Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778)
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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.
Valley Forge, 24 March, 1778.
Herewith I do myself the honor to inclose copies of a Letter from an officer1 of Militia at Elizabeth Town to me, and an extract of a Letter from one of Mr. Boudinot’s deputies, at Boston, to him; both tending to induce a belief, that the enemy have some enterprize in contemplation. What this is, time must discover. I have, this whole Winter been clearly of opinion that Genl. Howe’s movements would be very early this spring to take advantage of the weak state of our army, or late, if he expected considerable reinforcements from England and meant to avail himself of his full strength.—
If the first takes places, as appearances indicate, it may I think be considered as a proof of one or both of these two things—that he is either well informed (he cannot indeed be otherwise) of the situation and more than probably the strength of our Army, or that he expects no considerable reinforcements this year from Europe.—In either case it is our indispensable duty to reinforce and arrange our army, as speedily as possible, that we may in the first Instance be prepared for defence—In the second take advantage of any favorable circumstances, which may happen, to injure the enemy.—
Whatever may be the designs of Congress, with respect to the establishment of the army, I know not; but I do most earnestly and devoutly recommend a speedy adoption of them, and the appointment of officers, as our present situation at this advanced season is truly alarming, and to me highly distressing, as I am convinced that we shall be plunged into the campaign before our arrangements are made, and the army properly organized.
The numberless disadvantages, resulting from the late appointment of general officers last year, make me look forward with infinite anxiety this; for, after all the wisdom that Congress or their committee can use in the choice of officers, many will be disgusted; resignations of some and perhaps non-acceptance of others follow. Before matters then can be brought to a proper tone, much time will be lost, and a great deal of trouble and vexation encountered; to overcome which, is not the work of a day; and, till they are overcome, confusion, disorder, and loss must prevail. In the mean while, order, regularity, and discipline, which require the vigilance of every officer to establish, and must flow from the general officers in every army, is neglected or not entered upon in time to effect.1 Thus it happened last year; and brigades and divisions became vacant, to the great injury of the service.
As it is not improper for Congress to have some idea of the present temper of the army, it may not be amiss to remark in this place, that, since the month of August last, between two and three hundred officers have resigned their commissions, and many others with difficulty dissuaded from it. In the Virginia line only, not less than six colonels, as good as any in the service, have left it lately; and more, I am told, are in the humor to do so.
Highly advantageous also would it be, if the recruits and draughts from No. Carolina and Virginia were not suffered to halt on their way to camp, (under pretence of getting equipp’d,) but sent forward and incorporated into the different regiments of their respective States, as soon as it could be done. Out of the number of men said to be draughted in Virginia last fall, and others from No. Carolina, very few have joined the army; but, owing to desertion and other causes, have dwindled to nothing; this will always be the case with new recruits, (especially those who are unwillingly drawn forth,) if much time is spent in getting them to their regiments under the care of proper officers. This shows the necessity if the season and other powerful reasons did not loudly call for it of hastening them to the army.
My solicitude for the preservation of the communication of the No. River gives me very uneasy sensations on account of our Posts there, and will excuse my again asking if the troops to the northward, except such as are necessary for the defence of Fort Schuyler, can be so advantageously employed as at the works on that River. A respectable force at those posts would awe New York, & divide Gen’l Howe’s force or expose the city. To depend too much upon militia is, in my opinion, putting every thing to hazard. If I should appear uncommonly anxious, respecting the several matters contained in this Letter, by repeating them, Congress will do me the justice, I hope, to believe, that I am actuated by no views but such as are prompted by circumstances & the advanced season. I have the honor to be, &c.
P. S. Your Letter of the 21st Inst. is just come to hand containing sevl resolves of Congress.1
[1 ]Colonel Seely.
[1 ]“With a view of establishing uniformity of discipline and manœuvres in the army, it is in agitation to form an inspectorship distributed among different officers. The Baron Steuben, a Gentleman of high military rank, profound knowledge, and great experience in his profession, is placed at the head of this department. As assistants to him, four subinspectors are to be appointed, who will be charged each with the superintending a considerable part of the army. Officers to each brigade, under the title of Brigade-Inspectors are already in the execution of their office, preparing the way for ulterior instructions by perfecting their men in the first and most simple elements.
[1 ]Read in Congress, March 24th. Referred to the Board of War.