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1780. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IX (1780-1782) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. IX (1780-1782).
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TO GOVERNOR REED.
Head Quarters,Passaic Falls,
With respect to prisoners of War mentioned in your Excellency’s Letter of the 3d. Inst., I beg leave to observe that it has been my wish from the beginning of the contest to the present day, that no distinction should exist with respect to them; that the whole should be considered on one general and liberal scale as belonging to the States, and not to this or that State; be exchanged according to their rank and the order of their captivity—and that all military prisoners taken from the Enemy, no matter where or by whom, should be deemed as belonging to the public at large, and be applied generally for the release of those in the Enemy’s hands. This has been my wish, because it appeared to be just the only principle which could give general satisfaction. In conformity to it, all exchanges in the course of the War, resting solely with me and made by my directions, have been conducted; and it has been my constant direction, where the point depended wholly on me, that the prisoners with the Enemy were to be exchanged agreeable to it. Particular cases, however, may arise, where it may be proper to depart from the principle; but these can be but rare, and the principle, where the business was entirely with me, has never been deviated from in a single instance.
As to the case of Lt. Colo. Simcoe, and Lt. Colo. Conolly:—the former was captured by the Jersey Militia before the Resolution passed which you inclose; was confined by the State, who also made his exchange; the exchange of the latter was directly in consequence of a requisition by the State of Maryland, who claimed him to the Honble. the Board of War, who thought their claim was first. This State claimed it on the examples and practise of some other States in like cases, who had made exchanges without the interference or consulting any but their own authority.
When I received the Board’s Letter upon the subject—I informed them, (tho I directed the exchange for the reasons I have mentioned and the considerations subjoined) “that previous to their letter I had supposed that Citizens or Inhabitants captured by the Enemy were the objects to whom the Act meant a preference should be given; and that all officers in captivity were to stand upon a common footing to be released on the principle of priority of capture.” But as the terms of the Act were not entirely explicit, and the opinion of the Board was in favor of the claim, the sentiments I entertained of Lt. Colo. Ramsay’s merit and indeed the recollection of the day of his capture, his conduct upon the occasion and the whole circumstances by which he was placed in a situation that exposed him to more than a common risk of falling, or being taken, determined me not to oppose the measure. I have upon the present occasion attended minutely to the Act—and I am fully persuaded from a recurrence to some of my correspondence on the subject of it, long previous to its being passed, that my ideas of it were right, and that the construction and operation I supposed it should have, was the true one. The Draft of it I find was in my possession for consideration, so far back as the Summer ’79, as a Regulation intended for placing the business of prisoners and their exchanges upon a different footing from what it then was; and I returned it with this observation, that the Regulations appeared judicious and proper—such as I had a long time wished to see take place; adding, that it appeared to be the intention to make a distinction between prisoners and prisoners of War, which was no doubt a proper and necessary one. Under the first I meant to comprehend Citizens and Civil Characters, not usually considered or made prisoners of exchange, but whom nevertheless the Enemy were seizing and taking whenever they could, in order to release their officers in our hands. Under the last, Officers and Soldiers of the Army or Militia actually taken in Arms. It was the practise of the States to exchange the former for military prisoners and particular officers out of the order of their captivity, for officers they had taken, that excited the clamor and dissatisfaction among the officers in general, who were prisoners. I think there should be no preference under the idea of State captures, with respect to the exchanges of Military prisoners. The terms of the act seem to require it. I think it was the intention; and if it should have a different operation it does not remove, at least but in a very remote and partial degree, the causes which were complained of, and which appear evidently on examination from the introduction to have been the mischiefs intended to be remedied; but on the contrary it would sanction partial or State exchanges of officers, and only change the mode of carrying the business into execution by placing it in the hands of the Continental Commissary, instead of the Commissaries of the Individual States. And I am to observe further that the Resolution of Congress, by which I am authorized to go into exchanges now in contemplation to be carried into effect, points out and directs priority of capture as a governing principle.
I have been thus particular for your satisfaction.
* * * * * *
TO MAJOR LEE.
Head Quarters, 20 October, 1780.
The plan proposed for taking A—,1 the outlines of which are communicated in your letter which was this moment put into my hands without a date, has every mark of a good one. I therefore agree to the promised rewards, and have such entire confidence in your management of this business as to give it my fullest approbation; and leave the whole to the guidance of your own judgment, with this express stipulation, and pointed injunction, that he, A—d, is brought to me alive. No circumstance whatever shall obtain my consent to his being put to death. The idea which would accompany such an event would be that Ruffians had been hired to assassinate him. My aim is to make a public example of him—and this should be strongly impressed upon those who are employed to bring him off. The sergeant must be very circumspect—too much zeal may create suspicion—and too much precipitancy may defeat the project. The most inviolable secrecy must be observed on all hands. I send you five guineas; but I am not satisfied of the propriety of the sergeant’s appearing with much specie—this circumstance may also lead to suspicion as it is but too well known to the enemy that we do not deal much in this article. The Interviews between the party in and out of the city, should be managed with much caution and seeming indifference, or else the frequency of their meetings &c., may betray the design and involve bad consequences. * * *
TO MAJOR-GENERAL HEATH.
Head-Quarters, 21 October, 1780.
I have recd. your favor of the 20th. The disposition you have made of the troops, at and near West Point, is agreeable to me. The two small Regiments, at present at King’s Ferry, were purposely stationed there, because they could not be brigaded with convenience. They are shortly to be reformed and incorporated, and therefore had best remain where they are untill that time. Genl. Greene had proposed to remove every superfluous store from those posts, so that, in case of necessity, they might be evacuated with little loss. He was of opinion, that the enemy, would if they came up seriously, run an armed Vessel or two above them, and render the removal of the stores by water impracticable. This seemed so probable a conjecture, that I desired him to strip them of all but very few Stores. You will be pleased to follow that method.
The Minister of France may soon be expected from the Eastward. Should he take you in his way, or should you hear certainly of his approach, be pleased to give me notice of it by Express. I am, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Head-Quarters, near Passaic Falls,
I have been honored with your Excellency’s favors of the 10th and 14th Instants—The advance of the British army towards the borders of North Carolina is an alarming circumstance, more especially as there is every reason to believe, that the force which lately sailed from New York is intended to coöperate with them.1 The enemy, by several accounts, received a reinforcement from Europe in the last fleet. It is said by some to consist of two British regiments, about seven hundred German recruits, and some from Scotland. If so, this new accession is nearly equal to their late detachment; but others again say the reinforcement consists wholly of recruits. I have heard nothing directly from the northward since my letter of the 16th. There are reports, that the enemy retired after destroying Fort Anne, Fort George, and burning some houses. It is thought and perhaps not without foundation, that this incursion was made upon a supposition, that Arnold’s treachery had succeeded.1
Colonel Brodhead has in many of his late letters expressed his apprehension of the consequences, which may result from the want of provisions, should the enemy, agreeably to their threats, invest the post of Fort Pitt this winter. But by a letter from him of the 14th of September, matters had proceeded to such extremities, that the garrison, headed by the non-commissioned officers, had waited upon him, and he says in a decent manner remonstrated upon the hardship of having been without bread for five days. Upon being told that every thing would be done to relieve them, they retired in good order. Colonel Brodhead adds, that the country is not deficient in resources, but that public credit is exhausted, and will no longer procure supplies. Congress will therefore see the necessity of either furnishing the commissary to the westward with a competent sum of money, or of obtaining from the State of Pennsylvania an assurance, that the part of the quota of supplies demanded of her by the requisition of Congress of February last, and directed to be deposited in the magazines to the westward, which were intended for the support of Fort Pitt, shall be immediately laid in, if it has not been already done. The importance of that post to the whole western frontier is so great, as not to admit of its being left to any risk, if it can be avoided. * * *
Since I began this letter, I have received advices from Governor Clinton at Albany, who mentions that a party of the enemy, which came from the northward, had retired by the way of Lake George; but that another party from the westward had penetrated as far as Schoharie, which valuable settlement they had destroyed. The Governor himself was going to Schenectady to make a disposition of the force in that quarter. I have sent up two Continental regiments to his assistance, which I hope will be sufficient to repel the enemy, as they are not represented as very numerous. Fort Schuyler is well garrisoned, and has forty days’ provision in it. I therefore hope no great danger is to be apprehended from the present incursion.
I have the honor to be, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL GREENE.
Congress having been pleased, by their resolution of the 5th instant, to authorize me to appoint an officer to the command of the southern army, in the room of Major-General Gates, till an inquiry can be had into his conduct as therein directed, I have thought proper to choose you for this purpose. You will, therefore, proceed without delay to the Southern army, now in North Carolina, and take the command accordingly. Uninformed as I am of the enemy’s force in that quarter, of our own, or of the resources, which it will be in our power to command for carrying on the war, I can give you no particular instructions, but must leave you to govern yourself entirely according to your own prudence and judgment, and the circumstances in which you find yourself. I am aware, that the nature of the command will offer you embarrassments of a singular and complicated nature; but I rely upon your abilities and exertions for every thing your means will enable you to effect. I give you a letter to the Honorable the Congress, informing them of your appointment, and requesting them to give you such powers and such support, as your situation and the good of the service demand. You will take their orders in your way to the Southward.
I also propose to them to send the Baron de Steuben to the Southward with you. His talents, knowledge of service, zeal, and activity will make him very useful to you in all respects, and particularly in the formation and regulation of the raw troops, who will principally compose the Southern army. You will give him a command suited to his rank, besides employing him as Inspector-General. If Congress approve it, he will take your orders at Philadelphia. I have put Major Lee’s corps under marching orders, and, as soon as he is ready, shall detach him to join you.
As it is necessary, the inquiry into the conduct of Major-General Gates should be conducted in the quarter in which he has acted, where all the witnesses are, and where alone the requisite information can be obtained, I have to desire, as soon as the situation of affairs will possibly permit, you will nominate a Court of Inquiry to examine into this case, agreeably to the aforementioned resolution of Congress. Major-General the Baron de Steuben will preside at this Court, and the members will consist of such General and field officers of the Continental troops, as were not present at the battle of Camden, or, being present, are not wanted as witnesses, or are persons to whom Major-General Gates has no objection. I wish this affair to be conducted with the greatest impartiality, and with as much despatch as circumstances will permit. You will, on your arrival at the army, take the sense in writing of the General Officers and other principal officers, concerning the practicability of an immediate inquiry. If they judge it practicable, on the principles of these instructions, you will have it carried into execution. If they do not think it can take place immediately, you will inform General Gates of it, and transmit to me their determination; and you will from time to time pursue the same mode, that any delay which may happen may appear, as I am persuaded it will really be, unavoidable. The Court need not consist of more than five, nor must it consist of less than three members; and in all cases there must be three general officers. Should General Gates have any objection to the mode of inquiry, which he wishes to make to Congress or to me, you will suspend proceeding in the affair, till he transmits his objection, and you receive further orders. You will keep me constantly advised of the state of your affairs, and of every material occurrence. My warmest wishes for your success, reputation, health, and happiness accompany you. Given at Head Quarters Preakness, October 22d, 1780.1
TO GEORGE MASON.1
Head-Quarters, Passaic Falls,
In consequence of a resolve of Congress directing an enquiry into the conduct of General Gates, and authorizing me to appoint some other officer in his place during the enquiry, I have made choice of Major-General Greene who will, I expect, have the honor of presenting you with this letter.
I can venture to introduce this Gentleman to you as a man of abilities, bravery and coolness. He has a comprehensive knowledge of our affairs, and is a man of fortitude and resources. I have not the smallest doubt therefore of his employing all the means which may be put into his hands to the best advantage—nor of his assisting in pointing out the most likely ones to answer the purposes of his command. With this character, I take the liberty of recommending him to your civilities and support, for I have no doubt, from the embarrassed situation of Southern affairs, of his standing much in need of the latter from every gentleman of influence in the Assemblies of those States.
As General Greene can give you the most perfect information in detail of our present distresses, and future prospects, I shall content myself with giving the aggregate account of them. And with respect to the first, they are so great and complicated, that it is scarcely within the powers of description to give an adequate idea of them—with regard to the second, unless there is a material change both in our military and civil policy, it will be in vain to contend much longer.
We are without money, and have been so for a great length of time; without provision and forage, except what is taken by impress; without cloathing, and shortly shall be (in a manner) without men. In a word we have lived upon expedients till we can live no longer, and it may truly be said that the history of this war, is a history of false hopes and temporary devices, instead of system, and œconomy which results from it.
