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1782. - 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 THOMAS CHITTENDEN, VERMONT.2
Philadelphia, 1 January, 1782.
I received your favor of the 14th of November, by Mr. Brownson. You cannot be at a loss to know why I have not heretofore, and why I cannot now, address you in your public character, or answer you in mine; but the confidence, which you have been pleased to repose in me, gives me an opportunity of offering you my sentiments, as an individual wishing most ardently to see the peace and union of his country preserved, and the just rights of the people of every part of it fully and firmly established.
It is not my business, neither do I think it necessary now, to discuss the origin of the right of a number of inhabitants to that tract of country, formerly distinguished by the name of the New Hampshire Grants, and now known by that of Vermont. I will take it for granted, that their right was good, because Congress by their resolve of the 7th of August imply it, and by that of the 21st are willing fully to confirm it, provided the new State is confined to certain described bounds. It appears therefore to me, that the dispute of boundary is the only one which exists, and that, this being removed, all further difficulties would be removed also, and the matter terminated to the satisfaction of all parties. Now, I would ask you candidly whether the claim of the people of Vermont was not for a long time confined solely, or very nearly, to that tract of country which is described in the resolve of Congress of the 21st of August last, and whether, agreeably to the tenor of your own letter to me, the late extension of your claim upon New Hampshire and New York was not more of a political manœuvre, than one in which you conceived yourselves justifiable. If my first question be answered in the affirmative, it certainly bars your new claim; and, if my second be well founded, your end is answered and you have nothing to do but withdraw your jurisdiction to your old limits, and obtain an acknowledgment of independence and sovereignty, under the resolve of the 21st of August, for so much territory as does not interfere with the ancient established bounds of New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. I persuade myself you will see and acquiesce in the reason, the justice, and indeed the necessity of such a decision.
You must consider, Sir, that the point now in dispute is of the utmost political importance to the future union and peace of this great country. The State of Vermont, if acknowledged, will be the first new one admitted into the confederacy, and, if suffered to encroach upon the ancient established boundaries of the adjacent ones, will serve as a precedent for others, which it may hereafter be expedient to set off, to make the same unjustifiable demands. Thus, in my private opinion, while it behoves the delegates of the States now confederated to do ample justice to a body of people sufficiently respectable by their numbers, and entitled by other claims to be admitted into that confederation, it becomes them also to attend to the interests of their constituents, and see, that, under the appearance of justice to one, they do not materially injure the rights of others. I am apt to think this is the prevailing opinion of Congress, and that your late extension of claim has, upon the principles I have above mentioned, rather diminished than increased the number of your friends, and that, if such extension should be persisted in, it will be made a common cause, and not considered as only affecting the rights of the States immediately interested in the loss of territory, a loss of too serious a nature not to claim the attention of any people.
There is no calamity within the compass of my foresight, which is more to be dreaded, than a necessity of coercion on the part of Congress; and consequently every endeavor should be used to prevent the execution of so disagreeable a measure. It must involve the ruin of that State against which the resentment of the others is pointed.
1 I will only add a few words upon the subject of the negotiations, which have been carried on between you and the enemy in Canada and in New York. I will take it for granted, as you assert it, that they were so far innocent, that there never was any serious intention of joining Great Britain in their attempts to subjugate your country; but it has had this certain bad tendency; it has served to give some ground to that delusive opinion of the enemy, upon which they in a great measure found their hopes of success, that they have numerous friends among us, who only want a proper opportunity to show themselves openly, and that internal disputes and feuds will soon break us in pieces; at the same time the seeds of distrust and jealousy are scattered among ourselves by a conduct of this kind. If you are sincere in your professions, these will be additional motives for accepting the terms, which have been offered, and which appear to me equitable, and thereby convincing the common enemy, that all their expectations of disunion are vain, and that they have been worsted in the use of their own weapon,—deception.1
As you unbosomed yourself to me, I thought I had the greater right of speaking my sentiments openly and candidly to you. I have done so; and if they should produce the effects, which I most sincerely wish, that of an honorable and amicable adjustment of a matter, which, if carried to hostile lengths, may destroy the future happiness of my country, I shall have attained my end, while the enemy will be defeated in theirs. Believe me to be, with great respect, Sir, &c.2
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE, AT PARIS.
Philadelphia, 4 January, 1782.
My Dear Marqs.,
I cannot suffer Colonel Gimat to leave this city for France without a remembrance from me to you. I have remained at this place ever since you left it, and am happy in having discovered the best disposition imaginable in Congress to prepare vigorously for another campaign. They have resolved to keep up the same number of corps as constituted the army of last year, and have urged the States warmly to compleat them. Requisitions of money are also made; but how far the abilities and inclinations of the States individual to tax heavily to coincide with the views of Congress, is more than I am able, at this early period, to inform you. A further pecuniary aid from your generous nation, and a decisive naval force upon this coast, in the latter end of May or beginning of June, unlimited in its stay and operations, would, unless the resources of Great Britain are inexhaustible, or she can form powerful alliances, bid fair to finish the war in the course of next campaign, with the Ruin of that People.
The first, that is an aid of money, would enable our Financier to support the expenses of the war with ease and credit, without anticipating or deranging those funds, which Congress are endeavoring to establish, and which will be productive, though they may be slow in the establishment. The second, a naval superiority, would compel the enemy to draw their whole force to a point, which would not only disgrace their arms by the relinquishmt. of Posts and the States which they affect to have conquer’d, but might eventually be fatal to their army; or, by attempting to hold these posts, might be cut off in detail; so that, in either case, the most important good consequences would result from the measure.
General Lincoln has accepted his appointment of secretary at war. Proper plans of œconomy are adopting in every department, and I do not despair of seeing ere long our affairs under much better management than they have been; which will open a new field productive, it is to be hoped, of a fruitful harvest. As you will have received, in a more direct channel than from hence, the news of the surprise and recapture of St. Eustatia by the arms of France, I shall only congratulate you on the Event, and add, that it marks in a striking point of view the genius of the Marquis de Boullie for Enterprise, and for intrepidity and resources in difficult circumstances. His conduct upon this occasion does him infinite honor.
I shall be impatient to hear of your safe arrival in France, and to receive such communications as you know will be interesting to the cause we espouse, and in which we are actors. Though unknown to Madame Lafayette, I beg you to present me to her as one of her greatest admirers. Be so good also as to make a tender of my best wishes to Duke de Lauzun, and other gentlemen of the army of Count de Rochambeau, who may be in the circle of your friends, and with whom I have the honor of an acquaintance. With sentiments of purest affection and most perfect regard, I am, my dear Marquis, your assured friend, &c.
P. S.—Jany. 5th. Since writing the foregoing, I have had the letter and resolves, herewith sent, put into my hands by the Delegates of Virginia in Congress. I have a peculiar pleasure in becoming the channel through which the just and grateful plaudits of my native State are communicated to the man I love.
By advices just received from South Carolina, the Enemy have evacuated all their Posts in that State, and have concentred their whole Force in Charlestown. Wilmington is also evacuated, and North Carolina is freed from its enemys. The disaffected part of the State are suing for mercy, and executing, it is said, some of their own leaders for having misguided them.
TO COLONEL CHRISTIAN FEBIGER.
Philadelphia, 12 January, 1782.
I was much surprised, on receiving a letter from Genl. St. Clair dated at Taylor’s ferry on the 26th of November, to find, that instead of being joined by a detachment of the Virginia line, he had received a letter from you inclosing a representation from the officers assembled at Cumberland Court, amounting to a positive refusal to march except certain terms were complied with by the State1 —The impropriety of such conduct, to give it no harsher name, is so glaring, that I am in hopes the Gentlemen will upon cool reflection condemn it themselves—What can they expect from their soldiers, when they themselves strike at the Root of Authority and discipline? That they have reason to complain, in common with their Brethren, of the hardship they have endured, and the difficulties they labor under for want of their pay, I am ready to allow; but they are mistaken if they think they are the only sufferers. There are Corps in the Army belonging to no particular States, the officers and men of which have derived no assistance from any quarter—Some States may have done more than others for their Troops, but of this I am confident, that all are yet much in arrears in fact, as the principal satisfaction that has been made, has been a liquidation of accounts and Certificates granted for the amount due.
There is one reason urged in the representation which I am sorry to see given by officers and those too of my own Country, that they look upon our Independence as established, and that therefore their quitting the service can be no public disadvantage. Do they think the remaining force of the enemy is to be crushed by Words or Blows. I should suppose by the former, or they would never have started an Idea not only ridiculous but of dangerous tendency.
While I think it my duty severely to censure the conduct alluded to, I think I am bound to endeavor to obtain reasonable redress. I have for that purpose written to His Excellency the Governor and have requested him to use every exertion, so to provide for and equip the detachment which is ready, that both officers and men may be enabled to go upon service with some tolerable degree of comfort. This I hope he will do—after which I expect and insist, in the most positive manner, that the detachment shall march. The officers must and do very well know that it is not in the power of the State to pay them up in good money. If therefore they continue to make that a plea, I shall take it for granted that disinclination to the service upon which they are going is the real motive—I shall be very anxious to hear from you on this subject—for you must suppose my feelings are particularly wounded on the occasion. When asked whether any and what reinforcements have marched from Virginia, I shall blush when I say none, and more so when I assign the cause. I am, &c.
CIRCULAR LETTER TO THE STATES.
Philadelphia, 22 January, 1782.
Although it may be somewhat out of my province, to address your Excellency on a subject, not immediately of a military nature, yet, I consider it so nearly connected with, and so essential to the operations under my direction, that I flatter myself, my interference will not be deemed impertinent.
Upon applying to the superintendent of finance, to know how far I might depend upon him for the pay, feeding, and clothing of the army, for the current year, and for the sums necessary to put it and keep it in motion, he very candidly laid open to me the state of our moneyed affairs, and convinced me, that although the assistances we had derived from abroad were considerable, yet they would be by no means adequate to our expenses. He informed me further, that to make up this deficiency, the states had been called upon, by Congress, for eight millions of dollars, for the service of the year 1782, and shewed me the copy of a circular letter from himself to the several legislatures, in which he had so fully and clearly pointed out the necessity of a compliance with the requisitions that it is needless for me to say more on that head than that I entirely concur with him in opinion, so far as he has gone into the matter. But there are other reasons which could not be so well known to him, as they are to me, as having come under my immediate observation, and which, therefore, I shall take the liberty to mention.
Your excellency cannot but remember the ferment into which the whole army was thrown, twelve months ago, for the want of pay and a regular supply of clothing and provisions, and with how much difficulty they were brought into temper, by a partial supply of the two first, and a promise of more regular supplies of all in future. Those promises the soldiery now begin to claim, and although we shall be able to satisfy them tolerably in respect to clothing, and perfectly in regard to provisions, (if the financier is enabled to comply with his contracts,) yet there is no prospect of obtaining pay until part of the money required of the states can be brought into the treasury.
You cannot conceive the uneasiness which arises from the total want of so essential an article as money, and the real difficulties in which the officers in particular, are involved on that account. The favorable aspect of our affairs, and the hopes that matters are in a train to afford them relief contribute to keep them quiet; but I cannot answer for the effects of a disappointment.
Enabling the financier to comply with his contracts, is a matter of the utmost consequence—the very existence of the army depends upon it. Should he fail in his payments, the contract ceases, and there is no alternative left, but to disband, or live upon the seizure of the neighboring property. The saving to the public by feeding an army by contract is too well known to need any illustration, and that alone ought to be sufficient inducement to the states, to find the means of adhering to it.
It will, perhaps, be urged that the sum called for is immense, and beyond the ability of the country to pay. There is one plain answer to that objection, should it be made—It is, that if the war is carried on, a certain expense must be incurred, and that such expense must be drawn from the people, either by a partial, cruel, and I may say illegal seizure of that property which lays most convenient to the army, or by a regular and equitable tax in money or specific articles.
Money, if it can be procured, is to be preferred, because it is neither liable to waste, nor is it expensive in the mode of collection or transportation. Whereas, I think I may venture to say that a great proportion of the specific articles have been wasted after the people have furnished them, and that the transportation alone, of what have reached the army, has, in numberless instances, cost more than the value of the articles themselves.
To bring this war to a speedy and happy conclusion, must be the fervent wish of every lover of his country, and sure I am, that no means are so likely to effect these, as vigorous preparations for another campaign. Whether then we consult our true interest, substantial economy, or sound policy, we shall find, that relaxation and languor are, of all things, to be avoided. Conduct of that kind, on our part, will produce fresh hopes and new exertions on that of the enemy; whereby the war which has already held beyond the general expectation, may be protracted to such a length, that the people, groaning under the burthen of it, and despairing of success, may think any change, a change to the better.
I will close with a request, that your Excellency will be good enough to take the first opportunity of laying these, my sentiments, before the legislature of your state. From the attention they have ever been pleased to pay to any former requisitions or representations of mine, I am encouraged to hope, that the present, which is equally important with any I have ever made, will meet with a favorable reception.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, your Excellency’s most obedient and humble servant,
P. S. The return of troops called for by resolve of the 10th of December, is collecting, and will be forwarded very soon. The remote situation of some of the corps has made it a tedious business, but such is the nature of it, that an accurate return cannot be digested until the returns of all the legionary corps and those of artillery are obtained, that credit may be given for the men serving in them.
CIRCULAR LETTER TO STATES.1
I have the honor to transmit herewith returns of the Number of men now actually in service, from your state, in order that measures may be adopted for completing the regiments to the full establishment agreeably to the resolution of Congress of the 10th of December. I cannot omit so favorable an opportunity of expressing to you my sentiments on this subject, and of entreating in the most earnest manner, that there may be a speedy, pointed, and effectual compliance with those requisitions.
It will, I flatter myself, be unnecessary to recapitulate all the arguments I made use of, in the circular letter I had the honor to address to the several states, at the close of the campaign of 1780, in which, it must be remembered, I took the liberty to urge, from the knowledge I had of our affairs, and a series of experience, the policy, the expediency, the necessity of recruiting the army as the only probable means of bringing the war to a speedy and happy conclusion;—if these arguments had any influence at that time—if the consequent exertions were crowned with any success—if the present crisis exhibits new and more forcible inducements for still greater efforts; let me point you and your legislature to these considerations, and especially let me recommend, in the warmest terms, that all the fruits of the successes, which have been obtained the last campaign, may not be thrown away by an inglorious winter of languor and inactivity.
