Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778)
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TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VI (1777-1778).
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TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
Germantown,near Philada, 5 August, 1777.
Your favors of the 21st of June from Westmoreland, and 10th ult. from Fredricksburg, are both to hand. Since General Howe’s remove from the Jerseys, the troops under my command have been more harrassed by marching & countermarching, than by any thing that has happened to them in the course of the campaign. After Genl. Howe had imbarked his Troops, the presumption that he woud operate upon the North River, to form a junction with General Burgoyne, was so strong, that I removed from Middle Brook to Morristown, and from Morristown to the Clove, (a narrow pass leading through the Highlands,) about eighteen miles from the river. Indeed, upon some pretty strong presumptive evidence, I threw two divisions over the North River. In this situation we lay till about the 24th ult., when receiving certain information, that the fleet had actually sailed from Sandy Hook, (the outer point of New York Harbor) and the concurring sentiment of every one, (tho I acknowledge my doubts of it were strong,) that Philadelphia was the object, we countermarched and got to Coryell’s Ferry on the Delaware, (about thirty-three miles above the city,) on the 27th, where I lay till I received information from Congress, that the enemy were actually at the Capes of Delaware. This brought us in great haste to this place for defence of the city. But in less than twenty-four hours after our arrival, we got accounts of the disappearance of the Fleet on the 31st; since which, nothing having been heard of them, we remain here in a very irksome state of suspense; some imagining that they are gone to the Southward, whilst a majority, (in whose opinion upon this occasion I concur,) are satisfied they are gone to the Eastward. The fatigue, however, and injury, which men must sustain by long marches in such extreme heat, as we have felt for the last five days, must keep us quiet till we hear something of the destination of the Enemy.
I congratulate you very sincerely on the happy passage of my sister and the rest of your family through the smallpox. Surely the daily instances, which present themselves, of the amazing benefits of inoculation, must make converts of the most rigid opposers, and bring on a repeal of that most impolitic law which restrains it.1
Our affairs at the northward have taken a turn not more unfortunate than unexpected. The public papers will convey every information that I can on this subject. To these therefore I shall refer, with this addition, that a public enquiry is ordered into the conduct of the genl officers in that department, which will give them an opportunity of justifying their conduct, or the publick one of making examples. This however will not retrieve the misfortune; for certain it is, that this affair has cast a dark shade upon a very bright prospect, our accounts from that quarter being very gloomy; but some reinforcements being sent up, and some good officers, it is to be hoped the cloud will, in time, dispel.2 One thing absolutely necessary, is that all the Gentlemen, in every State, should exert themselves to have their quota of Troops compleated; for, believe me, the whole are most shamefully deficient.
I have from the first been among those few, who never built much upon a French war. I ever did, and still do think, they never meant more than to give us a kind of underhand assistance; that is, to supply us with arms, &c. for our money and trade. This may, indeed, if G. B. has spirit, and strength to resent it, bring on a war; but the declaration, if on either side, must, I am convinced, come from the last mentioned power.
I have taken Col. P. P. Thornton into my family as an extra aid. This, I dare say, his own merit, as well as the great worth of his father, well entitles him to. My love and best wishes are presented to my sister and the rest of your family, and, with sincerest affection, believe and be assured, I am, &c.
P. S. Aug. 9th. Being disappointed in sending this letter I have to add that we have no further account of the Enemy’s Fleet and therefore concluding that they are gone to the Eastward we have again turned our faces that way and shall move slow till we get some account of it.1
[1 ]It is remarkable, that, as late as the year 1769, a law was passed in Virginia prohibiting inoculation for the smallpox, and imposing a penalty of one thousand pounds on any person, who should import or bring into the colony the infectious matter with a purpose of inoculation.—Hening’s Statutes at Large, vol. viii., p. 371.
[2 ]“I believe the evacuation of Tyconderoga has dissatisfied the people in general, nor can I say that I have as yet heard any reason which makes such a step appear absolutely necessary to me. However, as a strict inquiry into the conduct of the Commanding officers is soon to take place, the public will no doubt be fully satisfied with the determination of this court, who will, I dare say, give the world a full and impartial account of the whole proceeding, and condemn or acquit as matters, upon the fullest examination, will appear to them.—Washington to Major-General Heath, 5 August, 1777.
[1 ]“We are yet entirely in the dark as to the destination of the Enemy. The Fleet has neither been seen nor heard of since they left the Capes of Delaware, on this day week. If they had intended back to the Hook, we must have heard of their arrival there long before this time, as the Winds have been constantly fair. As the sickly season has commenced to the southward, and there is no capital object there, I cannot conceive that they are gone that way. I can therefore only conclude, that they intend to go round Long Island into the Sound, or still farther eastward. If they do either of these, it must be upon a plan of cooperating with Genl Burgoyne, who, as matters are going on, will find little difficulty of penetrating to Albany; for by the last accounts our army had fallen down to Saratoga.”—Washington to Major-General Putnam, 7 August, 1777.