If we mean to continue our struggles, (and it is to by hoped we shall not relinquish our claims) we must do it upon an entire new plan. We must have a permanent force, not a force that is constantly fluctuating and sliding from under us as a pedestal of ice would do from a statue in a summer’s day, involving us in expence that baffles all calculation—an expence which no funds are equal to.— We must at the same time contrive ways and means to aid our Taxes by Loans, and put our finances upon a more certain and stable footing than they are at present. Our civil government must likewise undergo a reform—ample powers must be lodged in Congress as the head of the Federal union, adequate to all the purposes of war. Unless these things are done, our efforts will be in vain, and only serve to accumulate expence, add to our perplexities, and dissatisfy the people without a prospect of obtaining the prize in view. But these sentiments do not appear well in a hasty letter, without digestion or order. I have not time to give them otherwise,—and shall only assure you that they are well meant, however crude they may appear. With sincere affection, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL GATES.
I enclose you a resolution of Congress of the 5th instant, directing me to order a court of inquiry to be held on your conduct, as commander of the southern army, and to appoint an officer to command that army in your room, until such inquiry be made. In obedience to this order, I have appointed Major-General Greene to the command; and I have instructed him respecting the inquiry, in the manner which the enclosed extract from his instructions will show. It appeared to me, that the business could be nowhere so properly conducted as with the army, where the transactions, which will enter into the inquiry, took place, and where every kind of light can with the most facility be obtained. I could not, however, order it immediately to commence, because it is possible, that the situation of affairs might render it impracticable; but I have endeavored to take every precaution to prevent delay, if it is not unavoidable. Should you have any objection to the mode proposed, I shall be obliged to you to communicate it to me, with your reasons; in the fullest assurance, that it is my aim to execute the orders of Congress in the manner most consistent with justice to the public and to you. In this case, General Greene will suspend proceeding, till I receive your objections, and send him further instructions. I am, &c.1
TO THE BOARD OF WAR.
Head-Quarters, 25 October, 1780.
I am honored with your letter of the 18th. The enemy seem to be practising the arts of corruption so extensively, that I think we cannot be too much upon our guard against its effects, nor ought we to neglect any clues that may lead to discoveries; but, on the other hand, we ought to be equally circumspect in admitting suspicions or proceeding upon them without sufficient evidence. It will be the policy of the enemy to distract us, as much as possible, by sowing jealousies, and, if we swallow the bait, no characters will be safe. There will be nothing but mutual distrust. In the present case, from every thing I have heard of your informant, I should suspect him of the worst intentions; and, notwithstanding what we are told about the motives, which obliged him to leave the enemy, I still think it probable he came out as a spy, and that the assigned causes are either altogether fictitious, or, being real, were made the inducement with him for undertaking the errand to avoid punishment, as well as obtain a reward. The kind of information he is willing to give may be received; but in my opinion it would be a very improper foundation for an inquiry, unless the circumstances of it have much more weight than the character of the witness. I have the honor to be, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Head-Quarters, 30 October, 1780.
It is impossible, my dear Marquis, to desire more ardently than I do to terminate the campaign by some happy stroke; but we must consult our means rather than our wishes, and not endeavor to better our affairs by attempting things, which for want of success may make them worse. We are to lament, that there has been a misapprehension of our circumstances in Europe; but, to endeavor to recover our reputation, we should take care that we do not injure it more. Ever since it became evident, that the allied arms could not co-operate this campaign, I have had an eye to the point you mention, determined, if a favorable opening should offer, to embrace it; but, so far as my information goes, the enterprise would not be warranted. It would in my opinion be imprudent to throw an army of ten thousand men upon an island against nine thousand, exclusive of seamen and militia. This, from the accounts we have, appears to be the enemy’s force. All we can therefore at present do, is to endeavor to gain a more certain knowledge of their situation and act accordingly. This I have been some time employed in doing, but hitherto with little success. I shall thank you for any aids you can afford. Arnold’s flight seems to have frightened all my intelligencers out of their senses. I am sincerely and affectionately yours.1
TO ABNER NASH, GOVERNOR OF NORTH CAROLINA.
Head-Quarters, Passaic Falls,
I had the honor yesterday to receive your Excellency’s letter of the 6th of October, and am extremely obliged to you for the intelligence contained in it. It is of so great importance, that the earliest and best intelligence of all the great movements and designs of the enemy, as well as of the situation of our own affairs, should be obtained, that I must entreat you will be so good as to favor me with such communications, as may have any influence on our military arrangements and operations.
While I sincerely lament the distressed and exhausted situation of the southern States, I cannot but hope the enemy have committed themselves so far as to be made to repent their temerity; especially since I have received information, of a more recent date than your letter, of the success of the militia against Colonel Ferguson. This I flatter myself will give a better aspect to your affairs, and will awaken more extensively that spirit of bravery and enterprise, which displayed itself so conspicuously on the occasion.
The enemy seem again to have adopted the same system of policy they have before presented with but too much success, of making detachments to the southward at a time when our army is greatly reduced by the expiration of the services of the levies, who were raised for the campaign only. Besides the detachment under General Leslie, which has landed in Virginia, it is reported another embarkation is taking place at N. York. But I have great confidence in the exertion of the southern States, when their all is at stake, and in the abilities of General Greene to call forth and apply the resources of the country in the best and most effectual manner to its defence. Major-General the Baron Steuben, who accompanies him, possesses the most distinguished military talents, and has rendered signal service to this army as inspector-general. Major Lee has also marched to join the southern army with his legion. The arrival of a reinforcement in New York, nearly equal to the late detachment, and the incursion of a large force (of which I have just received intelligence), from Canada on the northern and western frontiers of the State of New York, where great devastation has already been committed, will I fear render it impossible to make any further detachments from this army to the southward. I have the honor to be, &c.
TO ROBERT CARTER NICHOLAS.
Head-Quarters, Passaic Falls,
I am perswaded that the letters, of which the inclosed are copies, never reached your hands. I take the liberty of forwarding a duplicate of the last and triplicate of the first—with the inclosures it refers to.
Since mine of March to you, I have been favored with a third letter from our good friend Colonel Fairfax, copy of which I also send, and should be happy in knowing that you had accepted the appointment he mentions, in order that I might direct all his Papers to be carefully packed up and sent to you.
I hope, I trust, that no act of Legislation in the State of Virginia has affected, or can affect, the property of this gentleman, otherwise than in common with that of every good and well disposed citizen of America. It is a well known fact that his departure for England was not only antecedent to the present rupture with Great Britain, but before there was the most distant prospect of a serious dispute with that country, and if it is necessary to adduce proof of his attachment to the interests of America since his residence there, and of the aid he has given to many of our distressed countrymen in that kingdom, abundant instances may be produced, not only by the Gentlemen alluded to in his letter of December 5, 1779, but by others that are known to me, and on whom justice to Col. Fairfax will make it necessary to call, if occasion should require the facts to be ascertained.
About the time of my writing to you in March last, I communicated the contents of Col. Fairfax’s letter of the 3d of August, 1778, to Col. Lewis, and received for an answer, that the bad state of his health would render it impossible for him to discharge the trust Col. Fairfax wished to repose in you, or him, in a manner agreeable to himself, and therefore could not think of engaging in it if you (to whom I informed him I had written) should decline it; but he recommended in case of your refusal, Mr. Francis Whiting (the former manager of Cols. Henry and William Fitzhugh’s Estate) as a person most likely, in his opinion, to discharge the trust with punctuality.
My best respects attend your lady & family, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Head-Quarters, 7 November, 1780.
I have been honored with your Excellency’s favor of 1st and am happy to find that my appointment of Major-General Greene to the command of the Southern Army meets the approbation of Congress. * * * By letters from Governor Clinton I find, that the enemy have gone off for the present from the Mohawk River, after totally destroying the Country as low down as Schoharie. Those upon the Northern quarter had repassed Lake George, and were again proceeding towards St. John’s, but suddenly returned with a reinforcement, and were, by accounts from Genl. Schuyler of the 1st instt., assembled in so considerable force at Ticonderoga, that I have thought proper to send up the remainder of the New York Brigade from West Point to Albany, that they may be ready to act as circumstances may require. The destruction of the Grain upon the Western Frontier of the State of New York is likely to be attended with the most alarming consequences, in respect to the formation of Magazines upon the North River. We had prospects of establishing a very considerable Magazine of Flour in that quarter, previous to the late incursion. The settlement of Schoharie only would have delivered eighty thousand Bushels of Grain, but that fine district is now totally destroyed. I should view this calamity with less concern, did I see the least prospect of obtaining the necessary supplies of flour from the States of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, previous to the interruption of transportation by frost and bad roads. * * *
While our Army is experiencing almost daily want, that of the enemy at New York is deriving ample supplies from a trade with the adjacent States of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which has by degrees become so common, that it is hardly thought a Crime. It is true there are, in those States, Laws imposing a penalty upon this criminal commerce; but it is either so light or so little attended to, that it does not prevent the practice. The Marketts of New York are so well supplied, that a great number of mouths, which would otherwise be fed from the public Magazines, are now supported upon the fresh Meats and flour of the Country, by which means the enemy have been often enabled to bear the disappointments of the arrival of their provision Fleets without much inconvenience; and, if report be true, they would at this very time experience distress for want of their long expected Irish Fleet, if the resources of the Country were effectually cut off from them. This cannot be done by military measures alone, except in cases of Blockade or Seige, and much less will it be in my power to do it with our Army in the weak state it is verging to. I believe that most nations make it capital for their subjects to furnish their enemies with provisions and Military Stores during the War.—Was this done by the several States, and the laws rigidly put in execution in a few instances, the practice would be stopped. Without something of the kind, the enemy will, while they have a species of money of superior value to ours, find little difficulty of making up the losses, which they every now and then meet with at sea, and which would very much embarrass their operations, had they no immediate mode of making good the deficiency.
I have the pleasure to inform Congress, that, at the late meeting of the respective Commissaries, the exchanges of about one hundred and forty of our officers, and all our privates in New York, amounting to four hundred and seventy-six, were effected. Among the former are Major-General Lincoln,1 Brigr.-Generals Thompson, Waterbury, and Duportail, and Lt.-Colo. Laurens. Sir Henry Clinton having made a proposal of exchanging a further number of the Convention Officers, without attaching men to them, I have acceded to it, by which we shall liberate all our officers in this quarter, except one brigr.-general (Irvine), Nine Colonels, one Captain, and thirty-nine Lieutenants. An offer is made by Sir Henry Clinton to exchange all those, for a division of the Convention Troops, by Composition where Rank will not apply. To this I have refused to accede, unless Lieutt.-General Burgoyne is taken into the account. If they will agree to this, he alone will liberate nearly the whole of them. They have further proposed a general exchange of the Convention Troops, Officers and men, for our prisoners of War at the Southward. I have not thought proper to enter at all upon the business of southern prisoners, because I have but a very imperfect state of them, and because I perceive by the powers granted to Major-General Greene, that he is at Liberty to negotiate the exchange of prisoners in that quarter. * * *
I have the honor to be, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL GREENE.
Head-Quarters, near Passaic Falls,
I am favored with your letter of the 31st of October, and am glad to find your Appointment so agreeable to the views and wishes of Congress. So fully sensible have I long been of the distressed situation of the army, not only in this quarter, but also to the Southward, and of all our great Departments, from the embarrassed state of our finances, that it has been not only a constant subject of representation in the strongest terms to Congress and to the States individually, but particularly so to the Minister of France at our last interview; and that a foreign Loan was absolutely necessary to retrieve our affairs. My ideas therefore must have been exceedingly misapprehended by him, or his by the Baron Steuben.
I entirely approve of your Plan for forming a flying Army. And in addition to this, (if the Enemy should continue to harass those parts of Virginia, which are intersected with large navigable Rivers,) I would recommend the building a number of flat-bottomed Boats, of as large a construction as can be conveniently transported on Carriages. This I conceive might be of great utility, by furnishing the means to take advantage of the enemy’s situation by crossing those Rivers, which would otherwise be impassable. I have also written to Governor Jefferson on the Subject. If a spirit of Patriotism, or even a true policy, animates the merchants and Men of Property in the Southern States, a subscription may be attended with success; at least the experiment can do no injury. General Knox has received directions to send forward the Compy. of Artillery. An order will be given for the thousand stand of Arms. Since writing the above I have received your favor of the 3d Inst.
