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.
I do myself the honor of transmitting to Congress a copy of a Letter from General Knox, and of sundry observations and remarks on the Ordnance establishment, of the 11th of Feby., which I received about the time we marched from Valley Forge. These would have been transmitted before, had it not been for the moving state of the army, and a variety of other Objects which engrossed my attention. We have found by experience, that some inconveniences have resulted from the establishment, which I conceive, have proceeded principally from the total independence of the Commissary General of Military stores, on the Commanding Officer of Artillery. It seems some alterations are necessary and what they shall be, Congress will be pleased to determine.
It is not without reluctance that I am constrained, to renew my importunities on the subject of the Committee of Arrangement. The present unsettled state of the Army, is productive of so much disatisfaction and of such a variety of disputes, that almost the whole of my time is now employed, in finding temporary and inadequate expedients to quiet the minds of Officers and keep business on a tolerable sort of footing. Not an hour passes without new applications and new complaints about rank—and for want of a proper adjustment of this and many other essential points, our affairs are in a most irksome and injurious train. We can scarcely form a Court Martial or parade a detachment in any instance, without a warm discussion on the subject of precedence, and there are several Good Officers now, who are forced to decline duty, to prevent disputes and their being commanded by others, who upon every principle are their Inferiors; unless their having obtained Commissions before them, from the opportunities they had of making earlier applications from local circumstances, should be considered sufficient, to give them a superior claim. There are many other causes of dissatisfaction on this head, but I will not enter into a minute relation of them. I sincerely wish, that the Gentlemen appointed, or such others as Congress may think proper to nominate for the occasion, would immediately repair to Camp. The present opportunity is favorable for reducing matters to system and order—and from painful experience I know, there is an absolute necessity for it.
I should also hope, that Congress will excuse me for mentioning again the necessity there is for appointing some Brigadiers. The Massachusetts, by the resignation of General Learned, wants one—Pensylvania, as General Hand is not here, has but one with the Army—Maryland, which has two large Brigades in the field, has only General Smallwood; and the North Carolina troops, since the departure of Genl. McIntosh, have been without any. As I had taken the liberty, upon a former occasion, to offer my sentiments to Congress and their Committee upon this subject, I should not trouble them now if I was not more & more convinced that the service required promotions in this line. The frequent changes which take place among the officers where there are no Brigadiers, are attended with great inconvenience and detriment; and they are an effectual bar to the introduction of discipline. In such cases, the Officers know, that their command is but temporary—always liable to cease—and therefore they do not find themselves sufficiently interested to promote order and subordination;—nor will the rest look up to them with that respect and deference which are essential. Every day’s experience proves this—and shews beyond question that the affairs of a Brigade can never be in a right train without a Brigadier, or some General to direct them. It is certain, these appointments at the first view, will add a little to the list of expence, but in the end they will be a great saving—and produce many important advantages. We are also a good deal distressed at this time for Major Generals; however, as this arises more from the peculiar circumstances and situation of many, which prevent them from duty in the line, than from a deficiency in the number appointed, I shall not add upon the occasion.
There is another branch of the Army which in my opinion calls loudly for the appointment of a General Officer—and this is the Cavalry. For want of a proper regulating Head in this Corps, the whole has been in confusion, and of but very little service; whereas under a right management it might be most useful. The principal Officers in it do not harmonise, which circumstance with their disputes about rank would, were there no other Objections, effectually prevent the Corps from rendering the Public the services they have a right to expect—and of which it should be capable. To promote any Gentleman now in it to a general command, would not be acquiesced in by the rest (nor do I know that any of them wish it) and it would increase their misunderstanding and of course disorder. I mean to draw all the Horse immediately together, when I trust they will be under the direction of a General Officer, appointed by Congress for the purpose. Who he shall be, will remain solely with them to determine. However I will take the liberty to add, that he should be intelligent—active—attentive, and as far as I can judge General Cadwalader or General Reed would fill the post with great honor and advantage—tho’ it would seem from the seat the latter has taken in Congress, and from his late appointment to the Council of Pensylvania, as if he had declined every Military vie[w]. The abilities of these Gentlemen, as well as their atta[ch]ment, are generally known, and I am led to believe that either would be as acceptable to the Corps, as any person that can be found;—indeed I have learned as much from two of the Colonels.