However, at this advanced stage of the war, it might seem to be an insult upon the understanding to suppose a long train of reasoning necessary to prove that a respectable force in the field is essential to the establishment of our liberties and independence; yet, as I am apprehensive, the prosperous issue of the combined operation in Virginia, may have (as is too common in such cases) the pernicious tendency of lulling the country into a lethargy of inactivity and security; and as I feel my own reputation, as well as the interest, the honor, the glory, and the happiness of my country, intimately concerned in the event, I will ask the indulgence to speak the more freely on those accounts, and to make some of those observations, which the present moment seems to suggest;—that the broken and perplexed state of the enemy’s affairs, and the successes of the last campaign, on our part, ought to be a powerful incitement to vigorous preparations for the next—that, unless we strenuously exert ourselves to profit by these successes, we shall not only lose all the solid advantages that might be derived from them, but we shall become contemptible in our own eyes, in the eyes of our enemy, in the opinion of posterity, and even in the estimation of the whole world, which will consider us as a nation unworthy of prosperity, because we know not how to make a right use of it—that, although we cannot, by the best concerted plans absolutely command success; although the race is not always to the swift, or the battle to the strong, yet without presumptuously waiting for miracles to be wrought in our favor, it is our indispensable duty, with the deepest gratitude to Heaven for the past, and humble confidence in its smiles on our future operations, to make use of all the means in our power for our defence and security—that this period is particularly important, because no circumstances since the commencement of the war, have been so favorable to the recruiting service; and because it is to be presumed, from the increase of population, and the brilliant prospects before us, it is actually in our power to complete the army before the opening of the campaign—that however flattering the prospects may be, much still remains to be done, which cannot probably be effected unless the army is recruited to its establishment; and consequently the continuance or termination of the war seems principally to rest on the vigor and decision of the states in this interesting point. And finally, that it is our first object of policy, under every supposible or possible case, to have a powerful army early in the field; for we must suppose, the enemy are either disposed “to prosecute the war,” or “to enter into a negociation for peace”—there is no other alternative. On the former supposition, a respectable army becomes necessary, to counteract the enemy and to prevent the accumulating expences of a lingering war; on the latter, nothing but a decidedly superior force can enable us boldly to claim our rights, and dictate the law at the pacification.—So that whatever the disposition of the enemy may be, it is evidently our only interest and economy to act liberally and exert ourselves greatly during the present winter, to cut off at once all the expences of the war, by putting a period to it.
And soon might that day arrive, soon might we hope to enjoy all the blessings of peace, if we could see again the same animation in the cause of our country inspire every breast, the same passion for freedom and military glory impel our youths to the field, and the same disinterested patriotism pervade every rank of men, as was conspicuous at the commencement of this glorious revolution; and I am persuaded, only some great occasion was wanting, such as the present moment exhibits, to rekindle the latent sparks of that patriotic fire into a generous flame, to rouse again the unconquerable spirit of liberty, which has sometimes seemed to slumber for a while, into the full vigor of action.
I cannot now conclude this letter, without expressing my full expectation, that the several states, animated with the noblest principles, and convinced of the policy of complying faithfully with the requisitions, will be only emulous which shall be foremost in furnishing its quota of men; that the calculation of the numbers wanted to fill the deficiency may be so ample, as (allowing for the casualties and deductions) will be sufficient certainly to complete the battalions; that the measures for this purpose, may be so explicit, pointed and energetic, as will inevitably furnish the recruits in season; and that such checks may be established, to prevent imposition as to the quality of the men, that no recruits may be accepted, but those who are in fact able-bodied and effective. Should any of a different description be sent to the army, they must be rejected, the expences thrown away, and the service injured, though others are required to supply their places; for it is only deceiving ourselves, with having a nominal instead of a real force, and consuming the public provisions and clothing to no effect, by attempting to impose decrepit and improper men or boys upon us as soldiers.
The returns before alluded to, being but this moment collected, I regret that it was not possible they should have been forwarded sooner; to prevent a miscarriage or delay, in so important a communication, I have committed them to — who will have the honor of delivering these despatches, and explaining my ideas very perfectly; as he is charged solely with this business he will return as soon as it is negociated, but he is instructed to wait until he can bear such official accounts from you to me, as will fully inform me, what aid may absolutely be relied upon from your state, which, in conjunction with the other reports of a similar nature, must serve as a basis, on which we may build our final plans and arrangements for the ensuing campaign.1
I have the honour to be, &c.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
Philadelphia, 6 February, 1782.
I have received your favor of the 21st of Jany., enclosing the copy of your Letter of the 22 of Octr. to Major-General Stark, which, agreeably to your desire, I return by this conveyance—the arguments and reflections respecting the dispute of the Vermontese, made use of in that Letter, appear so just as well as political, as to be particularly calculated to heal the unhappy disturbances and produce a reconciliation: This is one of the many proofs you have given of your ardent desire to put a period to internal contention, and unite all the separate and jarring interests in prosecuting the great common cause of America.
I have shewed yours of the 21st ulto. to, and conferr’d with the Minister of Foreign Affairs—My sentiments, in general, respecting the necessity of perfect unanimity among ourselves in order to give energy & decision to our collective efforts against the Enemy, are too well known to be insisted upon; for I have had frequent occasion to repeat, that it was my most fervent wish, that all grounds of jealousy and dispute between any districts of the Inhabitants of the United States, which were at variance might be removed by an amicable adjustment of their differences, and that, in my opinion, moderate measures (so long as they can be adopted with propriety) are much more likely than violent ones to produce such a salutary effect—if therefore my public advice in my late circular Letter, or my private opinion, which has been given without reserve on every occasion can be of any avail, I am confident the consideration of all other matters would be swallowed up in or made subservient to the general good of the whole—but as it has ever been a point of delicacy with me, while acting only in a military character, not to interfere in the civil Concerns of the Continent or the Legislatures, except where they are intimately connected with Military matters, I should not think myself at liberty, without deviating from that rule, to intermeddle so far as to dictate particular modes of accommodation (however earnestly I desire it may be effected) especially on a subject which has been under the immediate consideration of Congress itself; whose directions, it is my duty as well as inclination to be guided by.—
I am informed Mr. Ira Allen and Mr. Fay have arrived in this Town from Vermont, on some public business to Congress; what the object of their Mission is I know not. Should any thing interesting transpire I shall communicate it to you.—
Mrs. Washington joins me in presenting her Compliments to Mrs. Schuyler and yourself. I am, &c.
TO THE COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU.
Philadelphia, 9 February, 1782.
I have been honored with your Excellency’s favor of the 12th and 22d ultimo, the last, enclosing copies of General Greene’s letter to you and your answer. After informing you that I concur with you in opinion, that it would not be politic at this moment to move a detachment from your main body to the southward, permit me to assure you, that I very sensibly feel your goodness in determining to advance the legion as soon as possible to the frontiers of North Carolina. I have only to request, that the commanding officer may have orders to proceed further or not as circumstances may require. The move of the legion will be perplexing to the enemy; and, as it has been heretofore the advance corps of your Excellency’s army, you may, I think, give out, (and it will carry with it strong marks of probability,) that your whole army is to follow, as soon as the weather will admit of the march. Supposing the enemy should receive the reinforcement from Ireland, I do not imagine that he will, after the many severe blows he has felt from plunging himself into the country, march to any great distance from Charleston; especially if he consider, that, while France has a naval superiority in the West Indian or American seas, a body of troops might be easily thrown in between him and the town, whereby his ruin would be inevitable.
It would certainly be our true interest, if it could be done, to give General Greene such a force, that he should be able, under all circumstances, to keep the enemy confined to their posts upon the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia; but, should your excellent and valuable body of men be made use of for that purpose, it might possibly interfere with the plan of campaign, which we may shortly expect from your court. Those States, whose troops compose the southern army, will be pressed to send forward reinforcements to General Greene as early and as expeditiously as possible.
I am apprehensive your Excellency will think me unmindful of a most agreeable piece of duty, which I have been directed to perform by Congress. It is the presentation of two of the field-pieces taken at York, with an inscription engraved on them expressive of the occasion. I find a difficulty in getting the engraving properly executed. When it will be finished, I shall with peculiar pleasure put the cannon into your possession.
In an address, which I have lately received from the Senate of the State of Virginia, on account of the surrender of York and Gloucester, I am desired to make their most grateful acknowledgments to your Excellency and to the officers and men under your command, for your eminent services upon that occasion, and to assure you, that they see with pleasure the harmony, which subsists between the inhabitants of the State and their generous allies. I take the first opportunity of making this agreeable communication.
In my letter of the 14th of January, I requested that Lord Rawdon might be exchanged for Brigadier-General Moultrie of South Carolina, in preference to any of the colonels mentioned by Sir Henry Clinton; it being more conformable to our practice than to make exchanges by composition. I now take the liberty of confirming that request.1 I am, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Philadelphia, 18 February, 1782.
I do myself the honor to enclose copies of the reports of the commissary-general of prisoners, who has just returned from New York, with copies of the papers to which he refers. Your Excellency will perceive thereby, that the restriction upon the exchange of Lieutenant-General Earl Cornwallis operates against the liberation of Brigadier-General Scott, seven colonels and two lieutenant-colonels, who, upon the principles of the tariff established between us and the enemy, are equivalent to his Lordship in value.
I also enclose the copy of a letter from Sir Henry Clinton, by which it would appear the exchange of Mr. Laurens might be effected for Earl Cornwallis, should Congress think proper to accede to the proposal. I beg leave to remark upon that letter, that there has been some misconception either on the part of Colonel Laurens or Lord Cornwallis, as to what passed on the subject in Virginia. Colonel Laurens asked me, whether, supposing an exchange could be effected between his father and his Lordship, I should have any objection to it. I answered, none personally, and that, as Congress had made no difficulty in offering General Burgoyne for Mr. Laurens, I thought they might now probably offer Lord Cornwallis, but that the matter did not depend upon me. This I find has been construed into an absolute consent on my part.1
With respect to the policy of prohibiting the exchange of Lord Cornwallis, I will not pretend to determine. I cannot, however, help observing that it operates disagreeably in giving uneasiness to those officers of ours, who can only be exchanged by composition, and who are by the enemy set against him, and that it may be considered as a departure from the spirit of the terms of the capitulation of York.
Mr. Sproat’s proposition of the exchange of British soldiers for American seamen, if acceded to, will immediately give the enemy a very considerable reinforcement, and will be a constant draft hereafter upon the prisoners of war in our hands. It ought also to be considered, that few or none of the naval prisoners in New York and elsewhere belong to the Continental service. I however feel for the situation of these unfortunate people, and wish to see them released by any mode, which will not materially affect the public good. In some former letters upon this subject I have mentioned a plan, by which I am certain they might be liberated nearly as fast as captured. It is by obliging the captains of all armed vessels, both public and private, to throw their prisoners into common stock under the direction of the commissary-general of prisoners. By these means they would be taken care of and regularly applied to the exchange of those in the hands of the enemy. Now the greater part are dissipated, and the few that remain are applied partially. I shall be obliged to your Excellency for obtaining and transmitting me the sentiments of Congress upon these subjects as early as convenient. I have the honor to be, &c.1
TO LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN LAURENS.2
Philadelphia, 18 February, 1782.
My dear Laurens,
I have had the pleasure to receive your favor of the 10th of December, and also the report of the judicious and successful movement of General Greene, by which he compelled the enemy to abandon their out-posts. This brilliant manœuvre is another proof of the singular abilities which that officer possesses.
Since my last despatches from South Carolina I have been informed, via Virginia, of the intelligence General Greene had received, that a reinforcement was expected from Ireland, of the application he had made in consequence to the Count de Rochambeau, and of the resolution the Count had taken of detaching the legion of Lauzun to his aid. I hope this force, together with the corps of Armand, will give such a decided superiority of cavalry, as will prevent the enemy from reoccupying and ravaging the country again, should the whole reinforcement from Ireland arrive. And I must confess, I cannot entirely rely upon it, as I have not heard the intelligence from any other quarter, although a frigate has just arrived at New York with the King of England’s speech, and despatches from administration. Nothing however has transpired except the speech, from the complexion of which no decisive opinion can be formed.
But I think a little time will disclose what the enemy’s intentions are, (should they still persist in the prosecution of the war,) whether they mean to occupy the two great posts of New York and Charleston, or concentrate the whole of their force together. In the former case, reinforcements may undoubtedly be expected; and I know of nothing, which can be opposed to them with such a prospect of success, as the corps you have proposed should be levied in Carolina. To make the campaign decisive is our great object. I wish that the States might be impressed with the necessity of taking their measures accordingly, and that the war might not be procrastinated by want of exertion on our part.1 Believe me, my dear Laurens, I am convinced, under all circumstances, of your unbounded zeal in the service of your country. That success may ever attend you in the pursuit of personal glory and public felicity, is the earnest wish of your affectionate friend, &c.
P. S. The Gentlemen of the family request their affectionate regards may be presented to you.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Philada., 20 February, 1782.
Since my letter to your Excellency of the 18th Inst, I have been honored with the public and secret Resolves of Congress of the same date; the first empowering me to appoint commissioners for the purposes therein mentioned, the last prohibiting the exchange of Lieutt.-General Lord Cornwallis by composition, which is the only mode by which he ever can be exchanged, except for Civil characters, we having no military Grade answerable to his.1
I find myself so exceedingly embarrassed by the operation of the secret Resolve, that I hope Congress will excuse me for pointing out the difficulties in which it involves me personally, and the manner in which it affects, as I conceive, the public good. By the public resolve all former restrictions are taken off, and I am at liberty to go into a general exchange without limitation. When it therefore shall be found, that Lord Cornwallis is still detained, those officers of ours (particularly our full colonels, most of whom can only be exchanged on composition), who will be sufferers on that account, will naturally apply to me for the reasons. I must either submit to their opinions on a conduct so apparently strange, or, to justify myself, must be under the necessity of betraying a secret vote of Congress.
