and commanding officers to be appointed by Congress.1 I have the honor, &c.2
[1 ]“Thomas, I presume you know, is made a Major General, and ordered to Canada, where old Wooster was throwing every thing into confusion, and a superior officer was necessary to keep the peace. I do not much like their thus taking away the men in whom you can most trust; but your camp is considered a school, and I fear the service will require all their separated attention and ability.”—Reed to Washington, 15 March, 1776.
[2 ]Martin had represented that a force of three or four thousand loyal men could be raised in the Carolinas, and sent his agent Alexander Maclean into the back country authorizing some of the inhabitants, chiefly Scotch, to form an “army” to be under the command of Donald Macdonald. At the appointed time in February, a force far inferior in numbers to what had been promised, assembled at Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), and marching towards Wilmington was met and defeated with great loss on the 27th of February at Moore’s Creek, by a body of Carolinians under Richard Caswell. See Correspondence of George III. with Lord North, i., 276.
[1 ]Robert Temple. See Jones, History of New York during the Revolutionary War, i., 85.
[1 ]Colonel Reed had written, March 3d:—“Notwithstanding the act of Parliament for seizing our property, and a thousand other proofs of a bitter and irreconcilable spirit, there is a strange reluctance in the minds of many to cut the knot, which ties us to Great Britain, particularly in this colony and to the southward. Though no man of understanding expects any good from the commissioners, yet they are for waiting to hear their proposals, before they declare off. However, yesterday I was informed, that letters had been sent to France, to know what encouragement we might expect from that quarter. Our coast is yet clear; it is a golden opportunity to make provision for the war, which I hope will not be lost.” Again, March 15th:—“We every moment expect to hear of these gentry’s arrival; they are, if possible, to treat with the Assemblies, but if that cannot be obtained, then with Congress. A little time will show what we are to expect from this new project. For my part I can see nothing to be hoped from it; but it has laid fast hold of some here, and made its impressions on the Congress. It is said the Virginians are so alarmed with the idea of independence, that they have sent Mr. Braxton on purpose to turn the vote of that colony, if any question on that subject should come before Congress. To tell you the truth, my dear Sir, I am infinitely more afraid of these commissioners, than of their generals and armies. If their propositions are plausible, and behavior artful, I am apprehensive they will divide us. There is so much suspicion in Congress, and so much party on this subject, that very little more fuel is required to kindle the flame. It is high time for the colonies to begin a gradual change of delegates. Private pique, prejudice, and suspicion will make their way into the breasts of even good men sitting long in such a council as ours; and whenever that is the case, their deliberations will be distrubed, and the public interest of course will suffer.”
[1 ]The corporation of Harvard College conferred honorary degrees on Washington, the diploma reading as follows:
[1 ]“General Greene will march with his brigade this day for Providence, and if I find that the enemy are at Rhode Island, I will soon join him. Governor Cooke will forward this to you, and will inform you whether this alarm is well founded or not; if it is, you must repair to Providence with the troops under your command; if it is not, you will proceed on your march to New York.” Washington to General Sullivan, 1 April, 1776. “An express arrived here this morning with a letter from Governor Cooke. . . . In consequence of this important intelligence I immediately despatched an express after General Sullivan, who is on his march to Norwich with six regiments and ordered him to file off to Providence if it should be so desired by Governor Cooke to whom I have wrote on the subject. General Greene was to have marched this morning with five more regiments by way of Providence. I have ordered him to hasten his march and hope to collect a force there sufficient to prevent the enemy from effecting their purpose. Washington to the President of Congress, 1 April, 1776.
[1 ]The regiments sent to Canada from New York had never been included in the army under the immediate command of Washington, and for this reason they were not taken into the new arrangement. The officers complained of this neglect, particularly as Colonel Enos, and those with him, who deserted the expedition to Canada and returned home, had been promoted.
