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, 31 August, 1776.
Inclination as well as duty would have induced me to give Congress the earliest information of my removal, and that of the troops, from Long Island and its dependencies, to this city the night before last; but the extreme fatigue, which myself and family have undergone, as much from the weather since, as the engagement on the 27th, rendered me and them entirely unfit to take pen in hand. Since Monday, scarce any of us have been out of the lines till our passage across the East River was effected yesterday morning; and, for forty-eight hours preceding that, I had hardly been off my horse, and never closed my eyes; so that I was quite unfit to write or dictate till this morning.
Our retreat was made without any loss of men or ammunition, and in better order than I expected from troops in the situation ours were. We brought off all our cannon and stores, except a few heavy pieces, which, in the condition the earth was, by a long continued rain, we found upon trial impracticable; the wheels of the carriages sinking up to the hobs rendered it impossible for our whole force to drag them. We left but little provisions on the island, except some cattle, which had been driven within our lines, and which after many attempts to force across the water, we found it impossible to effect, circumstanced as we were. I have enclosed a copy of the council of war held previous to the retreat, to which I beg leave to refer Congress for the reasons, or many of them, that led to the adoption of that measure.1 Yesterday evening and last night, a party of our men were employed in bringing our stores, cannon, and tents, from Governor’s Island, which they nearly completed. Some of the heavy cannon remain there still, but I expect they will be got away to-day.
In the engagement on the 27th, Generals Sullivan and Stirling were made prisoners. The former has been permitted, on his parole, to return for a little time. From my Lord Stirling I had a letter by General Sullivan, a copy of which I have the honor to transmit, that contains his information of the engagement with his brigade. It is not so full and certain as I could wish; he was hurried most probably, as his letter was unfinished; nor have I been yet able to obtain an exact account of our loss; we suppose it from seven hundred to a thousand killed and taken.1 General Sullivan says Lord Howe is extremely desirous of seeing some of the members of Congress; for which purpose he was allowed to come out, and to communicate to them what has passed between him and his lordship. I have consented to his going to Philadelphia, as I do not mean, or conceive it right, to withhold or prevent him from giving such information as he possesses in this instance. I am much hurried and engaged in arranging and making new dispositions of our forces; the movements of the enemy requiring them to be immediately had; and therefore I have only time to add, that I am, with my best regards to Congress, &c.2
TO MAJOR-GENERAL HEATH.
New York, 1 September, 1776.
I received your favor of this date, and intend this evening to go to Haerlem and see whether the situation of things will admit of the several detachments and dispositions you mention, so that every place necessary to be maintained should have measures taken for their defence. I should suppose that Hutchinson’s regiment, and the three hundred men you say are at Mount Washington, will do to garrison it for the present, and will be equal to any force that will be brought against it, if they keep a good look-out and do not suffer a surprise. This you must strongly press upon them to guard against.—
As it is of great consequence to gain intelligence of the enemy’s designs, and of their intended operations, I cannot but recommend your attention to this subject, and that you will Concert some measures with General Clinton for establishing a Channel of information. I apprehend that his general acquaintance with most of the people in the colony will give him an opportunity of fixing upon suitable persons, and in whom a confidence may be reposed, to embark in this business, and who, from their connections on the island and the assistance of their friends there, might obtain frequent accounts that would be useful and of great advantage. Perhaps some might be got who are really Tories, for a reasonable reward, to undertake it. Those who are friends would be preferable, if they could manage it as well. I will not add more upon the subject, but heartily wish you and General Clinton could fall upon some mode to carry into execution a Scheme of this Sort.
We are in extreme want here of a number of horses and teams to transport baggage &c., from place to place, and therefore have enclosed a warrant authorizing you, or any substituted by you to impress them. If they can be procured immediately by hiring, it would be better; but if not, I beg you will take the most early means to send them down by impressing them. They must be had at all events.
If there is a possibility of procuring boats for the Haerlem River, it shall be done. I am, Sir.
[1 ]At a council of war held 29th August, it was unanimously agreed to remove the army to New York, for the following reasons:—
[1 ]According to General Howe’s return of the American prisoners taken on Long Island, the whole number amounted to one thousand and seventy-six. This list includes General Woodhull, and the militia under him, probably about two hundred, who were not in the action, but were taken afterwards at Jamaica. The British loss, as stated by General Howe, was ninety-four killed and missing, and two hundred and eighty-three wounded. In nearly all the accounts of the action, Woodhull has been erroneously written Udell.
[2 ]Read in Congress September 2nd.