In order more clearly to point out the manner, in which the secret resolve, if adhered to, will operate against the public interest, I must beg leave to request the attention of Congress to a short recital of the reasons, which induced me, at this particular time, to propose a meeting of commissioners to the British Commander-in-chief.
On my return from Virginia, the superintendent of Finance informed me, that the subsistence of the prisoners of war had now become so serious a matter, that there was an absolute necessity of endeavoring to obtain payment of the money already due to us upon that account, and at all events to fix upon some certain and regular mode of payment for their maintenance in future. In order to effect these, he advised my making propositions to Sir Henry Clinton to appoint commissioners, not only to liquidate the accounts of prisoners, but to endeavor, by the establishment of a permanent Cartel (a matter, which we have never yet been able to obtain), to adjust a number of points relating to the exchanges and accommodation of Prisoners, and for want of which, individuals, as well subjects of the United States as those of Great Britain, are daily suffering.
Sir Henry Clinton, after several letters had passed upon the subject, acceded to the proposition in the most extensive sense. Commissioners were named, and I only waited for the authority of Congress to enable me to invest the Commissioners on our part with proper powers. This by the public resolve of the 18th is amply granted, but by the subsequent secret resolve in a manner done away. The powers of our commissioners can only have reference to the public resolve, and whatever stipulations are entered into will be upon a confidence, that no further obstructions will be thrown in the way. The exchange of Lord Cornwallis (as heretofore) would be one of the first things demanded; and, should that be rejected, as it must be, the enemy would not only have it in their power to tax us with breach of faith, but they might recede in turn from any part of their agreements; and it is to be feared, that they would pitch upon that respecting the payment for the maintenance of their Prisoners, as it will be a weighty matter to them, and one which they can evade with less inconvenience than almost any other, as we have a very great number of theirs to support, and they few of ours.
In addition to what I have said, I have only further to remark, that the Gentlemen, who have been named by me to execute the Commission, have objections to going upon it, except they can meet those from the British on fair and open terms. This can only be done either by withdrawing the secret vote entirely, or by adhering publicly to the resolution of detaining Lord Cornwallis, and trying what can be effected under such circumstances. The last would remove my personal scruples, (if it should not be deemed a violation of the capitulation); but I fear, as I before mentioned, that the general interest would suffer by the measure. We never can expect that such a cartel, as will be really beneficial to us, will be acceded to while an officer of Lord Cornwallis’s high rank and Family influence is excepted, nor indeed while a power is reserved or implied of being able to deprive of the right of exchange any other officer, who may hereafter as a Prisoner of war become entitled to the advantages of a stipulation of such a nature as a Cartel.1
I ever with diffidence enter into discussions of the above kind, and I am now more than commonly apprehensive, that my conduct may appear reprehensible, as Congress have been pleased, upon several late applications, to adhere to their former opinions respecting Lord Cornwallis. Had I not foreseen new difficulties arising from restricting his exchange, I should have deemed myself as inexcusable in further controverting the will of Congress, as I should have been, had I remained silent when I thought my voice might have conduced to the general good. That that has been my only motive for taking up so much of your time I beg you will believe, as sincerely as that I am, with the utmost respect, &c.2
TO MAJOR-GENERAL HEATH.
Philadelphia, 28 February, 1782.
* * * Had the valuable storeship the Marquis la Fayette arrived safe from France, we should have had it in our power to have supplied the officers with the necessary Articles of Cloathing out of the public Magazine; but she unfortunately miscarried. The Financier upon being informed of this and knowing the distress of the greater part of the officers, who had now no right to place any further dependence upon their States, they being called upon for a sum equal to the whole expences of the war, immediately set about devising a plan by which he could afford relief to their wants, without involving himself deeper in those difficulties with which he is perplexed by the scantiness of public funds.
Upon enquiry he found Gentlemen of extensive commercial Credit (Messrs. Sands & Co.) willing to supply a quantity of goods proper for the Army at their places of Cantonment upon a credit of six months and upon as low terms as they could be procured else where. He therefore fixed upon the measure which is now about to be adopted, that of giving each officer a note for a certain sum payable in 6 months, which the owners of the goods will receive in payment. But there is no obligation upon any officer to take these notes, or, after he has received them, to purchase Cloathing of Mr. Sands. Should he have supplied himself before hand, he may keep them untill the time of payment, which will be punctually complied with—he may discount them—or he may lay them out in any kind of Stores for the Campaign. The great object was to procure a supply of Cloathing of which the bulk of the officers were undoubtedly in want. Mr. Morris very prudently foresaw, that the end would not be answered except a person could be procured who would engage to furnish a quantity of goods and to take the promissory notes at their full value. In this I flatter myself he has succeeded, as I am informed by those Gentlemen who have taken up Goods from Mr. Sands that they have been perfectly satisfied with his prices.
It is to be hoped if the States comply in any degree with the requisitions upon them, that we shall be able to put both officers and men upon as good and regular a footing for pay as they are now—for Cloathing and provision, to which it was certainly wise first to attend—The new taxes cannot be expected to come into use for some time, and therefore the kind of anticipation which the Financier has hit upon was a matter of necessity, not of choice, and as such, I hope it will be received by the Gentlemen of the Army, who will be certainly benefitted by it.
I am, &c.
CIRCULAR TO THE EASTERN AND MIDDLE STATES.
Philadelphia, 5 March, 1782.
The operations of next Campaign being contingent—depending in a great degree upon measures which are not within my controul—and very much upon the plans of the Enemy & their efforts to carry them into execution—it is impossible for me, at this time to say whether any, or how many militia ye States in this part of the Continent may be called upon to furnish for the purposes of the Ensuing Campaign: but as I persuade myself it is the wish of every one of them to see a vigorous offensive plan prosecuted with a view of terminating the war honorably and speedily; it becomes my duty to inform them that, the Continental force, (admitting the Battalions should be compleated) aided by any Auxiliary Troops that I have any expectations of, is totally inadequate to the first & great object which presents itself to our view and therefore it may be essential to my future plans that the Executive powers of the States should be—if they are not so already—vested with sufficient Authority to call forth, properly equipped, such a body of Militia as the exigences of Service may require—the demand will not be made but in case of necessity—and will be postponed as long as possible—the consequences therefore of a want of such powers, or of the delay, occasioned by calling an Assembly, on such an emergency, might prove fatal to our operations—and injurious to our cause.
I need not add how much it is my wish and desire, and how much the public interest will be promoted by it, that the Continental Regiments should be compleated—every man, of which these are deficient, will add to the draught of Militia; and doubly to the public expences while the Troops will not be so competent to the purposes for which they are wanted, to say nothing of the disadvantages which Agriculture and Manufactures will sustain, by having the laborers and artisans called off from their work.—I would beg leave to suggest that the longer term militia can be drawn out for, the more beneficial and less expensive will their Services be, and that, in case of a siege, they ought to be engaged during the continuance of it, or until relieved by an equal number so that the operating strength may not be diminished at a critical moment when it may be most wanted.
TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL WILLIAM IRVINE.
You will proceed with all convenient despatch to Fort Pitt, the object of your command, and you will take such measures for the security of that post and for the defence of the western frontier, as your Continental force combined with the militia of the neighboring country will admit of. Under present appearances and circumstances, I can promise no further addition to your regular force, than a proportion of recruits for the Virginia and Pennsylvania regiments, which are already upon the western station; consequently offensive operations, except upon a small scale, cannot just now be brought into contemplation. You may, however, still continue to keep yourself informed of the situation of Detroit, and the strength of the enemy at that place.
With respect to the subject of the letters, which you have lately received from Colonel Gibson, I can only repeat what I have said to you personally. You must endeavor to convince both officers and men, that measures are actually taking to put them upon such a footing with regard to their provisions, clothing, and pay, that it is to be hoped they will ere long have no reason to complain. They will have already found the difference between their past and present mode of obtaining provisions and clothes; and they cannot therefore doubt, that the only remaining difficulty, (which is on account of pay,) will be removed as soon as the financier can reap the advantages of the taxes for the current year, which are but just laid, and cannot therefore come yet into use. The officers and men must, upon a moment’s reflection, be convinced of the wisdom of applying the public money in hand to procuring victuals and clothes. They cannot be dispensed with even for a day; and when both are assured that certificates of pay, due to the 1st of the present year, will be given with interest, and that pay thenceforward will be more regular and as frequent as the public treasury will admit, they ought to be satisfied.
Should the troops composing the western garrisons, be discontented with their situation, and think that they are partially dealt by, you may make them an offer of being relieved and of taking their chance of the emoluments, which they may suppose accrue to those serving with either the northern or southern armies. There may be policy in this offer, because, if I am not mistaken, most of the men, who have connexions in the upper country, would rather remain there at some disadvantage than be brought away from their families. * * *
8 March, 1782.
TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL KNOX AND GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
The powers of equal date herewith authorize you to proceed to Elizabethtown, in the State of New Jersey, in order to meet commissioners on the part of the enemy, on Friday, the 15th1 instant, for the purposes in the powers fully recited.
You will consider the settlement of accounts for the subsistence of prisoners of all descriptions from the commencement of the war to NA ; obtaining payment, or security for the payment, of the large balance, which it is presumed was due to the United States at that period, and establishing some certain arrangements for the regular payment of the subsistance of prisoners from that time forward as the principal objects of your commission.
From the want of an appointment of a commissary of prisoners until some time after the commencement of the war, from the variety of hands to which the charge of prisoners was committed, and from the little attention, which was for a long time paid to the sums expended for their support, I fear it will be difficult for you to collect the materials necessary to form an account sufficiently accurate to satisfy yourselves, or to gain credit with the commissioners on the part of the enemy. And it is also probable, that the accounts, which will be produced by them, will be alike subject to many objections for want of proper vouchers and other causes.
You are therefore at liberty, if you find no probability of being able to make a regular settlement, to compound the matter, by fixing upon such a sum as shall appear to you reasonable, which sum shall, upon payment, be looked upon as a full and final discharge of all demands on the part of the United States from the commencement of the war to the time which you shall specify. You are, then, in order to prevent all future disputes, to determine, to what a ration for the support of a prisoner of war shall mutually consist; the value of that ration, not only in whole, but in its component parts; what vouchers shall be esteemed mutually valid; and obtain and give proper assurances for the regular monthly, quarterly, &c., payments of the balances, as they may respectively become due.
Before you proceed to the negotiation of exchanges, you will pay due regard to the resolve of Congress of the 23d of February last, (with copy of which you are furnished,) which authorizes the exchange of Lieutenant-General Earl Cornwallis only upon certain conditions therein specified. By the word liberated, in the resolve referred to, it is not to be understood, that Mr. Laurens is to be given up without any equivalent. At what the enemy will rate him is uncertain. Congress once offered a lieutenant-general for him; and, if the same should be demanded now, and insisted upon, you are at liberty to comply. If circumstances should render the exchange of Lord Cornwallis impracticable, the respective commissaries of prisoners may proceed to the exchange of other officers; and, if the enemy should persist in their resolution of detaining a certain number of our officers of rank, as a counter security to our detention of Lord Cornwallis, it may be submitted to, upon the following principle, that it will be be better for four or five gentlemen (the number who will be involved) to remain in captivity, than the whole, amounting to considerably above one hundred.1
In compliance with a resolve of Congress of the 20th of December last, (copy of which and some papers relating to it you have herewith,) you will enter into a discussion with the British commissioners upon the powers and conduct of the Board of Directors to the Associated Loyalists in New York, and you will endeavor to devise some means for the prevention of that kind of depredation, which is complained of. On this subject you will do nothing conclusive, but report to me the substance of the measures, which may have seemed to the British commissioners and yourselves most likely to answer the end.
I recommend to your particular attention the case of one Summers, a native of Pennsylvania, taken in 1778, and yet detained upon Long Island, notwithstanding every reasonable offer has been made to procure his exchange. The commissary of prisoners can inform you fully of his situation and circumstances.
Should you enter into either a general or special cartel, you will endeavor to stipulate, that, in future, citizens not in arms shall not be considered as subjects of capture, but in particular cases, such as for instance for guides, for intelligence, and such like purposes; and that they shall be well treated, and discharged after the ends for which they were captured are answered.
Should the admiral accede to my proposition of sending commissioners to meet you, on the subject of the treatment and exchange of marine prisoners, you will endeavor in the first place to obtain a change in the mode of keeping our seamen confined. The daily complaint of the miseries incident to confinement on board prison-ships will authorize you to remonstrate warmly on that head, and to insist upon an alteration of conduct. In respect to the support and mode of payment for the subsistence of seamen, you will be guided by the instruction relating to the rations of soldiers.
You are acquainted with the difficulties under which we labor, as to the means of procuring the exchange of the American seamen, who fall into the hands of the enemy. It but rarely happens, that those captured by private vessels of war are given up to the Continental commissaries. Some are taken into our service, many escape through negligence, and therefore it is that the balance of marine prisoners has been generally greatly against us. The mode proposed by Admiral Digby of giving up land prisoners for seamen is altogether inadmissible. It would prove a constant source of reinforcement to the enemy. Under present circumstances I do not see, that you can come to any final determination upon the mode of exchanging or liberating seamen. Should commissaries meet you on that subject, you will in conjunction with them form a plan, which may be deemed mutually equitable and convenient, and report upon it.
You have herewith the copies of the letters, which have passed between the British general and admiral and myself upon the subject of your commission. The superintendent of finance will furnish you with materials for stating our claims for subsistence of prisoners, so far as he has been able to obtain them; and the commissary of prisoners will furnish you with any official papers, which may be in his possession, and which may be found necessary to the accomplishment of a general or special cartel. Given under my hand and seal, at Philadelphia, the 11th day of March, 1782.
P. S. Since the above, I have been furnished by Congress with a number of representations respecting the treatment of our marine prisoners. I have thought it proper to put them into your hands, that you may make the necessary use of them.
TO JAMES McHENRY.
Philadelphia, 12 March, 1782.