Lieutenant-Col. Laurens will have heard of his exchange before this time, and is at liberty to go to the Southward if he thinks proper. With respect to the power Congress have invested you with, to make exchanges, I should suppose it regarded the Prisoners taken in the Southern Department on the usual principles, without involving the Convention or any other Troops to the Northward. A pretty extensive exchange has just taken place in this quarter. It is impossible, from the non-arrival of the French Arms, and the scarcity in the Eastern States, to furnish those requested by you. Nor do I think the Legion of the Duke de Lauzun can be detached from the French army. The fleet of Arbuthnot, which still blockades that of France in the harbor of Newport, effectually precludes the execution of the other plan. Our last advices from the Northward mentioned another incursion of the Enemy from Canada in greater force; in consequence of which the remainder of the York Brigade is ordered thither. There are reports, that an embarkation is about to be made at New York; but the accounts are vague and contradictory, and the fact not yet ascertained. I have to request you will be pleased to send by a flag of truce the enclosed Letter to Brigadier-Genl. Duportail, who is exchanged. I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO WILLIAM FITZHUGH.
Head-Quarters, Passaic Falls,
* * * The favorable prospect, which at one stage of the campaign was held up to view, has vanished like the morning dew, leaving scarce a trace behind it, but the recollection of past distresses on the score of Provisions, the want of which continues to threaten us.
Our accounts from the Southward are vague and uncertain, but agreeable. If it be true that a body of French and Spanish Troops have landed in South Carolina, it may aid in the total destruction of Cornwallis’ Army. Another Embarkation is talked of at New York—but this also is a matter suggestion—not certainly as to numbers.
It is devoutly to be wished that the late resolves of Congress for regulating the Army and completing the Regiments for the War may receive all the energetic force of the respective States. Certain I am that if this measure had been adopted four, or even three years ago, that we might, at this time, have been sitting under our vines and fig-trees in full enjoyment of Peace and Independence. To attain which, the delay of the measure is unfortunate, it does not make it too late, but more necessary to enter upon it vigorously at this late hour.
An Army for the war, proper magazines, and sufficient powers in Congress for all purposes of war will soon put an end to it—but the expensive and ruinous system we were pursuing was more than the friends of any Nation upon Earth would bear, and served to increase the hopes of the enemy in proportion as the minds of our people were depressed, by a boundless prospect of expence, which was increasing as it rolled on like a snow ball. * * *
TO GOVERNOR JEFFERSON.
Head-Quarters, Passaic Falls,
I have been honored with Your Excellency’s favors of the 22d, 25th, and 26th ulto. We have already had reports, that the enemy left Portsmouth precipitately a few days after landing. I shall be happy to hear it confirmed, as well as the cause to which their hurry is attributed, that of the appearance of a French or Spanish fleet upon the coast of Carolina. Should the account be premature, and should they establish a post in Virginia, I think it will be good policy to remove the troops of convention to a greater distance from them. General Phillips has applied for passports for a flag-vessel to proceed to James River as heretofore, with clothing and other necessaries for those troops. This will be granted; and, should they be removed from Charlottesville, your Excellency will be pleased, upon the arrival of the vessel in James River, to give directions for her to proceed to the most convenient place of debarkation, relatively to where the troops may be.
I am glad to hear that you have permitted Governor Hamilton and Major Hayes to go to New York; while they remain there upon parole, they will be less capable of concerting mischief than in Virginia, and it will deprive the enemy of a pretext for complaining that they are treated with rigor. Another embarkation is said to be preparing at New York, and I think it a very probable circumstance, considering the situation of the enemy’s affairs in South Carolina and ours in this quarter. They are well acquainted with the expiration of the times of the better half of our army the latter end of December, and they know they may safely detach equal to the number we disband, from this time to the month of May or June next, which is as soon as we generally get our recruits into the field. Should the enemy continue in the lower parts of Virginia, they will have every advantage by being able to move up and down the rivers in small parties, while it will be out of our power to molest them for want of the means of suddenly transporting ourselves across those rivers to come at them. This might be in a very great degree obviated, and they kept in check, if we had a number of (say) flat-boats upon travelling carriages attending the army collected to watch their motions. We could then move across from river to river with more rapidity than they could go down one and up another, and none of their detachments would be ever secure by having the water between them and us. Major-General Greene is perfectly acquainted with the kind of boats I have mentioned, and with the mode of fixing them. He will give the proper directions for having them constructed, should your Excellency approve the plan. Newcastle I think from its situation would be a good and safe place to build the boats. I have the honor to be, &c.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL HEATH.
Head-Quarters, 16 November, 1780.
Your forage will be made to subserve a project I have in view, the success of which depending upon a concurrence of things and upon causes that are unalterable. I have to request, that matters may be so ordered by you, as that the detachment employed on this occasion may be at White Plains, or as low down as you mean they shall go, by two o’clock on Thursday the 23d instant. They will remain there that night upon their arms; and, as it is not unlikely that the enemy, (if they are in force at Kingsbridge,) may attempt to surprise them, a vigilant lookout is to be kept, and small parties of Horse and foot employed in patrolling the different Roads leading from the Enemy’s lines.
It is my earnest wish, that you make your foraging party as strong, and have it as well officered, as possible. I am of opinion, that you may trust the several works (as it will be for a few days only, and this body will be in advance of them) to the Invalids, and to such Troops as are rendered unfit for the field on acct. of cloathing. The guard-boats should, upon this occasion, be uncommonly alert. They should proceed as low down as they can with safety, and so dispose of themselves as by signals to communicate the quickest intelligence of any movements on the River. A chain of expresses may also be fixed between the foragers and yr. Quarters, for the purpose of speedy information of any extra event or occurrence below.
It is unnecessary to be more explicit. Your own judgment and conviction of the precision, with which this business, especially in point of time, should be executed, will supply any omission of mine. This, that is the time of being at the White Plains in force, under the appearance of a large forage, if you cannot make it real, is the first object to be attended to. I dare not commit my project to writing, for fear of a miscarriage of my letter; but it is more than probable, that between this and the day of execution I shall send an officer to you with a detailed acct. of it.1 * * * So soon as this comes to hand, I beg of you to send by water five Boats of the largest size that can be conveniently transported on Carriages to the Slote above Dobbs’s Ferry, where I will have them met by carriages. Let there be five good watermen from the Jersey line, if they have them, allotted (with their arms and accoutrements) to each boat, under the care of an active, intelligent Subaltern, who is also a good Waterman. If there should be any Armed Vessels in the River above Dobbs’s Ferry let me know it, that I may order the Carriages to King’s Ferry. The officer and men are to attend the boats by land as well as by water. * * *
TO JOHN SULLIVAN, IN CONGRESS.1
Hd.-Qrs., Passaic Falls, 20 November, 1780.
You have obliged me very much by your friendly letter of the 12th, and I can assure you that I shall be very happy in a continuation of them. You are too well acquainted with my course of business to expect frequent or long letters from me, but I can truly say that I shall write to none with more pleasure, when it is in my power to write at all, than I will do to you. The determination of Congress to raise an army for the war, and the honorable establishment on which the officers are placed, will, I am persuaded, be productive of much good. Had the first measure been adopted four, or even three years ago, I have not the smallest doubt in my mind but that we should at this day have been sitting under our own vines and fig-trees in the full enjoyment of Peace and Independence; and I have as little doubt, that the value which I trust officers will now set upon their commissions will prove the surest basis of public œconomy. ’T was idle to expect, that men who were suffering every species of present distress, with the prospect of inevitable ruin before them, could bear to have the cord of discipline strained to its proper tune; and where that is not the case, it is no difficult matter to form an idea of the want of order, or to convince military men of its consequent evils.
It is to be lamented, that the call upon the States for specific supplies should come at this late hour, because it is much to be feared that, before those at a distance can be furnished with the resolves and make their arrangements, the season for Salting Provision will be irretrievably lost; and this leads me to a remark, which I could wish never to make, and which is, that the multiplicity of business, in which Congress are engaged, will not let them extend that seasonable and provident care to many matters, which private convenience and public œconomy indispensably call for, and proves, in my opinion, the evident necessity of committing more of the executive business to small boards or responsible characters, than is practised at present; for I am very well convinced, that, for want of system in the execution of business, and a proper timing of things, that our public expenditures are inconceivably greater than they ought to be.
Many instances might be given in proof, but I will confine myself to the article of cloathing, as we are feelingly reminded of it. This, instead of being ready in the Fall for delivery, is then to be provided, or to be drawn from the Lord knows whither; and, after forcing many Soldiers from the field for want of it, is eked out at different periods, as it can be had through ye winter, till spring, and in such a piecemeal way, that the Soldr. derivg. little comfort from it, is hurt both in appearance and pride, while the recruiting Service is greatly injured by it. Were this the result of necessity, not a word would be said; but it is the effect of a dividd. attentn., or overmuch business; for, at the periods of the extreme suffering of the army, we can hear of cloathing in different places falling a prey to moths, and canker-worms of a worse kind; and I am much mistaken, too, if the cloathing system (if ours can be called a system) does not afford a fruitful field for stockjobbing, &c.
It may be asked what remedy I would apply to these evils? In my opinion there is a plain and easy one. It will not, I acknowledge, give relief to our immediate and pressing wants, no more than order can succeed confusion in a moment; but, as both must have a beginning, let Congress without delay (for this is the season to be lookg. forwd. to the supplies for another year) employ some eminent merchant of approved integrity and abilities, to import, (in his own way,) materials for the annual cloathing of officers and men, agreeably to estimates to be furnished by the Cloathier-General. Or, if they prefer it, let these imports be made by a committee of their own body. When a stock is once obtained, discontinue all Continental agents and State agents for Continental purposes, and confine the business of cloathing the army wholly to the Importer, Clothier-Genl., and regimental cloathiers. This would be easy and simple, and would soon extricate that department from those embarrassments and impositions, which have a tendency to distress individuals and load the public with an enormous expense. At present we do not know where or to whom to apply. I have made the distresses of the army known to Congress, the Board of War, and the States individually, without learning from whence the supplies are to come, and can without the aid of a perspective see a very gloomy prospect before us this Winter on the score of cloathing.
I have two reasons for preferring the materials for cloathing to ready made cloathes; first, because I think we can have them made by the regimental Taylors to fit each man, and to suit the fashion of each Regimt.; and, secondly, because the materials will always be a more ready sale, if Peace takes place and the Troops are disbanded, than ready-made cloathes. They wd. attract less notice, too, at the places of Export. Another question may arise here; Where are the means? Means must be found, or the Soldiers must go naked. But I will take the liberty in this place to give it as my opinion, that a foreign loan is indispensably necessary to the continuance of the war. Congress will deceive themselves, if they imagine that the army, or a State that is the theatre of war, can rub through a second campaign as the last. It would be as unreasonable as to suppose, that, because a man had rolled a snow-ball till it had acquired the size of a horse, that he might do so till it was as large as a house. Matters may be pushed to a certain point, beyond which we cannot move them. Ten months’ pay is now due to the army. Every departmt. of it is so much indebted, that we have not credit for a single Express; and some of the States are harassed and oppressed to a degree beyond bearing. To depend, under these circumstances, upon the resources of the Country, unassisted by foreign loans, will, I am confident, be to lean on a broken Reed.
The situation of the southern States is very embarrassing, and I wish it were in my power to afford them relief in the way you have mentioned, but it is not. The very measure you suggest, I urged as far as decency and policy would permit me to do at the Interview at Hartford, but to no effect.1 I cannot be more particular on this subject, and what I now say is in confidence.
The report of Sir Henry Clinton’s going to the southward was groundless, and I believe few Troops have left New York since those under Leslie. I set out with telling you that I could not write long letters, but have ended with a flat contradiction of it. I am, with much esteem and regard, dear Sir, &c.2
TO SIR HENRY CLINTON.
Head-Quarters, 20 November, 1780.
I am authorized by Congress to propose a meeting of commissioners, for the purpose of effecting an exchange of all Continental prisoners of war now in your possession, and of the hostages given in Canada, as well as of all officers on parole, and officers violators of parole, and militia actually taken in arms and remaining prisoners of war, for an equal number of the convention troops, and other prisoners in our hands, rank for rank; and, where similar rank will not apply, to pursue the exchange on the footing of composition, according to the valuation or tariff agreed on by the commissioners at Amboy in March last. In this business will of course come into contemplation an equitable adjustment and payment of the accounts of the convention troops. I think it necessary to apprize you of this circumstance, that there may be no misapprehension, and that, if the commissioners meet, they may come clothed with proper powers to render the meeting effectual. I request your speedy answer; after which, the time and place of meeting may be regulated. * * *1
TO JOHN SULLIVAN, IN CONGRESS.
