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, 14 March, 1777.
I was honored several days ago with your Letter of the 25th Ulto., with its Inclosures, the receipt of which was omitted to be acknowledged in my last.—Could I accomplish the important objects so eagerly wished by Congress,—“confining the enemy within their present quarters, preventing their getting supplies from the country, and totally subduing them before they are reinforced,”—I should be happy indeed. But what prospect or hope can there be of my effecting so desirable a work at this time? The enclosed return, to which I solicit the most serious attention of Congress, comprehends the whole force I have in Jersey. It is but a handful, and bears no proportion, in the scale of numbers, to that of the enemy. Added to this, the major part is made up of militia. The most sanguine in speculation cannot deem it more than adequate to the least valuable purposes of war. The reinforcements mentioned to be drawn from General Heath were merely ideal; nearly the whole of the eastern troops, who were with him, being here before. They were only engaged till to-day; and to-day they leave the camp. Their service has been of pretty long continuance, and almost the whole of the winter months. What prospect there may be of immediate succors from other quarters, I know not; but from the militia of this State I cannot expect to derive much more aid. Those who are well affected have been so frequently called from their homes, that they are tired out, and almost profess an abhorrence of the service; nor have I heard as yet, that any Continental troops are on their way. I have written to the brigadier-generals in most of the States upon the subject, and also to the colonels, urging them by every motive to exert themselves in filling the regiments, and to forward them on.
I confess, Sir, I feel the most painful anxiety when I reflect on our situation and that of the enemy. Unless the levies arrive soon, we must before long experience some interesting and melancholy event. I believe the enemy have fixed on their object, and the execution will surely be attempted as soon as the roads are passable. The unprepared state, in which we are, favors all their designs; and it is much to be wished, that they may not succeed to their warmest expectations. On recurring to the last promotions of brigadiers, I find the number appointed to be short of what I took the liberty to recommend, and not competent to the exigences of the service, supposing the whole in office before, and those lately created, consent to act, which I have reason to believe will not be the case. I shall only beg leave to refer you to my former letters upon this subject, and to assure you, that many disadvantages will result from not having a sufficient number of officers of this rank. We have always been deficient in this instance; and certain I am that the service has been greatly injured by it. The proportion I mentioned was full small, and in my opinion should not be dispensed with.
I would also take the liberty of mentioning again, having received no Answer upon the subject, that settling the Hospital plan and Establishment becomes more and more necessary; it is an Object of infinite importance, and the difficulties of doing it on a proper foundation, will be great, if not almost insurmountable should it be deferred till the Campaign opens and the Enemy begin their Operations. The benefits of the institution will soon be known—the want was severely felt in the course of the last year.
There is one thing now which claims in my opinion the earliest attention of Congress, I mean the pay of the Regimental Surgeons and that of the Mates. These appointments are so essential that they cannot be done without. The pay in the first instance, is so low—so inadequate to the services, which should be performed, that no man sustaining the character of a Gentleman and who has the least medical abilities, or skill in the profession can think of accepting it. That in the latter is so paltry and trifling, that none, of the least generosity of sentiment, or pretensions to merit, can consent to act for it. In a word these are inconveniences of an interesting nature—they amount to an exclusion of persons who could discharge the duties of these offices, and if not redressed, there is not the smallest probability that any can be prevailed on to enter them again.
There are several matters also, which I referred to Congress some time since, and upon which I have not received the result of their deliberations. One inquiry about the state of Arms and Ammunition I am peculiarly anxious to be satisfied in.
From the inconveniences and injuries to the Service of late, for want of money, I am induced to request that the strictest regard should be had to furnishing the paymaster with constant and sufficient supplies. On Sunday he received 500,000 dollars, half of which is already expended and the Ballance in a day or two will be entirely swept away, without discharging the several claims. By his report, the Commissary here requires an immediate draft, for 600,000 and the Militia returning and about to leave the Camp, 120,000 more. The expence incurred by calling on them so frequently is almost incredible. Besides these, there are several arrears due the Old troops and to most of the General & staff officers.
P. S. I fully intended to transmit to you a general return, but I am not able to make it out with precision. However, from the most accurate estimate that I can form, the whole of our numbers in Jersey, fit for duty at this time, is under three thousand. These, nine hundred and eighty-one excepted, are militia, and stand engaged only till the last of this month. The troops under inoculation, including their attendants, amount to about one thousand.1
[1 ]Read in Congress 19 March, 1777.