My dear Sir,
The fair hand, to whom your letter of the 20th of January was committed, presented it safe, and, as you very truly observed, the value of it was enhanced by it. Good laws, ample means, and sufficient powers, may render the birth of your intendant1 a public benefit; and, from the spirit of your people, I hope these are provided. Without them, the appointment must be nugatory. Never, since the commencement of the present revolution, has there been in my judgment a period, when vigorous measures were more consonant to sound policy than the present. The speech of the British King, and the addresses of the Lords and Commons, are proofs as clear as Holy Writ to me of two things;—their wishes to prosecute the American war, and their fears of the consequences. My opinion, therefore, of the matter is, that the minister will obtain supplies for the current year, prepare vigorously for another campaign, and then prosecute the war, or treat of peace, as circumstances and fortuitous events may justify; and that nothing will contribute more to the first, than a relaxation or apparent suppineness on the part of these States. The debates upon the addresses evidently prove, what I have here advanced, to be true; for according to the explanation of them, [they] are meant to answer any purpose the ministers may have in view. What madness then can be greater, or policy and economy worse, than to let the enemy again rise upon our folly and want of exertion? Shall we not be justly chargeable for all the blood and treasure, which shall be wasted in a lingering war, procrastinated by false expectations of peace, or timid measures for prosecuting the war? Surely we shall; and much is it to be lamented, that our endeavors do not at all times accord with our wishes. Each State is anxious to see the end of our warfare, but shrinks when it is called upon for the means to accomplish it; and either withholds altogether, or grants them in such a manner as to defeat the end. Such, it is to be feared, will be the case in many instances respecting the requisitions of men and money.
I have the pleasure, however, to inform you, that the Assembly of this State,1 now sitting, have passed their supply-bill without a dissenting voice, and that a laudable spirit seems to pervade all the members of that body; but I fear, notwithstanding, they will be deficient of their quota of men. It is idle at this late period of the war, when enthusiasm is cooled, if not done away, when the minds of that class of men, who are fit subjects for soldiers, are poisoned by the high bounties which have been given, and the knowledge of the distresses under which the army has groaned is so generally diffused through every State, to suppose that our battalions can be completed by voluntary enlistment. The attempt is vain, and we are only deceiving ourselves and injuring the cause by making the experiment. There is no other effectual method to get men suddenly, but that of classing the people, and compelling each class to furnish a recruit. Here every man is interested; every man becomes a recruiting officer. If our necessity for men did not press, I should prefer the mode of voluntary enlistment to all others; but as it does, I am sure it will not answer, and that the season for enterprise will be upon us long ere we are prepared for the field.
The anxious state of suspense, in which we have been for some time, and still remain, respecting the naval engagement in the West Indies and the attempt upon Brimstone Hill in the Island of St. Kitt’s, is disagreeable beyond description. The issue of these events must be very interesting, and may give a very unfavorable turn to affairs in that quarter, and on this continent in consequence of it.
Mrs. Washington joins me in comp’ts to the good ladies of your acquaintance and to yourself. I am, &c.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL GREENE.
Philadelphia, 18 March, 1782.
My dear Sir,
* * * * * *
It gives me the more pain to hear of your distresses for want of clothing and other necessaries, as you are at so great a distance, that you cannot be suddenly relieved, even if we had the means. I am not, however, without hopes, that, should the war be continued to the southward (of which I have my doubts, for reasons which I shall presently give), matters will be put into a much better train than they have hitherto been. The arrangements made already, by the superintendent of finance, have been attended with infinite public advantages, and he is extending those arrangements as fast as circumstances will possibly admit. I am sorry to see a jealousy, arising from a supposition there has been a partiality of conduct. I am certain that there has been no such intention, and that, instead of a charge of having done too little, it will soon be a matter of wonder how Mr. Morris has done so much with so small means. As I know he corresponds with you on the affairs of his department, I shall content myself with saying, that, before Colonel Carrington leaves town, measures will be taken to enable him to make provision in future for the ready transportation of stores, and for the accommodation of troops moving to the southward. It is agreed that the elaboratory shall be removed from Richmond to New London.
In my former letters upon this subject, I acquainted you with the reasons, which operated against Count de Rochambeau’s detaching more than the legion of Lauzun towards South Carolina, upon your requisition for a reinforcement.1 Although my instructions to you did not mention a power to call upon the Count for assistance, yet I look upon it as implied in my desire to you to correspond with him. The circumstances of the moment must determine whether any or what can be spared by him.
By late advices from Europe, and from the declarations of the British ministers themselves, it appears, that they have done with all thoughts of an excursive war, and that they mean to send small, if any further reinforcements to America. It may be also tolerably plainly seen, that they do not mean to hold all their present posts, and that New York will be occupied in preference to any other. Hence, and from other indications, I am induced to believe that an evacuation of the southern States will take place. Should this happen, we must concentre our force as the enemy do theirs. You will, therefore, upon the appearance of such an event, immediately make preparations for the march of the army under your command to the northward. What troops shall, in that case, be left in the southern States, will be a matter of future discussion.1
No other reinforcement went from New York to South Carolina, than that of the four hundred who had arrived. Letters, which you had not received when you last wrote, will have informed you, that our first intelligence respecting the number of men embarked were false. With the highest sentiments of esteem, I am, my dear Sir, &c.
TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL KNOX AND GOUVERNEUR MORRIS, AT ELIZABETHTOWN.
Morristown, 28 March, 1782.
I have had intimations, that, under the idea of the cessation of hostilities within certain limits, a number of people intend to come over from New York to our lines. To prevent all intercourse of this kind is the principal design of this letter. Sir William Howe, on a former occasion, proposed that a neutrality should take place to a certain distance from the spot where our commissioners were to assemble, in order that they might not meet with any interruption in the transaction of their business, from the hostilities and alarms, which might otherwise have happened in the neighbourhood of them. It was upon this principle, and for this reason, that the present proposal was made on my part; nor was it indeed, or could be construed, to extend any farther.
It is therefore my particular desire, that no persons coming from the enemy may be permitted to land, except the commissioners and those immediately connected with them. And, as I think it expedient, not only to prevent new channels of communication with the enemy from being opened, but as far as practicable to shut the former, I could wish you would take the trouble to inform yourselves of the practice of sending and receiving flags on the lines, and point out such alterations and regulations as you shall deem proper to prevent the evils, which have been complained of, as resulting from too frequent an intercourse with the enemy.
I have been informed by the commissary of prisoners, that the enemy are preparing to send out a considerable quantity of goods, under the sanction of passports granted by me for bringing out clothing, necessaries &c. for the use of their prisoners. This is so contrary to my intention, and may be productive of such ill consequence, that I have sent Colonel Smith to explain the matter to you, and to request you will examine the list, and signify what articles should be considered as necessaries, and what quantity ought to be permitted to be sent out. Mr. Skinner is directed to give you the necessary information. He will also explain to you the mode, which has prevailed, of making partial exchanges. This subject I need not recommend particularly, as it is comprehended within the limits of your commission. I have the honor to be, &c.1
TO COLONEL MATTHIAS OGDEN.
The spirit of enterprise, so conspicuous in your plan for surprising in their quarters and bringing off the Prince William Henry and Admiral Digby, merits applause; and you have my authority to make the attempt, in any manner, and at such a time, as your own judgment shall direct. I am fully persuaded, that it is unnecessary to caution you against offering insult or indignity to the persons of the Prince and Admiral, should you be so fortunate as to capture them; but it may not be amiss to press the propriety of a proper line of conduct upon the party you command.
In case of success, you will, as soon as you get them to a place of safety, treat them with all possible respect; but you are to delay no time in conveying them to Congress, and reporting your proceedings with a copy of these orders. Take care not to touch upon the ground, which is agreed to be neutral, namely, from Newark to Rahway and four miles back. Given at Head-Quarters [Morristown] this 28th day of March, 1782.1
TO THE GENERAL OFFICERS.
Newburgh, 15 April, 1782.
The Commander-in-Chief states to the General Officers,
That, from the best information he has been able to obtain, the regular force of the enemy in New York, at this time, including their established Provincial Corps, amounts at least, to nine thousand men.
That the City Militia, Volunteer Companies, Rangers, and some other small Corps in the Town, amounted by a report made to the Secretary of State in the Winter of 1780 (when the enemy apprehended an attack on N. York & were preparing for defence) to 3390 Men, exclusive of Sailors & Marines—and that this is the best criterion by which he can form judgment of their present strength.
That the enemy’s force in Charles Town by the last information & estimation of it consisted of 3300 Men.
That the Garrison of Savanna, in Georgia, he conceives, can not be less than 700 Men.
That even among men of political knowledge & judgment a diversity of sentiment prevails respecting the evacuation of the Southern States.—That if this event should take place & the whole force of the enemy shd. be concentrated at New York it will stand thus:
Under this state of the Enemy’s force the Commander-in-Chief requests the opinion of the Genl. Officers seperately & in writing upon the following hypothetical questions.
First.—Supposing the Enemy’s force at New York to be as above — That they retain possession of the Harbor of New York—and that, they have a naval superiority upon this Coast.
Secondly.—Supposing the same force—that they keep possession of the harbor—but loose their superiority at sea.
Thirdly.—That they shall have the same force in the City—but shall loose the command of the Water both in the harbor & at Sea.
Is there, it is asked, a probability in all or either of these cases that we shall be able to obtain Men, & means sufficient to undertake the seige of New York?
—What efficient force will be necessary for the enterprise in the cases wch. may be deemed practicable? And what number of Militia ought to be demanded to secure this force?
If the enemy should not reinforce New York with their Southern Troops—and none should arrive from Europe, their force at that place will then be
The Commander-in-Chief propounds the same questions—identically—on this number as he did on the larger one (of 16,390) & requests that they may be answered accordingly—numbers only making the difference of the cases.
That every information may be received which is in the power of the General to give to form a judgmt. on these questions—heard—
That the Northern Army will (at present) be composed of the Regiments from New Hampshire to New Jersey inclusive—also of Hazen’s; Lamb’s & Crane’s Regiments of Artillery and Sheldons Legionary Corps—
That the total number of the R. & File in the above Regiments of Infantry, by the last Genl. return in his possession amounts to 8,005—but from this the deductions incident to all services & peculiar to ours, are to be made, to come at the efficient strength.
That it is not in his power to inform what strength these Regiments will be brought to in season for an operation against New York.—he can only say that every argument he was master of has been urged to the respective States to have them compleated to their full establishment.—
That in case the enemy shd. evacuate the Southern States, the Continental Troops in that Qr. as far at least as North Carolina, will be ordered to rejoin the Main Army; but their numbers being small, and the March great, the support from them cannot be much—2500 Men is the most that can be expected.
That in the month of March last, he apprised the States from Delaware Eastward, that the Plans, & operations of the Campaign might require a considerable aid of Militia; & entreated that the Executive of each might, to avoid delay, be vested with sufficient powers to order them out for three months Service, to commence on their joining the Army—and
That the French force on the Continent at this time, does not, he believes, exceed 4000 effective Men—whether any or what further succors are to be expected from our allies is, as yet, unknown to him.
The Commander-in-Chief concludes the above state of matters with the following observations, that offensive operations of whatever kind they may be (being generally the result of choice) ought to be undertaken with due consideration of all circumstances & a moral certainty of succeeding; for besides involving the Public in a heavy expence, wch. the situation of our affairs can illy afford, disgrace & censure scarce ever fail to attend unsuccessfull Plans—while the enemy acquire spirits by and triumph at our misfortunes.
TO JOHN LEWIS (FREDERICKSBURG).
Newburgh, 17 April, 1782.
I have heard, and sincerely lament, the death of your Father; and my concern is increased by the information in your letter of the 24th ulto., of his dying much indebted.
So far as I am interested in the Lands which he has directed, by his will, to be sold, I consent to the disposal of them on twelve months credit. The necessity however of selling them, at this time, is to be regretted; as Lands, except such as happen to be under peculiar circumstances must sell to a disadvantage when they are not in general demand, and when there is a dearth of money,—especially those which have been, and may again be exposed to the invasions of the enemy, as is the case of the lands purchased by Doctrs. Wright and Jones. I mean this as a general observation, not to oppose it to the sales you have in contemplat’n. For I am convinced from experience, that Lands far removed from the Proprietors of them—however valuable in themselves—are very unprofitable,—and because I as well as your Father’s estate, stand in need of the money which my part of them will fetch. When I say this, I take it for granted, that you do not mean to sell these Lands unless you can get the value of them, or near it; because this would not only defeat the end you have in view, but do injustice to Doct’r Walker and myself.
I have not a sufficient recollection of them (especially the Tracts in which Doctr. Walker holds a share) to describe any of them accurately. With respect to Norfleet’s,1 it is in No. Carolina near the line, and upon the great road leading from Suffolk to Edenton—ab’t 16 miles from the former; which is, or was, a place of very extensive trade—there ought to be (if my memory serves me) upwards of a thousand acres in the tract, for which, I think, we gave £1200, and sunk a great deal more by keeping it two or three years in our own hands. The Land is level, and I believe well timbered—capable of great improvement, there being upw’ds of 400 acres of exceeding rich and open meadow ground belonging to the Tract—a great part of which is, or was ditched, and in grass, and other kinds of cultivation. The Lands purchased of Jones & Doct’r Wright lye between Norfolk & Suffolk, 6 or 8 m. from the latter, & on or near Nansemond River. They are, if I recollect right, well timbered and of good quality—level (as all the Land thereabouts is) and capable of being rendered exceedingly valuable. I do not remember what kind of buildings are on the last mentioned Tracts—the other (Norfleet’s) had a good dwelling House & Kitchen with Brick Chimnies, & a Barn; but as it is at least ten or twelve years since I have been in that part of the Country, great changes may have taken place since. A large slipe of the Meadow land has, I am told, been taken from us; whether by legal process, or not, I am unable to say. * * *
TO THE GENERAL AND FIELD OFFICERS OF THE ARMY.
Head Quarters, April 19, 1782.
