Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VIII (1779-1780).
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Head-Qrs.,Morristown, 2 April, 1780.
Since I had the Honor of addressing Your Excellency on the 28th ulto. I have received intelligence, which seems to place it beyond doubt, that the Enemy are about to make a further embarkation of Troops from New York, and the common opinion is, that they are going to reinforce Sir Henry Clinton. Lord Rawdon’s brigade, said to consist of his own Regiment and of Brown’s, Fanning’s, and another corps, Two Hessian Regiments, the 42d and another British, estimated in the whole at 2,500 rank and file, are the Troops that will, according to report, make the embarkation. This intelligence, the probability there seems to be that the Enemy will endeavor to push their operations with vigor at the southward, the weak state of our force there, and unhappily in this quarter also, have laid me under great embarrassments with respect to the conduct that ought to be pursued. In considering the point, a choice of difficulties occurs to our view. The southern States, it is to be apprehended, may require much support; and, while we attempt to afford it from hence, we run a serious risk in this quarter, from the facility with which the Enemy, by the help of their fleet, can unite their force at any point where they find us weak. Congress will the better conceive in how delicate a situation we stand, when I inform them, that our whole operating force present on this and on the other side of the North River amounts to only Ten Thousand four Hundred rank and file, of which about Two Thousand Eight Hundred will have completed their term of service by the last of May (Two thirds by the end of this month), while the Enemy’s regular force at New York and its dependencies must amount, upon a moderate calculation, to about Eleven Thousand rank and file. I enclose Congress a list of the corps at New York, after the Detachment which sailed with Sir Henry Clinton, taken from Gaine’s Register for the present year. Our situation too is the more critical, from the impossibility of concentrating our force, as well for want of the means of taking the Field, as from the early period of the season.
The want also of a magazine of flour and salt provision at West Point renders it the more necessary, that our covering force should be respectable; as, from this unlucky circumstance, which could not be prevented, the post in case of investiture might be exposed to great risk, at least if its relief depended much on a force to be collected. * * * But, notwithstanding these objections, perhaps something should be hazarded here, relying on the internal strength of the Country, for the purpose of giving further succor to the southern States, where there is not the same dependence. I shall therefore put the Maryland line, and the Delaware Regiment, which acts with it, under marching orders immediately, and have directed provision to be made for transporting them as far as Philadelphia; and propose that their march, if practicable, should commence on the sailing of the Detachment from New York. But before the measure is carried into execution, I shall be happy to know the sense of Congress on its expediency. The consequences may be very important either way, and I wish to have their instructions for my government.
In case the detachment is to march, its ulterior proceedings and rout from Philadelphia will depend on the orders, which Congress, or the Honorable the Board of War by their directions, shall give; for it is impossible for me, under our circumstances, to give directions upon this occasion. The Qr. Master and Commissary General are both in Philadelphia, and will exert themselves, I am persuaded, to carry into execution any plan for the transportation and accommodation of the troops, that may be judged most eligible, as far as it may be in their power. Baron de Kalb, who is now at the head of the Maryland division, will command the Detachment in case it proceeds, and will set out to-morrow or the next day for Philadelphia, to assist and expedite the arrangements for its future movements. If the Troops could embark without delay at the Head of Elk, and arrive safe in James River, it would not only be a great ease to them, but it would expedite their arrival at the Southward, and prevent many desertions, which will probably happen if they march thro’ their State. But how far this mode of proceeding may be eligible, I will not pretend to determine; as the enemy, in case they should be advised of it, which every precaution of secrecy would be necessary to prevent, might by sending armed Vessels into the Bay attempt to intercept them in their passage.
Major Lee’s corps is under marching orders for the southward, of which I have advised the Honorable the Board of War on the 30th; and the Commanding officer is directed to proceed with it, as soon as he adjusts with them the proper arrangements.1 I enclose Your Excellency an Extract from Robertson’s New York American Gazette of the 28th of last month. The intelligence, if true, is very important and interesting. I have the honor to be, &c.2
[1 ]“You will be pleased, upon the receipt of this, to take the most expeditious measures for putting the whole Corps, both Horse and Foot, in readiness to march. If you move, your destination will be South Carolina. The Horse will go the whole way by land; the foot will go down the Chesapeake Bay by Water, and meet the Horse at Petersburg. As soon as you have given the necessary orders at Burlington, you had best repair to Philada., and apply to the Board of War, to whom I have written on the subject, for the Articles wanting to equip the Corps for so long a march. Be pleased to acknowledge this. Send your answer to the Qr. M. at Trenton, who will forward it to me.”—Washington to the officer commanding Major Henry Lee’s corps, 30 March, 1780.
[2 ]Read in Congress April 5th. Referred to the Board of War.