Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO PHILIP SCHUYLER, JOHN MATHEWS, AND NATHANIEL PEABODY, A COMMITTEE FROM CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO PHILIP SCHUYLER, JOHN MATHEWS, AND NATHANIEL PEABODY, A COMMITTEE FROM 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).
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 PHILIP SCHUYLER, JOHN MATHEWS, AND NATHANIEL PEABODY, A COMMITTEE FROM CONGRESS.
Morris Town, 25 May, 1780.
I have attentively considered the circular letter to the different States, which you did me the honor to communicate for my perusal, and I am happy to find, that my ideas perfectly correspond with those of the committee. The view they have given of our situation is just, full, and explicit; the measures they have recommended are well adapted to the emergency and of indispensable necessity. I very freely give it as my opinion, that, unless they are carried into execution in the fullest extent and with the greatest decision and rapidity, it will be impossible for us to undertake the intended coöperation with any reasonable prospect of success.
The consequences you have well delineated. The succor designed for our benefit will prove a serious misfortune, and, instead of rescuing us from the embarrassments we experience, and from the danger with which we are threatened, will, in all probability, precipitate our ruin.1 Drained and weakened as we already are, the exertions we shall make, though they may be too imperfect to secure success, will at any rate be such as to leave us in a state of relaxation and debility, from which it will be difficult if not impracticable to recover; the Country exhausted, the People dispirited, the consequence and reputation of these States in Europe sunk, our friends chagrined and discouraged, our Enemies deriving new credit, new confidence, new resources. We have not, nor ought we to wish, an alternative. The court of France has done so much for us, that we must make a decisive effort on our part. Our situation demands it, ’t is expected. We have the means of success, and it only remains to employ them. But the conjuncture requires all our wisdom and all our energy. Such is the present state of this country, that the utmost exertion of its resources, though equal, is not more than equal to the object, and our measures must be so taken as to call them into immediate and full effect.
There is only one thing, which I should have been happy the committee had thought proper to take up on a larger scale; I mean the supply of men by draughts. Instead of compleating the deficiencies of the quotas assigned by the resolution of Congress of the 9th of February last, it would, in my apprehension, be of the greatest importance, that the respective States should fill their Battalions to their complement of five hundred and four, rank and file. Considering the different possible dispositions of the enemy, and the different possible operations on our part, we ought not to have less than Twenty thousand Continental efficient troops. The whole number of Battalions from New Hampshire to Pensylvania inclusive, if complete, would not amount to this force. The total would be twenty-three thousand one hundred and eighty-four, rank and file, from which the customary deductions being made, there will not remain more than about Eighteen thousand fit for the service of the field. To this may be added the remainder of the Sixteen Regiments, amounting to about one thousand.
Unless the principal part of the force be composed of men regularly organized, and on the continuance of whose services we can rely, nothing decisive can be attempted. The Militia are too precarious a dependence to justify such an attempt, where they form a material part of the plan. Militia cannot have the necessary habits nor the consistency, either for an assault or a siege. In employing them essentially, we should run a risk of being abandoned in the most critical moments. The expense and the consumption of Provisions and stores, (which we are bound by every motive to economize,) will be very considerably increased. As we should not be able to keep the same body in the field, during the whole campaign, we should a great part of the time have a double set of men to pay and feed, those in actual service, and those on the march to relieve them or returning home when relieved. The operations of husbandry will suffer in proportion.
The mode by Draught is, I am persuaded, the only efficacious one to obtain men. It appears to me certain, that it is the only one to obtain them in time; nor can the period, which you have appointed for bringing them into the field, be delayed without defeating the object. I have little doubt, that at any time, and much less at the present juncture, the powers of government exerted with confidence will be equal to the purpose of Draughting. The hopes of the people, elevated by the prospects before them, will induce a chearful compliance with this and all the other measures of vigor, which have been recommended, and which the exigency requires. Notwithstanding the extension of the Draught which I have taken the liberty to advise, occasional aids of militia will be still wanted, but in much less number in this case than in the other. I have entire confidence, that the respective Legislatures will be fully impressed with the importance and delicacy of the present juncture, and will second the views of the committee by the most speedy and vigorous efforts. With every sentiment of respect and esteem, I am, &c.
[1 ]That is, unless seconded and made effectual by extraordinary efforts on the part of the Americans.