Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO LANDON CARTER. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO LANDON CARTER. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
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TO LANDON CARTER.
Valley Forge, 30 May, 1778.
My dear Sir,
Your favors of the 10th of March (ended the 20th) and 7th inst. came safe to hand after a good deal of delay.
I thank you much for your kind and affectionate remembrance and mention of me, and for that solicitude for my welfare, which breathes through the whole of your letters. Were I not warm in my acknowledgments for your distinguished regard, I should feel that sense of ingratitude, which I hope will never constitute a part of my character, nor find a place in my bosom. My friends therefore may believe me sincere in my professions of attachment to them, whilst Providence has a joint claim to my humble and grateful thanks, for its protection and direction of me, through the many difficult and intricate scenes, which this contest hath produced; and for the constant interposition in our behalf, when the clouds were heaviest and seemed ready to burst upon us.
To paint the distresses and perilous situation of this army in the course of last winter, for want of cloaths, provisions, and almost every other necessary, essential to the well-being, (I may say existence,) of an army, would require more time and an abler pen than mine; nor, since our prospects have so miraculously brightened, shall I attempt it, or even bear it in remembrance, further than as a memento of what is due to the great Author of all the care and good, that have been extended in relieving us in difficulties and distress.
The accounts which you had received of the accession of Canada to the Union were premature. It is a measure much to be wished, and I believe would not be displeasing to the body of that people; but, while Carleton remains among them, with three or four thousand regular troops, they dare not avow their sentiments, (if they really are favorable,) without a strong support. Your ideas of its importance to our political union coincide exactly with mine. If that country is not with us, it will, from its proximity to the eastern States, its intercourse and connexion with the numerous tribes of western Indians, its communion with them by water and other local advantages, be at least a troublesome if not a dangerous neighbor to us; and ought, at all events, to be in the same interests and politics, of the other States.
If all the counties in Virginia had followed the example of yours, it would have been a fortunate circumstance for this army; but instead of fifteen hundred men, under the first draft, and two thousand from the latter, we have by an accurate return made me four days ago received only twelve hundred and forty-two in the whole. From hence, unless you can conceive our country possessed of less virtue, or less knowledge in the principles of government than other States, you may account for the multitude of men, which undoubtedly you have heard our army consisted of, and consequently for many things, which, without such a key, would seem mysterious.
With great truth I think I can assure you, that the information you received from a gentleman at Sabine Hall, respecting a disposition in the northern officers to see me superseded in my command by General G—s is without the least foundation. I have very sufficient reasons to think, that no officers in the army are more attached to me, than those from the northward, and of those, none more so than the gentlemen, who were under the immediate command of G—s last campaign. That there was a scheme of this sort on foot, last fall, admits of no doubt; but it originated in another quarter; with three men,1 who wanted to aggrandize themselves; but finding no support, on the contrary, that their conduct and views, when seen into, were likely to undergo severe reprehension, they slunk back, disavowed the measure, and professed themselves my warmest admirers. Thus stands the matter at present. Whether any members of Congress were privy to this scheme, and inclined to aid and abet it, I shall not take upon me to say; but am well informed, that no whisper of the kind was ever heard in Congress.
The draughts of bills as mentioned by you, and which have since passed into acts of British legislation, are so strongly marked with folly and villany, that one can scarce tell which predominates, or how to be surprised at any act of a British minister. This last trite performance of Master North’s is neither more nor less than an insult to common sense, and shows to what extremity of folly wicked men in a bad cause are sometimes driven; for this rude Boreas, who was to bring America to his feet, knew at the time of draughting these bills, or had good reason to believe, that a treaty had actually been signed between the court of France and the United States. By what rule of common sense, then, he could expect that such an undisguised artifice would go down in America I cannot conceive. But, thanks to Heaven, the tables are turned; and we, I hope, shall have our independence secured, in its fullest extent, without cringing to this Son of Thunder, who I am persuaded will find abundant work for his troops elsewhere; on which happy prospect I sincerely congratulate you and every friend to American liberty.
The enemy seem to be upon the point of evacuating Philadelphia—and I am persuaded are going to New York—whether as a place of rendezvous of their whole force, for a general imbarkation, or to operate up the North River, or to act from circumstances is not quite so clear. My own opinion is, that they must either give up the Continent or the Islands; which they will do, is [not] clear; and yet, I think, they will endeavor to retain New York, if they can by any means spare troops enough to garrison it. Reinforcements will, undoubtedly, be sent to Canada, Nova Scotia, &c.; and I presume must go from their army in America, as I trust full employment will be found for their subscription, and other Troops in England and Ireland. Equally uncertain is it, whether the Enemy will move from Philadelphia by Land or Water. I am inclined to think the former, and lament that the number of our sick (under inoculation, &c.), the situation of our stores, and other matters, will not allow me to make a large detachment from this army till the enemy have actually crossed the Delaware and began their march for South Amboy,—then it will be too late; so that we must give up the idea of harassing them much in their march through the Jerseys, or attempt it at the hazard of this Camp, and the stores which are covered by the army that lays in it, if we should divide our forces, or remove it wholly, which by the by, circumstanced as the Quartermaster’s department is, is impracticable.1
I am sorry it is not in my power to furnish you with the letter required, which, (with many others,) was written to show, that I was an enemy to independence, and with a view to create distrust and jealousy. I never had but one of them, and that I sent to Mrs. Washington, to let her see what obliging folks there were in the world. As a sample of it, I enclose you another letter, written for me to Mr. Custis, of the same tenor, and which I happen to have by me. It is no easy matter to decide, whether the villany or artifice of these letters is greatest. They were written by a person, who had some knowledge or information of the component parts of my family, and yet so deficient in circumstances and facts, as to run into egregious misrepresentations of both.
I have spun out a long letter, and send it to you in a very slovenly manner; but, not having time to give it with more fairness, and flattering myself into a belief, that you had rather receive it in this dress than not at all, I shall make no other apology for the interlineations and scratches you will find in it, than you will please to allow my hurried situation. I am, dear Sir, &c.
[1 ]Conway, Gates, and Mifflin.
[1 ]“If the States will not or cannot send their quota of troops into the field, it is no fault of mine. I have been urgent in my requisitions on that head; and whatever consequences may arise from the deficiency, will not, I trust, be chargeable on me. I cannot detach the reinforcement you request. The enemy are yet in possession of Philadelphia in full force, and we have near four thousand men in this camp sick of the smallpox and other disorders. I have sent the whole of the Jersey troops to that State, to harass them in their march, in case they proceed to New York by land; and General Maxwell, who commands them, is ordered, as soon as they shall have passed through, or the moment he is informed that they are embarked, to repair with all possible expedition to Newburg, and take your directions. The whole of the army, besides, is under marching orders, and, as soon as Philadelphia is evacuated, will move as fast as circumstances will admit towards the North River. I have written to Colonel Sheldon, and directed him to proceed immediately with the regiment to Fishkill.”—Washington to Major-General Gates, 29 May, 1778.