The Commander-in-chief submits the papers accompanying this, containing the case of Captain Joshua Huddy, lately hanged within the county of Monmouth in New Jersey State by a party of the enemy, to the consideration of the general officers and command’g officers of brigades and regiments, and thereupon requests from them, separately and in writing, a direct and laconic reply to the following queries, viz.:
1. Upon the state of facts in the above case, is retaliation justifiable and expedient?
2. If justifiable, ought it to take place immediately, or should a previous representation be made to Sir Henry Clinton, and satisfaction be demanded from him?
3. In case of representation and demand, who should be the person or persons to be required?
4. In case of refusal, and retaliation becoming necessary, of what description shall the officer be, on whom it is to take place; and how shall he be designated for the purpose?1
TO BARTHOLOMEW DANDRIDGE.
Newburgh, 20 April, 1782.
Since my last to you from Philadelphia I have been favoured with your Letter of the 20th ulto. from New Kent.
How far it is proper or improper to delay the appointment of a Guardian or Guardians to Mr. Custis’s children I shall not take upon me to decide, but this I am clear in, and beg leave again to urge it, that whenever the necessity for it arrives you shou’d take upon yourself the trust. I confess to you candidly, that I see very little prospect of the War’s ending with this Campaign, or if it does that I shall have leizure to engage in New Matters. My own affairs will, I am convinced, be found in a very perplexed condition. All my Book Acc’ts, Bonds, &c., stand as I left them (except those which have been discharged with depreciated notes)—But this is not all—matters which relate immediately to myself is the least of my concern. Unfortunately for me, I became, much against my inclination, but at the earnest request of Colo. Thos. Colvill, one of his Executors to an Estate which was left under the most peculiar circumstances imaginable, as it was intricately involved with an Estate of his Brother’s (who had died before him)—and in Legacies to people in England—not by name, but by description and descent almost from Adam; who had given infinite trouble before I left Virginia by their claims, unsatisfactory proofs of their descent, discontents, &c. The other Executor—a Mr. West—whom it was intended by the Testator should, and who ought to have had all the trouble, died three or four years ago; and from an indolence of disposition, inattention to business, and bad acc’ts, has, I fear, made that which at best would have been exceedingly troublesome in a great degree perplexing and difficult, so that I have not only all these difficulties to encounter, but shall think myself very fortunate if I escape without loss. Besides this business I stand alone in another which is also under very peculiar circumstances—I mean my transactions under a power of attorney from Colo. Geo. Mercer, and his mortgages to Colo. Tayloe and myself; in which I disposed of his Estate to the Am’t. of £14,000, payable the Nov’r. succeeding my leaving home, and left the business with Colo. Tayloe to finish; but this Gent’n never took one single direct or proper step in it while he was in a condition so to do, and died insane; so that, that matter stands on a most wretched and ruinous footing. Add to this, that yielding to the pressing solicitation of my neighbor Colo. Fairfax, when he was about to leave the Country, I accepted of a power of attorney authorising me to direct his business, which when I left Virginia, was (after selling good part of his personal Estate) left at sixes and sevens.
In a word, I see so many perplexing and intricate matters before me, which must be the work of time to arrange and bring to a conclusion, that it would be injurious to the children, and madness in me, to undertake, as a principle, a trust which I could not discharge. Such aid however, as it ever may be with me to give to the children, especially the boy, I will afford with all my heart, with all my soul, and on the assurance of it you may rely.
Inclosed you have a copy of my Acct. with Mr. Custis, settled by Colo. Mason as the mutual friend to us both. I have no doubt but that every Article of Debit and Credit contained in it, is right; but that there is a dificiency in the acct. is obvious from the face of it, when compared with known facts. This acc’t. carries with it, the appearance of a final settlement—comprehending all our dealings up to the date—to wit, the 28th of June, 1778. Whereas the fact is, that all articles of charge, or credit between that period and the settlem’t, with the Gen’l Court on the 4th Nov., 1773, are omitted; many of which may be important, one I know to be so, and that is the rent of the dower Estate near Wmsburg. during that Interval. This imperfection in the settle’t I can only acct. for by their having (as I directed for Colo. Mason’s satisfaction) recourse to certified copies of the last settled acc’ts as Vouchers with the Gen’l Court, and their not attending, or perhaps knowing of the open one on my Books, by which means the whole of it is excluded. I shall write to Mr. Lund Washington (by this conveyance) for a copy of the open acc’t subsequent to the date of that settled with the Court, and previous to my leaving Virginia in May, 1775, as also for any acc’ts which he on my behalf may have raised since, and will send them both to you.
You also have inclosed, a Copy of Mr. Custis’s Bond to and Agreement with me, at the time I relinquished all my right to and property in the Dower Estate except the Negros under that description which I had on my Estate of Mount Vernon. At the time of Bargaining, I gave him all the Horses and implements of Husbandry at the Plantation; but he was to pay for the stock of every kind which should be found thereon, at such rates as Colo. Bassett might affix to them; 47 of the cattle, however, he removed to his seat in Fairfax before any valuation was made; the remainder was appraised by Colo. Bassett on the 21st of December in that year (1778), in the manner, and to the amount of the inclosed list—the 47 head also included in this list was valued the September following at the rate of £40 pr. head by Colo. Bassett—in consequence I suppose, of the depreciation; but to this Mr. Custis objected on account, he alledged, of the extravagant price which by the by appeared only so in sound. However, as I wanted nothing more than the real value, and was persuaded he meant to do me justice, I wrote him that the matter might be settled in any manner consistently with these views—so the matter (I believe) has rested ever since.
Thus, my dear Sir, have I given you every information in my power respecting the State of my Acc’ts with Mr. Custis. When I get, and can send you the Acc’ts which I am now writing to Mr. Lund Washington for, you will have the whole Matter as fully before you as it is in my power to place it.
If the Legislature of Virga. will not put it in the power of Individuals to recover Debts, it would be extremely hard upon Mr. Custis’s Heirs to have their property sold to discharge his; when there are such ample means to do it without; if they could be got at, and when, if property was to be sold on credit, there might be the same difficulty to obtain the money arising from the Sales as there is to come at that which is already due. As the Assembly has called in all the Paper Money, it can no longer I presume be a tender, but if the case had been otherwise the mere attempt to do it is so incompatible with my ideas of common honesty, and is of so fraudulent a nature that I should have advised the refusal of it in every instance. The Articles which you propose to sell, to wit—Horses and Mares, can well be spared; for I think they contribute more to the amusement than profit of the raiser at any time, and without the latter, there can be no plea for the former in the Instance before us. Without the Household furniture Mrs. Custis cannot do; this therefore ought not to be sold.
I had no particular reason for keeping and handing down to his son the Books of the late Colo. Custis, saving that I thought it would be taking the advantage of a low appraisement to make them my own property at it; and that to sell them was not an object, as they might be useful to him. How far these considerations should weigh at a time when Money is wanting, you are the best judge of. I am exceedingly glad to hear that you found your family well on your return from Fairfax, and that yr. own health was improved by the Trip. Your Sister joins me in the most Affecte. Manner to all Friends, & I am, &c.
TO SIR HENRY CLINTON.
Head-Quarters, 21 April, 1782.
The enclosed representation from the inhabitants of the county of Monmouth, with testimonials to the facts which can be corroborated by other unquestionable evidence, will bring before your Excellency the most wanton, unprecedented, and inhuman murder, that ever disgraced the arms of a civilized people.
I shall not, because I believe it to be altogether unnecessary, trouble your Excellency with any animadversions upon this transaction. Candor obliges me to be explicit. To save the innocent, I demand the guilty. Captain Lippincot, therefore, or the officer who commanded at the execution of Captain Huddy, must be given up; or, if that officer was of inferior rank to him, so many of the perpetrators as will, according to the tariff of exchange, be an equivalent. To do this, will mark the justice of your Excellency’s character. In failure of it, I shall hold myself justifiable, in the eyes of God and man, for the measure to which I shall resort.
I beg your Excellency to be persuaded, that it cannot be more disagreeable to you to be addressed in this language, than it is to me to offer it; but the subject requires frankness and decision. I have to request your speedy determination, as my resolution is suspended but for your answer. I am, Sir, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL GREENE.
Your favor of the 8th of Feby. was acknowledged in mine of the 18th of March.
I have now received yours of the 9th ultimo from Pompton, covering the correspondence you have had with the Count de Rochambeau, and a general return of your Army.
Your apprehensions, in consequence of the movement of the legion of Lauzun, need not be much alarmed; the present situation of the enemy in New York, I am persuaded, will not afford any reinforcements to your quarter.
The recruits raising in the States, from whence your army is composed, are completing as far as circumstances will admit, and, if needed, will be ready to go to you as early as the operations of the campaign are decided; which, at present, from a variety of circumstances, (among which a want of intelligence from Europe is not the least,) are held in a state of uncertainty. The State of Maryland had some time ago about three hundred men enlisted, and waiting only for their clothes, which have been sent on from Philadelphia. A number also is collected in Pennsylvania. But, until our information respecting the enemy’s intentions, and their future mode of war, is more clearly ascertained, as well as our knowledge of the support and assistance, which we expect from our ally, it may not be well to hasten on the recruits to your army. You are not insensible of the disadvantages we have ever experienced in attempts to reinforce at your distance by land; it having hitherto proved a weakening of the main army, without any essential augmentation to yours.
In present circumstances, without the aid of naval forces and water conveyance, your own experience and the general knowledge you have of the country will readily decide upon the impracticability of transporting by land such heavy stores and artillery, as would benecessary for great operations. So that you have only to content yourself with such a force as will be competent to the purpose of confining the enemy to their lines, and preventing them from carrying their ravages into the country. I wait with impatience for intelligence, which will decide the intentions of the enemy, and fix the operations of the campaign on our part. This, I hope, is not far distant. I am, &c.1
TO THE SECRETARY AT WAR.
Finding the commissioners appointed to liquidate the accounts of moneys due for the maintenance of prisoners, and make permanent provision for their future support, have separated without accomplishing any thing, I think it highly expedient, that measures should be adopted, at this moment, for taking the German prisoners of war into our service. As this measure has been considerably agitated, I shall not amplify upon the justice and propriety of it, which to me seem very obvious. I am equally well persuaded of the policy there will be in augmenting every company with at least ten of these men, or more if they can be obtained; for I am convinced, that, by such an incorporation, they will make exceedingly cheap and valuable recruits, and, being able-bodied and disciplined men, will give a strength and solidity to our regiments, which they will not otherwise acquire this campaign. All my accounts respecting the recruiting service are unfavorable; indeed, not a single recruit has arrived, (to my knowledge,) from any State except Rhode Island, in consequence of the requisitions of Congress in December last.
Should the plan be adopted by Congress, the sooner it is carried into execution the better. In that case, I think the men ought to be recruited for the continent, and not carried to the credit of the States’ quotas with whose lines they are to serve. For, without making any alteration in the establishment, they may be annexed to the regiments in such a manner, as that they can be formed into distinct corps whenever their fidelity and attachment shall be sufficiently evinced, if circumstances should then require. All the matters of bounty and encouragement being arranged with the financier, and the particulars of the scheme adjusted, as soon as provision shall be made for their subsistence on the journey, I would detach a captain and subn. from every regiment, to receive and conduct them to the army, so that they may certainly join the respective regiments, at farthest, by the 1st of June. In the interim, I would beg leave to propose, lest the enemy should attempt to counteract the design, that the business should be kept secret, until it is ripe for execution; and then be negotiated by some gentleman of address appointed for the purpose. I request an answer as speedily as possible. I have the honor to be, &c.
P. S. I am just favored with your letters of the 20th and 23d instants—I think it would be well to permit such of the prisoners mentioned by you to return to their Regts. as can procure testimonials in their favor—I submit the matter to your discretion.
TO THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE.
Newburg, April 28, 1782.
I receive with much gratitude the remembrances and compliments of the principal officers of the French army in Virginia, and thank your Excellency for the trouble of being the bearer of them to me, and the letter from Count de Rochambeau.
With equal sensibility and pleasure I received and do now acknowledge my obligations to your Excellency for the communications from your Court; which tho not decisive, are nevertheless important. The late instance of their generous aid, hinted at by your Excellency and particularized by Mr. Morris, is one among a variety of important considerations, which ought to bind America to France in Bonds of indelible friendship and gratitude, never, I hope, to be sundered.1 Induced by that entire confidence, which I repose in your Excellency, and a full conviction that a nation, which combines her force with ours for purposes of all others most interesting to humanity, ought not to be deficient of any information I can give to point objects to means, that an accordance of them may be inseparable, I shall without hesitation give you the state of our present force, and my ideas of the increase of it by recruits, from the best view of it which lyes before me.
It can scarcely be necessary to inform yr. Excellency that our military establishment for the present year consists of 4 Regiments of Artillery, 4 Legionary and two partisan corps, and 50 Regiments of Infantry, besides the Corps of Invalids; or that Congress have called in pointed terms upon each State to compleat its Regiments to the establishment, the aggregate of which, if complied with, would amount to 34,308 men, exclusive of commissioned officers, sergeants, and music, Hazen’s Regiment, and the corps of Invalids. Of this force, one Legionary Corps, two regmts. of artillery, and 22 of Infantry, besides Hazen’s Regt. and the Invalids, compose the northern army. But as Hazen’s regiment is fostered by no State, discouraged from recruiting by all, and without funds, if the case was otherwise it must soon dwindle to nothing, (being now very weak).
The present totality of the Rank and File, exclusive of sergeants, of these Regimts. which compose the northern army, amounts to 9,146. From this number the Sick, men in different branches of the staff department, and such as are employed on other extra duties, (which the peculiarity of our circumstances compels me to furnish from ye army,) being deducted, will reduce the efficient operating force of these corps to 7,553 Rank and file; and I should be uncandid if I was not to acknowledge, that I do not expect it will be increased by recruits in the course of the campaign to more than 10,000 fit for Duty in the Field. This, Sir, in my opinion, will be the full amount of the established Regts. of the States East of Pensylvania. To ascertain the number of Militia, which may be assembled for occasional offensive operations, is more than I can do. The general opinion is, that there will be no want of militia for any enterprise we can have in view. Be this as it may, this one thing is certain, that this class of men are not only slow in their movements, but, undertaking to judge also of the propriety of them, in point of am’nt will wait till the necessity for it strikes them; which, in most cases, is as injurious to the Service as inability or want of inclination; disappointment being the consequence of delay. This observation I could not refrain making, because, in all combined operations, especially those which may depend upon the Season or a limited period for their execution it is of the utmost importance to be known.
