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, 4 July, 1776.
When I had the honor to address you on the 30 Ulto. I transmitted a Copy of a Letter I had received from a Gentleman, a member of the Honorable the General Court of Massachusetts bay, suggesting the improbability of succors coming from thence in any seasonable time for the defence of this place, or to reinforce our Troops engaged in the Canada expedition—I am sorry to inform you that from a variety of Intelligence his apprehensions appear to be just and to be fully confirmed. Nor have I reason to expect but that the supplies from the other two Governmts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, will be extremely slow and greatly deficient in number—As it now seems beyond question and clear to demonstration that the Enemy mean to direct their operations and bend their most vigorous Efforts against this Colony and will attempt to unite their two Armies, that under Genl Burgoyne and the one arrived here, I cannot but think the expedient proposed by that Gentleman is exceedingly just, and that the Continental Regiments now in the Massachusetts Bay, should be immediately called from thence and be employed where there is the strongest reason to believe their aid will be indispensably necessary.
The expediency of the measures I shall Submit to the Consideration of Congress and will only observe as my Opinion that there is not the most distant prospect of an attempt being made where they now are by the Enemy, and if there should, that the Militia that can be assembled upon the shortest notice will be more than equal to repel it.—they are well armed, resolute and determined, and will Instantly oppose any Invasion that may be made in their own province.
I shall also take the liberty again to request Congress to Interest themselves in having the Militia raised and forwarded with all possible expedition as fast as any considerable number of ’em can be collected that are to compose the flying Camp.—This I mentioned in my Letter of Yesterday but thought proper to repeat it, being more and more convinced of the necessity. The Camp will be in the neighborhood of Amboy and I shall be glad [if] the Conventions or Committees of Safety of those Governments from whence they come, may be desired to give me previous notice of their Marching that I may form some plan and direct provision to be made for their reception.
The disaffection of the People at that place and others not far off, is exceedingly great, and unless it is checked and overawed, it may become more general and be very alarming. The arrival of the Enemy will encourage it. They or at least a part of ’em are already landed on Staten Island which is quite contiguous and about 4000 were marching about Yesterday, as I have been advised and are leaving no Arts unessayed to gain the Inhabitants to their side, who seem but too favorably disposed.—It is not unlikely that in a little time they may attempt to cross to the Jersey side, and induce many to join ’em, either from motives of Interest or fear, unless there is a force to oppose ’em.1
As we are fully convinced that the Ministerial Army we shall have to oppose this campaign will be great and numerous and well know that the utmost Industry will be used as it already has been, to excite the savages and every body of people to Arms against us whom they can Influence, it certainly behoves us to strain every nerve to counteract their designs:—I would therefore submit it to Congress whether, especially as our scheme for employing the Western Indians does not seem to be attended with any great prospect of success from General Schuyler’s accounts, it may not be advisable to take measures to engage those of the Eastward, the St. Johns’ Nova Scotia, Penobscot &c, in our favor. I have been told that several might be got, perhaps five or six hundred or more, readily to join us if they can. I should immagine it ought to be done. It will prevent our Enemies from securing their friendship, and further they will be of infinite service in annoying and harrassing them should they ever attempt to penetrate the country. Congress will be pleased to consider the measure and if they determine to adopt it, I conceive it will be necessary to authorize and request the General Court of the Massachusetts bay to carry it into execution, their situation and advantages will enable them to negotiate a Treaty and an Alliance better than it can be done by any persons else.1
I have been honored with your two favors of the 1st Instt. and agreable to the wishes of Congress shall put Monsieur Wiebert in the best place I can to prove his abilities in the Art he professes. I shall send him up immediately to the works erecting towards Kings Bridge under the direction of General Mifflin, whom I shall request to employ him.
I have this moment received a letter from General Greene, an extract from which I have enclosed. The intelligence it contains is of the most important nature, and evinces the necessity of the most spirited and vigorous exertions on our part. The expectation of the fleet under Admiral Howe is certainly the reason the army already come has not begun its hostile operations. When that arrives we may look for the most interesting events, and such as, in all probability, will have considerable weight in the present contest. It behoves us to be prepared in the best manner; and I submit it again to Congress, whether the accounts given by their prisoners do not show the propriety of calling the several Continental regiments from the Massachusetts government, raising the Flying Camp with all possible despatch, and engaging the eastern Indians.
