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.
I do myself the honor to enclose to your Excellency copies of returns of prisoners, artillery, arms, ordnance, and other stores surrendered by the enemy in their posts of York and Gloucester on the 19th instant, which were not completed at the time of my last despatches, and but this moment handed to me. A draft of these posts, with the plan of attack and defence, is also transmitted, and twenty-four standards taken at the same time are ready to be laid before Congress.
Our operations against the enemy in this State being concluded, it becomes my duty to inform Congress of the disposition I have made for the future destination of the troops under my command. The Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia Continental troops are ordered as a reinforcement to the army under the command of General Greene. I shall myself, with the troops of the States to the northward of Pennsylvania, return to my former position on the North River and the communications with it. The first mentioned division, composing a body of two thousand men, under the direction of Major General the Marquis de Lafayette, will, on their way to South Carolina, make an expedition against the enemy’s posts at Wilmington in North Carolina. To effect which purpose, they will be transported to a proper point of debarkation, under convoy of the Count de Grasse, who encourages me, if circumstances and situation of the water will admit, to give them his coöperation, so long as it shall be necessary to accomplish, by a coup de main, their object at Wilmington. Immediately upon the reduction of that post, the troops will proceed to join General Greene.
That I may not, from the above arrangement, incur the censure of Congress, or the States, who may have flattered their expectations with a prospect of my pushing my operations further southward than this State; in justice to my own endeavors, and for the satisfaction of Congress, I find myself obliged to transmit to your Excellency a summary of the reasons, which have induced my determinations. In doing which, I take the liberty to submit to Congress copies of two propositions, which I have had the honor to make to the Count de Grasse, with his answers to each. The first, which was made immediately on my arrival at Williamsburg, and is dated the 17th of September, will show, that other objects than the reduction of the British force under the command of Lord Cornwallis were early in my contemplation, and will also declare what were at that time the sentiments of the French admiral. The second proposition, made after the surrender of the British army, will evince with how much reluctance I could bring myself to relinquish a further prosecution of favorite views. In addition to these communications, Congress will scarcely need to be informed, that, having no means of water conveyance, the transportation, by land, of the army, with their baggage, artillery, ordance stores, and other apparatus necessary for the siege of Charleston, if not utterly impracticable, would be attended with such immense trouble, expense, and delay, as would (exclusive of the necessity of naval coöperation) be sufficient to deter me from the undertaking; especially as the enemy, after regaining the naval superiority on this coast, could reinforce or withdraw the garrison at pleasure.
The prosecution, therefore, of the southern war, upon that broad scale which I had wished, being as I judge to be relinquished, nothing remained in my opinion more eligible, than to reinforce General Greene’s army to such a state of respectability, as that he might be able to command the country of South Carolina, and at the same time, if possible, by that reinforcement to effect an accomplishment of the smaller object mentioned; and to march myself, with the remainder of the army, to North River, where they will be ready at the ensuing campaign to commence such operations against New York, as may be hereafter concerted, or to effect any other purposes that may be judged practicable. Add to these reasons, the Count de Rochambeau, from the exhausted state of his stores and other considerations, seemed inclined to take his resolution to remain in this State with his troops for the winter, at any rate six weeks to refresh them. Upon a full consideration of the reasons offered, I flatter myself, that my conduct will stand approved in the judgment of Congress, whose approbation I shall ever be solicitous to obtain.
I enclose, also, for the observation of Congress, a copy of my letter to the ministers of the United States at the courts of Europe, conveying to them the intelligence of our success against the enemy in this State. The reasons for my conduct, as stated in that letter, I must rely upon, as my justification with Congress for the liberty taken in that communication.
Unacquainted with the state of politics between Congress and the courts of Europe respecting future negotiations, whatever our prospects from that quarter may be, I cannot justify myself to my own mind without urging Congress in the warmest terms to make every arrangement that may be found necessary, for an early and efficacious campaign the ensuing year. Arguments, I flatter myself, need not be adduced to impress on Congress the high importance of this idea. Whatever may be the events of the coming winter or ensuing summer, an effectual and early preparation for military operations will put us upon the most respectable footing, either for war or negotiation; while a relaxation will place us in a disreputable situation in point of peaceful prospects, and will certainly expose us to the most disgraceful disasters, in case of a continuance of the hostile disposition of our enemies. I do myself the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency’s several letters of the 10th, 13th, and 14th insts., and thank you for the intelligence communicated in them.
Nothing is yet heard of Admiral Digby, with his fleet, near these coasts. Whatever may be his intentions, Count de Grasse, I believe, is ready to meet him.
I have the honor to be, &c.
P. S. October 29th. At the moment of closing my despatch, I am favored with the definitive determination of the Count de Grasse respecting the troops I hoped to have transported to Wilmington by water. The Admiral’s ideas are communicated in his letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, a copy of which is herewith transmitted.1 In consequence of this resolution, and having no transports, I am obliged to send on the troops destined for the southern district by land. They will commence their march in a few days, under the command of Major-General St. Clair. The command of the expedition against Wilmington had been committed to the Marquis, upon the contingency of the troops being transported by water. On failure of this event, the Marquis does not proceed with the reinforcement. My present despatches being important, I have committed to the care of Colonel Humphreys, one of my aids-de-camp, whom for his attention, fidelity, and good services, I beg leave to recommend to the notice of Congress and your Excellency.1
[1 ]Count de Grasse to Lafayette.—“The more I reflect on the plan which you mentioned to me, the more I see the impossibility of undertaking to transport troops, baggage, artillery, and ammunition. My ulterior operations require my return to an appointed place at a fixed day. That day approaches, and it would be impossible for me to break my engagement voluntarily. The passage from hence to Cape Fear may possibly be accomplished in two days, but it may also require more than fifteen. The debarkation of troops and stores may be attended with delays, and expose me to censure. Besides, it might happen, that, from an obstinate succession of southerly winds, I should be obliged to take the resolution of repairing to my rendezvous. Then I should be under the necessity of carrying with me, during the whole campaign, a detachment of troops useful to the Continent, of which I should be very sorry to deprive it. Thus, all that I can do, is to promise to escort as well as I can the vessels, that may have troops on board; but it will be impossible for me to remain on the coast beyond the 8th of next month; and even this delay must be repaired on my part by the greatest activity. If you are deficient in the means of embarking or debarking, let us think no more of the measure. But do not attribute my refusal to any thing, but the impossibility of executing a matter that was agreeable to you.”—MS. Letter, October 26th.
[1 ]Read in Congress, November 3d. Referred to Randolph, Boudinot, Varnum, and Carroll.