Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON. - 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 JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
Fredericksburg, 23 September, 1778.
Your letter of the 30th ultimo came to my hands a few days ago, and gave me the pleasure of hearing that you were all well, and an opportunity of congratulating you on the birth of a grandchild, though you do not say whether it be a male or female.
The proceedings of the general court-martial, in the case of General Lee, having lain with Congress ever since the 20th of last month for their approbation or disapprobation; and why it is yet undecided upon, I know no more than you; and therefore I shall not hazard a conjecture, as it has been my aim, from the beginning, to avoid saying any thing upon the subject, till it came properly before the public.
To say any thing, at this late hour, of the proceedings against Rhode Island, would be but mere repetitions of narratives, with which all the newspapers are filled. The whole may be summed up in a few words, and amounts to this: that an unfortunate storm (so it appeared, and yet ultimately it may have happened for the best,) and some measures taken in consequence of it by the French Admiral, perhaps unavoidably, blasted in one moment the fairest hopes that ever were conceived; and, from a moral certainty of success, rendered it a matter of rejoicing to get our own troops safe off the Island. If the garrison of that place, consisting of nearly six thousand men, had been captured, as there was, in appearance at least, a hundred to one in favor of it, it would have given the finishing blow to British pretensions of sovereignty over this country; and would, I am persuaded, have hastened the departure of the troops in New York, as fast as their canvass wings could carry them away. What their present designs are, I know not. They are busily preparing, however, for something. Whether to operate against our posts in the Highlands and this army, whether for a remove eastwardly, and by a junction of their land and naval forces to attempt the destruction of the French fleet at Boston, and the repossession of that town, or whether to leave us altogether, for the purpose of reinforcing Canada, Nova Scotia, and their Islands, are matters yet to be determined. Many circumstances indicate a general movement, whilst others point out a partial one only; so that it is next to impossible to form a decided opinion of their plan. In short, my conception of the matter is, that they have none, but are waiting the orders of the administration, who were weak and wicked enough to expect something from their commissioners; preparing, in the mean while, for their departure, if that should, instead of Lord North’s ultimatum, be the determination; or for some vigorous effort, if coercion continue to be their plan.
There are but two capital objects, which they can have in view, except the defeat and dispersion of this army; and those are the possession of the fortifications in the Highlands, by which means the communication between the eastern and southern States would be cut off, and the destruction of the French fleet at Boston. These objects being far apart, render it very difficult to secure the one effectually without exposing the other eminently. I have, therefore, in order to do the best that the nature of the case will admit, strengthened the works, and reinforced the garrison in the Highlands, and thrown the army into such positions, as to move eastward, or westward as circumstances may require. The place I now date from is about thirty miles from the fort on the North River; and I have some troops nearer, and others farther off, but all on the road leading to Boston, if we should be dragged that way.1
Offer my compliments and congratulations to the young couple on the increase of their family, and my love to my sister and the rest of the family, and be assured that, with every sentiment of affection, I am, etc.
[1 ]“The army marched from White Plains on the 16th inst., and is now encamped in different places. Three brigades, composing the Virginia troops, part of the right wing, under the command of Genl. Putnam, are at Robinson’s near West Point, and two brigades more, composing the remainder, are with Baron de Kalb at Fishkill Plains, about ten miles from the town on the road leading to Sharon. The second line with Lord Stirling is in the vicinity of Fredericksburg; and the whole of the left wing at Danbury under the command of General Gates. These several posts appear to be the best we can occupy in the present doubtful state of things, as they have relation to the support of West Point, in case of an attack in that quarter, and are also on the communication to the eastward, if the enemy point their operations that way. Besides these dispositions, Gen’l Scott with a light corps, remains below, in the County about King’s Street.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 23 September, 1778.