Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOSEPH REED. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO JOSEPH 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).
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TO JOSEPH REED.
West Point, July 29, 1779.
I have a pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of your obliging favor of the 15th inst., and in finding by it, that the author of the Queries, “Political and Military,”2 has had no great cause to exult in the favorable reception of them by the public. Without a clue, I should have been at no loss to trace the malevolent writer; but I have seen a history of the transaction, and felt a pleasure mingled with pain at the narration. To stand well in the estimation of one’s country is a happiness, that no rational creature can be insensible of. To be pursued, first under the mask of friendship, and, when disguise would suit no longer, as an open calumniator, with gross misrepresentation and self-known falsehoods, carries an alloy, which no temper can bear with perfect composure.
The motives, which actuate this gentleman, are better understood by himself than me. If he can produce a single instance, in which I have mentioned his name, after his tryal commenced, where it was in my power to avoid it, and, when it was not, where I have done it with the smallest degree of acrimony or disrespect, I will consent that the world shall view my character in as disreputable a light, as he wishes to place it. What cause, then, there is for such a profusion of venom, as he is emitting upon all occasions, unless by an act of public duty, in bringing him to tryal at his own solicitation, I have disappointed him and raised his ire; or, conceiving that, in proportion as he can darken the shades of my character, he illuminates his own;—whether these, I say, or motives yet more dark and hidden, govern him, I shall not undertake to decide; nor have I time to inquire into them at present.
If I had ever assumed the character of a military genius and the officer of experience; if, under these false colors, I had solicited the command I was honored with; or if, after my appointment, I had presumptuously driven on, under the sole guidance of my own judgment and self-will, and misfortunes, the result of obstinacy and misconduct, not of necessity, had followed, I should have thought myself a proper object for the lash, not only of his, but of the pen of every other writer, and a fit subject for public resentment. But when it is well known that the command was in a manner forced upon me, that I accepted it with the utmost diffidence, from a consciousness that it required greater abilities and more experience than I possessed, to conduct a great military machine, embarrassed as I knew ours must be by a variety of complex circumstances, and as it were but little better than a mere chaos; and when nothing more was promised on my part, than has been most inviolably performed; it is rather grating to pass over in silence charges, which may impress the uninformed, tho others know, that these charges have neither reason nor truth to support them, and that a simple narrative of facts would defeat all his assertions, notwithstanding they are made with an effrontery, which few men do, and, for the honor of human nature, none ought to possess.
If this gentleman is envious of my station, and conceives I stand in his way to preferment, I can assure him, in most solemn terms, that the first wish of my soul is to return to that peaceful retirement, and domestick ease and happiness, from whence I came. To this end all my labors have been directed, and for this purpose have I been more than four years a perfect slave, endeavoring, under as many embarrassing circumstances as ever fell to one man’s lot to encounter, and as pure motives as ever man was influenced by, to promote the cause and service I had embarked in.
You may form a pretty good judgment of my prospect of a brilliant campaign, and of the figure I shall cut in it, when I inform you, that, excepting about 400 recruits from the State of Massachusetts (a portion of which I am told are children, hired at about 1500 dollars each for 9 months’ service), I have had no reinforcement to this army since last campaign, while our numbers have been, and now are, diminishing daily by the expiring terms of men’s services, to say nothing of the natural waste by sickness, death, and desertion. Discouraging as all this is, I feel more from the state of our currency, and the little attention, which hitherto appears to have been paid to our finances, than from the smallness of our army; and yet, (Providence having so often taken us up, when bereft of other hope,) I trust we shall not fail even in this. The present temper and disposition of the people to facilitate a loan, to discountenance speculation, and to appreciate the money, is a happy presage of resulting good, and ought to be cherished by every possible means, not repugnant to good order and government. With you I conceive, that great events are comprised in the next six months; and wish I had such information as would carry me along with you in opinion, that Spain has declared in our favor. But, having no knowledge of facts to ground such a belief on, I am apprehensive that the natural sloth of one court, and the intrigues and artifices of the other, will keep things in a state of negotiation, till the effect of the present exertion of G. B. this campaign is known, and possibly a new scene opened to our view.
The public are already possessed of the little military occurrences of this Quarter. I need not repeat them. Some considerable movement of the enemy is in agitation, but of what nature, and where pointed, I have not yet been able to discover. Lord Cornwallis is arrived, and a number of troops, (it is said) is hourly expected. My respectful complimts. attend Mrs. Reed, and the ladies of yr. family. With very great esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1
end of vol. vii.
[2 ]These Queries were written by General Charles Lee, and after rejection by the Philadelphia papers, were printed anonymously in the Maryland Journal, a paper published by William Goddard, a friend of General Lee.
[1 ]“I shall be happy in such communications, as your leisure and other considerations will permit you to transmit me, for I am as totally unacquainted with the political state of things, and what is going forward in the great national Council, as if I was an alien; when a competent knowledge of the temper and designs of our allies, from time to time, and the frequent changes and complexion of affairs in Europe might, as they ought to do, have a considerable influence on the operations of our army, and would in many cases determine the propriety of measures, which under a cloud of darkness can only be groped at. I say this upon a presumption, that Congress, either through their own ministers or that of France, must be acquainted in some degree with the plans of Great Brit—n, and the designs of France and Spain. If I mistake in this conjecture, it is to be lamented that they have not better information; or, if political motives render Disclosures of this kind improper, I am content to remain in ignorance.”—Washington to Edmund Randolph, 1 August, 1779.