Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOSEPH REED. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. V (1776-1777)
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TO JOSEPH REED. - 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 JOSEPH REED.
Middlebrook, 23 January, 1777.
Your favors of the 12th and 18th inst. are both before me, and on two accounts have given me pain: first, because I much wished to see you at the head of the cavalry; and secondly, by refusing of it my arrangements have been a good deal disconcerted. As your notions for refusing the appointment are no doubt satisfactory to yourself, and your determination fixed, it is unnecessary to enter upon a discussion of the point. I can only add, I wish it had been otherwise, especially as I flatter myself, that my last would convince you, that you still held the same place in my affection that you ever did. If inclination, or a desire of rendering those aids to the service which your abilities enable you to do, should lead you to the camp, it is unnecessary for me, I hope, to add that I should be extremely happy in seeing you one of my family, whilst you remain in it.
The late coalition of parties in Pennsylvania is a most fortunate circumstance; that, and the spirited manner in which the militia of this State turned out, upon the late manœuvre of the enemy, has in my opinion given a greater shock to the enemy than any event which has happened in the course of this dispute, because it was altogether unexpected, and gave the decisive stroke to their enterprise on Philadelphia. The hint you have given respecting the compliment due to the executive powers of Pennsylvania I thank you for, but can assure you I gave General Mifflin no direction respecting the militia, that I did not conceive, nay, that I had not been told by Congress, he was vested with before; for you must know that General Mifflin, at the particular instance, and by a resolve of Congress, had been detained from his duty in this camp near a month, to be in readiness to have out the militia, if the occasion should require it, and only got here the day before I received such intelligence, as convinced me that the enemy were upon the point of moving; in consequence of which I requested him to return, and without defining his duty, desired he would use his utmost endeavors to carry the designed opposition into effect; conceiving that a previous plan had been laid by Congress, or the State of Pennsylvania, so far as respected the mode of drawing the militia out. The action of them afterward, circumstances alone could direct. I did not pretend to give any order about it.
It gives me pleasure to learn from your letter that the reasons assigned by me to General Arnold, for not attacking the enemy in their situation between the Raritan and Millstone, met with the approbation of those who were acquainted with them. We have some amongst us, and I dare say generals, who wish to make themselves popular at the expense of others, or who think the cause is not to be advanced otherwise than by fighting—the peculiar circumstances under which it is to be done, and the consequences which may follow, are objects too trivial for their attention,—but as I have one great end in view, I shall, maugre all the [illegible] of this kind, steadily pursue the means which in my judgment leads to the accomplishment of it, not doubting but that the candid part of mankind, if they are convinced of my integrity, will make proper allowance for my inexperience and frailties. I will agree to be loaded with all the obloquy they can bestow, if I commit a wilful error.
If General Howe has not manœuvred much deeper than most people seem disposed to think him capable of, his army is absolutely gone off panic struck; but as I cannot persuade myself into a belief of the latter, notwithstanding it is the prevailing opinion of my officers, I cannot say that the move I am about to make towards Amboy accords altogether with my opinion. Not that I am under any other apprehension than that of being obliged to lose ground again, which would indeed be no small misfortune, as the spirits of our troops and the country is greatly revived (and, I presume,) the enemy’s not a little depressed, by their late retrograde motions.
By some late accounts I fancy the British grenadiers got a pretty severe peppering yesterday by Morgan’s Rifle Corps; they fought, it seems a considerable time within the distance of from twenty to forty yards, and from the concurring accounts of several of the officers, more than a hundred of them must have fallen. Had there not been some mistake in point of time for marching the several brigades that were ordered upon that service, and particularly in delivering an order to General Varnum, I believe the rear of General Howe’s troops might have been a little rougher handled than they were, for if an express who went to General Maxwell the evening before had reached him in time to co-operate upon the enemy’s flank, for which purpose he was sent down the day before with a respectable force, very good consequences might have resulted from it; however, it is too late to remedy these mistakes, and my paper tells me I can add no more than to assure you that I am &c.1
[1 ]From the Life of Esther de Berdt, afterwards Esther Reed of Pennsylvania, p. 271.