Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF 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 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).
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 THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
The Honorable the Committee will have informed Congress from time to time of the measures which have been judged essential to be adopted for coöperating with the Armament expected from France, and of their requisitions to the States in consequence. What the result of these has been, I cannot determine to my great anxiety, as no answers on the subjects of them have been yet received. The period is come when we have every reason to expect the Fleet will arrive and yet, for want of this point of primary consequence, it is impossible for me to form or fix on a system of coöperation. I have no basis to act upon—and of course were this generous succor of our Ally now to arrive—I should find myself in the most awkward, embarrassing, and painful situation. The General and the Admiral from the relation in which I stand, as soon as they approach our coast, will require of me a plan of the measures to be persued—and there ought of right to be one prepared; but circumstanced as I am I cannot even give them conjectures. From these considerations I have suggested to the Committee, by a letter I had the honor of addressing them yesterday,1 the indispensable necessity of their writing again to the States, urging them to give immediate and precise information of the measures they have taken—and of the result. The interest of the States—the honor and reputation of our Councils—the justice and gratitude due our Allies—a regard to myself—all require that I should without delay, be enabled to ascertain and inform them what we can or cannot undertake. There is a point which ought now to be determined, on which the success of all our future operations may depend, which, for want of knowing our prospects, I am altogether at a loss what to do in. For fear of involving the Fleet and Army of our Allies in circumstances, which, if not seconded by us, would expose them to material inconvenience and hazard, I shall be compelled to suspend it, and the delay may be fatal to our hopes.
Besides the embarrassments I have mentioned above and upon former occasions—there is another of a very painful and humiliating nature. We have no shirts, from the best inquiries I can make, to distribute to the Troops, when the whole are in great want, and when a great part of them are absolutely destitute of any at all. Their situation too with respect to Summer overalls I fear is not likely to be much better. There are a good many on hand at Springfield it is said, but so indifferent in their quality, as to be scarcely worth the expence and trouble of transportation and delivery. For the Troops to be without cloathing at any time, is highly injurious to the service and distressing to our feelings; but the want will be more peculiarly mortifying when they come to act with those of our allies. If it is possible I have no doubt immediate measures will be taken to relieve their distress. It is also most sincerely to be wished that there could be some supplies of Cloathing furnished for the officers. There are a great many whose condition is really miserable still and in some instances it is the case with almost whole State lines. It would be well for their own sakes—and for the Public good—if they could be furnished. When our Friends come to coöperate with us—they will not be able to go on the common routine of duty—and if they should, they must be held from their appearance, in low estimation.
I have been successively honored with your Excellency’s favors of the 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th & 15th Insts. with their respective inclosures—The hurry of business has prevented my answering them sooner.—
I am unhappy to inform your Excellency, that a spirit of great dissatisfaction has prevailed of late among the Troops garrisoning Fort Schuyler; and that from my latest accounts from thence—it was far from having subsided when they were dispatched. The want of pay and of necessary Cloathing—particularly shirts, is assigned as the primary cause. Matters have been carried so far, as for thirty-one men to go off in a body for Oswagachee. They were pursued by Lieut. Hardenberg with a party of the Oneidas called in and detached for the purpose, and sixteen of them overtaken on the evening of the second day’s pursuit, just as they were about crossing Grand River (15 having already passed it). A fire was immediately commenced by the whole party against Mr. Hardenberg, who found himself under the necessity of returning it by which thirteen of the sixteen on this side were killed. The fifteen that had passed escaped. I mean if possible to relieve the garrison with a part of the men lately raised for frontier service in the State of New York, and have written to His Excellency Governor Clinton upon the subject—as I had done previous to the incursion made by Sir John Johnson, which at least rendered the measure impracticable for the time. I am in hopes by the 15th, that the hundred Barrels of flour which I ordered from Morris Town and forty Barrels of Beef arrived at Fort Schuyler, as they were under the care of a strong escort; and from the importance of the post and of having it tolerably secure on this head, during the Campaign, I have directed a Hundred Barrels more, both of Flour and Meat, to be forwarded to Albany immediately—to go under convoy of the intended relief for the Garrison. This quantity with the provision already there and such fresh Supplies as may be possibly collected in aid of the salt will, I trust, hold out till matters are in a Situation to admit of a further and seasonable supply—
In my letter of the 18th I advised Congress of the arrival of the Fleet from the Southward. I have since heard that both Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Arbuthnot have returned. Accounts say they have brought a considerable part of the Southern Army with them. The Enemy remain in the same position at Elizabeth Town Point. Six of the Enemy’s Ships—one a frigate ran up the North River in sight of Verplancks point on the 18th, but they have fallen down again. I dont know the object they have in view in this maneuvre, or indeed of their present conduct; but if they have any designs against West point, a matter I have apprehended, I hope the precautions I have taken and am pursuing will defeat all their efforts. It is a misfortune that we have several important objects to attend to, and but a very small force with which to do it. However the best that can shall be done. I have, &c.
[1 ]“From the vast importance of the thing, I hoped that I should have been informed before this, of the measures which the several States meant to adopt, in consequence of your late requisitions; but, as I have not, I am certain you are unadvised yourselves, and have only to lament with you the delay. This is a point of primary consequence. We are now arrived at the period when we may momently expect the Fleet from France. For want of information it has been impossible for me to digest a System of coöperation. I have no data on which to proceed, and of course, were the Armament to come, I should find myself in the most delicate, embarrassing, and cruel situation. The French Commanders, from the relation in which I stand, the instant they reach our Coast will look to me for a plan of the measures to be pursued, and I ought of right to have one prepared; but I cannot even give them conjectures. The interest of the States, the reputation of their Councils, the justice and gratitude due to our Allies, a regard for my own Character, all demand, that I should without delay be enabled to ascertain and inform them what we can or cannot undertake.