I have been waiting with the most impatient anxiety to hear of Count D’Estaing’s arrival at Rhode Island, but as yet I have not been so happy. My last intelligence from there is a Letter from Genl. Sullivan dated at 10 o’clock in the forenoon of the 27th when he had no advice of the Fleet. He was in high spirits and from the preparation in which matters were, he entertained the most flattering hopes of success in the intended Enterprize. The Brigades of Varnum and Glover, with Jackson’s detachment, would arrive I expect on the 2d Inst.
As the army was encamped and there was no great prospect of a sudden removal, I judged it adviseable to send Genl. Greene to the Eastward on Wednesday last; being fully persuaded his services, as well in the Quartermaster line, as in the field, would be of material importance, in the expedition against the Enemy in that quarter. He is intimately acquainted with the whole of that Country, and besides he has an extensive interest and influence in it. And in justice to General Greene, I take occasion to observe, that the public is much indebted to him for his judicious management and active exertions in his present department. When he entered upon it he found it in a most confused—distracted and destitute state. This by his conduct and industry has undergone a very happy change, and such as enabled us with great facility, to make a sudden move with the whole army & baggage from Valley forge in pursuit of the Enemy, and to perform a march to this place. In a word he has given the most general satisfaction and his affairs carry much the face of method and system.—I also consider it as an act of justice, to speak of the conduct of Colo. Wadsworth, Commissary General. He has been indefatigable in his exertions to provide for the Army, and since his appointment our supplies of provision have been good and ample.
August 4th. At 7 o’clock in the Evening yesterday, I received the inclosed Letter from Genl. Sullivan, with one addressed to myself, a copy of which I do myself the pleasure of forwarding. I am exceedingly happy in the Count’s arrival—and that things wear so pleasing an aspect.
There is another subject, on which I must take the liberty of addressing Congress,—which is that of the Cloathier’s department. I am perfectly satisfied that unless this very important and interesting Office is put under better regulations and under a different Head than it now is, the Army will never be cloathed. Mr. Mease is by no means fit for the business. It is a work of immense difficulty to get him to Camp upon any occasion—and no order can retain him there sufficiently long—either to answer the demands of the Troops, or to acquire more than a very slight and imperfect knowledge of them. This of itself, according to my ideas, would make him highly culpable—but there are other circumstances. He is charged with inactivity, in not pursuing the best and all the means that present themselves, to provide Cloathing. His Agents too, who have been with the Army, from inability or a want of industry—or proper instructions from their principal, have been very incompetent to the purposes of their appointment. Besides these objections, Mr. Mease unhappily is represented to be of a very unaccommodating cast of temper and his general deportment towards the Officers who have had to transact business with him, has rendered himself exceedingly obnoxious. The constant and daily complaints against him, make it my indispensible duty to mention these points—and it is the more so, as I believe both Officers and Men, particularly the latter, have suffered greater inconveniences and distresses, than Soldiers ever did before for want of Cloathing; and that this has not flowed more from a real scarcity of articles, than a want of proper exertions and provident management to procure them. It is essential that something should be done, and immediately, to place the department on a better footing. We have now a great many men entirely destitute of Shirts and Breeches and I suppose not less than a fourth or fifth of the whole here who are without shoes. From the deficiencies in this line numbers of desertions have proceeded, not to mention deaths, and what is still worse, the Troops which remain and see themselves in rags want that spirit and pride necessary to constitute a Soldier.
I have been informed by several Officers and by such as I can depend on, that many of the late Draughts are willing and desirous of enlisting during the War. I do not conceive myself at liberty to give direction on the point and therefore submit it to Congress to decide. However, if they can be engaged for the usual bounties allowed by the Continent, after proper precautions are taken to prevent fraud, I think the measure will be expedient. It is true our Affairs have an agreable aspect at present—but the War may continue and we want men. A third of the time of some of them, and a half in the case of others, is already expired; and, as they will rise in their views and become more difficult in proportion as their service draws to a conclusion, if the step is considered adviseable, the sooner we attempt to enlist the better in all probability will the work succeed. I have, &c.