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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, 14 September, 1776.
I have been duly honored with your favor of the 10th, with the resolution of Congress, which accompanied it, and thank them for the confidence they repose in my judgment respecting the evacuation of the city. I could wish to maintain it, because I know it to be of importance; but I am fully convinced that it cannot be done, and that an attempt for that purpose, if persevered in, might and most certainly would be attended with consequences the most fatal and alarming in their nature. Sensible of this, several of the general officers, since the determination of the council mentioned in my last, petitioned that a second council might be called to reconsider the propositions, which had been before them upon the subject. Accordingly I called one on the 12th, when a large majority not only determined a removal of the army prudent, but absolutely necessary, declaring they were entirely convinced from a full and minute inquiry into our situation, that it was extremely perilous; and, from every movement of the enemy, and the intelligence received, their plan of operations was to get in our rear, and, by cutting off the communication with the main, oblige us to force a passage through them on the terms they wish, or to become prisoner in some short time for want of necessary supplies of provision.1
We are now taking every method in our power to remove the stores, in which we find almost insuperable difficulties.1 They are so great and so numerous, that I fear we shall not effect the whole before we meet with some interruption. I fully expected that an attack somewhere would have been made last night. In that I was disappointed; and happy shall I be, if my apprehensions of one to-night, or in a day or two, are not confirmed by the event. If it is deferred a little while longer, I flatter myself all will be got away, and our force be more concentred, and of course more likely to resist them with success. Yesterday afternoon four ships of war, two of forty and two of twenty-eight guns, went up the East River, passing between Governor’s and Long Island, and anchored about a mile above the city, opposite Mr. Stuyvesant’s, where the Rose man-of-war was lying before. The design of their going, not being certainly known, gives rise to various conjectures, some supposing they are to cover the landing of a party of the enemy above the city, others that they are to assist in destroying our battery at Horn’s Hook, that they may have a free and uninterrupted navigation in the Sound. It is an object of great importance to them, and what they are industriously trying to effect by a pretty constant cannonade and bombardment.
Before I conclude I would beg leave to mention to Congress, that the pay now allowed to nurses for their attendance on the sick is by no means adequate to their services; the consequence of which is, that they are extremely difficult to procure, indeed they are not to be got, and we are under the necessity of substituting in their place a number of men from the respective regiments whose service by that means is entirely lost in the proper line of their duty and but little benefit rendered to the sick.
The officers I have talked with upon the subject, all agree that they should be allowed a dollar per week, and that for less they cannot be had.
Our sick are extremely numerous, and we find their removal attended with the greatest difficulty. It is a matter that employs much of our time and care; and what makes it more distressing is the want of proper and convenient places for their reception. I fear their sufferings will be great and many. However, nothing on my part, that humanity or policy can require, shall be wanting to make them comfortable, so far as the state of things will admit. I have the honor to be, &c.1
[1 ]The proceedings of the council of war of the 7th are summarized in Washington’s letter to Congress of the following day. On the eleventh Major General Greene, and Brigadiers Mifflin, Nixon, Beall, Parsons, Wadsworth, and Scott, asked that the decision of that council might be reconsidered. A new conference was held on the 12th, and when the question of reconsidering the determination of the former council was put, there were ten in the affirmative and three in the negative. Those dissenting were Generals Spencer, Clinton, and Heath. The opinion of General Mercer, in the first instance at least, agreed with that of those officers. Being unable to attend the council of war, he expressed the following sentiments in a letter to General Washington: “My ideas of the operations of this campaign are to prevent the enemy from executing their plan of a junction between the armies of Howe and Burgoyne, on which the expectations of the King and ministry are fixed. We should keep New York if possible, as the acquiring of that city would give éclat to the arms of Britain, afford the soldiers good quarters, and furnish a safe harbor for the fleet.”
[1 ]In his letter to Congress of the 8th Washington had stated that several of the Council of War were for holding the town, conceiving it practicable for some time. But on the 11th he wrote: “Many of them now, upon seeing our divided state, have altered their opinion, and allow the expediency and necessity of concentring our whole force, or drawing it more together. Convinced of the propriety of this measure, I am ordering our stores away, except such as may be absolutely necessary to keep as long as any troops remain; that, if an evacuation of the city becomes inevitable, which certainly must be the case, there may be as little to remove as possible.”
[1 ]Read in Congress, September 16th.