Head-Quarters, Passaic Falls,
* * * * * *
I intended in my last (but, having spun my letter to an enormous length, deferred it) to have observed, that, as Congress had made one or two late promotions from brigadiers to major-generals, apparently on the principle of a State proportion (which by the way, if made a general rule, I am persuaded will be found hurtful), an idea has occurred to me, that possibly from the same principle, on a future occasion, one might take place which would be particularly injurious. I mean with respect to General Knox. Generals Parsons and Clinton have been superseded by Smallwood. Parsons is since restored to his rank. Except Clinton, Knox now stands first on the list. If from the consideration I have mentioned, or from his being at the head of the artillery, he should be overlooked, and a younger officer preferred, he will undoubtedly quit the service; and you know his usefulness too well not to be convinced, that this would be an injury difficult to be repaired. I do not know, all things considered, who could replace him in his department. I am sure, if a question of this kind should be agitated when you were present, this intimation would be unnecessary to induce you to interpose; but, lest you should be absent at the time, I think it would be advisable to apprize some other members, in whom you have confidence, to guard against it. Perhaps indeed for sores recd. by irregular promotions or mistakes, tho’ they may afterwards receive a plaister, does not always meet a cure, but proves that inattention or want of information was the cause of the wound.
If the sentiments contained in my letter to Congress of this date respecting the Inspectorate department are happy enough to coincide with yours, I have no doubt of your giving them a proper support—To me it appears a matter of importance to keep the present Inspectors in office; and sure I am, that it is the true interest and policy of Congress, to make these offices more the object of desire by the officers who fill them than of favor from them. In the one case the duties will be discharged properly; in the other they may be slighted or not executed at all—the additional pay necessary to make it adequate to the trouble and confinement incident to the office, would be very trifling—and the future one nothing, as they will not burthen the half pay list, being officers in the line, and receiving half pay accordingly, and no other.
With great &c.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Morris Town, 28 November, 1780.
I arrived at this place to-day, having yesterday broke up the Camp near the Passaic Falls, and detached the Troops to their different places of Cantonment. I shall repair to New Windsor, where I purpose to establish my Winter-Quarters, after having made some necessary regulations here and visited the Hospitals.
The following will be the general position of the army during the Winter. The Pennsylvania line about four miles from hence in part of the huts, which were occupied by the Troops last Winter; the Jersey line at Pompton, with a detachment from thence to secure the entrance of the Clove near Suffran’s, (the design of these is not only to cover the Country and our communication with the Delaware, but as much as possible to ease us in the article of transportation.) The Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island lines in the Highlands, upon the East side of Hudson’s River; the Massachusetts line at West Point, Moylan’s regiment of horse at Lancaster in Pennsylvania, and Sheldon’s at Colchester in Connecticut. One Regiment of New York is in Garrison at Fort Schuyler, and another is at Saratoga; but to give more effectual security to the Northern and Western Frontiers, which are both much exposed and harrassed, I propose, if provision can be had, which is exceedingly doubtful, to send the remainder of the line to Albany and Schenectady, where it will be ready to act as occasion may require, and the officers will have it more in their power to arrange themselves agreeably to the New Establishment.
I have lately had a very pressing application from Colo. Scammell for liberty to resign the office of Adjutant-General, and resume the Command of his Regiment. Finding him determined upon the measure, I thought it my duty to cast about for a proper person to succeed him in so important an office, before I mentioned his request. The Gentleman I would recommend is Brigadier-General Hand, who I have sounded upon the occasion, and who I find will accept the appointment, should Congress think proper to confer it upon him. His rank, independent of his other qualities, is a circumstance of consequence. Besides giving weight and dignity to the office, it will take off any uneasiness, which might have arisen, had an officer younger than any of the present Inspectors been appointed; because by the Regulations the Adjutt.-General is Assistt. Inspector-General, and of course commands the others in that Department. I shall very reluctantly part with Colo. Scammell, as he has constantly performed his duty to my entire approbation, and to the satisfaction of the army; but his reasons, (which I should have transmitted at length, had I not sent up his letter among my papers to New Windsor,) were such as I could not oppose, without requiring him to make greater sacrifices than he assured me his fortune would afford.1
Having received information, through Major Tall-madge (of the 2d Regiment of Dragoons,) that the enemy had collected a valuable Magazine of Forage at Coram upon Long Island, the destruction of which he at the same time offered to attempt with my permission, (which he obtained,) I do myself the honor to enclose a copy of his report by which Congress will perceive how very handsomely he acquitted himself in the execution of his whole plan. There can be no stronger proof of the gallant behavior and good conduct of the Major and his Officers, and of the bravery and fidelity of his men, than the recital of the circumstances attending the affair throughout its progress. With great respect I have the honor to be, &c.1
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
New Windsor, 8 December, 1780.
My Dear Marquis,
Since mine of yesterday by the Count de Custine,2 another opportunity has offered of writing to you more leisurely; and, as your departure for the southward, if that ultimately should be your determination, may be incommoded by delay, I have taken the liberty of facilitating your journey by the enclosed dispatches.3
I beg you to be persuaded, however, that I do not mean by this to fix your determination of serving in the Southern Army. It is my earnest wish, (as I mentioned at Morris Town,) that you shd. be governed in this matter by European and Southern advices, wch. ought & alone can determine you with propriety—These you are more in the way of receiving than I am. If there is a prospect of a naval superiority in these Seas, and an augmentation of the (French) land force at Rhode Island, I shall, with the freedom of a friend, give it as my opinion, that your going to the Southern Army, (if you expect a command in this,) will answer no valuable purpose, but must be fatiguing to yourself, and embarrassing to General [Greene,] as it may contravene a permanent arrangement, to the disgust of those, who, considering themselves as belonging to that army, may be hurt by disappointments. On the other hand, if we are likely to remain in a state of inactivity in this quarter, your seeking service to the Southward, where there is a more fruitful field for enterprise, is not only an evidence of your zeal, but will be supported by every rule of military reasoning. Hence it is, I again repeat, that circumstances should alone decide. In all places, and at all times, my best wishes for your health, honor, and glory will accompany you. With much truth I can add, that I am, my dear Marquis, &c.
TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
New Windsor, 10 December, 1780.
Your letter of the 28th ult. I met with on my way to these quarters, where I arrived on the 6th inst. The suggestions contained in it required no apology, as it gives me pleasure at all times to know the sentiments of others upon matters of public utility. Those, however, which you have delivered relative to an enterprise against the enemy in New York, exhibit strong evidence how little the world is acquainted with the circumstances and strength of our army. A small second embarkation took place about the middle of last month; if another is in contemplation, to take effect at the reduction of our force, (which I think exceedingly probable,) it is too much in embryo to form more than conjectural opinions of it at this time. But I will suppose it large, and that not more than 6000 regular troops will be left behind. Where are the men? Where are the provisions? Where the clothes, the everything necessary to warrant the attempt you propose in an inclement season? Our numbers, never equal to those of the enemy in New York,—our State lines, never half complete in men, but perfectly so in every species of want, were diminished in the field so soon as the weather began to grow cold; near 2000 men on account of clothes, which I had not to give, nor ought to have given (supposing a surplusage,) to the levies whose dismission was near at hand. And now, to prevent the man who is a permanent soldier from starving, I am obliged, in place of calling in the aid of militia for new enterprises, to diminish the levies on account of the provision. Under this description of our circumstances, (which is not high-coloured,) and when it is added that, instead of getting lumber from Albany for building barracks on York Island, in the manner and for the purpose you mention, that we have neither money nor credit adequate to the purchase of a few boards for doors to our log huts; when every ounce of forage that has been used in the latter part of the campaign, and a good deal of the provision, has been taken at the point of the bayonet; when we were from the month of May to the month of September assembling militia that ought to have been in the field by the middle of July, and then obliged to dismiss them for want of supplies; when we cannot despatch an officer or common express upon the most urgent occasion, for want of the means of support; and when I further add—but this is a matter of trivial concern, because it is of a present nature—that I have not been able to obtain a farthing of public money for the support of my table for near two months, you can be at no loss, as I have before observed, to discover the impracticability of executing the measure you suggested, even supposing the enemy’s numbers were reduced to your standard, but which, by the way, neither is nor will be the case till the reduction of our army takes place, the period for which they know as well as we do, and will, I have little doubt, govern themselves accordingly. An earnest desire, however, of closing the campaign with eclat, led me to investigate the means most thoroughly of doing it; and my wishes had so far got the better of my judgment, that I had actually made some pretty considerable advances in the prosecution of a plan for the purpose, when, alas! I found the means inadequate to the end, and that it was with difficulty I could remove the army to its respective places of cantonment, where it would be well for the troops if, like chameleons, they could live upon air, or, like the bear, suck their paws for sustenance during the rigor of the approaching winter. I am, &c.
TO COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU.
I have received Your Excellency’s favors of the 14th, 16th, 24th, 27th November and 1st of this month. In apology for suffering so many of your letters to remain so long unanswered, I must assure you, that I have been constantly employed, since I broke up my camp near Passaic Falls, in visiting the winter cantonments of the army between Morristown and this place. I have experienced the highest satisfaction in the visits, which Chevalier Chastellux, Viscount Noailles, Count de Damas, Count de Custine, and the Marquis de Laval have done me the honor to make me.1 I have only to regret, that their stay with me was so short. I unfortunately missed seeing the Count de Deuxponts, who had left my quarters on his way to Philadelphia before I arrived at them. I however flatter myself, that I shall have the pleasure of seeing him on his return.
I very much approve of your intention of quartering the second division in Connecticut, rather than in Massachusetts. The troops will certainly be more convenient to the probable scene of operations.1 I shall withdraw the chain of our dragoons, and shall in future send my despatches to the Duke de Lauzun at Lebanon, as your Excellency desires. I wish it were in my power to furnish your Excellency with the New York papers; but as our communication with that place is very irregular, I only obtain them accidentally. I now enclose you one, which contains nothing material, but the account of the late dreadful hurricane in the West Indies. I take the opportunity of sending this by Colonel Fleury, who returns to your army. I was made very happy in again seeing that amiable and valuable officer, whose services I have experienced upon so many occasions.1 I have the honor to be, &c.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL LINCOLN.
New Windsor, 11th December, 1780.
My Dear Sir,
I have received your favors of the 25th and 28th of last Month, and it gives me very great pleasure to find that you are appointed to a Committee the subject of whose deliberations you are so well acquainted with—and it adds not a little to my satisfaction to hear, that it is generally composed of Gentlemen remarkable for their good sense & patriotism, at a time when there never was greater occasion for men of those qualifications.
The general good disposition prevailing in the State, to promote measures of public utility, is also a happy presage that matters will mend, in your quarter at least— But how unfortunate is it, that the fatal system of temporary enlistments should still have such an influence, as to have prevailed upon your Legislature to adopt the measure of raising their recruits for three years only? which in other words, is nothing more nor less, than an inducement to the enemy to prosecute the War three years longer.
You have, to your cost, been a witness to the pernicious consequences attending a temporary army, and have therefore the better right to point out to your fellow Citizens what may be expected while the system is pursued.—I will still hope that they will upon a reconsideration of the matter, and conformably to the requisition of Congress, determine upon raising their men for the War only.
I have, by this opportunity, transmitted to his Excellency the Governor an acct. of the places which will be, in my opinion, most convenient & proper for the deposit of Salt, Salt meat, & Rum— The Weekly, or Monthly supplies of Beef Cattle, & the places at which they are to be delivered, will be pointed out occasionally by the Commissary General—He is not at present with the Army— I can therefore only say, that if he has given no directions to the contrary, the present Monthly demand should be complied with.—Should it amount to more than the consumption the best can be Salted down on their arrival here.—
Your remarks on the last clause of the act of requisition are undoubtedly very just, and I am confident it will be found upon examination that some States have been largely deficient in their specific supplies; otherwise we should not at this alarming period of the year, be destitute of Flour for which I see no other chance of a supply than the state of New York being obliged to take measures that will be very disagreeable, & most oppressive to individuals.—It is a matter of delicacy with me to complain to Congress of the default of any of the States, or to criticize upon their own acts. And I should therefore be very happy to see any of the Legislatures take the matter up, & point out the dangers arising from such a latitude as is given in the case to which you allude.
To add to our other difficulties, the situation of the Army in respect to cloathing, is really distressing.—By collecting all our remnants, and those of a thousand colors & kinds, we shall scarcely make them comfortable. Uniformity, one of the essentials of discipline, & every thing in the appearance of a Soldier, must be dispensed with;—and what makes the matter more mortifying is, that we have, I am positively assured Ten thousand compleat suits ready in France & laying there because our public agents cannot agree whose business it is to ship them—a quantity has also lain in the West Indies for more than Eighteen Months, owing probably to some such cause.