July 5th.—General Mercer arrived here on Tuesday, and, the next morning, was ordered to Paulus Hook to make some arrangements of the militia as they came in, and the best disposition he could to prevent the enemy’s crossing from Staten Island if they should have any such views. The distressed situation of the inhabitants of Elisabethtown and Newark has since induced me, upon their application, to give up all the militia from the Jerseys, except those engaged for six months. I am hopeful they will be able to repel any incursions, that may be attempted. Generals Mercer and Livingston are concerting plans for that purpose. By a letter from the latter last night, I am informed the enemy are throwing up small works at all the passes on the north side of Staten Island, which it is probable they mean to secure.
None of the Connecticut militia is yet arrived; so that the reinforcement we have received is very inconsiderable. A letter from General Schuyler, with sundry enclosures, of which No. 1, 2, & 3 are exact copies, this moment came to hand, and will no doubt claim, as it ought to do, the immediate attention of Congress. The evils, which must inevitably follow a disputed command, are too obvious and alarming to admit a moment’s delay in your decision thereupon1 ; and, although I do not presume to advise in a matter now of this delicacy, yet as it appears evident, that the northern army has retreated to Crown Point, and mean to act upon the defensive only, I cannot help giving it as my opinion, that one of the major-generals in that quarter would be more usefully employed here, or in the Flying Camp, than there; for it becomes my duty to observe, if another experienced officer is taken from hence in order to command the Flying Camp, that your grand army will be entirely stripped of generals, who have seen service, being in a manner already destitute of such.1 My distress on this account, the appointment of General Whitcomb to the eastern regiments,2 a conviction in my own breast that no troops will be sent to Boston, and the certainty of a number coming to this place, occasioned my postponing, from time to time, the sending of any general officer from hence to the eastward heretofore; and now I shall wait the sentiments of Congress relative to the five regiments in Massachusetts Bay, before I do any thing in this matter.
The Commissary Genl. has been with me this morning concerning the other matter contained in Genl. Schuyler’s Letter respecting the business of that departure.
He has I believe in order to remove difficulties, recalled Mr. Avery but seems to think it necessary in that case that Mr. Livingston should be left to himself as he cannot be responsible for persons not of his own appointment—this matter should also be clearly defined by Congress.—I have already given my Opinion of the necessity of these in matters being under one Genl. direction in so full & clear a manner, that I shall not take up the time of Congress to repeat it in this place.1
[1 ]“The enemy’s fleet is now come up within twelve miles of us; and yesterday a large body of men, with Cortlandt Skinner at their head, landed on Staten Island, and dividing themselves into three bodies, traversed the whole Island, with a view of collecting stock and vegetables. The villainy and treachery of many of the inhabitants will give them some supplies; for though the General took every method to get off the stock, (force excepted,) they contrived by some means or other to evade it.”—Reed to his wife, 4 July, 1776.
[1 ]“The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into consideration, where upon, Resolved, That General Washington be vested with discretionary power to call to his assistance at New York such of the Continental regiments in the Massachusetts Bay as have not already received orders to march to Ticonderoga, and that the General Court of that State be requested to supply their places with militia, if they think it expedient.
[1 ]A difference had arisen between General Schuyler and General Gates as to the command of the army, Schuyler claiming the chief control when the army was on this side of Canada, that Congress could not put him under the command of a younger officer, “nor oblige him to be a suicide and stab his own honor: that he frankly confessed General Gates’s superior military qualifications; that he would always advise with him, and his other brother generals, and that if he was superceded, it would give him great pleasure to be superceded by a gentleman of General Gates’s character and reputation.” Congress took the position of Schuyler and recommended the two generals “to carry on the military operations with harmony and in such manner as shall best promote the public service.” Journals, 8 July, 1776.
[1 ]By the original organization of the Flying Camp, it was to consist of ten thousand men, and to be put under the command of such Continental officer, as General Washington should direct. These men were to be obtained at the Continental expense from the militia in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, and engaged till the 1st of December following, unless sooner discharged by Congress. They were now assembling at Amboy, under the command of General Mercer. The New Jersey militia, commanded by General Livingston, were distinct from those of the Flying Camp, being called out expressly for the defence of that province. Congress afterwards augmented the Flying Camp with four battalions of militia from Pennsylvania, and three from New Jersey. Journals, June 3d and July 19th.
[2 ]“General Whitcomb returned his commission, desiring to be excused on account of age and a diffidence of not being able to answer the expectations of Congress.”
[1 ]Read July 6th. Regarding the difference between Avery and Livingston, see Schuyler to Washington, 1 July, 1776, in Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, i., 247.