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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - 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 THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Head-Quarters, 26 November, 1777.
I was yesterday morning honored with your favors of the 22d instt. I wish the measures Congress have adopted may effectually suppress the disturbances in the western department. Should they prove successful, and the savages and wicked, deluded inhabitants receive a severe check, it is probable they will not be induced again to take part against us, or at least for some considerable time. Colonel Crawford set out yesterday evening, and will be with Congress, I expect, in the course of two or three days to take their commands. I was much obliged by the foreign intelligence you were pleased to transmit to me; it is agreeable and interesting; and I heartily wish there may be an early declaration of hostilities between France and Britain. From these advices, things seem to be getting into a proper train for it; and it is not easily to be conceived, that it can be much longer delayed. However, our expectations have not been answered in this instance, and they may yet be held in suspense. The political reasons, that lead to delay on the part of France, I do not perfectly understand. As to Britain, her honor is lost in the contest with us, and the most indignant insults will scarcely be able to draw her attention from her present pursuits. The account of Mr. Lee having effected the purpose of his embassy at the court of Berlin is of great importance, if it be true. In such case, administration, however desirous they may be, will probably be disappointed in their schemes of further mercenary aids against us.1
I must take the liberty to request the decision of Congress on the case of the nine first raised Virginia regiments, as early as circumstances will permit. If the plan proposed for reënlisting them is judged expedient, one capital inducement to that end, suggested by the officers, will cease if it is longer delayed. It is a matter of considerable importance, and of which I wish to be satisfied as soon as possible. I should also be happy in their determination respecting the Marquis de Lafayette. He is more and more solicitious to be in actual service, and is pressing in his applications for a command. I ventured before to submit my sentiments upon the measure, and I still fear a refusal will not only induce him to return in disgust, but may involve some unfavorable consequences. There are now some vacant divisions in the army, to one of which he may be appointed, if it should be the pleasure of Congress. I am convinced he possesses a large share of that military ardor, which generally characterizes the nobility of his country. He went to Jersey with General Greene, and I find he has not been inactive there. This you will perceive by the following extract from a letter just received from General Greene:—
The Marquis, with about four hundred militia and the rifle corps, attacked the enemy’s picket last evening, killed about twenty, wounded many more, and took about twenty prisoners. The Marquis is charmed with the spirited behavior of the militia and rifle corps; they drove the enemy about half a mile, and kept the ground until dark. The enemy’s picket consisted of about three hundred, and were reinforced during the skirmish. The Marquis is determined to be in the way of danger.1
By a letter from General Howe to General Burgoyne, which passed through my hands, he hinted that liberty might probably be granted for the prisoners to embark at Rhode Island, or some part of the Sound. This indulgence appearing to me inadmissible, I immediately wrote to General Heath to prevent him giving the least countenance to the measure, in case it should be requested; and also to the Council of Massachusetts State and General Gates, lest he should extend his applications to them. The reasons, I am persuaded, will at once occur to Congress for my conduct in this instance, as well as for General Howe’s; and I have been induced to mention it here, on a supposition that General Burgoyne may address them on the subject. If the embarkation is confined to Boston, it is likely that it will not take place before some time in the spring, or at least till towards the end of February; whereas, if it were allowed at either of the other places, it might be made this month or the beginning of next, and the troops arrive in Britain by the month of January; a circumstance of great importance to us, as, the moment they get there, the most scrupulous and virtuous observance of the convention will justify the ministry in placing them in garrison, and sending others out to reinforce General Howe, or upon any other expedition, that they may think proper to undertake against us. Besides, compelling their transports to perform a long coasting voyage, at a tempestuous season, may bring on the loss of many, and be the means of deferring the embarkation for a long time.
I must request you to transmit me a number of blank commissions as soon as you have an opportunity to do it. There are several vacancies yet to fill, and the officers entitled to ’em are anxious to be appointed. The Commissions I want should be under your signature and not Mr. Hancock’s. I mention this lest you should find any of the latter that might remain. Those signed by you will be competent to all cases. Those by Mr. Hancock only to such as happened during his Presidency, and of those I now have some.
November 27th.—Enclosed you will receive a copy of General Howe’s letter in answer to mine of the 14th and 23d, which only came to hand last night, and at an instant when I was giving the commissary of prisoners instructions forthwith to confine a number of the officers in our hands, and to put the privates under very different restrictions from those they have been used to. I am in hopes the treatment of ours will be much better in future. Mr. Boudinot will immediately take measures for releasing the officers on parole, that we may relieve an equal number of ours. I should have been happy to have effected a general exchange, or a partial one; but General Howe will not upon any terms but those he has ever insisted on.1 The enemy have got up several of their ships to the city. It is likely they have found a passage through the chevaux-de-frise, or they may have removed one of them. I have the honor, &c.2
[1 ]Mr. Arthur Lee’s embassy to the court of Berlin did not turn out to be so successful as was anticipated. He received fair words and civil treatment, but little else. See his letters on the subject, in the Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 65, 68, 70, 76, 87, 103, 197.
[1 ]The Marquis de Lafayette was not yet entirely recovered from his wound, and had only joined the army just in time to engage in this expedition as a volunteer. At his request, General Greene gave him permission to reconnoiter Lord Cornwallis, and make an attack if circumstances would warrant it. Cornwallis was then in the act of sending his troops across the river at Gloucester. In reconnoitring, Lafayette advanced so near the enemy, that he was discovered on a sandy point near the mouth of a creek, which empties itself into the Delaware at Gloucester. A small detachment of dragoons was sent off to intercept him, which he saw across the creek. His guide was frightened, but soon became sufficiently collected to direct him into a back path, which took him out of the reach of the dragoons, before they could advance to the bridge. He was obliged, also, to pass within musket-shot of an out-post; but he escaped uninjured, and joined his detachment.
[1 ]“I have sent Mr. Boudinot to examine into the state and wants of the prisoners, who are in Philadelphia, and request that he may obtain your permission for the same. He will also have an opportunity of agreeing with your commissary, upon the form and terms of parole for the officers to be mutually released, which I presume may not be improper, in order to prevent any misunderstanding on that head. Passports shall be granted for the commissaries or quartermasters you may appoint to carry supplies to the prisoners in our hands, when you choose to apply for them. Two will only be necessary; one for the person assigned to go to the eastward, the other for the officer having supplies for the prisoners in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Mr. Boudinot will also inform your commissary of the proportion of prisoners in each quarter. . . .
[2 ]In writing to his brother, November 26th, General Washington said: “Had the reinforcement from the northward arrived but ten days sooner, it would, I think, have put it in my power to save Fort Mifflin, which defended the chevaux-de-frise; and consequently have rendered Philadelphia a very ineligible situation for them this winter. They have also received a reinforcement from New York, but not quite so large, I believe, as ours. With truth I may add, that, till within these few days, I have never (notwithstanding the numbers given me by the world, and which it was not my interest to contradict) had so many men in the field, under my immediate command, as General Howe has had under his, although we have fought him twice, and prevented him hitherto from obtaining other advantages, than that of possessing himself of the city; which, but for the eclat it is attended with, brings no solid advantage to their arms. The militia, which have been called upon in aid of our troops (Continental I mean), have come out in such a manner, that, before you could get a second class of them, the first were always gone; by which means, although the sound of them was great, you never could increase your real numbers and strength.”