You tell me there is cloathing enough lately arrived in private bottoms to supply the army.—This my dear Sir is only tantalizing the Naked—such is the miserable state of Continental credit that we cannot command a yard of it.—Some of the States may, & I hope will derive an advantage from it, in which case I hope they will attend to the colors proper for their uniform—I informed them all very lately, to what a miserable condition the Troops would be reduced except they would lay themselves out for Cloathing—I am certain that had our supply of that artical been ample we could have enlisted a great proportion of the Levies who would for the sake of Cloaths have dispensed with the money bounty for the present.
With every Sentiment of regard & affection I am, &c.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL GREENE.
New Windsor, 13 December, 1780.
It gives me much pleasure to hear, that my letters of introduction were serviceable to you. I am persuaded there is not wanting a disposition in Congress, or the individual States to the Southward, to afford you every support the unhappy state of our finance (which seems to be the source from whence flows all our difficulties) will admit; but if any thing in my power can give a spring to their exertions, every motive, which can flow from public and private considerations, will urge me to comply with y’r wishes. You have no doubt an arduous task in hand; but where is the man charged with conducting public business in these days of public calamity, that is exempt from it? Your difficulties I am persuaded are great; they may be insurmountable; but you see them now through a different medium than you have ever done before, because the embarrassment of every department is now concentred or combined in the commanding officer, exhibiting at one view a prospect of our complicated distresses.
Your friends, and the great public, expect every thing from your abilities, that the means which may be put into your hands are competent to; but they both know full well the deranged situation of our Southern affairs; and neither, I trust, are so unreasonable as to expect impossibitities. I therefore think, that you have nothing to apprehend on the score of public dissatisfaction; on the contrary, that you may gain but cannot lose in your military reputation.
I will put your letter under cover to Mrs. Greene, and request her to make use of the same channel of conveyance back. I shall take much pleasure in forwarding the letters to and from her and think it the best medium of conveyance for safety. I have the pleasure to inform you that I learned by Genl. Varnum (who went on to Congress yesterday) that Mrs. Greene and your family were well when he left Rhode Island. Genl. McDougall talks of setting out for Congress the beginning of next week, but, if he reaches Phila. by the opening of next campaign it will be as much as I expect from his despatch.
We reached our Winter-qrs. about the beginning of this month, and I have been driven by necessity to discharge the Levies. Want of cloathing rendered them unfit for duty, and want of Flour would have disbanded the whole army, if I had not adopted this expedient for the relief of the Soldiers for the war. Without knowing that Colo. Hamilton ever had an Eye to the office of Adjt.-General, I did, upon the application of Colo. Scammell to resign it, recommend Genl. Hand for reasons which may occur to you.1 One of them, (and not the smallest,) was, by having an officer of rank appointed, to guard against the discontents, which would have arisen in the Inspectorate department, if a junr. officer to the present Sub-Inspectors had been appointed; for you know, that, by the present establishment of the Inspection, the Adjt.-Genl. for the time being is the Second officer in that line. It would have been disagreeable therefore to the present Sub-Inspectors, some of whom are full Colonels, to have had a Lt.-colonel put over them.
With much sincerity I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
New Windsor, 14 December, 1780.
My Dear Marquis,
Soon after despatching my last letter to you, your favor dated at Paramus was put into my hands by Colo. Gouvion. Yesterday brought me your letters of the 4th, 5th, and 5th in the evening, and this day I have received another of the 9th. The Chevr. de la Luzerne’s despatches came in time for the post, which is the only means left me for the conveyance of letters, there not being as much money in the hands of the Q.-M.-Genl. (I believe I might go further and say, in those of the whole army), as would bear the expense of an express to Rhode Island. I could not get one the other day to ride so far as Pompton!
I am now writing to the Count de Rochambeau and the Chevr. de Ternay on the subject of your several letters. When their answer arrives, I will communicate the contents to you. You must be convinced, from what passed at the interview at Hartford, that my command of the French Troops at R. Id. stands upon a very limited scale, and that it would be impolitic and fruitless in me to propose any measure of coöperation to a third power without their concurrence; consequently an application from you antecedently to an official proposition from his Excellency the minister of France, the Gentn. at the head of the French armament at Rhode Island, the Congress, or myself, cou’d only be considered as coming from a private Gentn. It is therefore my advice to you to postpone your correspondence with the Spanish genels., and let your influence come in hereafter, as auxiliary to something more formal and official. I do not hesitate in giving it clearly as my opinion to you (but this opinion and this business should be concealed behind a curtain), that the favorable moment of the Spanish operations in the Floridas ought to be improved to the utmost extent of our means; provided the Spaniards, by a junction of their maritime force with that of his Most Christian Majesty under the command of the Chevalr. de Ternay, will give us a secure convoy, and engage not to leave us till the operations of the Campaign are at an end, or it can be done by consent of parties.
I am very thankful to the minister for permitting, and to you for communicating to General Greene, the Intelligence of the Spanish movements towards the Floridas. It may have a happy influence on his measures; it may be equally advantageous to the Spaniards. Your expressions of personal attachment and affection to me are flattering and pleasing, and fill me with gratitude. It is unnecessary, I trust, on my part, to give you assurances of mutual regard, because I hope you are convinced of it; and, as I have already put it absolutely in your own choice to go to the southern army, or to stay with this, circumstances and inclination alone must govern you. It would add to my pleasure, if I could encourage your hope of Colo. Neville’s exchange. I refused to interest myself in the exchange of my own aid. Genl. Lincoln’s were exchanged with himself; and, upon that occasion, (for I know of no other,) Congress passed a resolve prohibiting exchanges out of the order of captivity.
Under one general head I shall express my concern for your disappointment of letters, our disappointment of cloaths, and disappointment in the mode of raising men; but I shall congratulate you on the late change of the administration of France, as it seems to be consonant to your wishes, and to encourage hope.1 I am much pleased at the friendly disposition of Portugal. Much good, I hope, will result from the combination of the maritime powers. I am in very confined quarters; little better than those at Valley Forge; but such as they are, I shall welcome into them your friends on their return to Rhode Island. I am, &c.
TO COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU AND THE CHEVALIER DE TERNAY.
New Windsor, 15 December, 1780.
Two days ago I did myself the honor to inform his Excellency the Count de Rochambeau, that Sir Henry Clinton was making another embarkation. This is since confirmed by other accounts; but I have received none yet, which fix the particular corps or numbers with certainty, though all agree, that this detachment is intended as a reinforcement to Lord Cornwallis, that it is to consist of about two thousand five hundred, and that it is the intention of the enemy to push their operations to the southward this winter in the most vigorous manner. Official information is likewise lately received, that this is the resolution of the British cabinet, and that for this purpose a powerful reinforcement is to be sent to America with all possible despatch.
When it is considered how essential it is to the independence of the United States, and how important to the interest of their allies, that the common enemy should be obliged to relinquish their conquests in South Carolina and Georgia, your Excellencies will, I am confident, agree in opinion with me, that no means ought to be left unessayed to endeavor to dislodge them in the course of this winter and next spring.
It is needless for me to enter into a detail of the situation of our affairs to the southward. Your Excellencies must know, that, from the great loss of men, artillery, and stores in Charleston, and from the defeat of our army near Camden, we can only hope to reassemble such a force, and that chiefly of raw troops, as will prevent the enemy from extending their conquests over North Carolina. To attempt the reduction of Charleston, supposing we had men sufficient for the purpose, is a thing impracticable, while the transportation of artillery and all kinds of stores proper for a siege must be made from hence by land.
I am informed by the Marquis de Lafayette, who is still at Philadelphia, that a vessel had just arrived at that place from L’Orient, which port she left the middle of October; but as he makes no mention of the second division of land and sea forces, expected in America to reinforce the army and navy at present under your Excellencies’ respective commands, I am led to believe, that the much desired event is more remote than under present circumstances is to be wished.
A piece of intelligence, which has been communicated to me in confidence by His Excellency the Minister Plenipotentiary of France, has turned my attention towards a new object, and brought into my mind the outlines of a plan, which, if it can be acceded to by the parties necessary to its execution, may be attended with the most solid and permanent advantages. The communication of His Excellency the minister is, that the court of Spain have in contemplation two expeditions against the British settlements in the Floridas, Pensacola and St. Augustine. The first, consisting of four thousand men convoyed by eight ships of war, had sailed from Havana the 16th of October. The force destined against the last was twelve ships of the line, besides frigates and bomb-ketches, and ten thousand men. These were to leave the Havana some time in the present month. The plan, with which I am impressed, and which I would submit to your Excellency’s consideration, is, the propriety of attempting to combine our force with that of Spain for the purpose of totally subduing the common enemy, not only in the Floridas, but in the States of South Carolina and Georgia.
It is not for me, at this moment, to enter upon a detail of the business. My general ideas are, that a proposition or request should be made to the general and admiral of the Spanish forces (and through them to the governor of the Havana, if they are not themselves at liberty to accede to the proposal,) to coöperate conjunctively or by diversion for the purposes I have mentioned. In case they do accede, their ships of war are to be sent, as soon as they have made good the debarkation of their troops at St. Augustine, or at any other given point, to form a junction with the squadron of his Most Christian Majesty at Rhode Island, and take under their convoy the French and American troops, destined for the expedition against Charleston; the first of which will be embarked at Newport, the last at Philadelphia. I should make such drafts from this army, as would amount to two thousand men at least. His Excellency the Count de Rochambeau would, I should hope, be able to detach double that number, and leave a sufficiency with the militia, who might be called in upon the occasion, to give security to your works, hospitals, and spare stores, should you choose to leave the two last behind you. These corps, and the troops who will be collected under the command of General Greene, in conjunction with the force, which may be furnished by the Spaniards in the manner aforementioned, will form an army not to be resisted by any, which the British can draw together in that quarter, and capable of effecting the utmost wishes of the allied powers.
It is unnecessary for me to remark, that the basis of my plan and propositions is, that the combined fleets shall be decidedly superior to that of the enemy, and that they shall coöperate to the completion of the enterprise, or until it shall be abandoned by general consent. To ensure so essential a point as that of a naval superiority, the propriety of a further requisition to the admiral, commanding his Most Christian Majesty’s fleet in the West Indies, is submitted to your Excellencies’ judgments.
I persuade myself that your Excellencies will view these propositions with an eye to all their consequences, and candidly approve or reject them as they appear to you practicable or proper. In making them I am solely influenced by motives of general good, and would not wish them carried into execution, unless they shall be deemed as conducive to the interests of the powers, who have generously stepped in to our relief, as to those of the United States.
Should the plan happily meet your Excellencies approbations I have to request, that the Chevalier de Ternay would be good enough to despatch a frigate, if one can be spared, with the substance of these propositions to the generals of his Most Catholic Majesty; duplicate and triplicate of which I will endeavor to forward via Philadelphia. If the communication is to be made, no time should be lost in doing it, and procuring an answer. I think I could, in a month after hearing of the proposition being agreed to on the part of Spain, be ready to embark at Philadelphia, if the state of the River Delaware will admit of it.
I cannot conclude this letter, without mentioning an argument, which in my opinion ought to induce the Spaniards to accept of these propositions. The force, which the British will be able to draw together in South Carolina and Georgia, will be so much superior to the American, that they may, without putting matters to the risk, leave small garrisons in Savannah and Charleston, and throw such a reinforcement into St. Augustine, a very strong fortification, as will in all probability defeat the enterprise; whereas, if they find that measures are pursuing to divest them of those acquisitions, which I am convinced they mean to make the basis of a negotiation, I think it more than probable that they will abandon the Floridas to their fate, and exert themselves to the utmost to retain the only apparent compensation for their vast expenditure of blood and treasure. Besides this, the Spaniard ought to reflect, that, while Britain is in possession of Georgia and South Carolina, he must hold ye Floridas by a very precarious tenure or by a very expensive one. I have the honor to be, &c.1
TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.