The enclosed return, wch. is a copy of the last State of the force under the orders of Majr-Genl. Greene (wch has come to my hands,) will give your Excellency every information in my power respecting the State and condition of that army; which was to be augmented by the Partisan Corps of Colo. Armand, consisting of about 200 horse and foot. Independent of those, there are two small regts. at Fort Pitt, one from ye State of Pensylva., the other from Virga., which are included in the general establishmt. of the army; but no partr. return is here given of them.
What measures are adopted by the States of Georgia and No. and So. Carolina to recruit their battalions, I know not. Virginia marched abt. 400 men the latter end of Feby. for the southern army, and by an act of the Legislature passed at their last Session, resolved to raise more; but in what forwardness they are, or what is to be expected from the act, I am equally uninformed. Maryland and Pensylvania depend upon voluntary enlistments, and are proceeding very slow in the business of recruiting, especially the latter. It is impossible for me, therefore, to say to what number that army will be increased.
This, Sir, is an accurate state of the force we have at present, and my expectation of what it may be, independent of militia.
The enemy’s Force, from the best information I have been able to obtain of it, may stand thus. At New York, Regulars, includg. their established corps of provincials, Rank and File, nine thousand; militia of the city, Refugees, and Indept. Companies, 4,000; sailors and marines, accordg. to the No. of ships, whch. may be in the harbr., and this being uncertn., no numbr. is given now in N. Y. 13,000; Charleston abt. 3,300; Savannah abt. 700. In Canada, including British, German, and Established Provinls., 5,000; Penobscot abt. 500; Halifax and its dependencies, uncertain, but say 3,500; In all, 26,000.
The above estimate, so far as it respects New York, Charleston, and Savannah, is I believe to be depended upon. The force of Canada by some accts. is more, by others less, than 5,000. The regular British and German Troops in that country cannot exceed 4,000; but, in addition to these, are the corps of Sir John Johnson and others, which I am told have been considerably increased by the disaffected of this and other States, who have fled to Canada. But it is to be observed, that this force, be it what it may, is employed in the occupation of posts between Quebec and Michilimackinac, and on Lake Champlain, through an extent of not less than 7 or 800 miles, and that all these Posts are dependent upon the former for provision and supplies of every kind. I am less certain of the Enemy’s force in Nova Scotia than elsewhere. The number here given is not from recent intelligence, and may be erroneous, as their garrisons are weakened or strengthened according to circumstances. Cumberland, Windsor, Annapolis, and St. John’s River, &c. are posts dependent on Halifax, and included in the 3,500 men here mentioned.
If this state of matters be satisfactory to your Excellency, or useful in the formation of any plans against the common Enemy, I shall be very happy in having given it.
Permit me now, Sir, to express the high sense I have of the honor you have done me in communicating the favorable opinion entertained of my conduct by the Court and nation of France, and to acknowledge my obligation to those officers, who have inspired these Sentiments. To stand well in the eyes of a nation, which. I view as one of the first in the world, and in the opinion of a monarch, whom I consider as the supporter of the rights of humanity, and to whom I am personally indebted for the command he has been pleased to honor me with, is highly flattering to my vanity, at the same time it has a first claim to all my gratitude.1 It is unnecessary, I hope, to add fresh assurances of the respect and esteem, with which I have the honor to be, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Head Quarters, 30 April, 1782.
I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency copies of the minutes of proceedings and reports of my commissioners appointed to meet commissioners on the part of the British general, Sir Henry Clinton, for the purposes mentioned in their instructions (copy of which is herewith communicated).2 A private letter from my commissioners, and a letter from Sir Henry Clinton, both written in consequence of this negotiation, are also enclosed for the observation of Congress.
After this display of the subject it is unnecessary, and it might be improper, for me to make any observations on these papers. I submit them to the wisdom of Congress, and have only to beg for my own direction, that I may be early informed of their determination, how far any future exchanges of prisoners of war shall be continued, under the practice which has been formerly adopted for that purpose. I beg leave to point the attention of Congress particularly to that part of the commissioners’ letter to me, which mentions the extension of a pardon to the refugees in service of the enemy. Their ideas on this subject are so perfectly consonant to my own, formed on the principles of policy and expediency, that I cannot omit to notice it, and to submit to the consideration of Congress, whether the adopting this measure under proper restrictions may not be attended with happy consequences to our cause, and be equally productive of ruin and confusion to the British interests in America. Lamenting that the benevolence of my intentions has been so totally defeated, by the unhappy and fruitless issue of this negotiation, I have only to add, that, with the most perfect regard, I am, &c.
PLAN OF CAMPAIGN.
Newburgh, 1 May, 1782.
Unacquainted with the determinations of the Court of France respecting the succor which may, in their extensive arrangements for the Campaign of 1782, be generously extended to the Service of America, or indeed knowing what to expect from the States, in consequence of the requisitions of Congress for Men and Supplies; it is impossible to point operations to particular objects. But as it may give facility to future determinations, to take a comprehensive view of the Enemy’s strength in different parts of America, and see with what force and means, in what manner, and with what prospect, it can best be assailed, the following statements are made, and thoughts result:—
The enemy’s effective force in America, from the best information that has been received of it, may be estimated as follows, viz:—
The foregoing estimate exhibits four distinct objects to view; each of which tho’ in different degrees, is important, and worthy of consideration.—
The first is, undoubtedly, of the greatest magnitude; and the most beneficial consequences will result from a successful operation against it. Consequently it is to be preferred, if our force and means are adequate to the enterprise and the season should favor. These are matters of very serious consideration, as a disappointment would not only disgrace our Arms, but would involve the States in a heavy and ruinous expence.—
Whether the second or third should claim our next attention (if we are unable to prosecute the first,) is a matter of serious enquiry, and can best be determined by a comparative and impartial view of the advantages of each, which, as far as my knowledge of them extend, I will state in favor of
Carolina and Georgia.
The wishes, the feelings, the long sufferings, and the distresses of the Southern States in general, and these two in particular, especially in the deprivation of their Capitols, their trade, (which is of such a nature as to make favorable remittances for continental, as well as local purposes)—and the principal Gentlemen of the Country of their homes, and the comforts of life, must have great weight in this scale—
Especially when it is considered, what effect the disappointment might have upon the minds of a people who have already conceived themselves neglected—and who, just beginning to immerge from the deplorable situation into which their country had been thrown by the cruel invasion of it, are now exerting themselves to support the common cause, in high expectation more than probable, of being speedily emancipated from the force which at present possesses their Capitols.
Under these circumstances, it may be difficult to bring to their view remote advantages, tho’ ever so important, upon the large or general scale; and if disgust and resentment should be the consequence of disappointment, it may have an unhappy influence on our Plans, in our councils, and upon our public measures in general.
Besides, there is one powerful argument in favor of the Southern Expedition (if we can be effectually covered by a fleet, without which it is folly even to think of one) and that is, a moral certainty of success, for knowing the number of the enemy which compose the Garrisons of Charles Town and Savanna, and the strength of their works; and that they have no exterior resources, we can adduce such a force as cannot upon the common rules of calculation, fail to insure success.
Whereas many unforeseen difficulties may cast up in Canada.—We may find, notwithstanding the flattering acc’ts of the friendly disposition of its Inhabitants, and their wishes to be released from the yoke of British tyranny, that a hostile disposition may appear in many of them, whilst a painful neutrality pervades the rest.
Add to these reasons, that under the most favorable circumstances that can reasonably be expected,—one campaign can do little more than give us a firm establishment in the country—and perhaps possession of their upper Posts—To expect the conquest of Quebec the same season, unless by the dispersion of the force in Canada, and the impracticability of assembling it, we should find Quebec weakly Garrisoned, illy provided with provisions, or Military Stores, or a disposition in the Country to rise as one Man, to exterminate the British force, would exhibit greater proofs of a sanguine temper than a deliberate judgment.
The Annexation of so capitol a Province as this (Canada) to the Federal Union, the consequent subduction of all the Northern and Western Indians, and the restoration of Peace and quietness to such an extensive Frontier as we have from the River St. John’s, in the Bay of Fundy, to the Holstein in No. Carolina, are matters of great moment, and worthy of the most serious attention. Especially too, when it is considered, that in the case of Charles Town and Savanna, if the enemy can be confined within their lines, the Inhabitants of So. Carolina and Georgia are suffering a temporary suspension only of their property in, and the inconveniences of, those Towns, and some impediments to their Trade. Whereas in the other case, multitudes of helpless families (which it is impossible to protect) are daily murdered, or carried into hopeless captivity by the Savages; whole settlements destroyed; and our Northern and Western frontier of more than a thousand miles in extent, continually retreating before a cruel and bloodthirsty enemy, who desolate as they go.
Besides these, an expedition into Canada would at once develop the mysterious conduct of the people of Vermont; bring them to an explanation in a manner of all others the most advantageous to us, and unexceptionable to themselves; disconcert the projects of the enemy if they are in league with the rulers of these people; and turn the arms and resources with which they were flattered, against them. For the Vermontese having often sollicited an expedition into Canada, with strong assurances of support, durst not refuse their aid if called upon, when a heavy body of Troops were marching through their Country, avowedly, and apparently to remove the source of the evils they have complain’d of, and which has been the ostensible reason assigned for their temporizing conduct with the enemy in Canada.
To these considerations may be added, that an expedition into that Country, if undertaken with sufficient means, and in a proper season and manner, will cost very little more than the expensive, but ineffectual modes which are now pursuing by the Continent agregately and the States individually, for defence of them; while the latter is an annual expence under all the disadvantages and evils here enumerated; and the other, by putting the axe to the root, would remove the cause, and make a radical cure.
I shall say nothing of the benefits which America would derive, and the injury Great Britain must sustain, by the Fur and other trade of Canada shifting hands. Nor of the immense importance it must be to the future peace and quiet of these States, especially the Western parts of them, to annihilate the British Interest in that country; thereby putting a stop to their intriguing after Peace shall be established. These are too obvious to stand in need of illustration—they will speak for themselves.
To all which may be added by way of questions, proper for Gent’n of the Navy to resolve—Whether a Fleet sufficient to protect the siege of Charles Town can lye there in safety during the operation? Whether Chesapeake Bay, which is the nearest port for Ships of the Line, would afford sufficient cover, and give proper security to the Besiegers and their convoys during the Siege? and what will be the probable consequences of the enterprise, if both these questions should be resolved in the negative.
With which I connect Penobscot—is, of the four Statements, least important, considered in a separate point of view; but if our force should be unequal to the enterprise against New York; or other circumstances should render the attack of that place unadvisable, and we could nevertheless combine these with Canada, and carry on both expeditions at once with a probability of success; it would add more weight to the reasons given in support of an Expedition into that Country; and in case of success, would be of the utmost importance, as it would add much, not only to the security of the trade of Canada, but the United States in General; give a well grounded hope of rescuing the Fisheries from Great Britain, which will most essentially injure her Marine; while it would lay a foundation, on which to build one of our own—It would confine the enemy to one harbor—and if that (New York) should be taken from them, deprive them of every port in America; thereby adding greatly to the security of our shipping upon this Coast—They would in that case have no Port in which they cd. heave down and refit their heavy ships; their West India Islands (if any should remain to them) would be considerably distressed in the article of Lumber—and lastly, another Province (Nova Scotia), which sometime ago was very desirous of it, would be added to the Federal Union.—
Having given these general ideas respecting the objects which invite to Military enterprises, I will next make an estimate of the force which, in my judgment is necessary to each. But it must be established as positions:—
First.—That to undertake the reduction of New York, upon a well grounded plan, indeed with any hope of success, we must not only have a superior Naval force, but a moral certainty of maintaining it. And that that force, or part of it, ought, if possible, to be in possession of the harbor, to cover the Besiegers, secure their communications, and facilitate transportation;—at the same time that the enemy, thereby, are effectually deprived of Succors and Supplies.
Second.—That to undertake the reduction of Charles Town—or Hallifax, without having, and holding, such Naval Force, would be folly in the extreme.
Third.—That tho’ a Naval force would be advantageous and might greatly facilitate the entire conquest of Canada, it is not absolutely necessary to the establishment of a force in the heart of the Country. In a Siege of Quebec—for the purpose of convoying Ordnance, Stores and Provisions proper for it—and depriving the Enemy of all succor by sea, a few ships in the St. Laurence (Frigates might answer) would be highly necessary.
The above being the Basis on which either of the Enterprises here mentioned should be undertaken, I think upon every rule of Military propriety we should have for the attempt against
Three times the force which compose the Garrison of it, to enable us to carry on the Siege with spirit and vigor, and to give a well grounded hope of a successful issue. Less than this number, considering the Posts we shall have to occupy, and communications to establish, would reduce us to one point of attack; or subject us to the hazard of being beaten in detail if we attempted two; when the propriety of approaching the City by the way of Brooklyn and York Island at, or about the same time, is so obviously necessary to a vigorous siege, that nothing but inability should dispence with it. Upon this calculation then, New York will require—39,000 Men. But as it may be difficult to obtain these, as a less number in a greater space of time may effect the reduction of the place, and as an attempt (even under these disadvantages) may be preferable to any other enterprise it may be asked.—
First—What is the smallest number of men with which the Siege of N. York can be undertaken under these circumstances?
Second—To how late a period of the Campaign can the commencement of the operations be delayed, without hazarding a defeat from the cold of the Autumn?
Third—Whether we may rely absolutely upon the support of the Fleet during the operation, be it long or short—early or late, in the season?
