Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THOMAS WHARTON, PRESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778)
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TO THOMAS WHARTON, PRESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA. - 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 THOMAS WHARTON, PRESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA.
Head-Quarters, 17 October, 1777.
As the term of service of great numbers of the militia of this State, who were called out some time ago, has expired, and their places have been by no means punctually filled up by succeeding classes, I am constrained to call upon you, in the most pressing manner, to exert the powers of government, not only to keep up the number of four thousand men demanded by Congress, but of a much greater number, if they can possibly be armed and accoutred. When the capital of your State is in the enemy’s hands, and when they can only be dislodged from thence by a powerful reinforcement of militia, in aid of Continental troops, there should not be a moment’s hesitation, whether one or two classes should be commanded to appear; but at least one half of the men, capable to bear arms, should be called into the field. By exertions of this kind, New York, though sorely oppressed by our avowed enemies, and more so by our internal foes, has made a noble resistance; and New Jersey has kept the enemy out of her limits, (except now and then a hasty descent,) without a Continental regiment. Besides doing this, she has sent and is now sending reinforcements to this and the northern army. It will be no great while, before the militia from Maryland and Virginia will have performed their tour of duty; and from the distance, which most of them have to travel before they reach the army, I cannot expect much more assistance from those quarters, in the course of the remaining part of this campaign.
I assure you, Sir, it is matter of astonishment to every part of the continent, to hear that Pennsylvania, the most opulent and populous of all the States, has but twelve hundred militia in the field, at a time when the enemy are endeavoring to make themselves completely masters of, and to fix their winter quarters in, her capital. Without the free navigation of Delaware I am confident, that General Howe will never remain in Philadelphia, and I am as confident, that, had I a sufficient force to afford as much assistance to the forts upon the Delaware as their importance deserves, he would not be able to possess them. I have spared as many of the Continental troops as I possibly can, without endangering the safety of this army, and I shall still continue to afford every further relief in my power. From this state of facts, I hope that you will not lose a moment, in calling upon and endeavoring to rouse the people of this province to a manly and effectual opposition; and I know of no means so likely to answer, as not to confine the demand to any particular number, but to call upon every man to come forth. The county lieutenants should be particularly careful to see, that all those, who have arms and accoutrements of their own, bring them out; for they have a very mistaken notion, that there are full supplies in the Continental stores. Many even come out without blankets, expecting to find them.
There is another matter, which I beg leave to recommend to the serious consideration of the legislature of your State; that is, the falling upon some mode of completing and keeping up the quota of your Continental regiments. Upon an average, your battalions have never been above one third full; and now many of them are far below even that. From the extravagant prices given to substitutes in the militia, in the different States, it has become impossible to recruit men upon the bounty allowed by Congress. The New England States and Virginia have begun to adopt the mode of drafting, and, I am informed, they have succeeded very well. I am convinced, that this will be found the only method of raising Continental troops; and, if the measure was to become general throughout the States, it would not be deemed a hardship. I mention this matter to you at this time, in the hope that you will as soon as possible fall upon this, or some other mode, to recruit your regiments in the course of this fall and winter; and, as it is more than probable, that our opposition will not end with this campaign, we ought to endeavor to have a respectable army in the field in the spring, before the enemy can receive further reinforcements from Europe. I have the honor to be, &c.1
[1 ]“It is my earnest request that you immediately collect all the men you possibly can, and send them on as fast as any considerable number can be got together, under good officers, to join this army. As you will remain to march with the last detachment, I wish you to use all your influence and interest with your legislative body, that they may give you all the assistance they can in the completion of this necessary object. You can urge with great justice that as long as Genl. Howe’s army has an existence, the adjacent counties will eternally be subject to depredations, nor can any thing prevent it, but such a union and co-operation of the people as will effectually reduce him; to attain which happy end, a better opportunity than the present never presented itself . . . Another reason occurs why it is the true interest of your state to give us every aid upon the present occasion, which is, that if the enemy can once bring up their shipping and get the city secured and fortified for winter quarters, it will be so much in their power to make constant incursions into the Jerseys, that you will be either obliged to submit to repeated heavy losses by being between two fires, or keep your militia on foot thro’ the severity of the winter.”—Washington to General Forman, 16 October, 1777.