Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MAJOR-GENERAL ARNOLD. 1 - The Writings of George Washington, vol. V (1776-1777)
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL ARNOLD. 1 - 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 MAJOR-GENERAL ARNOLD.1
Head Quarters Camp atMiddlebrook,
I have received your favor of the 16th Inst.
You mention a want of intelligence respecting my situation, and that of the enemy. As to mine, the main body of our army are encamped at Middlebrook, and a considerable body under General Sullivan at Sourland Hills. The position here is very strong, and with a little labor, which will be bestowed upon it, will be rendered a great deal more so. The passes in the mountains are for the most part extremely difficult, and cannot be attempted with any degree of propriety. Our right is our most accessible and weakest part, but two or three redoubts will render it as secure as could be wished. The enemy are strongly posted, having their right at Brunswic and their left at Somerset. Besides being well fortified on their right, they have the Raritan all along their front, and the Millstone on their left. In this situation an attack upon them would not be warranted by a sufficient prospect of success, and might be attended with the most ruinous consequences. My design therefore is to collect all the force, that can properly be drawn from other quarters, to this post, so as to reduce the security of this army to the greatest possible certainty, and to be in a condition of embracing any fair opportunity that may offer to make an advantageous attack upon them. In the mean time. I intend by light bodies of militia, countenanced by a few Continental troops, to harass them, and weaken their numbers by continual skirmishes.
I have ordered all the Continental troops at Peekskill, except the number requisite for the security of the post, to hasten on to this army,1 and shall draw a part of General Sullivan’s troops to reinforce our right; leaving the rest at and about Sourland Hills to gall the flank and rear of the enemy; with orders, in case of any movement towards us, to endeavor to form a junction, or, if this should not be practicable, to fall briskly upon their rear or flank. The views of the enemy must be to destroy this army, and get possession of Philadelphia. I am, however, clearly of opinion, that they will not move that way, till they have endeavored to give a severe blow to this army. The risk would be too great to attempt to cross a river, where they must expect to meet a formidable opposition in front, and would have such a force as ours in their rear. They might possibly be successful, but the probability would be infinitely against them. Should they be imprudent enough to do it, I shall keep close upon their heels, and do every thing in my power to make the project fatal to them. But besides the argument for their intending, in the first place, a stroke at this army, drawn from the policy of the measure, every appearance coincides to confirm the opinion. Had they designed for the Delaware in the first instance, they would probably have made a secret, rapid march for it, and not halted, as they have done, to awaken our attention, and give us time to prepare for obstructing them. Instead of that, they have only advanced to a position necessary to facilitate an attack upon our right, which is the part they have the greatest likelihood of injuring us in; and, added to this consideration, they have come out as light as possible, leaving all their baggage, provisions, boats, and bridges at Brunswic; which plainly contradicts the idea of pushing for the Delaware.
It is an happy circumstance, that such an animation prevails among the people. I would wish to let it operate and draw as many as possible together, which will be a great discouragement to the enemy, by showing that the popular spirit is at such a height; and at the same time will inspire the people themselves with confidence in their own strength, by discovering to every individual the zeal and spirit of his neighbors. But after they had been collected a few days, I would have the greater part of them dismissed, as not being immediately wanted, desiring them to hold themselves in readiness for any sudden call, and concerting signals with them, at the appearance of which they are to fly to arms. I would have every means taken to engage a couple thousand of them for a month, or as much more as they can be induced to consent to. In this case they will be able to render essential service, both by an addition of strength for the present, and by lessening the fatigue and duty of the Continental army, which will tend to preserve them both in health and spirits. You will forward on all the Continental troops by a safe route, as fast as they arrive. But you need send over no more of the militia till further orders. I approve of your fortifying such places, as you judge most likely to frustrate any attempt of the enemy to pass the river. I am, with great regard, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
P. S. I have been so crowded with business at Head Quarters, that I have not been able to write fully to Congress—I should therefore be glad you would communicate the purport of this letter to them.
[1 ]As soon as the news reached Philadelphia, that General Howe was moving to Brunswic, Congress ordered General Arnold to Trenton; and by a subsequent resolution, subject to the concurrence of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, was directed to take command of all the militia at Bristol, and on every other part of the river to the eastward of Philadelphia.—Journals, 14 June, 1777. He was now at Coryell’s Ferry, taking measures to prevent the enemy from crossing the Delaware, should such an attempt be in view.
[1 ]General Putnam was ordered, June 12th, to send forward Generals Parsons, McDougall, and Glover, with all the Continental troops at Peekskill, except one thousand effective men; which number, in conjunction with the militia and convalescents at that post, was deemed equal to the number of the enemy on the east side of the Hudson. The above detachments were ordered to march in three divisions, each to follow one day’s march behind the other, and each of the first two divisions to be attended by two pieces of artillery.