[1 ]“I have no hopes of procuring the hard money I gave you expectations of; the possessors of it are not of late accustomed to a paper currency, and keep their gold and silver close.” Washington to General Schuyler, 3 April, 1776. The Continental bills would not, of course, circulate in Canada.
[1 ]The following is an extract from the proclamation:—“As linen and woollen goods are articles much wanted by the rebels, and would aid and assist them in their rebellion, the Commander-in-chief expects, that all good subjects will use their utmost endeavours to have all such articles conveyed from this place Provision was likewise made for receiving them on board a vessel.
[1 ]Colonel Warren resigned the office of paymaster-general; and Colonel Palfrey was appointed as his successor on the 27th of April.
[1 ]“Resolved, That the pay of the officers and soldiers of the militia, lately called to Cambridge, commence on the day of their march, and cease on that of their return.”—Journals of Congress, 4 May, 1776.
[2 ]Read in Congress April 15th. Referred to Wythe, Harrison, and S. Adams.
[1 ]“I received yours of the 9th instant, and could wish that it was in my power, consistently with the duty I owe my country, to grant you the relief you desire. I have made repeated applications to General Howe for an exchange of prisoners, but he has not thought proper to return me any answer. It has been in his power to set you at liberty; and if you are still continued a prisoner, the blame must lie entirely upon him.
[2 ]Commodore Hopkins arrived in New London from a cruise on the 8th of April. He had made a descent upon New Providence Island, and brought away Montfort Brown, governor of the island, Thomas Erwin, a member of the council, and Mr. Bavage, secretary, and a half-pay officer, and also seventy prisoners; besides a quantity of ordnance and military stores taken from Fort Nassau and Fort Montague. Among them were eighty-eight cannon, from nine to thirty-six pounders, fifteen mortars, more than five thousand shells, eleven thousand round shot, twenty-four casks of powder, and other articles of less importance.
[1 ]On the 25th, Washington wrote to Admiral Hopkins that the apprehension of a blockade was groundless, as the vessels had returned. “I find that they make a practice of stretching off from and soon returning to this port. This convinces me that they are in expectation of a fleet, and I am preparing for their reception.”
[2 ]“The General compliments the Officers who have successively commanded at this Post, and returns his Thanks to them, and to all the officers, and soldiers, under their Command for the many Works of Defence, which have been so expeditiously erected, and doubts not but the same Spirit of Zeal for the service, will continue to animate their future conduct.
[1 ]“I cannot but express my concern at the great deficiency of the regiments destined for Canada, but as I am sensible of the necessity of having a respectable body of troops in that country, I am now preparing to send you four of the strongest regiments in the service, and you may rely upon it, no time shall be lost in getting them forward as fast as possible. They will amount to about 2000 rank and file, and will go to Albany by water.” Washington to Major General Thomas, 15 April, 1776. On March 25th, the Continental Congress ordered Washington to detach four battalions into Canada, from the army under his command, “as soon as he shall be of opinion that the safety of New York and the eastern service will permit.” Journals.
[1 ]Journals of Congress, 19 April, 1776.
[2 ]Read in Congress, April 18th. Referred to Read, Clinton, and Braxton.
[1 ]A proposition to reform the provincial government had been introduced in the Convention of South Carolina on the 10th of February, and Gadsden in submitting it had spoken for the independence of America. The contest was long and bitter, as the faction opposed to independence was numerous and ably led; and it was not until the end of March that opposition was overcome, and a constitution adopted. To this result the act of Parliament authorizing the capture of American vessels largely contributed. The first legislature chosen under the new constitution leaned towards measures of reconciliation.
[1 ]“If the British Troops which evacuated Boston, or any part of them, are destined for this place, their arrival may be very soon expected.—The Engineers and Overseers of the works are therefore to use every possible dispatch in compleating them—To this end the Engineers are to apply to the Adjutant General, for as many Men as can usefully be employed, and he will give orders accordingly.
