Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO BARON STEUBEN. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO BARON STEUBEN. - 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).
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 BARON STEUBEN.
Morristown, 2 April, 1780.
My Dear Baron,
I duly received your letter of the 15th of March, which hurry of business has prevented my acknowledging sooner. Last night brought me your favor of the 2d.
The propositions made by you to Congress for the arrangement of the army this campaign appear to me, upon the whole, best adapted to our circumstances, and especially since so much of the season has elapsed without entering upon it. I am glad the proposed incorporation has been suspended. I doubt, however, the practicability at this time of augmenting the cavalry or recruiting the additionals, from the circumstance you mentioned, the extreme distress of the treasury, which seems to be totally exhausted, and without sufficient resources for the current demands of the service. The present crisis is indeed perplexing beyond description, and it is infinitely difficult to devise a remedy.
When I approve your plan for the additional regiments, it is with one condition; that Congress can find means to provide for the officers, so as to put them upon an equal footing with the other parts of the army. If this cannot be done, they cannot continue in the service. I have incessant applications to this effect, and have just written again to Congress on the subject. If the situation of the officers cannot be made more tolerable, it will be preferable to dissolve those corps, incorporate the men with the State lines, and let the officers retire to be entitled to pay, subsistence, and the emoluments decreed at the end of the war. This will be a very bad expedient, if it can be avoided; but it is better than to leave the officers in such a state, that they must be miserable while they stay in the army; obliged in a little time, the greatest part of them, to quit, while the corps for want of care will rapidly decline, and a number of good men be lost to the service.1
Your anxiety on the score of southern affairs cannot exceed mine. The measure of collecting the whole force for the defence of Charlestown ought no doubt to have been well considered before it was determined. It is putting much to the hazard; but at this distance we can form a very imperfect judgment of its propriety or necessity. I have the greatest reliance on General Lincoln’s prudence; but I cannot forbear dreading the event. Ill as we can afford a diminution of our force here, and notwithstanding the danger we run from the facility with which the enemy can concenter their force at our weak points, besides other inconveniences, I have recommended it to Congress to detach the Maryland division to reinforce the southern States. Though this detachment cannot in all probability arrive in season to be of any service to Charles Town, it may assist to arrest the progress of the enemy and save the Carolinas.1
My sentiments concerning public affairs correspond too much with yours. The prospect, my Dear Baron, is gloomy, and the storm threatens. Not to have the anxieties you express, at the present juncture, would be not to feel that zeal and interest in our cause, by which all your whole conduct shows you to be actuated. But I hope we shall extricate ourselves, and bring every thing to a prosperous issue. I have been so inured to difficulties in the course of this contest, that I have learned to look upon them with more tranquillity than formerly. Those, which now present themselves, no doubt require vigorous exertions to overcome them, and I am [far] from despairing of doing it. Though I shall be happy to have the honor of seeing the Minister in Camp, as soon as it may be convenient to him, your reasons for persuading him to defer his journey awhile were good. I wish it were in my power to save him the trouble of the journey by paying him my respects in Philadelphia; but our present military situation, joined to other reasons, will not permit me to have that honor. I am very sensible, my Dear Baron, to the obliging assurances of your regard, and I entreat you to believe there is a perfect reciprocity of sentiments, and that I am, with great consideration and the truest esteem, &c.
[1 ]“General Heath, who is appointed by the State of Massachusetts to superintend the recruiting service, writes me that he shall endeavor to detain three commd. and one non-commissioned officer of each Regt., who are already in the State on furlough, to go out recruiting, and to march the recruits, deserters who may be apprehended, and furloughed men, from the places of rendezvous to West Point. But as he is not certain of finding the number required, he wishes you to send the deficiency, should there be any, from the line. This you will be pleased to do, if the State of the Regiments will admit of it. Those officers, who have not been indulged with furloughs should be preferred, as they will have an opportunity of visiting their families and friends, and looking into their private affairs at the same time. Capt. Webb, the Bearer of this, who is under the necessity of resigning, if he cannot obtain leave of absence, would be content with going home upon these terms. He represents the situation of his family in such a manner, that I wish him to be indulged, if possible, at any rate.
[1 ]“I have, in consequence of the opinion of the last Council of War, left it with Congress finally to determine upon the march of the Maryland division to the Southward. That no time may be lost in the transportation of the troops, should Congress agree in sentiment with the Council, I am to desire you to proceed immediately to Phila., and, if you find upon your arrival there, that the troops are to move, concert with the Board of War the Commissary and Quarter-Master General the necessary arrangements for their provision and accommodation. But should it be determined, that the march of the Body of Men alluded to is at this time either inexpedient or unnecessary, you will be pleased, after compleating your private business, to return to your command in the army.”—Washington to Baron de Kalb, 4 April, 1780.