Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IX (1780-1782)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - 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 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
[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.