I submitted to the interference of the State of Connecticut last year, with respect to the cantonment of the Horse without any animadversion or remark, because I was hopeful that the impropriety of it would appear to them and prevent the like in future. I shall, (as it is the request of the State, and because it is my wish to harmonize as much as possible, with the civil authority, in the prosecution of a cause in which we are all equally interested) send Sheldon’s regiment this winter to the State of Massachusetts; but I cannot help remonstrating very pointedly against a repetition of the practice, in future, for the following reasons:—Four things have always influenced me in the distribution of the troops to their winter cantonments,—security of our capital posts, which makes it necessary that they should have such a relative situation to each other as to afford the necessary succor; cover to the Country; their own convenience; and the convenience of the inhabitants where the two last were not incompatible with the two first.—
It is unnecessary, I am persuaded, for me to remark that if any one State can or will undertake to point out a cantonment for one part of the Army, another may with equal propriety do it for another part; and that upon the same principle, and by the same parity of reasoning, that Connecticut undertakes to advise or direct Sheldon’s Horse to Massachusetts, Massachusetts may order them to New Hampshire, and New Hampshire to some other State. In a word, it is striking at the most essential privilege of the Commander in Chief, and is pregnant with every mischief that can be conceived. I have the honor to be, &c.
TO JOHN SULLIVAN, IN CONGRESS.
New Windsor, 17 December, 1780.
Your letter 9th is safe at hand and propounds a question respecting promotion, which I candidly acknowledge I am puzzled to answer with satisfaction to myself. If in all cases ours was one army, or thirteen armies allied for the common defence, there would be no difficulty in solving your question; but we are occasionally both, and I should not be much out if I were to say, that we are sometimes neither, but a compound of both.
If we were considered in every point of view as one army, lineal promotion, as well from as to the rank of colonel, would undoubtedly be the most equitable and satisfactory mode of rising; and no possible objection could be made to it by any State, or the Troops of a State; or, if Congress, having regard to the number of Troops, which each State is to furnish to the Confederated Army, were to allow the number of General officers, which should be thought competent thereto, there would be no difficulty here neither, because the promotion would be lineal in each State; and, though it might fall hard upon the Colonels of such States as only furnish one regiment for Continental Service, it would be incidental to their State quotas, and must be submitted to; as the annexation of their Regiments to other State Troops, also, must be, to form Brigades. But it is our having no fixed principle, that I know of, and sometimes acting upon one and then the other of the cases before mentioned (as it happens to suit an individual State, or particular characters,) that creates our difficulties and the discontents that prevail.
It is well known, that in the early stages of this war I used every means in my power to destroy all kinds of State distinctions, and labored to have every part and parcel of the army considered as Continental, The steps, which have led to a different sentimt. and to our present system of politics, you are not to be informed of. We must take things as they are. And therefore, under the ideas that prevail, and our general practice, I am, though puzzled, more inclined to let all promotions be lineal in each State, to the rank of Brigadr. inclusive (where there is more than one regiment), than to any other mode; because it is more consonant to the expectation of the Army than any other; and because, under it, I believe a newly appointed brigadr. from the Southern Troops would at this day be disagreeable to an Eastern Brigade, and vice versa. How far State promotions beyond the Rank of Brigadrs. are eligible or not, is a matter on which much may be said on both sides. On the one hand, it may be urged that the State, which sends more than a Brigade into the Field, has as good a right to accompany them with a Majr. Genl. as ye middling State has to furnish a Brigr., or the smallest a Colo., because neither has more than its due proportion of officers. On the other hand, it may be observed, that, as officers advance in rank and acquire that general knowledge, which is necessary to qualify them for extensive command, their feelings are more hurt, and the Service more injured, by placing juniors over them, than when it happens to inferiors; though the same principle, which bars the rise of a Colo. where there is but one regiment, will apply to a Brigadr., where the State only furnishes a brigade. At prest. we want no new Majr.-Generals, (having rather a surplusage); but may not the following expedient answer in future, at least in a degree, the views of all; namely, to suffer the larger States to have Majr.-Genls. of their own line proportioned to the number of their Troops, and the other Majr.-Genls. to be promoted from Brigadiers according to seniority? This, at the same time that it yields compliance to the views of the large States, does not preclude the Brigadiers of the smaller from promotion, as there must be Major-Generals for separate comds., and for the wings of the army, &c., wch. cannot be supplied by the State quotas of Troops, where there is no more than a just proportion of officers to men.
Our present mode of promotion is regimentally to Captns. inclusively, and in the Line of the State afterwards. But I am convinced, as well from the reason and justice of the thing, as from several conversations I have held with some of the most judicious officers of the army, that it would be more agreeable to it, that all promotion should be lineal, instead of Regimental, in every State line; for which reasons I shall recomd. the measure to Congrs. to take place with the New Establishmt. of the army.
What I have here said with respect to promotion is general; but there is a case before me in the Jersey line, which makes me wish that Congress would fix their principle. This State has three Regiments, which are to be reduced to two. Dayton is the Senr. Colonel, and among the oldest of that rank in the whole army, a valuable officer, and does not want to leave the Service. Shreve is the next oldest Colo. in Jersey, and will not go out. His character you are as well acquainted with as I am. Ogden is the youngest and extremely desirous of staying, but cannot continue if Colonel Dayton remains in Service in his present rank. The matter, therefore, (as it is related to me,) is brought to this Issue, that Dayton or Ogden is to go out, unless the former can be promoted, which would remove every difficulty, and be agreeable to the prest. system of State policy, as there is no Genl. officer in that line; but if the promotion is delayed till after the first of Jany., or, in other words, till after Dayton or Ogden is deranged, the remedy will come too late; because we shall have sent out a valuable officer upon half-pay, and will, if Dayton is the person that goes, have a person to promote. Who? But here I drop the curtain. It may suffice to say, that, if the State of New Jersey is to be allowed a brigr., it ought to be granted before the first of January for more reasons than that of œconomy.
That you may have some data to judge of the propriety of new appointments, I shall take the liberty of observing, that the States, from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania inclusively, with Hazen’s Regimt., make by the last requisition 29 battalions of Infantry. That three of these Battns., according to the present establishmt. of the army, will make as large a Brigade as four of the old, and that the number of Brigadiers in the States I have mentioned amounts at this time to no more than eight, viz., Stark, of N. Hampshire, Glover and Paterson of Massachusetts, Huntington of Connecticut, Clinton of New York, and Wayne, Hand, and Irvine of Pennsylva.; and these may be reduced to Seven, if Hand should be placed in the Staff. I am most firmly of opinion, that, after the States have brought their Troops into the Field, the less they have to do with them, or their supplies of Cloathing, &c., &c., the better it will be for the common Interest; for reasons which manifest themselves more and more every day, and for the clearest evidence of public œconomy. I am, dear Sir, with much esteem, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New Windsor, 20 December, 1780.
At a time when the Army is about to undergo a material change—when Congress and the States individually, are disposed to establish. it upon the best principles for the equal administration of justice, and the preservation of the rights of the Officers, I am persuaded it will not be deemed presumptuous in me to offer any opinion which in my judgment, may serve to promote either of these ends and render our Military system as unexceptionable as possible—upon this ground therefore, I take the liberty of observing,
That promotion in our Army according to the custom which prevails at present, is regimental to the rank of Captain—thence in each State line to the grade of Colonel—both inclusive. I do not at this time recollect the inducements which led to the regimental promotion, but as it has been found productive of many hard cases injurious to the feelings of Officers, I would propose that all promotion in the respective State lines, to the rank of Colonels inclusive should be lineal.—This may disappoint the hopes of a few Subalterns, who perchance stand high in the Regiments they are newly arranged to, but can do no injustice to any of them, and will remedy the evils complained of as every vacancy will then be filled by the senior Officer of the next grade where there is no interposition in favor of extra merit, or exclusion for want of it.
A regulation like this is so consonant to the principles of justice, and so agreeable to the wishes of the Army in general (as far as I have been able to collect the sentiments of it) that I think there can be no possible objection to the alteration proposed.
By resignations (chiefly), deaths and other casualties, we have instances, and not a few of them Sergeants, even in one regiment coming to the command of Companies, before Lieutenants in another. This, though submitted to, has been the cause of much discontent, as it always hurts the feelings of an Officer to obey those whom he has commanded.
The Artillery and Cavalry have heretofore been considered in the same light as the line of a State, and rose accordingly; that is regimentally to the rank of Captn. and in their respective lines afterwards; and this mode I presume must still be continued, or their rise made wholly regimental (as the regiments are from different States) otherwise the Officers of different States would very soon get blended together which does not seem to be the intention of Congress by their apportioning of them to particular States, nor do I believe it to be the wish of the Officers. But to avoid discontent and the disputes which will arise from clashing interests, it is indispensably necessary to lay down some principle of promotion, declaring it to be lineal, or regimental wholly or partly, as is mentioned before.
It is more difficult, and may be more delicate for me to express a sentiment respecting the promotion of Colonels, and General Officers; but as the good of the Service and the peace of the Army require that some principle should be established by which these promotions should be governed, I have no doubt of its being done.
The custom of appointing the Senior Colonels in each State line to be Brigadiers (where the number of Regiments are sufficient to form a Brigade, or more) has obtained consistency and gives general satisfaction—but the appointment of Major Generals seems to be under no fixed government; for it sometimes happens by seniority, at other times by State,—and has been a source of much discontent; threatning the loss of very good Officers. I see but two ways by which the promotion of Major Generals can take place upon any fixed or satisfactory ground,—and there is not a known rule for it, and if irregular promotions happen, the Service I am certain will be injured by it; because Officers of their rank will not, nor cannot submit to a junior, unless there is some established principle to reconcile it to their feelings—The one is by seniority wholly—the other by seniority and States jointly—As thus:—
If Congress shall judge it consistent with justice and policy to allow Major Generals to the State which have more Brigades than one in the field, let them rise in their own State line by seniority as other Officers do, and as this will not furnish a sufficient number for the Service (as there will be wanting for separate commands—for the wings of the Army,—light Infantry, &c) let the deficiency be taken from the Senior Brigadiers of the whole line, to be succeeded by the oldest Colonels of the State lines from whence they are taken—The first mode gives, in all cases, the Senior Brigadier for Major Generals—The second allows each State a compleat Corps of Officers to its quota of Men—and entitles every Brigadier in the line besides, to promotion, according to the date of his Commission.
Which of these modes, or whether either of them will be adopted by Congress is submitted to their better judgment—all I aim at is to have some system established by which we may harmonize; for there is nothing more certain than that the promotion of junior Officers over the heads of Seniors, unless it is agreeable to some known and established principle, never fails to produce a great deal of discontent, ill-blood—and party, which are always injurious.—
As I have gone so far into this subject of promotion, there is one point more I would beg leave to touch upon—and that is with respect to the Colonels of the smallest States, whose quota of Troops does not entitle them to a Brigadier, and who without some relief are not only cut of from all hope of promotion—the object of a Soldier’s desire—but after years of faithful service, experience the frequent mortification of seeing themselves passed by—this must be exceedingly grating to a deserving officer, and is a personal injury, because the State having but one Regiment can have no claim to a Brigadier—For remedy however of the evil—and the sake of justice I would with all due deference suggest the propriety of promoting them, and others in like circumstances to the Rank of Brigadiers whenever they shall become the Senior Colonels of the whole line, and Brigadiers are wanting, which may often be the case for extra service—command of the light Infantry, &c.
Congress will readily perceive that all these are expedients to accommodate matters (in the best manner the nature of the case will admit of) to the system of State Troops—for if we were one Army instead of a confederated Army lineal promotion by the common course of succession—where merit or demerit did not interfere—would be the easiest simplest and most equitable of any; but as this is not the case, and we are considered as a fœderal body, we have three interests to attend to viz:—the common interest—State interest—and individual interest.—Whether any of expedients I have proposed are likely to answer the ends in view, is submitted with all possible deference, and without further apology by your Exy’s &c—
P. S. 26th. This letter has been unavoidably delayed for want of a conveyance.1
TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY AT THE COURT OF VERSAILLES.
Hd.-Qrs.,New Windsor, 20 December, 1780.
A few days since, by ye Chevr. de Chatelleaux, I had the honor to receive your favor of the 19th of March introductory of him; and thank you for bringing me acquainted with a gentln. of his merit, knowledge, and agreeable manners. I spent several days very happily with him at our camp near the Great Falls of Passaic in New Jersey, before the army separated for its cantonments, the principal of which is at West point in the vicinity of this place, where I make my own Quarters.
Disappointed of the second division of French troops, but more especially in the expected naval superiority, which was the pivot upon wch. every thing turned, we have been compelled to spend an inactive Campaign, after a flattering prospect at the opening of it, and vigorous struggles to make it a decisive one on our part. Latterly we have been obliged to become spectators of a succession of detachments from the army at New York, in aid of Lord Cornwallis, while our naval weakness, and the political dissolution of a large part of our army, put it out of our power to counteract them at the southward, or take advantage of them here.
