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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.
Camp, above Trenton Falls, 24 December, 1776.
That I should dwell upon the subject of our distresses, cannot be more disagreeable to Congress than it is painful to myself. The alarming situation, to which our affairs are reduced, impels me to the measure. Inquiry and investigation, which in most cases serve to develope and point out a remedy, in ours present more and greater difficulties. Till of late, I was led to hope from report, that no inconsiderable part of the troops composing the regiments that were with General Lee, and those from Ticonderoga under General Gates, had enlisted again. This intelligence, I confess, gave me reason to expect, that I should have, at the expiration of the present year, a force somewhat more respectable, than what I find will be the case.
Having examined into the state of those regiments, I am authorized to say from the information of their officers, that but very few of the men have enlisted. Those, who have, are of the troops from Ticonderoga, and were permitted to visit their friends and homes, as part of the terms on which they would re-engage. In respect to those, who marched with General Lee, I cannot learn that any have. Their refusal, I am told, has not proceeded more from an aversion to the service, or any fixed determination not to engage again, than from their wishes to return home, the non-appointment of officers in some instances, the turning out of good and appointing of bad in others, and the incomplete or rather no arrangement of them, a work unhappily committed to the management of their States; nor have I the most distant prospect of retaining them a moment longer than the last of this month, notwithstanding the most pressing solicitations and the obvious necessity for it. By the departure of these regiments I shall be left with five from Virginia, Smallwood’s from Maryland, a small part of Rawlings’s, Hand’s from Pennsylvania, a part of Ward’s from Connecticut, and the German battalion, comprising in the whole at this time from fourteen to fifteen hundred effective men. This handful, and such militia as may choose to join me, will then compose our army.1
When I reflect upon these things, they fill me with much concern, knowing that General Howe has a number of troops cantoned in the towns bordering on and near the Delaware, and his intentions to pass, as soon as the ice is sufficiently formed, to invade Pennsylvania and to possess himself of Philadelphia if possible. To guard against his designs, and the execution of them, shall employ my every exertion; but how is this to be done? As yet but few militia have gone to Philadelphia, and they are to be our support at this alarming crisis. Had I entertained a doubt of General Howe’s intentions to pass the Delaware, on the dissolution of our army, and as soon as the ice is made, it would now be done away. An intercepted letter from a gentleman of Philadelphia, who has joined the enemy, to his friend and partner in the city, declares that to be their design, that the army would be there in ten or twenty days from the 16th instant, the time of his writing, if the ice should be made; it advises him by no means to remove their stores, as they would be safe.
The obstacles, which have arisen to the raising of the new army, from the mode of appointing the officers, induce me to hope, if Congress resolve on an additional number of battalions to those already voted, that they will devise some other rule by which the officers, especially the field-officers, should be appointed. In case an augmentation should be made to the eastern regiments, a deviation from the former mode will operate more strongly as to them than to other battalions, because there have been many more officers in service from those States, than the regiments voted to be raised would admit of; by which means several deserving men could not have been provided for, had the utmost pains been used for the purpose; and many others of merit have been neglected in the late appointments, and those of little worth and less experience put in their places or promoted over their heads. This has been the case with many of the best officers.
The enclosed letter from the paymaster-general will show the state of the military chest, and the necessity of a large and immediate supply of cash. The advances to the officers, for bounty, and the recruiting service, are great; besides the regiments, at the expiration of this month, will require payment of their claims. At the same time it will show the injustice of the clamors, made by some of the officers respecting their pay, and the abuses, that have resulted from an attention to them. Whenever they have not been paid, it was because their abstracts were not made up. I have the honor, &c.
P. S. If the public papers have been removed from Philadelphia, I hope those which I sent by Lieutenant Colonel Reed,1 before we left New York, have not been forgot. If they have not, I beg the favor of you to break open the chest, and send me the several letter books, sealed up, having frequent occasion to refer to ’em.
[1 ]By the adjutant’s return on the 22d of December, the army under Washington amounted to ten thousand one hundred and six men rank and file. Of this number five thousand three hundred and ninety-nine were sick, on command, and on furlough; leaving an immediate effective force of four thousand seven hundred and seven. But this return did not include the four regiments just arrived from the northern army, nor Lee’s division now commanded by Sullivan, nor the Pennsylvania militia under General Cadwalader at Bristol. The four regiments, having been greatly reduced by disease, amounted to about twelve hundred, Cadwalader’s militia to eighteen hundred, and Sullivan’s division to about three thousand.
[1 ]Bowes Reed.