Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO PRESIDENT REED. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO PRESIDENT REED. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO PRESIDENT REED.
Middlebrook, March 28th, 1779.
The enemy have some enterprise in view. New London, on account of the Frigates in the river, and because Boats have been preparing at the East end of Long Island, and Troops for some time past drawing thitherward, is supposed to be the object. Probably it is so; but, as the Season is now approaching when either negotiation or vigorous exertions must take place of inactivity, and as General Clinton doubtless will, in the latter case, and in pursuance of the predatory plan talked of by the minority and not disavowed by the administration, attempt something that will give eclat to his arms, I should not be much surprised if some vigorous effort was used against Annapolis, Baltimore, or even Philadelphia itself.1 I do not mean with a view to hold either of these places, but to plunder or destroy them. General Clinton, (under pretence of visiting the Troops,) is now at the East end of long Island with Sir Willm. Erskine. Admiral Gambier is gone to Rhode Island; and one of my most intelligent correspondents informs me, that it is surmised that the Troops at that place are to be withdrawn. Transports with provisions have gone from New York to Rhode Island, and a number of privateers have been detained from their cruises and sent along with them.2
Upon the whole, I cannot help suspecting, that the preparations have been too long making, too formidable, and too open, for any enterprise against New London, for wch. place the fears of the people are up, and, as we cannot tell where it may fall, we should, as far as human prudence and the means in our hands will enable us, be guarded at all points. The sole purpose, therefore, of this Letter, is to suggest for your consideration the expediency of adopting, in time some general plan (without taking notice of the present suggestion, thereby creating probably unnecessary fears) for giving an alarm to the militia of the Country, and for fixing on places of rendezvous for them, that in cases of sudden emergency they may quickly assemble, free from tumult or disorder; for be assured, if any thing is attempted against the City of Philadelphia, the preparations for it will be held under the darkest veil, and the movement, when the plan is ripe for execution, will be rapid. As my motive to this suggestion is good, I will offer no apology for the freedom, but assure you that I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
[1 ]“The keeping the coasts of the enemy constantly alarmed,” wrote Lord George Germaine to Sir Henry Clinton, “the destroying of their ships and magazines, and by that means preventing the rebels becoming a formidable maritime power and obstructing the commerce of his Majesty’s subjects, are objects of so much importance, that a war of this sort, carried on with spirit and humanity, would probably induce the rebellious provinces to return to their allegiance; at least, it would prevent their sending out that swarm of privateers, the success of which has enabled and encouraged the rebels to persevere in their revolt.”—November 4, 1778.
[2 ]“When I had the Honor of addressing Your Excellency, on the 11th Instant, I transmitted some intelligence I had just received from General Maxwell, respecting Admiral Gambier’s preparing to sail from New York, and suggesting New London to be the object of the expedition. How far events may justify this suggestion, I cannot determine; however, by advices which came to hand this evening from a correspondent, from whom I have my best intelligence, I am informed, that 16 transports with a flat-boat each, a sloop-of-war of 16 Guns, & 5 or 6 strong privateers, went up the Sound a few days ago with a view of joining the Scorpion & Thames of 20 guns. The advices also say, that the Admiral in a 64, with a sloop-of-war, sailed from the Hook about the same time, with a pilot acquainted with Long Island and the Sound, that the supposed design of the expedition is to take the Frigates at New London, and that their determination now is to plunder and distress the coast. There are accounts, besides these, that Troops have been drawing towards the east end of the Island, and some flat-boats building under the direction of Sir William Erskine. It is added, that General Clinton is gone there himself. General Putnam is apprized of these movements, but it will be impossible for us to prevent their descents in many instances.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 26 March, 1779.