[1 ]In August when a collision threatened between the provincials and the loyalists and British, Governor Tryon met the provincial Congress and urged them not to carry matters to extremities, proposing that no further attempts on the king’s stores should be made, that the guns taken from the battery should remain on the Common, and that fresh provisions should be supplied to the vessels. “I was heard with temper and attention. The city has remained quiet since, and fresh provisions are to be delivered on the governor’s Island for the Asia.” Still he admitted the “determined spirit of resistance” that pervaded the Colonies, and that “the Americans from politicians are now becoming soldiers.” Governor Tryon to the Earl of Dartmouth, 5 September, 1775. This arrangement so far as provisioning the king’s vessels appears to have continued, “some very short capricious intervals excepted,” until Washington’s arrival at New York.
[1 ]When the Congress received intelligence of the evacuation of Boston, they resolved, “That the thanks of this Congress, in their own name, and in the name of the thirteen United Colonies, whom they represent, be presented to his Excellency General Washington, and the officers and soldiers under his command, for their wise and spirited conduct at the siege and acquisition of Boston; and that a medal be struck in commemoration of this great event, and presented to his Excellency; and that a committee of three be appointed to prepare a letter of thanks, and a proper device for the medal.” The committee were John Adams, John Jay, and Stephen Hopkins.
[1 ]When General Wooster left Montreal for Quebec, March 27th, the command of the former place devolved on Colonel Hazen, who wrote to General Schuyler, on the 1st of April, as follows:—
[1 ]“For my own part I have done my utmost to forward the four regiments ordered by Congress, but a variety of incidents have hitherto conspired to prevent their embarkation. The men had scarcely recovered themselves from the fatigues of their march from Boston, and are quite unprovided with necessaries. The colonels of the regiments though repeatedly called upon for that purpose had neglected making out the abstracts for their pay. All obstacles, however, are now removed, and I hope to begin the embarkation this day. Indeed it would have been best in my opinion to have sent the regiments raised in this Province and New Jersey upon the service, had not the peculiar circumstances under which they were raised prevented it. By the terms of their enlistment they are to serve during the war and at five dollars per month, on condition (as I am informed) that they shall not be sent out of these provinces. Besides they are very ill provided with arms, some companies not having any. It must be a great burthen upon the Continent to keep such a number of useless men in pay, and yet if they should be dismissed and an unexpected supply of arms should arrive, it may be found very difficult to replace them.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 19 April, 1776.
[1 ]Colonel Hazen had written from Montreal to General Schuyler:—“The savages hereabouts are cool; they keep aloof from us; we are to expect little or no friendship from them, and indeed little or no precaution has been taken for that purpose. It is expected by some, that numbers will come from the interior country, and fall on our frontiers early in the spring. The Canadians taking up arms so early against us is of the most important consequence. We have ourselves brought about by mismanagement, what Governor Carleton himself could never effect.”
[1 ]Congress resolved, that no troops should be disbanded for want of arms. Journals, 26 April, 1776.
[2 ]This recommendation was successful, and Mr. Baldwin was allowed the pay and rank of lieutenant-colonel on the Continental establishment.
[1 ]The companies of riflemen, raised in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, by order of Congress, were, by the terms of their enlistment, to serve one year, unless sooner discharged. Congress authorized and directed the officers of these companies, and of independent rifle companies, to re-enlist the men, and enlist recruits, for two years’ service, liable to be sooner discharged upon receiving a month’s pay in advance.
[2 ]“The Nautilus, Capt. Collins, came in here the 11th inst., and brings an account from Captain Wallace’s squadron at Rhode Island, that on the 6th. inst. an engagement happened between the Glasgow and the five ships of the Continental fleet.” Governor Tryon to Lord George Germaine, 15 April, 1776. The engagement occurred off Block Island, and the Americans were repulsed.
[3 ]Lee had asked Congress for a company of artillery, and Congress referred his request to Washington.
[4 ]At the request of the Governor of Rhode Island, Colonel Knox had gone to Newport for the purpose of giving advice respecting the erection of works of defence at that place.
[1 ]Read in Congress, April 25th. Referred to R. H. Lee, J. Adams, and Hewes.
