Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GOVERNOR JEFFERSON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IX (1780-1782)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO GOVERNOR JEFFERSON. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO 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 ]“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.