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, 30 June, 1776.
I had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 29th early this morning, with which you have been pleased to honor me, together with the resolves for a further augmentation of our army. The battalion of Germans, which Congress have ordered to be raised, will be a corps of much service; and I am hopefull that such persons will be appointed officers, as will complete their enlistments with all possible expedition. I shall communicate to Colonel Stephenson and one of his field-officers what you have requested, and direct them to repair immediately to Philadelphia. It is an unlucky circumstance, that the term of enlistment of these three companies, and of the rifle battalion, should expire at this time when a hot campaign is, in all probability, about to commence.1
Canada, it is certain, would have been an important acquisition, and well worth the expenses incurred in the pursuit of it. But as we could not reduce it to our possession, the retreat of our army with so little loss, under such a variety of distresses, must be esteemed a most fortunate event. It is true, the accounts we have received do not fully authorize us to say, that we have sustained no loss; but they hold forth a probable ground for such conclusion. I am anxious to hear it confirmed.2
I have the honor of transmitting to you an extract of a letter received last night from General Ward. If the scheme the privateers had in view, and the measures he had planned, have been carried into execution, the Highland corps will be tolerably well disposed of; but I fear the fortunate event has not taken place. In General Ward’s letter was enclosed one from Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, who was made prisoner with the Highland troops. I have transmitted you a copy. This will give you a full and exact account of the number of prisoners on board the four transports; and will prove, beyond a possibility of doubt, that the evacuation of Boston by the British troops was a matter neither known or expected when he received his orders. Indeed, so many facts had concurred before to settle the matter, that no additional proofs were necessary.
When I had the honor of addressing you yesterday, I had only been informed of the arrival of Forty five of the fleet in the Morning, since that I have received authentic Intelligence from Sundry persons, among them, from Genl Greene, that One hundred and Ten Sail came in before night that were counted, and that more were seen about dusk in the offing. I have no doubt but the whole that sailed from Hallifax are now at the Hook.1
Just as I was about to conclude my Letter, I received one from a Gentn.1 upon the Subject of calling the Five Regiments from Boston to the defence of Canada, or New York, and to have Militia raised in their lieu. I have sent you a copy and shall only observe that I know the author well, his handwriting is quite familiar to me—he is a member of the General Court, very sensible, of great Influence, and a warm and zealous friend to the cause of America, the expedient proposed by him is submitted to Congress. I have, &c.2
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, July the 3d, 1776.
Since I had the honor of addressing you and on the same day several ships more arrived within the Hook making the number that came in then, 110, and there remains no doubt of the whole of the Fleet from Hallifax being now here. Yesterday Evening 50 of ’em came into the Bay and anchored on the Staten Island side.1 Their views I cannot precisely determine but am extremely apprehensive as a part of ’em only came, that they mean to surround the Island and secure the whole stock upon it. I had consulted with a Committee of the Provincial Congress on the subject, and a person was appointed to superintend the business and to drive the stock off. I also wrote to Brigadier General Heard and directed him to the measure lest it might be neglected, but am fearfull it has not been effected.
Our reinforcements of militia are but small yet—their amount I can not ascertain, having not been able to procure a return. However I trust, if the Enemy make an Attack they will meet with a repulse, as I have the pleasure to inform you, that an agreeable spirit & willingness for Action seem to animate and pervade the whole of our Troops.1
As it is difficult to determine what Objects the Enemy may have in contemplation, and whether they may not detach some part of their force to Amboy and to ravage that part of the Country, if not to extend their views farther, I submit it to Congress whether it may not be expedient for ’em to repeat and press home their requests to the different Governments that are to provide men for the flying Camp, to furnish their Quotas with all possible dispatch. It is a matter of great Importance and will be of serious consequence to the Camp established in case the Enemy should be able to possess themselves of this River, and cut off the supplies of Troops that might be necessary on certain Emergencies to be sent from hence.
I must entreat your Attention to an application I made some time agoe for Flints we are extremely deficient in this necessary article and shall be greatly distressed if we cannot obtain a supply—1 Of Lead we have a sufficient quantity for the whole Campaign, taken off the Houses here.
Esteeming it of infinite Importance to prevent the Enemy from getting fresh provisions and Horses for their Waggons, Artillery, &c., I gave orders to a party of our men on Staten Island and writing Genl. Heard to drive the stock off without waiting for the Assistance or direction of the Committee there, lest their slow mode of transacting business might produce too much delay and have sent this morning to know what they have done.—I am this minute Informed by a Gentleman that the Committee of Elizabeth Town, sent their Company of Light Horse on Monday to effect it and that some of their Militia was to give their aid yesterday. He adds he was credibly told last night by part of the Militia coming to this place that yesterday Evening they saw a good many Stock driving off the Island and crossing to the Jerseys—If the business is not executed ’ere now, it will be impossible to do it.
I have the Honor &c.1
[1 ]Congress resolved, that four companies of Germans should be raised in Pennsylvania, and four companies in Maryland. They also resolved, that six companies of riflemen should be enlisted, four of them in Virginia, and two in Maryland, to serve for three years, and be formed into a regiment with three companies already raised in New York. Captain Stephenson was appointed colonel of this regiment.
[2 ]President Hancock had written:—“The loss of Canada is undoubtedly on some accounts to be viewed in the light of a misfortune. The Continent has been put to a great expense endeavouring to get possession of it. That our army should make so prudent a retreat, as to be able to save their baggage, cannon, ammunition, and sick from falling into the hands of the enemy, is a circumstance, that will afford a partial consolation, and reflect honor upon the officers, who conducted it. Considering the superior force of the British troops, and a retreat unavoidable, every thing has been done, which in such a situation could be expected. In short, Sir, I am extremely glad, that our army is likely to get safe out of Canada.”
[1 ]“Since Colonel Reed left this place, I have received certain information from the Hook, that about forty of the enemy’s fleet have arrived there, and others are now in sight, and that there cannot be a doubt, but the whole fleet will be in this day and to-morrow. I beg not a moment’s time may be lost, in sending forward such parts of the militia, as Colonel Reed shall mention. We are so very weak at this post, that I must beg you to order the three companies, which I mentioned in my last for Staten Island, immediately to this city. If Colo. Heard is the commanding officer, I must request you will lay my several letters, written to you, before him without delay.”—Washington to Brigadier-General Livingston, 29 June, 1776.
[1 ]Joseph Hawley. A quotation from the letter is given on p. 175, and the whole letter may be found in Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, i., 229.
[2 ]Read in Congress, 2 July.
[1 ]“I had determined to disembark the army at Gravesend bay in Long Island, and with this intention the fleet moved up the bay on the 1st instant in the evening, in order to land the troops at the break of day next morning, but being more particularly informed during the night of a strong post upon a ridge of craggy heights covered with wood that lay in the route the army must have taken, only two miles distant from the enemy’s works, and seven from Gravesend . . . I declined the undertaking.”—General Howe to Lord George Germaine, 7 July, 1776. The landing was made on the 9th, on Staten Island, but not until the 12th of August did the last division of the fleet, bearing the Hessian auxiliaries, enter the harbor.
[1 ]“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be Freemen, or Slaves, whether they are to have any property they can call their own, whether their Houses, and Farms, are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unknown millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this Army. Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most Abject Submission; this is all we can expect—We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die. Our own Country’s Honor, All call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world—Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the cause, and the Aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions—The Eyes of All our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and then the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish Mercenary on earth.
[1 ]Journals, 4 July, 1776.
[1 ]Read July 4th.