The orders of the Court of France, or the admiral, alone can determine the last; but with respect to the other two, I think 25,000 effective men, fifteen thousand of which to be regular Troops, have a tolerable good chance of reducing the Post in less than three months—consequently, the commencement ought not to be delay’d beyond the first of September—as the difficulty, proceeding from the want of wood alone will be found almost, if not quite insurmountable, especially upon York Island (where there is not a stick) unless we can secure the navigation of the No. River, by passing a Frigate or two above the Enemy’s Works.—
Charles Town and Savanna
Are here classed together, because there can be little doubt of the latter’s being united to the former, upon the first appearance of a movement that way if it can be done. For this service, I should suppose 8,000 men in addition to the regular force with Gen’l Greene, and such aids as the Country can throw in, if necessary, will be fully competent to the enterprise, which cannot, on acc’t of the heat, and sickly season, be commenced before October.—
If the Expedition is sufficiently masked it will not require (to march by Land) more than 8,000 men; for altho’ some Accounts make the force of the enemy in that Country equal to this number, yet dispersed as it is, and so far apart, if the intention is concealed till the moment of execution, and the movements are then rapid, it will be impossible to assemble it in time to oppose such a body. Two thousand in addition to these, to go round by water as has been already mentioned, and for the purpose expressed, would make a firm establishment in the heart of that Country, and very probably reduce every Post in it by January, except Quebec; the conquest of which, as has been observed before, depends upon contingencies.
If the Expedition is wholly conducted by Land, about the first of September will be the best time to begin the march, on account of the Roads, the waters, and the Provision; for harvest being then over, Bread and Forage will be plenty on the Routes the Army will move; and in Canada; and it will be too late for the enemy to send reinforcements, or supplies into that Country.—
If it is to be by Land and Water, the sooner perhaps it commences the better, because a supply of Provisions can be sent round in the Transports; and the ships of war will cut of all succor to the Enemy; and their supplies of every kind.
I can say less to than any other object, having no late acc’ts of the strength of the Works, number of the Garrison, or temper of the Inhabitants. [By] the best information, however, which I have been able to obtain, the first has been encreased, and considerably strengthened within the last two or three years; the second may be about what I have estimated them at; and with regard to the third, nothing decisive can be said. The whole amount of the Militia of that Government is about 5,000; and some time ago they were very desirous of being united with the Confederated States of America; but what changes or revolutions may have taken place in their system of Politicks, from the little, or no prospect of emancipation held up to them, I cannot undertake to determine.—Under the best view of the matter I have, I should think less than 8,000 men would be inadequate.
Being rather extraneous, was not taken into the general view; but as it is a harbor from which many Privateers are sent to annoy our Trade, as great part of the Inhabitants are well affected to the American cause,—wish to be connected with us, and depend in a very great degree upon America for subsistence, it may not be amiss to give it some consideration, as circumstances in the course of the Campaign may lead to the Conquest of this Island, without incurring much expence, or interfering with other Plans—Policy in this case may invite the measure whether it is adopted with a view of retaining or ceding the Island by way of composition at a general pacification.—
The force on the Island, by the best accounts I have had thence does not exceed three or 400 Invalids, in unimportant Works commanded by higher ground within a short distance.
One 50 Gun ship and three or four Frigates, with about 1,000 Land Troops (to be transported in the Frigates) would be competent, it is conceived, to the reduction of this Island; if the Enterprise is properly conducted and accompanied in the first instance with such offers as will be pleasing to the Inhabitants.
Having in the preceding pages pointed to the different objects which present themselves to view, the strength of each, and the force requisite for its subduction; I shall next give my ideas of the mode of attacking them—or such of them—as my knowledge of their situation will enable me to form a judgment upon. And first of
The mode of attacking this place must depend, in a great measure, upon a pretty accurate knowledge of what our Force will be at the time fixed upon for the commencement of the operations. For if it should be adjudged competent—and the measure in its nature practicable without considerable loss, we ought, in my opinion, to make two approaches at, or about the same time. If it is not, the principal part of our force must be conducted to one point; and the attack must succeed, instead of being combined with each other. In either case, the approaches may differ; the fairest way therefore of determining upon the best, is to consider
First.—The present situation of the force we are actually possessed of.
Second.—From whence our succors are to come.
Third.—The points from whence our Provisions, Siege Artillery, Military Stores, Boats and other supplies are to be drawn, and
Fourth.—Which is essentially necessary—whether possession of the interior Harbor of New York by the French Fleet can be so far depended upon as to warrant anterior movements which may prove pernicious if this event should not happen.—And above all, whether it will engage to co-operate to the end of the Siege, be it long or short.
With respect to the first, it is very immaterial so far as the Continental Troops are concerned, because they can be moved to any point with almost equal convenience—but if the French Army is to march by Land from Virginia, their going to Staten Island (one of the approaches to Brooklyn), or to Westchester, will make a difference of ten days, allowing for the passage of the North River.
As I shall include Maryland among the States which will be called upon for Militia—and New York is nearly as convenient to one point as another 30/37ths of the whole requisition will be demanded of Connecticut, and the States Eastward of it; 15/37ths of New Jersey and those South of it; and the remaining 2/37ths will come from New York—which is full information respecting the second article of succors.—
With respect to the third, the greatest part of the Siege Artillery, a large proportion of Shott, Shells and other Military Stores, lay at Philadelphia; and in the Jerseys. The Boats are in the North River and Eastward of it; and a good deal of the Powder is deposited at West Point, and in the vicinity of it—The Flour is to be transported principally from New Jersey and the States Southward of it—and the Beef will come on foot from the Eastward.—
On the 4th Article I can form no decisive opinion. But full and absolute possession of the harbor is of such immense importance in an attack upon New York, and will contribute so much to the security of our communications, safety of our convoys, and speedy reduction of the Garrison, that no means ought, in my opinion, to be left unessayed to accomplish it. And in the weak and defenceless state the harbor is in at present, nothing would be more easy and certain, than to effect this by surprize, if the Squadron destined for this coast could detach previous to its Sailing from the West Indies, a few Ships to gain possession; thereby facilitating the entrance of the others; which might, and indeed ought, speedily to follow.—
The Lines on York Island, and the Works at Brooklyn are the two avenues to the Town. To arrive at the first, there is but one way, except it can be done by stratagem (which is too precarious to be admitted into any Plan,) and that is by forcing the passage of Harlaem River—The approach to the second may be either by Staten Island or Frogs Neck, (if it should be preferred to Morrissania); each of which supposing the Fleet to be in possession of the Bay, which is to be considered as a Basis, has its advantages as follows—
Would, in the very commencement of our movements to Invest New York, give us all the advantages of a full intercourse, and perfect co-operation with the Fleet; would afford protection to it under all circumstances, and at all seasons; even supposing it to be blockaded by a superior Navy; would be convenient to the French Troops marching from Virginia—more convenient to any which may arrive in the Fleet to debark at, than any other place; more advantageous on account of the heavy Artillery, Stores, &c., which may come in, or belong to the Fleet; or which shall be transported from Phila. or Virginia by Water; and much more convenient to all such as shall be transported by Land from either of these places, or the Furnaces in N. Jersey.
—It will be nearer to our supplies of Bread and Flour; more contiguous to Brooklyn and much more so to Bergen and Paulus hook.
—It cuts off (with the assistance of a ship or two in the Sound) every possibility of a retreat of the Enemy; and, more than probably, would possess, unexpectedly, the Forage and other resources which they may be holding in reserve on Staten and Long Island; while they attempt to forage, or destroy the Grain and Grass in Westchester, with a view of depriving us of them. Besides the reasons here given, we should be more convenient to the forage of Jersey, and the States South of it; from whence the greater part of this article must come, and it might act as a stimulus to the militia of those States, as their march would be shortened by it.
Frog’s Neck or Morrissania
Is equally, indeed more convenient, to the Continental Troops and York Militia, than Staten Island; and is much more so to the Militia Eastward of the North River. It is more convenient on account of the Boats, and our Beef Cattle. It will also be an advantageous position so soon as a force sufficient to maintain it, can be assembled.—It looks equally to York and Long Island, and may have works thrown up to facilitate the passage to either, or both, as circumstances may point,—while the Enemy, by being suspended between the two, will either neglect one or weaken both. The communication between the main and Long Island may be rendered easier and more secure; consequently, a retreat in case of a disaster, safer by the way of Frog’s Neck or Morrissania than by that of Staten Island; because in the first case, there is only one water to cross, which may be covered by Batteries—and in the other, two; one of which (from Staten to Long Island) is rather difficult and uncertain; and should we not possess, or by any mischance loose, the command of the Bay between the Narrows and the city might become very dangerous.—On the other hand, our Land communication from the place of disembarkation, will, when we are established before Brooklyn, not only be much shorter by the way of Staten Island, but more secure than the other by Frogs Neck or Morrissania; as the first may be reduced to about two miles of good road with a covered Flank—the latter will be at least twelve, of rugged road, with a Flank exposed to Partezan strokes of the enemy from New York the greatest part of the way.
Under this state of matters, it is not easy to determine on which side to incline.—To approach by the way of Westchester, seems to be the safest; by Staten Island, the most convenient. If the latter should be adopted, it will, more than probable, draw the principal part, if not the whole of the enemy’s force from the North end of York Island to the city—but whether it does or not, there should be a body of five or 6000 Militia and a few Continental Troops in the vicinity of Kings bridge, to complete the Investiture of the Island, establish communications, and be ready to take advantage of circumstances. If the former should be preferred, the effect will be reversed; and except the Guards which may be necessary for the city, and the stores that are in it, the whole force of the enemy will, I expect, take a position at McGowans heights; where the Island being narrow, and ground commanding, they could maintain themselves in the Works they now have, or could soon throw up, against numbers much superior to their own; and would only be drawn from it by a movement to Brooklyn, by way of Morrissania or Frog’s Neck.
Upon the whole, if our force was such as to enable us to make two attacks, and each division was decidedly superior to the enemy’s whole force, I should, in that case, be of opinion:—
That we had better approach New York by the way of Staten Island and Westchester at the same time, because by beginning at the two extreme points, we shall distract the enemy and oblige them to give up one, or weaken themselves at both ends of York Island. If it is not sufficient, I then think— That the safety of operating by the way of Westchester, the advantages of looking to two points—viz—York and Long Island at the same time, and of assembling our force, and advancing as we acquire strength, and can do it with safety, is to be preferred to the conveniency of Staten Island—especially as the propriety of approaching by the latter, depends upon the position of the French Fleet, of which we can have no previous assurance.
If Charles Town should be the object of the Campaign, the French and other Troops destined for this Service must be transported by water—so must the Siege and other Artillery, ordnance and other Stores, Flour, Salt Provision, salt and spirits. A Land Transportation of Artillery and Military Stores adequate to the Siege of this place, would, in our circumstances, be found impracticable. And to march men thither by Land, would, (as we have too often experienced already) dissipate half of them by sickness, desertion and other causes. The Artillery and Saddle Horses might go by Land, and by preceding the embarkation of the Troops, reach some given point by the time the Transports arrive at the Post to which they are destined.—
For the Voyage, and support of the Troops in the first stages of the Siege—till the resources of the Country can be collected—we ought to go provided with at least two Months’ Provision—three would be still better.
Philadelphia, under present circumstances and appearances, seems best adapted for the Embarkation; as a sufficient number of Transports may probably be had there; and any number, if brought there, can be fitted for the accommodation of Troops.
The most convenient, and advantageous place to debark at would be Stone Inlet; provided the Banks of the River bearing that name (and seperating Johns and James Islands) are not possessed and fortified by the Enemy.—This Inlet, while that of Charles Town is in possession of the enemy, not only affords the best Harbor for the Transports, but is the most convenient approach from the sea to the City; the most advantageous for forming a junction with the Troops under the command of Majr. Genl. Greene; and for cutting off the retreat of the Garrison of Savanna to Charles Town. And measures must be previously taken by Genl. Greene to prevent their doing it to St. Augustine, by Land:—
To go into a minute detail of the approaches from the place of debarkation to the Enemy’s Lines before Charles Town, is more than I am able to do. But Charles Town Neck must be possessed in force; and to do it, the Ashley river must be crossed as near their Works as it can be done with Safety. Our principal operation will be on this neck, between the Rivers Ashley and Cowper, and a secure communication must be established by the nearest convenient route from hence to the shipping in Stone Inlet; which, as it will lye exposed to the Enemy’s whole force, will be a good deal exposed while they have the command of the harbor of Charles Town.
If an Expedition into this country should be adopted, from choice or necessity—it must be conducted either by Land wholly or by Land and Water conjointly, according to circumstances. The last is to be preferred but the former may do—I shall point to the Measures which to me appear necessary in both cases—and first by
The Army should commence its march in the Columns—the right column to proceed by the way of Connecticut River, Co’os and Hazen’s new Road. The left, by Albany, Bennington, Manchester, Shrewsbury, and Otter Creek, keeping Lake Champlain on the Left, and the Green Mountain on the right, till the junction is formed; which should be about the River Michiscone, five or 6 miles from the Canada line, and may be (by bringing them together more at right angles) at the River A La Moelle, if circumstances should require the junction sooner, or if it should be conceived more beneficial, on acc’t of water carriage, and the communications which may be useful hereafter (in case we should obtain the command of Lake Champlain, which we ought never to lose sight of)—the left column may advance by the way of Fort Edward, Fort Anne, South Bay and Ticonderoga to the other Road by Bennington, and form a junction with it or Otter Creek.
The March of the two columns shou’d be so ordered, as that each may arrive at the place destined for the junction at the same time; and for this purpose the best judgment of the March of each should be previously formed; and a mode of corresponding fixed on, to regulate the advances by, afterwards. The left column, as it will be more exposed than the right, will have the most extensive communication and the greatest difficulty to open and secure it, should consist of 5,000 men; the other of 3,000—both ought to have French Troops in them, that the Canadians in any stage of the march, may have ocular proof of our Alliance with France, and their co-operation with us. Some Cavalry should march with each column; and all the Indians that can be obtained.
The object of this Expedition, should be masked as long as the nature of the movements can possibly conceal it, and the march afterwards should be with as much celerity as it can be performed without injury to the Troops.
