Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. V (1776-1777)
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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.
Morristown, 20 February, 1777.
The principal design of this is to inform you, that we have strong reasons to believe, that the enemy are on the point of making some push. What their object is, whether to beat up our quarters and to extend their own, to make a large forage and collection of provender, of what they are in great want, or to turn their views towards the Delaware, is a matter of uncertainty; but it seems probable that one of these things they have in contemplation. Such of their troops as have returned from Rhode Island have landed at Amboy, and with them several pieces of heavy artillery. General Howe is come over too, and, it is said, Lord Percy. Their number at Brunswic and the landing-place, before the arrival of this last reinforcement, was estimated from seven to eight thousand. I have ordered the utmost vigilance and attention to be observed at our several posts, to guard against surprises, and every preparation to be made, that the weak and feeble state of our little army will admit of. At this time we are only about four thousand strong, a force, you will suppose, unequal to a successful opposition, if they were not militia, and far too small for the exigencies of our affairs. It is impossible to obtain exact returns, though they are daily called for, owing to the frequent and almost constant departure of some of the corps.1
Colonel [John] Nielson of Brunswic, with a detachment of militia, on the morning of the 18th, surprised Major [Richard V.] Stockton, [on Lawrence’s Island] whom he took, with fifty-nine privates of General Skinner’s corps, killing four, and bringing away the arms of the whole, with some blankets.2 This about balances the loss of a militia guard, which a party of British troops took last week in Monmouth, near the Hook. I wish to be informed how the regiments that are raising are to be armed, and of the provision that has been made for the same. I have reason to fear, indeed I am convinced, that there is a great deficiency in many, if not in the whole of the States, in this article. Every letter that I receive from them mentions their want, and calls for supplies.1
I have the honor to be, &c.2
[1 ]“Sorry I am to inform you (and this I do under the rose, to be known only to those who ought to be acquainted with it,) that without it, their numbers are nearly double ours; and what kind of troops ours are, you need not be informed, when I tell you, that we have scarce any other than militia. Unhappily for us, most of those that could be depended upon, are down with the small pox, either by inocculation or in the natural way.”—Washington to Gates, 20 February, 1777.
[2 ]General Skinner was a royalist of New Jersey, and his corps consisted of persons of that description, who had taken advantage of General Howe’s proclamation, and given in their adhesion to the king. An interesting sketch of these New Jersey volunteers (Loyalists) has been written by William S. Stryker, Adjutant-General of New Jersey.
[1 ]Mr. Burke, a member of Congress from North Carolina, sent to the Governor of that State a sketch of the debate on the principal subject of this letter, which was marked with much warmth. There was a unanimous disposition, however, for using every possible effort to strengthen the army, and ample resolutions to this effect were passed. Journals, February 24th. One of the resolutions was closed with the following superfluous, not to say pompous paragraph: “it being the earnest desire of Congress to make the army under the immediate command of General Washington sufficiently strong, not only to curb and confine the enemy within their present quarters, and prevent them from drawing support of any kind from the country, but, by the Divine blessing, totally to subdue them before they can be reinforced.” In discussing this paragraph strong indications were given of the temper and secret sentiments of the members. Mr. Burke observes: “Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina voted for expunging it; the four Eastern States, Virginia, and Georgia for retaining it. There appeared through this whole debate a great desire, in some of the delegates from the Eastern States, and in one from New Jersey, to insult the General.” In this fact we discover the silent workings of the spirit of hostility to the Commander-in-chief, which assumed a formidable aspect both in Congress and in the army before the end of the year. Sparks.
[2 ]Read in Congress February 24th.