The movements of Lord Cornwallis during the last month or two have been retrograde. What turn the late reinforcements, which have been sent to him, may give to his affairs, remains to be known. I have reinforc’d also principally with Horse, but the length of the march is so much opposed to the measure, that evy. corps is in a greater or lesser degree ruined that encounters it. I am happy, however, in assurg. you, that a better disposition never prevailed in the Legislatures of the several States, than at this time. The folly of temporary expedients are seen into and exploded, and vigorous efforts will be used to obtain a permanent army, and carry on the war systematically, if the obstinacy of Great Britain should compel us to continue it. We want nothing but the aid of a loan to enable us to put our Finance into a tolerable train. The Country does not want resources, but we the means of drawing them forth.
It is unnecessary for me to go into a more detailed acct. of our affairs, as you are doubtless officially advised of every material occurrence. I shall therefore only add my Compliments to Mr. Adams, and the strongest assurances of being, with the greatest esteem and respect, dear Sir, yours, &c.
TO LIEUTENANT-COLONEL DAVID HUMPHREYS.1
You will take command of such of the Detachments of Water Guards, now on the River, as you may think necessary, and with them attempt to surprise and bring off Genl. Knyphausen from Morris’s House on York Island, or Sir Henry Clinton from Kennedy’s House in the City, if, from the Tide, Weather, and other Circumstances, you shall judge the Enterprise to be practicable. In the execution of it, you will be guided by your own discretion; and I have only to suggest, that secrecy, rapidity, and prudence in making good your retreat, will be indispensably necessary to insure success. Given at Head-Quarters, 23d of December, 1780.
TO JAMES DUANE.
New Windsor, 26 December, 1780.
My Dear Sir,
I received with much thankfulness your confidential letter of the 9th. Inst., and am greatly obliged by the affectionate expressions of personal regard which are contained in it. An unreserved communication of sentiments, accompanying such information as you are at liberty to give, will ever be pleasing to me, and cannot fail of being useful. In this light I view and value your last letter, some parts of which are new, agreeable and instructive—while that part of it which relates to the transaction at the Ct. of V—, is wonderfully astonishing.
There are two things (as I have often declared) which in my opinion, are indispensably necessary to the well being and good Government of our public affairs; these are, greater powers to Congress, and more responsibility and permanency in the executive bodies. If individual States conceive themselves at liberty to reject, or alter any act of Congress, which in a full representation of them has been solemnly debated, and decided on; it will be madness in us, to think of prosecuting the war. And if Congress suppose, that Boards composed of their own body, and always fluctuating, are competent to the great business of war, (which requires not only close application, but a constant and uniform train of thinking and acting), they will most assuredly deceive themselves. Many, many instances might be adduced in proof of this, but to a mind as observant as yours, there is no need to enumerate them. One, however, as we feelingly experience it, I shall name. It is the want of cloathing, when I have every reason to be convinced that the expence which the Public is run to in this article would cloath our army as well as any troops in Europe—in place of it we have enumerable objects of distressing want.
Necessity alone can justify the present mode of obtaining supplies, for besides the hazard and difficulty we meet with in procuring them, I am well convinced, that the public is charged with double what it receives, and what it receives is doubly charged, so expensive and precarious is the present system. When the army marched [illegible] for winter Quarters, I visited the Hospitals and back communication from Pensa. to this place. In the neighborhood of Pittstown I fell in with a parcel of cattle that were going to be slaughtered and salted, and can assure you upon my honor, that besides being immensely poor, they were so small that I am convinced they would not average 175 lbs. the 4 nett quarters—some could not exceed one hundd. weight, and others were mere calves. These pass by the head, and the State or States that furnish them, will have the reputation of supplying that number of merchantable bullocks, when the fact is that next summer a starving man would scarce eat the beef they were about to put up) after the salt had extracted the little fat and juice that were in it. There were about 100 in the drove I saw, and my information extended to about 8 or 900 more of the same kind, in the neighborhood. I directed the Commissary to select the best for salting, and let the others be eaten fresh, as it would be a waste of salt, barrels, and time to put it up. I relate this as a matter coming under my own observation. Many other instances of a similar nature might be given from information, but I avoid it.
This letter will accompany one to Congress on the subject of promotion. That of lineal, instead of regimental, I am perswaded, as well from the opinions I have heard, as from the reason and the nature of the thing, will be the most consistent with justice, and most pleasing to each state line. With respect to the rise of Colonels and promotion of General officers, I have no wish to gratify, except that which I have expressed in my public letter, of fixing some principle to avoid discontent and the consequences which flow from it. Irregular promotion, unless there is obvious cause for it, is not only injurious in any service, but in ours is derogatory of the dignity of Congress, for the officer who is superceded, and afterwards restored, is hurt by the first act, and does not feel himself obliged by the latter (considering it as an act of justice only); while the two acts stand as an undeniable proof on record, that there is an established principle wanting, or that there is a want of information, or a want of firmness in Congress to resist importunity, because the restoring act, as I have observed, is an incontestable proof of one or the other of these three things.
At present we are in no want of Major Generals—in this part of the army at least. But while I am on the subject of promotion, and while the thing is in my mind, I will beg leave to mention, that if at any time hereafter there should be a brigadier junior to Gen’l Knox promoted before him, he will be lost to the service, tho’ he should thereafter be restored to his place. I mention it because under the idea of State promotion he can never rise, and because I am well perswaded that the want of him at the head of the artillery, would be irrepairable. * * *
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
New Windsor, 26 December, 1780.
My Dear Marquis,
Since my letter of the 14th Instt. by Majr. Franks (for the Post once a Week & travellers accidentally—are all the conveyances I have) your favors of the 16th & 19th are both come to hand.
My sentiments, respecting your serving in the Southern Army this winter, were fully, though concisely, explained in my last. If I were to add aught to the opinion therein given, it should be to wait, (as we are hourly expecting it,) something more explicit from France. It is impossible for us to remain much longer in uncertainty, with respect to the second division of French troops. Vessels daily arriving from that Kingdom, tho’ they may not bring us official advices, must realize or destroy our hope of an early succor. In a letter, which came to my hands a few days ago from Count de Rochambeau, dated at Boston the 13th Instt., are these words.
“On arriving at this place, I found very interesting news, brought by an american Vessel, which left the river of Nantz on the 4th of Novr. She has given me the annexed list of vessels, which are coming from Brest, destined for America, with a convoy which is preparing at Brest. She tells me, that there is a change in our Ministry; that Mr. Sartine retires, and that Monsr. de Castries succeeds him; that the Mars, an American vessel of twenty guns, would depart a little while after her, charged with despatches for us. Although there is something extraordinary in all this news, it appears to me so circumstantial, that it gives an air of truth to what regards the armament.” He adds, that “all the other vessels had rejoined the Spaniards at Cadiz, to attempt the reduction of Gibraltar, which was short of Provisions.”
I have received no letter yet from the Count, in answer to mine respecting the Expedition of the Spaniards to the Southward. The Chevr. de Ternay, to whom my letter was equally addressed, is dead, as you will have learnt from the despatches, which I forwarded to the Minister a few days ago. If circumstances, which you can easier explain than I conjecture, should make a visit from me to Rhode Island necessary, I certainly should be most happy in your company. But do not let this influence your determinations.1
The light Infantry and Grenadiers, who were under orders for Embarkation at New York, and had actually prepared for it, were countermanded, and other Troops sent in their place; but whether Knyphausen goes or not, since this change has taken place, I am not able to say. A confirmation of the British Fleet in the Channel having suffered by a storm, and of the African Princes having excluded the British arm’d vessels from their ports, as also of Tarleton’s defeat, would be most welcomely recd. I had the pleasure of the Chevr. de Chastelleaux’s company on his way to Albany; but the Viscount de Noailles and Count Damas passed on the other side of the river without calling. Mrs. Washington & Tilghman, (who is the only person of my family, that is with me at present) join in best wishes to you.—Please make an offering of my respectful complimts. to the Chevr. de la Luzerne & Mr. Marbois & believe me to be, as I really am, &c.
TO GOVERNOR JEFFERSON.
New Windsor, 28 December, 1780.
Your Excellency’s favor of the 13th reached me this day. I have ever been of opinion, that the reduction of the post of Detroit would be the only certain means of giving peace and security to the whole western frontier, and I have constantly kept my eye upon that object; but, such has been the reduced state of our Continental force, and such the low ebb of our funds, especially of late, that I have never had it in my power to make the attempt. I shall think it a most happy circumstance, should your State, with the aid of Continental stores which you require, be able to accomplish it. I am so well convinced of the general public utility with which the expedition, if successful, will be attended, that I do not hesitate a moment in giving directions to the commandant at Fort Pitt to deliver to Colonel Clark the articles which you request, or so many of them as he may be able to furnish. I have also directed him to form such a detachment of Continental troops as he can safely spare, and put them under the command of Colonel Clark. There is a Continental company of artillery at Fort Pitt, which I have likewise ordered upon the expedition, should it be prosecuted. The officers of this company will be competent to the management of the mortar and howitzers.
I do not know for what particular purpose Colonel Clark may want the six-pound cannon; but, if he expects to derive advantage from them in the reduction of works of any strength, he will find himself disappointed. They are not equal to battering a common log blockhouse, at the shortest range. This we have found upon experience. I would therefore advise him to consider this point, and leave them behind, except he sees a probability of wanting them in the field. I have enclosed the letter for Colonel Brodhead commanding at Fort Pitt, which Colonel Clark may deliver whenever he sees fit. It is possible, that some advantage may arise from keeping the true destination of the expedition a secret as long as circumstances will admit. If so, the fewer who are entrusted the better.
Since I began this letter I have been furnished by Genl. Knox, commanding officer of the Artillery, and by the Qr. Mr. Genl. with Returns of the stores in their several departments which are at Fort Pitt, and I find they fall very far short of your Excellency’s requisition. I have therefore formed my order to Colo. Brodhead in proportion to the stock in his hands.1 There is no mortar at Fort Pitt, but the 8 Inch Howitzer will answer the purpose, and is more convenient for transportation. The [mutilated] two of each.
The matter, which the house of delegates have referred to my determination, stands thus. A board of general officers in the year 1778 determined, that officers bearing Continental commissions should take rank of those having State commissions only while their regiments continued upon a State establishment; but that, when such regiments became Continental, the officers should be entitled to receive Continental commissions from the date of their State appointments. Thus you see, it is not in my power to recommend them to Congress for Continental commissions, while in State regiments, without infringing an established rule. As to the second point, “Whether such officers shall take promotion in the line, or be confined to the said two regiments,” I think that they had best, for the sake of peace and harmony, be confined to the two regiments. For many of those officers left the Continental line in very low ranks, and obtained very high in that of the State. This created much uneasiness when the troops came together in service; and it was with difficulty that many of the Continental officers could be made to brook being commanded by those, who had been their inferiors the preceding campaign. I am therefore of opinion, that an attempt to introduce those gentlemen now into the Continental line would create a source of infinite discontent and uneasiness, more especially as you have a sufficient number of officers, at home and in captivity (and vacancies ought in justice to be reserved for such of the latter as wish to serve again), for the quota of Continental troops assigned to the State by the last establishment. I have the honor to be, &c.1
[1 ]General Leslie sailed from New York on the 16th of October, with about three thousand troops. He was instructed to enter the Chesapeake and establish a post on Elizabeth River, with the design of creating a diversion in favor of Lord Cornwallis’ operations in North Carolina. General Leslie was to be under the command of Lord Cornwallis, and to act on James River towards the Roanoke, but not to pass this latter river without orders from his commander. Should Lord Cornwallis meet with serious opposition in crossing the Yadkin, it was recommended to General Leslie to move upon Cape Fear River, but this was left to his discretion. Should a post be established on the Chesapeake, it was Sir Henry Clinton’s intention to reinforce it with more troops. “But while Washington remains in such force,” said he, “and the French continue at Rhode Island, I do not think it advisable to weaken New York. If, however, he should send any detachments to the southward, I shall most likely do the same.”—MS. Letter from Sir Henry Clinton to Lord George Germaine, November 10th.
[1 ]Early in October the British advanced upon Lake Champlain. October 10th, Fort Ann was invested and surrendered, and three days later Fort George capitulated. After destroying some property in Kings and Queensborough townships, they retired to Ticonderoga, where they remained until the 22d, when an advance towards St. John was begun, but suspended, probably because of the propositions for an exchange of prisoners made by Vermont. (See note to Washington to Schuyler, 14 May, 1781, post.
