Front Page Titles (by Subject) FAREWELL ORDERS TO THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. X (1782-1785)
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FAREWELL ORDERS TO THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. X (1782-1785) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. X (1782-1785).
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FAREWELL ORDERS TO THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES.
Head-Quarters, 16 July, 1783.
Rocky Hill,near Princeton,
Your Excellency’s letters of the 3d and 8th are received. The Judge Advocate was gone on by my Directions before the hint you gave me in that of the 3d.
The United States in Congress assembled, after giving the most honorable testimony to the merits of the federal armies, and presenting them with the thanks of their country for their long, eminent and faithful services, having thought proper, by their proclamation bearing date the 18th day of October last, to discharge such part of the troops as were engaged for the war, and to permit the officers on furlough to retire from service from and after to-morrow; which proclamation having been communicated in the public papers for the information and government of all concerned, it only remains for the Commander-in-chief to address himself once more, and that for the last time, to the armies of the United States (however widely dispersed the individuals who compose them may be), and to bid them an affectionate, a long farewell.
It would seem there has been some capital neglect or miscarriage in the transmission of the Act of Congress of the 12th of May. I never had the least intimation of it until the 7th instant, when I received it from the War Office.
But before the Commander-in-chief takes his final leave of those he holds most dear, he wishes to indulge himself a few moments in calling to mind a slight review of the past. He will then take the liberty of exploring with his military friends their future prospects, of advising the general line of conduct, which, in his opinion, ought to be pursued; and he will conclude the address by expressing the obligations he feels himself under for the spirited and able assistance he has experienced from them, in the performance of an arduous office.
Baron Steuben is furnished with my letters and instructions and will depart on his mission as soon as possible.
A contemplation of the complete attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object, for which we contended against so formidable a power, cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.
The enclosed memorial was handed to me from some officers of Hazen’s regiment, refugees from Canada. Anxious for their relief from the most distressing situation, and finding myself without the means or the power of doing it, I beg leave to refer their circumstances to the particular attention and regard of Congress. These, with many others, are the men, who as they will say have left their country, their friends, their substance, their all, in support of the liberties of America; and have followed our fortunes through the various scenes of a distressing contest, until they find it to have terminated in the happiest manner for all but themselves. Some provision is certainly due to those people, who now are exiled from their native country and habitations, without any mention made of them in the treaty, any stipulation for their return, or any means for their subsistence, in a country which their arms have contributed to secure and establish. When Congress recollect the encouragements, the promises, and assurances, which were published by them and their orders in Canada in the years 1775 and 1776, I am persuaded they will take into their most serious consideration the case of those unhappy persons, who placed confidence in those proclamations, and make ample amends by some effectual provision for their sufferings, patience, and perseverance.
It is not the meaning nor within the compass of this address, to detail the hardships peculiarly incident to our service, or to describe the distresses, which in several instances have resulted from the extremes of hunger and nakedness, combined with the rigors of an inclement season; nor is it necessary to dwell on the dark side of our past affairs. Every American officer and soldier must now console himself for any unpleasant circumstances, which may have occurred, by a recollection of the uncommon scenes in which he has been called to act no inglorious part, and the astonishing events of which he has been a witness; events which have seldom, if ever before, taken place on the stage of human action; nor can they probably ever happen again. For who has before seen a disciplined army formed at once from such raw materials? Who, that was not a witness, could imagine, that the most violent local prejudices would cease so soon; and that men, who came from the different parts of the continent, strongly disposed by the habits of education to despise and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one patriotic band of brothers? Or who, that was not on the spot, can trace the steps by which such a wonderful revolution has been effected, and such a glorious period put to all our warlike toils?
I would not presume to dictate; but, if Congress cannot procure funds for their compensation and subsistence from the ample confiscations, which are making within the different States, I should think a grant could be made to them from the unlocated lands in the interior parts of our territory, and some means advanced to place them on such a tract. This perhaps might prove satisfactory, and would enable them to form a settlement, which may be beneficial to themselves, and useful to the United States. I will say no more, but repeat my recommendation of their case to the grateful remembrance of Congress, and beg, that a speedy attention may be given to the application, which I have advised them to make without delay.
It is universally acknowledged, that the enlarged prospects of happiness, opened by the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, almost exceeds the power of description. And shall not the brave men, who have contributed so essentially to these inestimable acquisitions, retiring victorious from the field of war to the field of agriculture, participate in all the blessings, which have been obtained? In such a republic, who will exclude them from the rights of citizens, and the fruits of their labors? In such a country, so happily circumstanced, the pursuits of commerce and the cultivation of the soil will unfold to industry the certain road to competence. To those hardy soldiers, who are actuated by the spirit of adventure, the fisheries will afford ample and profitable employment; and the extensive and fertile regions of the West will yield a most happy asylum to those, who, fond of domestic enjoyment, are seeking for personal independence. Nor is it possible to conceive, that any one of the United States will prefer a national bankruptcy, and a dissolution of the Union, to a compliance with the requisitions of Congress, and the payment of its just debts; so that the officers and soldiers may expect considerable assistance, in recommencing their civil occupations, from the sums due to them from the public, which must and will most inevitably be paid.
Finding myself in most disagreeable circumstances here, and like to be so, so long as Congress are pleased to continue me in this awkward situation, anxiously expecting the definitive treaty; without command, and with little else to do, than to be teased with troublesome applications and fruitless demands, which I have neither the means or the power of satisfying; in this distressing tedium I have resolved to wear away a little time, in performing a tour to the northward, as far as Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and perhaps as far up the Mohawk River as Fort Schuyler. I shall leave this place on Friday next, and shall probably be gone about two weeks, unless my tour should be interrupted by some special recall. One gentleman of my family will be left here to receive any letters or commands, and to forward to me any thing that shall be necessary. With great respect and esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.
In order to effect this desirable purpose, and to remove the prejudices, which may have taken posession of the minds of any of the good people of the States, it is earnestly recommended to all the troops, that, with strong attachments to the Union, they should carry with them into civil society the most conciliating dispositions, and that they should prove themselves not less virtuous and useful as citizens, than they have been persevering and victorious as soldiers. What though there should be some envious individuals, who are unwilling to pay the debt the public has contracted, or to yield the tribute due to merit; yet let such unworthy treatment produce no invective, or any instance of intemperate conduct. Let it be remembered, that the unbiassed voice of the free citizens of the United States has promised the just reward and given the merited applause. Let it be known and remembered, that the reputation of the federal armies is established beyond the reach of malevolence; and let a consciousness of their achievements and fame still incite the men, who composed them, to honorable actions; under the persuasion that the private virtues of economy, prudence, and industry, will not be less amiable in civil life, than the more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance, and enterprise were in the field. Every one may rest assured, that much, very much, of the future happiness of the officers and men, will depend upon the wise and manly conduct, which shall be adopted by them when they are mingled with the great body of the community. And, although the General has so frequently given it as his opinion in the most public and explicit manner, that, unless the principles of the Federal Government were properly supported, and the powers of the Union increased, the honor, dignity, and justice of the nation would be lost forever; yet he cannot help repeating, on this occasion, so interesting a sentiment, and leaving it as his last injunction to every officer and every soldier, who may view the subject in the same serious point of light, to add his best endeavors to those of his worthy fellow citizens towards effecting these great and valuable purposes, on which our very existence as a nation so materially depends.