Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MAJOR-GENERAL GATES. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL GATES. - 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 MAJOR-GENERAL GATES.
Head-Quarters, 7th October, 1778.
Your letter of yesterday reached me in the night. Your observations on the probable intentions of the enemy are forcible.1 The capture or destruction of the French fleet appears to be the most important object, they can have on the continent; and it is very possible they may have it in contemplation, though the time they have lost, since they have had the superiority at sea, and the advanced season of the year, are strong arguments against it. Our present disposition was formed on the possibility of such an event, at the same time that it does not lose sight of the security of the North River, or the concentration of our force to repel any attempt upon the army. Though it may not be probable, that the enemy have at present any design against either of these, it would be imprudent to offer them a temptation by diminishing our strength in a considerable detachment, so far Eastward as to be out of supporting distance. If they were able to possess themselves of the Highland passes, and interrupt the navigation of the River, the consequences on the score of subsistence would be terrible, as well to the fleet as the army. It is supposed, the enemy have lost all hopes of effecting any thing material against these States, and this supposition is upheld by powerful reasons; but, after all, the truth of it depends so much upon the contingencies of naval operations and European politics, that it could not be wise to let it essentially influence our military arrangements.
I am taking measures for having all the roads leading towards Boston put in repair for the more convenient march of the several columns, in case a movement Eastward should become necessary. You will therefore be pleased to send a proper fatigue party on the lower route, leading from Danbury to Hartford, so that the column, which may march thence, may not interfere with the others, by falling into the same road, so long as it can be avoided. The column nearest to this will proceed by New Milford, Woodbury, and Waterbury, to Farmington. The repairs are only to be extended through the rough country. You will also send a Quarter-Master forward to observe the good halting-places at proper stages. His report you will communicate to me. I am, Sir, &c.1
[1 ]General Gates had written from Danbury, where he was stationed: “The French fleet and Boston must be the sole objects of the British arms upon this continent. The season of the year will indeed admit only of a sudden and rash attempt, which success alone will justify. Desperate enterprises do frequently succeed; witness that of 1759 against Quebec. Had Sir Henry Clinton meant to attack this army, he would not have given so much notice and lost so much time. The enemy may leave the continent; if they do not, the French fleet is the prize they mean to contend for.”—MS. Letter, October 6th.
[1 ]The enemy in reality had no designs against the French fleet at Boston, though it is probable they kept up an appearance of such a purpose by way of feint. Sir Henry Clinton wrote to Lord George Germaine at this time, informing him that the convoy was ready, and five thousand troops would shortly be despatched to the West Indies, and three thousand more to Florida. “With an army so much diminished at New York,” he added, “nothing important can be done; especially as it is also weakened by sending seven hundred men to Halifax, and three hundred to Bermuda.”—MS. Letter, October 8th.