[1 ]“I have recd. your favors of the 18th and 22d of September and 3d instant. I am obliged by the exertions, you had been making to throw a present supply of provisions into Fort Schuyler; and congratulate you upon your success against the party of savages, which opposed you in your march up. A company of artillery from Colonel Lamb’s regiment is ordered to relieve Captain Brown’s. Warner’s regiment will be incorporated the 1st January. It will not, therefore, be worth while to remove it from its present station, as its time of existence will be so short. Spencer’s will also undergo the same reform.
[1 ]“I beg leave to mention General Greene, upon this occasion, to Congress as an Officer in whose abilities, fortitude and integrity, from a long and intimate experience of them, I have the most entire confidence.—In the command he is going into he will have every disadvantage to struggle with. The confidence and support of Congress, which it will be his ambition to merit, will be essential to his success. The defect of military resources in the Southern department—the confusion in which the affairs of it must for some time be, require that the Commanding Officer should be vested with extensive powers. I dare say Congress will take their measures in a manner suited to the exigency.—General Greene waits upon them for their orders.—
[1 ]A similar letter was written to Archibald Cary, Edmund Pendleton, Benjamin Harrison, and Barthw. Dandridge.
[1 ]“I hope the Assemblies that are now sitting, or are about to sit, will not rise till they put three things in a fair & proper train.
[1 ]When General Greene joined the southern army, it was General Gates’ wish that the court of inquiry might be immediately convened. “It is true,” said he, “there are some evidences I could wish were here, that cannot at present be procured; but innocence and integrity induce me to be confident, that the honor and justice of the court of inquiry will make every allowance for that deficiency.” A council of general officers decided, however, that in the state of the army at that time it was not practicable for a court to be summoned. It would interfere with important operations, and render it necessary to call Baron Steuben from Virginia, where his services were essential. The time of assembling the court was accordingly deferred, and General Gates retired to his residence in the county of Berkeley in Virginia.
[1 ]The Marquis de Lafayette, being now in command of the six battalions of light infantry, stationed in advance of the main army, was extremely anxious to effect some important enterprise before the campaign should be brought to a close. A descent upon Staten Island had been projected, which was to be conducted by him; but it was rendered impracticable by the want of boats and of other necessary preparations. He had written a letter to General Washington, to which the above was a reply, urging, for various political reasons, an attack upon the upper part of New York Island.
[1 ]“I have now the pleasure to congratulate you upon your exchange. . . . I do not mean by this notice to hasten your return to the Army; for that, alas! is upon the eve of its annual dissolution; consequently of the enemy’s advantages. I am of opinion, that your influence and exertion in procuring the State’s quota of Troops for the war, providing funds for the subsistence of them, Magazines, &c., will be of infinitely more importance in your own State this Winter, than it can be to become a mere spectator, or fellow sufferer of the hunger and cold, from scantiness of Provision and Cloathing, which I expect the small remains of our army will have to encounter in a very short time, and more than probably to contend with during the winter. But at the same time I give this as an opinion; and I leave you at full liberty to pursue the bent of your inclination and judgment.”—Washington to Major-General Lincoln, 8 November, 1780.
[1 ]Read in Congress, November 13th. Referred to Duane, Henry, and Cornell.
[1 ]This project was an attack on the posts in the northern part of New York Island. The foraging party was intended to operate as a feint, and to divert the attention of the enemy in another direction at the time of the attack. General Stark commanded the detachment, consisting of two thousand five hundred men, destined for this object. He left West Point on the 21st, and marched to White Plains.—Heath’s Memoirs, p. 264.
[1 ]General Sullivan, having resigned his commission in the army, and been appointed a delegate to Congress from New Hampshire, took his seat in that body on the 11th of September.
[1 ]General Sullivan had suggested the expediency of ordering the French fleet from Newport to Boston, where it might remain secure till reinforced, and of calling the French troops to head-quarters. Such an arrangement would excite Sir Henry Clinton’s fears for the safety of New York, and prevent his sending detachments to the southern States. This measure was pressed upon the French officers at the conference in Hartford, and it would seem to have been the best that could be adopted, for the troops, who were detached from New York during the winter, constituted an essential part of the British southern army.
[2 ]On the 21st of November Washington had matured his plans for an attack upon New York, and began to issue the orders necessary to effect it. Colonel Gouvion was directed to reconnoitre the enemy’s works from Fort Washington upwards, and make every observation essential for forming a plan for surprising them by a night attack. (21 November.) Moylan was ordered to parade his regiment at Totawa Bridge, at nine o’clock on the morning of the 24th, detaching parties to secure all the crossing-places on the Hackensack River, and preventing any person from going with intelligence to the enemy. Major Goetschius was to patrol from the New Bridge downwards, for the same purpose (21 November.) Brigadier-General Wayne was to march on the same day to a mile below Acquaquenoc Bridge, advancing a regiment towards Newark, halting in about that position for further orders, but in the meantime foraging. (21 November.) To Pickering was intrusted the task of transporting boats from the Notch to Acquaquenoc Bridge, and his personal attention enjoined. (22 November.) Lieutenant-Colonel Humphreys was despatched to West Point to inform Heath of the intended movement, and thence to White Plains, where a detachment lay that was to move “precisely at four o’clock, and commence a slow and regular march towards Kingsbridge,” until preconcerted signals should direct them to press forward with “the greatest rapidity.” Knox was to have his park of artillery ready on Friday “to cover a body of troops in their passage across a river,” while Sheldon’s regiment and the Connecticut State troops were to cut off Frog’s Neck, and the refugee corps at Morrisania. To Major Crane was suggested the possibility of throwing a body of troops undiscovered on the island.
[1 ]Sir Henry Clinton assented to the proposition contained in this letter, but suggested that the adjustment of accounts should not be limited to the convention troops, but extend to all the prisoners that had been made on both sides during the war, as well British as American. Concerning this point Washington replied that he had written to Congress on the subject; but, since it would take much time to collect and arrange the accounts, he thought it not best to appoint commissioners for the purpose till this should be done. In the meantime the business of exchange might go forward, according to the principles upon which both parties were agreed.
[1 ]In a letter to the President of Congress, dated the 26th of November, General Washington said: “The death of that useful and valuable officer, Mr. Erskine, geographer to the army, makes it requisite that a successor should be appointed. I beg leave to recommend Mr. Simeon Dewitt. His being in the department gives him a pretension, and his abilities are still better. From the character Mr. Erskine always gave of him, and from what I have seen of his performances, he seems to be extremely well qualified.” In compliance with this recommendation, Mr. Dewitt was appointed geographer to the army.
[1 ]Extract from Colonel Scammell’s Letter: “Congress having put the regiment in point of numbers and term of service on a reputable footing, and being so much reduced in property as not to be able to equip myself for the office I at present have the honor to hold, I beg your Excellency will please to grant or obtain leave for me to retire from the staff department, and rejoin my regiment by the 1st of January next; that I may have an early opportunity to attend to the internal police and recruiting of it, and my successor, of gaining a perfect knowledge of the business of the office previous to the commencement of the next campaign.”—November 16th.
[1 ]Read in Congress, December 4th. Referred to Sullivan, Cornell, and Mathews.
[2 ]The Count de Custine was in command of the regiment of Saintonge.
[3 ]When the army went into winter-quarters, the light infantry corps, which had been commanded by Lafayette, was broken up, and the different parts rejoined the lines and regiments to which they originally belonged. Seeking activity and opportunities for distinguishing himself, Lafayette had formed a project of transferring his services to the southern army under General Greene during the winter, and had asked General Washington’s advice. Lafayette was now in Philadelphia, having gone thither immediately after the separation of his detachment of light infantry.
[1 ]These gentlemen were officers in the French army under Count de Rochambeau.
[1 ]The second division of the French troops destined for America, which had been blockaded in the harbor of Brest, was expected daily on the coast. Count de Rochambeau had visited New London, Norwich, Lebanon, Windham, and other towns, and ascertained that the troops might be well provided for in those places. As this division never arrived, there was no occasion for further preparations. The French army remained during the winter at Newport, except the Duke de Lauzun’s legion, which was cantoned at Lebanon, not far from the residence of Governor Trumbull, where a supply of forage could be easily obtained.
[1 ]Colonel Fleury, so much distinguished for his bravery at Fort Mifflin, Stony Point, and other places, had left the American service, and was now an officer in the army of Count de Rochambeau.
[1 ]General Greene had expressed a desire that Hamilton might receive the appointment of adjutant-general. “Colonel Scammell,” said he, “perhaps will be promoted to the rank of brigadier. At least it has been talked of. Should this take place, a new adjutant-general will be necessary; and I beg leave to suggest the propriety of giving this appointment to Colonel Hamilton. His services may not be less important to your Excellency in your family business, if he only employs a deputy extraordinary; and I am persuaded the appointment will be received with great gratitude, as I am confident it is his wish, by what he said some time before I left camp.”—Richmond, November 19th. See Letter to Congress, November 28th. Lafayette made the same suggestion.
[1 ]M. de Sartine, the French Minister of Marine, had retired, and been succeeded by the Marquis de Castries, whom Lafayette represented as “a man of great worth,” who would take a more lively interest in the affairs of his office, and act with more efficiency than his predecessor. Count de Rochambeau also said: “He is one of our best lieutenant-generals, and a most firm man.” By the French officers generally, the change seems to have been considered auspicious for the operations in America.
[1 ]This plan was not approved by Count de Rochambeau. News had lately arrived of the appointment of a new Minister of Marine, of the preparation of a grand armament at Brest, and the assembling of a large Spanish force at Cadiz, which it was rumored would be under the command of Count d’Estaing; and there was every probability, in the opinion of Count de Rochambeau, that despatches from the French ministry would very soon arrive, which would contain a plan of operations. In this view he could not with propriety engage in any measures, which might thwart such a plan. It was moreover his belief, that the Spanish commander in the West Indies had his course of action marked out by definite instructions, and would not assume the responsibility of sending a squadron to transport the French and American troops to the south. Again, the Chevalier de Monteil, the French admiral commanding in the West Indies, had only a small force in those seas since the departure of M. de Guichen for Europe, and would not be able to furnish such a number of vessels from his squadron, as would ensure a naval superiority on the American coast.
[1 ]Read in Congress, January 1st. Referred to Sullivan, Varnum, Bland, and McDougall.
[1 ]Colonel Humphreys was provided with two whale-boats and a barge, and accompanied by Captain Wells, Lieutenant Hart, and twenty-eight other persons, including non-commissioned officers and privates. They left the American post at Dobb’s Ferry in the evening of the 25th, having agreed on the watchword “Success,” and intending to return the same night. The wind was so high during the night, that, not being able to land, they were driven below the city. One of the boats was forced nearly down to Sandy Hook. Another got ashore on Staten Island. They were all at length taken to Brunswic, whence Colonel Humphreys and his party returned to the army. The details of this attempt were communicated by a “general officer” to a British spy, who gave them to the British early in February.—Magazine of American History, x., 413, 414.
[1 ]Lafayette abandoned his idea of going to the south, which will be explained by the following extracts from his letters:
[1 ]“Your good sense will, I am convinced, make you view this matter in its true light. The inability of the Continent to undertake the reduction of Detroit, which, while in continues in possession of the enemy, will be a constant source of trouble to the whole Western frontier, has of necessity imposed the task upon the State of Virginia, and of consequence makes it expedient to confer the command upon an officer of the State. This being the case, I do not think the charge of the enterprise could have been committed to better hands than Colo. Clark’s. I have not the pleasure of knowing the Gentleman; but, independent of the proofs he has given of his activity and address, the unbounded confidence, which I am told the Western people repose in him, is a matter of vast importance; as I imagine a considerable part of his force will consist of Volunteers and Militia, who are not to be governed by military laws, but must be held by the ties of confidence and affection to their leader.
[1 ]“The Honble. the Congress having, in order to remove all cause of jealousy and discontent between the States of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, directed me to withdraw the present Garrison of Wyoming, and to replace them with troops from the Continental Army, not belonging to the line of Pennsylvania or Connecticut, or Citizens of either of the said States, I have for that purpose ordered Capt. Mitchell of the Jersey line to relieve you. You will, therefore, upon his arrival, deliver up the post to him, and march immediately with all the men at present under your command and join the Army in the neighborhood of this place. . . . You will, before you march, give Captain Mitchell every necessary information respecting the situation of the Country, and make him acquainted with those characters, upon whom he can depend for advice and intelligence, in case of an incursion of the Enemy.”—Washington to Colonel Zebulon Butler, 29 December, 1780.