Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - 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 THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 5 May, 1776.
I have so often, and so fully communicated my want of Arms to Congress that I should not have given them the trouble of receiving another Letter upon this subject, at this time, but for the particular application of Col. Wayne of Pennsylvania, who has pointed out a method by which he thinks they may be obtained.
In the hands of the Committee of Safety at Philadelphia, there are, According to Col. Wayne’s account not less than two or three thousand stand of Arms for Provisional use, from hence he thinks a number might be borrowed by Congress, provided they are replaced with Continental Arms as they are brought into the magazine in that City. At a crisis so important as this such a loan might be attended with signal advantages, while the defenceless state of the Regiments if no relief can be had, may be productive of fatal Consequences.
To give Congress some idea of our Situation with respect to arms (and justice to my own Character requires that it should be known to them, altho the world at large will form their opinion of our Strength from numbers, without attention to Circumstances) it may not be amiss to inclose a Copy of a Return which I received a few days ago from the Troops in the Highlands, and add that by a report from Colo. Ritzema’s Regiment of the 29th ult. there appeared to be only 97 Firelocks and seven Bayonets belonging thereto, and that all the Regiments from the Eastward are deficient from Twenty to Fifty of the former.
Four of those Companies at the Fortifications in the Highlands belong to Colo. Clinton’s Regiment, but in what condition the residue are, on account of arms and how Colo. Wynkoop’s men are provided, I cannot undertake to say, but am told most miserably; as Colo. Dayton’s (of New Jersey) and Colo. Wayne’s (of Pennsylvania) also are. This, Sir, is a true, tho’ Melancholy description of our Situation. The propriety therefore of keeping Arms, in Store when Men in actual pay are wanting of them, and who it is presumed will, as they ought, bear the heat and burthen of the day, is submitted with all due deference to the Superior judgement of others.
I cannot, by all the enquiries I have been able to make, learn, what number of Arms have been taken from the Tories—where they lay—or how they are to be got at. The Committee of Safety for this Colony have assured me that no exertions of theirs shall be wanting to procure Arms, but our sufferings in the meanwhile may prove fatal, as men without are in a manner useless. I have therefore thought of employing an Agent, whose sole business it shall be to ride through the middle and interior parts of these Governments for the purpose of buying up such Arms as the Inhabitants may incline to sell, and are fit for use.
1 The designs of the enemy are too much behind the curtain, for me to form any accurate opinion of their Plan of operations for the summer’s Campaign; we are left to wander therefore in the field of Conjecture, and as no place (all its consequences considered) seemed of more importance in the execution of their grand Plan than possessing themselves of Hudson’s River I thought it advisable to remove, with the Continental Army to this City so soon as the troops evacuated Boston, but if Congress from their knowledge, information, or believe, think it best for the General good of the Service that I should go to the Northward, or elsewhere, they are convinced I hope that they have nothing more to do than signify their commands. With great respect, &c.1
[1 ]The conclusion of Congress was very inadequate, for it merely desired Washington to employ an agent, and said nothing of the reported stores in Philadelphia. The secret committee was ordered to send to camp the muskets that were at Newport. Journals of Congress, 14 May, 1776.
[1 ]Read May 8th. Referred to S. Adams, Wythe, Rodney, R. H. Lee, and Whipple.