[1 ]The pay of an aid-de-camp to the Commander-in-chief was at first fixed at thirty-three dollars a month. In consequence of this letter, it was raised to forty dollars. The rank was that of lieutenant-colonel. The aids-de-camp of major-generals ranked as majors.
[2 ]Read April 25th. Referred to R. H. Lee, J. Adams, and Henry.
[1 ]The letter was addressed to Mr. Tucker as “President of the Congress of New Jersey or the Chairman of the Committee of Safety of that Province.”
[1 ]“A clean, well-dress’d orderly Sergeant, from each Brigade, to attend in the General’s Guard Room, near Head Quarters, from six in the morning until they are dismissed in the evening; they are to bring their Provisions with them, and to be relieved every morning.”—Orderly Book, 24 April, 1776.
[1 ]Congress had directed that if any of the troops of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, raised at five dollars a month, should be sent to Canada, their pay should be six and two thirds dollars a month, from the time they begin their march. Journals of Congress, 23 April, 1776.
[1 ]Journals of Congress, 23 April, 1776.
[1 ]Congress had requested the opinion of General Washington, whether it was necessary to send more troops to Canada, and whether he could with safety spare them from the army at New York.
[1 ]By the adjutant-general’s return on the 28th of April, the number of troops present and fit for duty under General Washington’s command was 8,101. Including those who were sick, absent on furlough, and oncomm and, the whole army at New York amounted to 10,235.
[2 ]On April 17th, Congress had ordered two companies of Colonel Dayton’s regiment to proceed to Cape May and remain there till further orders.
[1 ]Read in Congress, April 29th. Referred to Harrison, Rutledge, Goldsborough, Paine, and Rodney.
[2 ]“This detachment will be under the command of General Sullivan, and consists of two of the Eastern regiments, Reed’s and Stark’s, and of four of these Provinces. The two first will embark to-day, the others will be pushed forward as fast as possible.” Washington to General Schuyler, 29 April, 1776.
[1 ]“The riotous Behavior of some Soldiers of the Continental Army, yesterday, and the Evening before, has filled the General with much regret, and concern; and lays him under the disagreeable necessity of declaring that if the like behavior should be practiced again, the Authors will be brought to the severest punishment if taken; or treated as a common Enemy if they dare to resist; Men are not to carve out Remedies for themselves—If they are injured in any respect, there are legal Modes to obtain relief; and just Complaints will always be attended to, and redressed. It should be the pride of a Soldier, to conduct himself, in such a manner as to obtain the Applause, and not the reproach of a people, he is sent to defend; and it should be the business, as it is the duty of an Officer to inculcate and enforce this doctrine.”—Orderly Book, 27 April, 1776.
[1 ]“I perceive by the tenor of your favor of yesterday, that my letter of the 27th has given umbrage, which I am sorry for, as it was not most distantly in my ideas to give any.
[1 ]From collection of Alfred P. Dix of N. Y.
[1 ]“All Officers, non-commissioned Officers, and Soldiers, are strictly commanded upon no pretence whatever, to carry any thing out of their Barracks, or the Houses they at present occupy, that belongs to such Barracks, or Houses; neither are they to injure the Buildings within, or without. All Damages wantonly done to the Houses, where the Troops are quartered, to be paid for by the Troops quarter’d in them. The Commanding Officers of Companies to deliver to Col. Brewer, Barrack Master, a List of the Names of those quartered in each House; His own Name at the head of the List; and the Regiment to which he belongs. Immediately upon the Troops encamping, the Qr. Mr. General, and Barrack Master, to examine the condition the Houses are left in, and secure them in the best manner, and make their report to the General.”—Orderly Book, 30 April, 1776.
[1 ]Congress assented to this request, and resolved on the 11th of May, that the two battalions, directed to be raised by the Rhode Island Assembly, should be taken into Continental pay.
[2 ]Read May 2nd. Referred to the Committee on the Eastern Department.