The first object of the Troops, should be to penetrate into the Heart of the Country before the enemy can assemble their scattered forces; and take such a position as will prevent the junction of them afterwards. The Country of St. Denis, between the Sorrel and St. Lawrence, seems well situated to answer this end. To effect this, and prepare for the Winter Cantonments and subsistence of the Army, is all that can be counted upon without Heavy Artillery—to transport which, and the stores necessary to it by Land, would be next to impossible. But when the Frost closes the Lake Chamn., the Enemy’s armed vessels therein must be possessed, or destroyed; or if neither of these can be done, nor the Post at St. John’s reduced; then to establish one at the Isle aux Noix, that we may, by cutting the enemy off from Lake Champlain open a communication by water for our Siege Artillery, and heavy stores in the Spring.
If any thing further is undertaken in the course of the Winter, it must be from the circumstances of the Moment; and not consequential of any general and preconcerted plan—one or two Armed Boats with sails, should be built in the course of the Winter at a Post which may be established at the South end of Lake Champlain (Fort Anne for Instance), and a sufficient number of Batteaux should be transported from the North River to the same place, while the sledding is favorable. This Season should also be embraced for transporting the heavy Artillery, stores, and Provisions from the one water to the other.
In the first instance, our Provision of the meat kind will transport itself; and it is expected that the upper parts of Connecticut River and the New Hampshire Grants (or Vermont as it is called); with such aid as Canada can afford, will supply the Flour. Our Baggage should be light, and as Field Artillery only will be taken, our movements may be quick.
Land and Water.
The only difference between this and the last is that our heavy Artillery, Provisions and Stores, may go in the first instance by water; with such an additional force as will enable us to commence the Siege of Quebec, or some other Capital post, immediately; and, that the Expedition may be undertaken without a moment’s unnecessary delay—and the earlier the better,—as the French fleet in the St. Lawrence will intercept succors and supplies by water to the enemy, if any should be attempted—whereas if it is confined to a Land operation altogether, it must be delayed till August, on acct. of Harvest, and because it may be too late after that for the enemy to reinforce till next Year.
Provisions, and every article necessary for the Siege, must be transported thither with the force destined for the Expedition, as there can be no dependence upon the Country. The best place to debark the troops at, is Sambro Bay, by the Light House, about 15 miles from Hallifax; and to march by Jerusalem to the reverse of the Town; which is more accessable, and was least fortified. How it may be now, I cannot say.
Alone, is scarcely an object; but might be visited en passant, in the Expedition to Hallifax, or Canada by water; and would give some eclat to either of those enterprises, for the fall of it can scarcely be doubted, if attempted.
If the enterprise is unconnected with any other object, 1,500 men will be sufficient to employ on the Expedition.
Some good, and no bad consequences can result from an attempt to take this Island by Surprise. To effect it, the ships destined for this Expedition should hoist British colors as soon as they get in sight of Land; and adopt every other means to carry on the deception untill proper Pilots are procured at the West end of the Island. The ships should next pursue their course as near the South side of the Island as prudence will admit. When they arrive opposite the mouth of Castle Harbor,—all except one or two, should immediately enter and begin the attack on the Castle without loss of time; the other ships should continue their course a few miles further, and bring to about a mile distance from the Mouth of St. George’s Harbor, to prevent the escape of any Vessels from thence. If this could be done in the night, and troops landed under that cover, it is more than probable the Castle, and consequently the Island, might be carried without much, if any opposition; for it is presumed very little would come from the Inhabitants who have often expressed a wish to be united with America and enjoy the benefits of its support.1
end of vol. ix.
[2 ]Mr. Chittenden had been chosen Governor of Vermont by the people of that territory, in February, 1778, and he acted as such during the Revolution.
[1 ]“I was induced to take the matter up just now from an apprehension that things might be carried to extremes, and from having received lately a very confidential letter from him, in which he discloses all their political manœuvres, which he protests have been in reality innocent and only meant to alarm the other states. This letter I have shewn to a number of my friends, members of Congress and others, and they have advised me to write to Mr. Chittenden, in my private character, give him my opinion of the unjustifiableness of the extension of their claim, and advise him to accept the terms offered by the resolve of the 21st of last August. This I have done fully and forcibly, and perhaps it may have some effect upon Mr. Chittenden and the leaders in Vermont.”—Washington to Major-General Schuyler, 8 January, 1782.
[1 ]“I am in possession of a deal of intelligence similar to that furnished by Capt. Edgar, and am at a loss to know whether the Vermontese are playing a merely political or a guilty game. I have reason to think the former. I am now endeavoring to get all our prisoners in Canada exchanged, and if any of them, after they are released, can throw light upon a number of transactions, which I confess are mysterious, they will be made use of for that purpose.”—Washington to Major-General Heath, 15 December, 1781.
[2 ]“Every information tending to prove, that the affairs respecting the Grants may be speedily and happily accommodated, gives me singular satisfaction. I will flatter myself, that both the articles of intelligence you have received are well grounded, and that it will be the unremitting effort of every one, who is well effected to the general cause, to prevent the horrors of civil discord in any part of the United States. It has been intimated, that some of the enemy’s shipping and armed vessels have been detained by the ice in Lake Champlain in such a manner, that they might be destroyed and the cannon &c. brought off. If the fact is so, I will thank you for as early and explicit information as possible, that measures may be taken accordingly. The destruction of those vessels would, I think, greatly impede any future incursions from that quarter.”—Washington to Philip Schuyler, 29 January, 1782.
[1 ]This representation is printed in the Calendar of Virginia State Papers, II., 609.
[1 ]New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey.
[1 ]This last paragraph was omitted in the letter to Massachusetts. The bearer of the letter differed for each state. Col. Dearborn took that for New Hampshire, and Lt.-Col. Olney that for Rhode Island.
[1 ]Lord Rawdon was later exchanged for General Scott.
[1 ]When, in November, Congress was called upon to ratify the discharge of Cornwallis, Hamilton mentioned as an argument in favor of a ratification, that “some intimations had been given by Colonel Laurens, with the privity of General Washington, to Cornwallis, previous to his capitulation, that he might be exchanged for his father, then in the Tower.”—Madison Papers, i., 206.
[1 ]Read in Congress, February 20th. Referred to Boudinot, Cornell and Bee.
[2 ]Colonel Laurens joined the southern army shortly after the capitulation at Yorktown.
[1 ]General Washington to General Greene.—“A frigate has just arrived at New York from England. She was despatched immediately after the news of Cornwallis’ surrender. I have seen the New York prints, and no mention is made of any reinforcement having sailed for America; a circumstance, which, had it happened, I think would not have been omitted at this time, when the loyalists are desponding, and looking upon themselves as lost and unsupported. The reinforcement from New York was not more than six or seven hundred men. The King’s speech at the opening of the British Parliament is firm, and manifests a determination to continue the war, although there is no appearance of his having made any alliances. This I hope will prove to the States the necessity of complying with the requisitions upon them for men and supplies. Every argument that I could invent to induce them to it, has been made use of by me in two sets of circular letters. No part of the intelligence brought by the frigate has yet gone abroad. It is no doubt of consequence. If any alteration is to be made in the disposition of the force remaining in America, it must soon become visible. Until we hear from the court of France, we can only be making general preparations. Men are the most material of all; and I cannot say that the means of obtaining them, so far as I have yet heard, are efficacious.”—February 18th.
[1 ]By the resolves here referred to, Congress invested General Washington with powers to negotiate an exchange of prisoners on the broadest scale, and to take measures for settling all accounts respecting prisoners; but these resolves were accompanied with a “secret instruction,” that nothing contained therein “should be construed to authorize the exchange of Lieutenant-General Cornwallis by composition.” It appears to have been the object of this reservation to secure the release of Mr. Laurens, who was yet retained a prisoner in England, and had been for more than a year shut up in the Tower of London. The southern members were particularly strenuous on this point, as well as indignant at the mode adopted by Lord Cornwallis in prosecuting the war at the south. For a remarkable expression of the feelings of the delegates from South Carolina and Georgia on this subject, see Journals, February 23d.
[1 ]On a consideration of this letter, it was resolved by Congress, “That the Commander-in-chief be authorized to agree to the exchange of Earl Cornwallis by composition; provided that the Honorable Henry Laurens be liberated and proper assurances be obtained, that all accounts for the support of the convention prisoners, and all other prisoners of war, shall be speedily settled and discharged.”—Journals, February 23d.
[2 ]Read in Congress, February 21st. Referred to Boudinot, Carroll, and Bee.
[1 ]The commissioners did not meet and exchange powers till the 31st of March, the time having been deferred at the request of Sir Henry Clinton.
[1 ]“I have received, since my arrival at these Quarters, your favor of the 12th of Feby., respecting the exchange of your Honble, father for Lord Cornwallis. I am sorry to inform you, that, upon my arrival at Philadelphia, and for a long time after I had been there, I experienced the greatest disinclination in Congress to the exchange of Lord Cornwallis upon any terms; and that it was not till after I had combated their objections in different ways, and at several meetings of their committees, that I got the matter placed upon such a footing, as to leave me at liberty to negotiate the exchange of that officer at any rate. The principal difficulties are now so far removed, as to admit commissioners on each side to meet, (and they are now sitting at Elizabeth Town) for the purpose of exchanges, in which Mr. Laurens’s is particularly given in charge, for settling of accounts, &c; and I hope, unless some untoward impediment shd. intervene in the prosecution of this business, that you will soon meet the accomplishment of your wishes.”—Washington to Col. Laurens, 22 April, 1782.
[1 ]An officer recently appointed by the legislature of Maryland, and “vested with powers to destroy that disorder in the affairs of the State, which had arisen chiefly from bad money and want of money.”
[1 ]A detachment from the French army, under the command of Choisy, and including the legion of Lauzun, had been ordered to join Greene; but believing that the English were about to evacuate the Carolinas, Choisy was directed to stop at Charlotte Court-House, Virginia.
[1 ]“It has been my uniform opinion since the capitulation of York Town, that, unless the enemy can send such reinforcements to this continent, as will in their judgment place their two principal Posts of New York and Charles Town in a state of perfect security, or they are sure of having a naval superiority on this Coast during the operations of the Campaign, they will concentre their force at one of those points; and further it has as invariably been my opinion, that New York will be the last hold they will quit in the United States. If I am mistaken in the first, I shall believe, that a negotiation of Peace or a Truce is near at hand, and, that they hazard much for the uti possidetis, which, from present appearances, and my conception of the views of the British Government, I have not the smallest idea of; I mean peace this year.”—Washington to Col. Laurens, 22 April, 1782.
[1 ]General Washington left Philadelphia on the 23d of March, having been there four months; and after stopping a day or two at Morristown, he proceeded to Newburg, where he arrived on the 1st of April, and established his head-quarters at that place.
[1 ]Washington wrote on April 28th that he had intelligence that the “centries at the doors of Sir Henry Clinton’s quarters were doubled at eight o’clock every night, from the apprehension of an attempt to surprise him in them. If this be true, it is more than probable the same precaution extends to other personages in the city of New York—a circumstance I thought it proper for you to be advertized of.”
[1 ]See Vol. II., p. 195.
[1 ]While commanding a small body of troops at a post on Tom’s River in Monmouth County, New Jersey, Captain Huddy had been attacked by a party of refugees from New York, and taken prisoner after a gallant defence. He was conveyed to New York and put in close confinement. On the 12th of April he was sent out of the city, in the charge of a number of refugees, commanded by Captain Lippincott, and hanged on the heights near Middletown. The people in the neighborhood were extremely exasperated at this act of wanton barbarity; and, at their solicitation, General Forman, who resided at Monmouth, obtained affidavits and a proper statement of facts, with which he first went to Elizabethtown, where the American commissioners, General Knox and Gouverneur Morris, were then attempting to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, and laid the matter before them. By their advice he proceeded to General Washington’s head-quarters, and his statement and the papers of which he was the bearer were submitted to the consideration of the general and field officers.
[1 ]Sir Henry Clinton’s answer to this letter, and some other parts of the correspondence between General Washington and the British commanders, respecting the case of Captain Huddy and Captain Asgill, were published, and are contained in the Remembrancer, vol. xiv., pp. 144, 155; vol. xv., pp. 127, 191.
[1 ]Such parts of this letter as are printed in italics were written cypher.
[1 ]Alluding to a loan of six millions of livres, which, after hearing of the capitulation at Yorktown, the King of France had resolved to make to the United States within the coming year; although, previously to that event, M. de la Luzerne had been instructed to inform Congress in positive terms, that no more money could be expected from France. It was thought expedient not to make this intelligence public for a time, lest it should diminish the efforts of the people in providing for the continuance of the war.
[1 ]From M. de la Luzerne’s Letter.—“I cannot deny myself the pleasure of informing you of the sentiments, with which the reports of the French officers on their return to Versailles, inspired the court and nation towards your Excellency. Their testimony can add nothing to the universal opinion respecting the great services, which you have rendered to your country; but, to the esteem and admiration of the French, will henceforth be added a sentiment of affection and attachment, which is a just return for the attentions our officers have received from you, and for the progress they have made in their profession by serving under your orders.”—April 18th.
[2 ]The British commissioners were General Dalrymple and Mr. Andrew Elliot. Three principal points were brought into discussion: a cartel for a general exchange of prisoners; a liquidation of all accounts on both sides for the maintenance of prisoners; and provision for their future support. In Sir Henry Clinton’s letter to Washington, stating the results of the negotiation as reported by his commissioners, he complains that the Americans made unreasonable demands: first, in requiring him to agree to an exchange of prisoners in all parts of the world, whereas it was known that his powers extended to such only as had been captured in America; secondly, in an exorbitant requisition of two hundred thousand pounds sterling, as the balance due to the United States for the maintenance of British prisoners from the beginning of hostilities to that time, whereas, in Sir Henry’s opinion, the balance was greatly in his favor; and thirdly, in demanding that, for the future, provisions should not be purchased in the United States for the support of British prisoners, but should be sent to them from the British posts. On these essential points, as well as on many others of less moment, the difference of opinion was so great that no arrangement could be effected.—See Sparks’ Life of Gouverneur Morris, vol. i., p. 242.
[1 ]This plan of campaign was drawn up by Washington himself, every line of the manuscript being in his own hand.