Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - 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 THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Camp, nearWhite Plains,
Since I had the honor of addressing you on the 14th, I have been favoured with your Letters of the 11th and 17th with their respective enclosures.
The next morning after the receipt of the former, which came to hand on the 17th, I despatched Lt. Colo. Hamilton, another of my Aides, with the best pilots and the most skilful masters of ships, I could procure to Admiral D’Estaing, to converse with him more fully on the subject of his operations, than I was able to direct Lt. Colo. Laurens to do, for want of the information which I afterwards obtained from Major Chouin and a knowledge in several other points besides.
On Sunday night Mr. Laurens returned; and I found by him, that it was the Count’s first wish to enter at Sandy hook, in order to possess himself of, or to destroy if possible, the whole of the British fleet lying in the Bay of New York; and that, for this purpose, he had been much engaged in his inquiries about the depth of water, and in sounding the channel to ascertain it; the result of which was, that the water, from the experiments made, was too shallow at the entrance to admit his large ships; or, if they could be got in, it appeared that it would not be without a great deal of difficulty and risk. After this disappointment, the next important object which seemed to present itself was an attempt against Rhode Island, which the Count inclined to make, unless I should advise the contrary, as soon as the Chimère frigate, which had carried his Excellency Monsieur Gerard into the Delaware, should rejoin him.
Lt.-Colo. Hamilton, who was well informed of our situation and of my sentiments on every point, was instructed to give the Admiral a full and accurate state of facts, and to acquaint him what aid, and how far we could coöperate with him in case of an attempt either against New York or Rhode Island; and also to obtain his ideas of the plan and system, which he might think ought to be pursued, and to agree with him on certain Signals. Previous to my despatching Mr. Hamilton, from the information I received on my inquiries respecting the navigation at the Hook, I was led to suspect, however interesting and desirable the destruction or capture of the British fleet might be, that it was not sufficient to introduce the Count’s ships. Under this apprehension, I wrote to General Sullivan on the 17th by Express, that an Expedition might take place in a short time against Rhode Island, and urged him at the same time to apply to the States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, & Connecticut for as many men as would augment his force to Five thousand, and also to make every possible preparation of boats, provision, pilots, &c., as if the event was fixed and certain.
From this time till about Twelve O’clock on Sunday, the Troops continued passing the River, when I crossed with the last division. On Monday afternoon I arrived at this place, in the neighborhood of which the right and left wing encamped that night, with the second line a few miles in their rear. And here I am happy to add, that their passage across the river was effected without any accident, or without any more delay than necessarily attended the work.
Being persuaded now from the conversation, which I have had with several pilots and masters of Vessels, of character, as well as from the accounts of other gentlemen, and Colo. Laurens’s report on his return, that the passing of the Count’s ships by the Hook would be extremely precarious, if not impracticable, I determined yesterday, which was as soon as it could be done without waiting for further intelligence upon the subject, to put Two Brigades under marching orders. They accordingly marched this morning at Two o’clock for Rhode Island, under the particular command of Generals Varnum and Glover respectively, and both under the direction, for the present, of the Marquis de Lafayette. A water conveyance was thought of and wished for the ease of the troops; but, on consideration of all circumstances, such as the difficulty of providing vessels, the change and precariousness of the winds, and the risk from the Enemy’s Ships, &c. their route by land was deemed by far the more eligible. The force with General Sullivan, from the best and latest advice I have been able to obtain, is about Three thousand. A Detachment under Colo. Jackson,1 will follow Varnum’s and Glover’s brigades.
The inclosed papers No. 1, reporting eight persons sent from Bennington and ordered into the Enemy’s lines came to hand yesterday. About the same time I received a Letter from Governor Clinton, containing a petition by the Prisoners and a Letter from the Committee of Albany; all remonstrating against the proceeding. As this is a matter, in which I have no authority to act, nor in which I would wish to intermeddle, I take the liberty of referring it to Congress, that they may decide upon it. The prisoners are at West Point and ordered to be detained there for the present.
I would also take the liberty of transmitting to Congress a Letter from Captn. Gibbs, and of recommending him to their consideration. His letter was to have been sent by the Baron Steuben, before we marched from Valley forge, but his declining to go to Yorktown, at that time, and our move thro’ the Jerseys delayed it’s being done. The Captain has been in the army from the commencement of the War, and in the capacities, which he mentions. When Congress were pleased to honor me with the appointment of officers for the sixteen additional Batallions, I offered to make some provision for him, but this he declined, preferring to remain in my family. The Guard he originally commanded, consisted of Fifty men, but since the arrival of Baron Steuben, it has been augmented to a hundred and fifty. The Baron advised that there should be a select corps of this number to receive the manœuvres in the first instance and to act as a model to the Army; and proposed that it should be formed of the old guard company and drafts from the line. I presume, if it should be Congress’s pleasure, a majority would be highly agreeable to the Captain, and that it is as much as he expects.
Eleven o’clock, P. M.—I this moment received a Letter from Colo. Hamilton, who is on his return to the army, dated the 20th, at Black Point. He informs me, that the Count d’Estaing would sail the next evening for Rhode Island, being convinced from actual soundings, that he could not enter the ships. He was anxiously waiting the arrival of the Chimère, but, at all events, meant to sail at the time he mentions. The Admiral has agreed on Signals with Mr. Hamilton. Immediatly after this Letter came to hand, my aid, Mr. Laurens set out for Providence, having many things to communicate to General Sullivan upon the subject of his coöperation, which neither time nor propriety would suffer me to commit to paper. Genl. Sullivan is directed not to confine the number of his Troops to Five thousand, but to augment it, if he shall judge it necessary to ensure his success.
I was informed by Mr. Laurens that the Count D’Estaing’s magazine of bread is not so large as we could wish, and that in the course of a few weeks, he will be in want. This circumstance I thought it right to mention, and I should suppose, that any quantity of Biscuit may be Provided in a little time at Philadelphia.
The Inclosures No. 2, are copies of three Letters from myself to the Admiral. I flatter myself the present of stock, which I directed for him, on his first arrival, in behalf of the States, will be approved by Congress.
The accounts from the Western frontiers of Tryon County are distressing. The spirit of the savages seems to be roused, and they appear determined on mischief and havoc, in every Quarter. By a letter from Governor Clinton of the 21st they have destroyed Springfield and Andreas Town, and are marching towards the settlements on the West branch of the Delaware. These incursions are extremely embarrassing to our other affairs and I think will justify a conclusion that Sr. Henry Clinton’s intention was to operate up the North River. Whether it may have changed with circumstances cannot be determined. I have detached the 4th Pensylvania Regiment and the remains of Morgan’s corps under Lt. Colo. Butler, and also Colo. Graham with a York State regiment, to co-operate with the militia and to check the Indians if possible. Colo. Butler is an enterprising good Officer and well acquainted with the savage mode of warfare; and I am persuaded whatever comes within the compass of his force and abilities, will be done.1
I have, &c.
[1 ]Colonel Henry Jackson.
[1 ]“I am in a great measure a total stranger to the expedition against Detroit, and entirely so to that against the Senecas. Agreeable to the direction of Congress, I sent General McIntosh and two regiments to Fort Pitt, but whether an expedition is immediately intended against Detroit, or whether these troops are to remain a defence for the western frontier, I do not know. The parties of Indians and others, under Butler and Brandt, have already done considerable mischief in the north east corner of Pennsylvania, having cut off the inhabitants and intirely destroyed the settlement of Wyoming.”—Washington to General Schuyler, 22 July, 1778.