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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. V (1776-1777) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. V (1776-1777).
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Trenton Falls, 12 December, 1776.
I last night received the favor of Mr. Thomson’s letter, enclosing the proceedings of Congress, of the 11th instant. As the publication of their resolve, in my opinion, will not lead to any good end, but, on the contrary, may be attended with some bad consequences, I shall take the liberty to decline inserting it in this day’s orders. I am persuaded, if the subject is taken up and reconsidered, that Congress will concur with me in sentiment. I doubt not, but there are some, who have propagated the report; but what if they have? Their remaining in or leaving Philadelphia must be governed by circumstances and events. If their departure should become necessary, it will be right; on the other hand, if there should not be a necessity for it, they will remain, and their continuance will show the report to be the production of calumny and falsehood. In a word, Sir, I conceive it a matter, that may be as well disregarded; and that the removal or staying of Congress, depending entirely upon events, should not have been the subject of a resolve.1
The intelligence we obtain respecting the movements and situation of the enemy is far from being so certain and satisfactory, as I could wish, though every probable means in my power, and that I can devise, are adopted for that purpose.
The latest I have received was from Lord Stirling last night. He says that two grenadiers of the Ines-killing Regiment, who were taken and brought in by some Countrymen, inform that Gens. Howe, Cornwallis, Vaughan, &c., with about 6000 of the flying army, were at Penny Town waiting for pontoons to come up, with which they mean to pass the river near the Blue Mounts, or at Coryells Ferry, they believe the latter. That the two battalions, of guards now at Brunswick and the Hessian Grenadiers, Chasseurs and a regiment or two of British troops are at Trenton. Captain Miller, of Colonel Hand’s regiment also informs me, that a body of the Enemy were marching to Burlington on yesterday morning. He had been sent over with a strong scouting party, and at daybreak fell in with their advanced guards, consisting of about 400 Hessian troops, who fired upon him before they were discovered, but without any loss, and obliged him to retreat with his party, and to take boat. The number of the whole he could not ascertain, but they appeared to be considerable. Captain Miller’s account is partly confirmed by Commodore Seymour who reports that four or five hundred of the Enemy had entered the town.
Upon the whole there can be no doubt, but that Philadelphia is their object, and that they will pass the Delaware as soon as possible. Happy should I be, if I could see the means of preventing them; at present I confess I do not. All military writers agree, that it is a work of great difficulty, nay impracticable, where there is any extent of coast to guard. This is the case with us; and we have to do it with a force, small and inconsiderable, and much inferior to that of the enemy. Perhaps Congress have some hope and prospect of reinforcements. I have no intelligence of the sort, and wish to be informed on the subject. Our little handful is daily decreasing by sickness and other causes; and, without aid, without considerable succors and exertions on the part of the people, what can we reasonably look for, or expect, but an event that will be severely felt by the common cause, and that will wound the heart of every virtuous American, the loss of Philadelphia? The subject is disagreeable; but yet it is true. I will leave it, wishing that our situation may become such as to do away the apprehensions, which at this time seem to fill the minds of too many, and with too much justice. By a letter from General Heath, dated at Peekskill, the 8th, I am advised that Lieutenant-Colonel Vose was then there with Greaton’s, Bond’s, and Porter’s regiments, amounting in the whole to between five and six hundred men, who were coming this way. He adds, that Generals Gates and Arnold would be at Goshen that night, with Stark’s, Poor’s, and Read’s regiments; but for what purpose, he does not mention.
The enclosed extract of a Letter which I received last night contains intelligence of an agreeable nature. I wish to hear its confirmation by the arrival of the several prizes. That with Clothing and arms will be an invaluable acquisition.
I shall be glad to be advised of the mode I am to observe in paying the Officers, whether they are to be allowed to draw the pay lately established and from what time or how long they are to be paid under the old establishment. A pay roll which was presented yesterday being made up for the New, has given rise to these propositions. Upon my objecting to it, I was told that Congress or the Board of War, had established the precedent by paying the 6th Regiment of Virginia troops commanded by Colo. Buckner, agreeable to the latter, as they came thro’ Philadelphia. I have the honor, &c.
[1 ]The timidity of Congress increased daily as the British advanced, their nervousness being shown by the curious resolutions passed directing Washington and Putnam in military matters, appointing a day of fasting and humiliation, recommending to “all the members of the United States, and particularly the officers civil and military under them, the exercise of repentance and reformation,” the strict observation of the articles of war, and particularly of those forbidding profane swearing and all immorality. All the vessels in the harbor were placed at the disposal of Putnam, Continental stores were directed to be removed, and a bold front assumed by directing Putnam to defend the city “to the utmost extremity,” and by passing the following resolution which is found only in the first rough draft (MS.) of the journals and does not appear either in the MS. transcript or in the printed Journals of Congress, but was sent to Washington in Thomson’s letter of the 11th: