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George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) [1889]

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George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2402

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About this Title:

Vol. 4 covers April to October 1776 and includes letters and papers.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
THE WRITINGS of GEORGE WASHINGTON
VOL. IV.
1776
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

Of this Letter-press Edition

750 Copies have been Printed for Sale

No._____

October, 1889

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
THE WRITINGS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON
COLLECTED AND EDITED by WORTHINGTON CHAUNCEY FORD
Vol. IV.
1776
NEW YORK & LONDON
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS The Knickerbocker Press
1889
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

Press of

G. P. Putnam’s Sons

New York

Edition: current; Page: [v]

CONTENTS OF VOL. IV.

  • 1776.
    • To Joseph Reed, April 1st . . . . . page 1

      About to set out for New York—Conduct of General Ward—Fry’s record—Affairs in Carolina—Disposition of the ministry—Tendency to independence—Putnam to lead the attack on the British—The Boston loyalists and their pitiful condition—British vessels at Newport lead to Sullivan’s being sent there.

    • To Brigadier-General Arnold, April 3d . . . 7

      Reinforcements—Events near Boston—Dissatisfaction of officers in Canadian army.

    • To the President of Congress, April 4th . . . 9

      Payment of militia—Deficiency of arms—British not at Newport—Powder—Howe’s proclamation—Paymaster-General Warren unable to accompany army to New York—Disadvantages—Question of pay of militia.

    • To Richard Henry Lee, April 4th . . . . 13

      Reinforcements for Canada—Flight of British from Boston.

    • To Commodore Eseck Hopkins, April 14th . . 15

      Gives notice of the sailing of British ships.

    • To the President of Congress, April 15th . . . 17

      Arrival in New York—Movement of troops—Forces for Canada—Cannon wanted.

    • To Joseph Reed, April 15th . . . . . 20

      The question of independence—Divisions and parties.

    • To the Committee of Safety of New York, April 17th, 21

      Civil authority recognized—Intercourse with the enemy’s ships—Its impolicy and dangers—Necessity of terminating it—He depends upon the efforts of the committee to effect this.

    • To the President of Congress, April 18th . . . 26

      Returns thanks for the approbation of Congress—Troops commended in general orders—The medal.

      Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • To Major-General Schuyler, April 19th . . . 28

      Regiments sent forward—Prospect of further reinforcements—Policy of engaging the Indians.

    • To the Committee of Safety of New York, April 20th, 32

      Raising militia—Look-outs on the heights.

    • To the President of Congress, April 22d . . . 34

      Embarkation of regiments for Canada—Great want for arms—The case of Mr. Baldwin—Exchange of prisoners—Payment of militia—Service of riflemen about to expire—Livingston and Trumbull as commissaries.

    • To the President of Congress, April 23d . . . 39

      Rank of aids—Nature of their duties—No relaxation of work and inadequate pay.

    • To Joseph Reed, April 23d . . . . . 41

      Jealousies in Congress—His camp equipage.

    • To Samuel Tucker, April 24th . . . . . 42

      Delays in calling out the militia on a sudden emergency—Rendezvous and signals should be appointed—Suggestions in the matter.

    • To the President of Congress, April 25th . . . 44

      No trials of prizes in Massachusetts—Discouraging the manning of the fleet—Distinction in pay between the New York and the Eastern regiments—Arms—An army strong on paper only—Troops sent to Canada—Importance of holding New York—His force smaller than is necessary for that purpose—Defence of Cape May—Dr. Potts.

    • To Governor Trumbull, April 26th . . . . 49

      The New York army weakened by detachments for Canada—Requests measures to be taken for calling out the militia.

    • To the Committee of Safety of New York, April 27th, 51

      Number of militia—Signals—His powers over New York forces—Money.

    • To Major-General Ward, April 29th . . . . 54

      Delay in completing the defences of Boston.

    • To John Augustine Washington, April 29th . . 55

      Transfer of army to New York—Affairs in Canada—Defences at New York—Personal.

    • To the President of Congress, April 30th . . . 57

      The address of Rhode Island.

      Edition: current; Page: [vii]
    • To the President of Congress, May 5th . . . 59

      Auditing army accounts—Recruiting expenses—Road from Newbury to Canada—The Canadian army—Necessity of stores and money—Paymaster—Army returns—Court-martial of Lieutenant Grover—Promotions.

    • To the President of Congress, May 5th . . . 64

      Pressing need of arms—Plans of the enemy.

    • To Major-General Ward, May 9th . . . . 68

      Defences of Boston—Condition of Continental vessels—Prisoners captured on prizes—Sale of prizes.

    • To Lund Washington, May 10th . . . . 70

      Custis’ estate to be settled.

    • To the President of Congress, May 11th . . . 74

      Spirit of mutiny and desertion due to Ogden matter—Case of Lieutenant Grover—Vacancies and the issue of commissions—Burbeck’s notions of duty—Appointment of officers to care for prisoners—Suggests the raising of German troops—Ward’s resignation—Exchange of prisoners.

    • To the President of Congress, May 15th . . . 80

      Intelligence from Canada army—Need of surgeons for that force.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, May 17th . . . 84

      Melancholy situation in Canada.

    • To Richard Henry Lee, May 18th . . . . 86

      Forwards letters from England.

    • To the President of Congress, May 20th . . . 88

      Departure of Gates for Congress—Will himself follow in a day or two.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, May 21st . . . 90

      Insidious arts and schemes of tories—Their charges against Schuyler—Officers should not be allowed to go to Philadelphia.

    • To Major-General Putnam, May 21st . . . 95

      Instructions.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, May 22d . . . 98

      About to set out for Philadelphia—Army stores sent forward—Indians—Making a stand at Deschambault.

    • To Major-General Thomas, May 24th . . . 102

      Siege of Quebec raised—Post to be taken down the river.

      Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • To Major-General Putnam, May 28th . . . 103

      Prize captures—Stores to be forwarded—Employment of the armed vessels—Committee of Congress.

    • To John Augustine Washington, May 31st . . 105

      The vote of the Virginia Convention—No hope of conciliation—Framing a new government—Affairs at the south—Mrs. Washington.

    • To Major-General Putnam, June 3d . . . . 108

      Misfortunes in Canada—Gondolas and fire-rafts to be built at New York.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, June 7th . . . 110

      Returned from Philadelphia—Melancholy advices from Canada—Reinforcing the army in Canada—Engagement of Indians—Wishes him to go to St. John’s—Thomas down with the small-pox.

    • To the President of Congress, June 7th . . . 113

      Prosecution of defensive works—News from Canada—Building of vessels.

    • To the President of Congress, June 8th . . . 115

      Sir John Johnson—Payment of troops at Boston—Engineers in the army—Continental expresses—New York troops should be allowed same pay as those from the East—Arnold’s reported victory—Tents.

    • To the President of Congress, June 9th . . . 119

      Wooster’s recall—Alarming situation of the army in Canada—Adjutant- and quartermaster-generals wanted—The affair at the Cedars—Supplies—Schuyler wishes some mark of the approbation of Congress—Allowance to Indians for prisoners.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, June 9th . . . 123

      Sir John Johnson—No troops can be spared from the south—Impositions in matter of supplies—Fortified places on the communication to Ticonderoga—Removal of prisoners—Defeat at the Cedars—Prisoners allowed to pass south—Supplies for the new army—The charges against him.

    • To the President of Congress, June 10th . . . 129

      The situation in Canada—Supplies—British expected at the Hook—Suspected and dangerous persons.

    • To Lund Washington, June 12th . . . . 132

      A spurious letter.

      Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • To Governor Trumbull, June 10th . . . . 138

      British hourly expected—Necessity of reinforcements.

    • To the President of Congress, June 13th . . . 139

      Schuyler ordered to enter into treaty with the Six Nations—Sir John Johnson advancing—Prohibiting the export of salted provisions—A war office again urged—Obstructions and boats for the river.

    • To Brigadier-General Sullivan, June 13th . . . 141

      Death of Thomas—General instructions.

    • To the President of Congress, June 14th . . . 142

      Death of Thomas—Clothing—Post at Fort Stanwix and precaution to establish communication.

    • To Major-General Ward, June 16th . . . . 144

      A naval combat—Court of inquiry on Varnum’s complaint—Arms—Capt. Procter—Capture of a transport with Highlanders—Whitcomb to relieve him in the command.

    • To Brigadier-General Sullivan, June 16th . . . 147

      Want of discipline in army in Canada a cause of its misfortunes—The securing of posts below commended—Force at Lachine—Returns—Issue of commissions—Need of harmony among officers—Warning against the Canadians, who are an ingenious, artful people, capable of cunning.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, June 17th . . . 152

      Supplies of provisions—Bedel’s and Butterfield’s conduct—Indians to be engaged—Johnson should be met—The retaining of Ticonderoga—Nicholson to be instructed—Pay of officers coming from Canada.

    • To the President of Congress, June 17th . . . 156

      General Sullivan’s letter—Aiming at the command—His character and qualifications—Congress should act.

    • To the Committee of Essex County, New Jersey, June [?] . . . . . . . . 158

      Charges of bribery and corruption against army—A call for proof.

    • To the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania, June 17th . . . . . . . . . 158

      No engineer can be spared.

    • To John Parke Custis, June 18th . . . . 160

      A spurious letter.

      Edition: current; Page: [x]
    • To the President of Congress, June 20th . . . 164

      Institution of the war office—Money for Canada—Authorized to call out militia—Prizes—Works at Kingsbridge.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, June 20th . . . 168

      Indians, and the bounty.

    • To the President of Congress, June 23d . . . 169

      British ships driven from Nantasket Road—Alarming situation in Canada.

    • To Major-General Gates, June 24th . . . . 171

      Instructions.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, June 24th . . . 173

      Defeat of Thompson and possible consequences—Urges utmost exertions to secure position—Departure of Gates for Canada—Supplies—Engagement of Connecticut Indians not within the intention of Congress—Right to punish capitally.

    • To Mrs. Washington, June 24th . . . . 177

      A spurious letter.

    • To the President of Congress, June 27th . . . 181

      Sullivan’s retreat—Carpenters for galleys—Tents for Massachusetts.

    • To the President of Congress, June 28th . . . 184

      Cost of a ration—Reasons for appointing Mr. Trumbull commissary of the Flying Camp—Chaplains for the army—Plot among the disaffected—Hickey to be executed—Tories on Long Island taking up arms—Arrival of Howe expected.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, June 28th . . . 190

      Retreat of Sullivan—Carpenters—Supplies—Vigorous exertions required—Reinforcements for Canada—Prizes.

    • To the President of Congress, June 29th . . . 194

      Bounty to recruits for the army in Canada—No force can be sent from New York—Arrival of a part of the British fleet.

    • To the President of Congress, June 30th . . . 196

      Augmentation of army—Successful retreat of army from Canada—British prisoners taken in Boston—The enemy’s fleet coming in.

    • To the President of Congress, July 3d . . . 200

      Further arrivals of the British fleet—Militia—Plans of the enemy—Stock to be driven from Staten Island.

      Edition: current; Page: [xi]
    • To the President of Congress, July 4th . . . 204

      Reinforcements coming very slowly—Suggests that the Continental regiments at Boston be ordered to New York—The Flying Camp—Large number of the disaffected—Employment of the Indians of the East—Arrival of Wiebert and of Mercer—The latter in New Jersey—Disputed command between Schuyler and Gates—General officers needed—Commissary affairs in northern army.

    • To Brigadier-General William Livingston, July 5th . 211

      Militia dismissed—Removal of the disaffected—New levies—Mercer sent to advise.

    • To Brigadier-General William Livingston, July 6th . 214

      Removal of doubtful persons in Jersey—Mercer to confer with him.

    • To Governor Trumbull, July 7th . . . . 216

      Information from deserters—The troop of horse—Need of reinforcements—Situation of the northern army.

    • To Lund Washington, July 8th . . . . 219

      A spurious letter.

    • To Major-General Ward, July 9th . . . . 222

      Declaration of Independence—Plans of the enemy—Regiments to be detached to the north—Arms taken in transport—To retire, if agreeable—Directions for the march.

    • To the President of Congress, July 10th . . . 224

      Reception of the Declaration—Proclaimed before the army—The Flying Camp—Supplies—The bounty of ten dollars and its application—Connecticut militia—Works in Jersey—Intelligence from deserters.

    • To the General Court of Massachusetts Bay, July 11th, 230

      The engagement of Indians.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, July 11th . . . 233

      Disputes in the army—Arrival of Howe—His plans—Burgoyne may march from the lakes—Regiments ordered from Massachusetts—Declaration of Independence.

    • To the President of Congress, July 11th . . . 237

      Measures to augment his army—The Connecticut light-horse—Uneasiness in Connecticut owing to the retreat of the northern army—Surgeon’s mates—Need of auditing office—Unable to attend to accounts himself—News from the enemy—Small-pox in Boston.

      Edition: current; Page: [xii]
    • To the President of Congress, July 12th . . . 242

      Movement of the enemy’s ships—Powder and lead for the Flying Camp.

    • To the Secret Committee of the Convention of the State of New York, July 13th . . . . 244

      Punishment of persons apprehended for treasonable practices—Removal of tory prisoners—Issue of passes.

    • To the President of Congress, July 14th . . . 247

      Passage of British ships up the river—Arrival of Sullivan at Crown Point—A flag of truce from the enemy, bringing a letter addressed to George Washington, Esq.—Declines to receive it—Mr. Anderson and his scheme—Intentions of British vessels in the river—Measures to counteract them.

    • To Governor Cooke, July 15th . . . . . 253

      Orders gondolas to the camp.

    • To Lund Washington, July 15th . . . . 254

      A spurious letter.

    • To the President of Congress, July 15th . . . 258

      Forwards letters—The treatment of the prisoners after capitulating at the Cedars.

    • To the President of Congress, July 17th . . . 260

      Militia—Connecticut light-horse—Situation at the North—Retreat from Crown Point—Gates and Sullivan—Skirmish at Haverstraw Bay—Letter sent again from the British and again refused.

    • To Lund Washington, July 16th . . . . 264

      A spurious letter.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, July 17th . . . 267

      Propriety of giving up Crown Point—Disagreeable accounts of the army—Scarcity of provisions a surprise—Miscellaneous matters—Apprehension of deserters.

    • To the Committee of the City of New York, July 19th, 274

      Arrest of suspicious characters—A list sent.

    • To the President of Congress, July 19th . . . 275

      The retreat from Crown Point—The march of troops to the northern army—Proceedings of the New York convention.

    • To Major-General Gates, July 19th . . . . 280

      The retreat from Crown Point—Lord Howe in the harbor.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
    • To the President of Congress, July 22d . . . 282

      The commissioners from England and their powers—Interview with Col. Patterson—Artillerists—Light-horse—Tory plots at the northward.

    • To Lund Washington, July 22d . . . . 288

      A spurious letter.

    • To John Augustine Washington, July 22d . . 291

      The military situation—Intelligence.

    • To John Parke Custis, July 24th . . . . 295

      An exchange of lands—General Lewis—Personal matters.

    • To the President of Congress, July 25th . . . 297

      Increase of aids requested, and reasons.

    • To General George Clinton, July 26th . . . 299

      Fire-rafts and supplies—Military details.

    • To the President of Congress, July 27th . . . 301

      Movement of the enemy’s fleet—Allowance to officers—Obstructing the channel—The Flying Camp.

    • To the Board of War, July 29th . . . . 304

      List of vacancies—Suggestions—Committee from Congress suggested—Introduction of Goddard into the army and consequences—Mode of promotion.

    • To Lieutenant-General Howe, July 30th . . . 309

      General exchange proposed.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, July 31st . . . 310

      Plots at Albany—Commissary for the northern army—Engaging the Indians—Return of officers who have broken their paroles—Supplies—Reasons for quitting Crown Point—Intelligence.

    • To the President of Congress, August 2d . . . 315

      Troops from Massachusetts—Enemy’s force arriving.

    • To the President of Congress, August 5th . . 317

      Exchange of prisoners acceded to—Attack on the enemy’s ships—Act of Portugal—Prizes—Major-generals wanted.

    • To the President of Congress, August 7th . . 321

      Necessity for general officers—Suggestions and consequences—Mr. Glover and Mr. Bradford—Schuyler’s treaty with the Indians—Money.

    • To Governor Trumbull, August 7th . . . . 325

      Intelligence from and movements of the enemy—Weakness of the army—Disgrace of the British in the south.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
    • To the New York Convention, August 8th . . 327

      General Clinton—The new levies and the command.

    • To the Officers and Soldiers of the Pennsylvania Association, August 8th . . . . . 330

      Urging a continuance in the service.

    • To the President of Congress, August 8th . . 331

      The Stockbridge Indians—Information from the enemy—Reported general embarkation—The position of the army—Intelligence by Mr. Madison.

    • To the President of Congress, August 12th . . 337

      The case of Lieutenant Josiah—Prospects of reinforcements—Disaffection in New York—Cavalry.

    • To the New York Convention, August 12th . . 341

      Suspected characters removed.

    • To Major-General Gates, August 14th . . . 343

      Sickness in the army—Opinion of officers on the retreat from Crown Point—Movements of the enemy.

    • To the New York Convention, August 17th . . 347

      Women and children should be removed and their safety and comfort provided for.

    • To Lord Howe, August 17th . . . . . 348

      Exchange of prisoners in the navy line—Lieutenant Josiah—Treatment of prisoners.

    • To Lord Drummond, August 17th . . . . 350

      The violation of his parole, and well-meant zeal—His mode of negotiation objected to—The matter referred to Congress.

    • To Governor Trumbull, August 18th . . . 351

      Reinforcements—Attempt against the fleet with fire-vessels—Whole British force now at New York.

    • To the President of Congress, August 20th . . 355

      Exchange of prisoners—General Carleton’s orders—An indecent and scurrilous performance—Intelligence of the enemy.

    • To Major-General Heath, August 22d . . . 360

      Directs a force to be ready to move down in case of an attack.

    • To the New York Convention, August 23d . . 361

      Rumored intention to fire the city.

    • To Major-General Heath, August 23d . . . 362

      Landing of the enemy at Gravesend.

      Edition: current; Page: [xv]
    • To Governor Trumbull, August 24th . . . 364

      The enemy on Long Island—Their intentions—Suggests that a force be sent from Connecticut.

    • To Major-General Putnam, August 25th . . . 366

      Instructions.

    • To the President of Congress, August 26th . . 369

      Movements of the enemy—A return of the army impossible—The papers for the foreign troops—Lord Drummond.

    • To the President of Congress, August 29th . . 371

      Engagement on Long Island—Sullivan and Stirling missing.

    • To the President of Congress, August 31st . . 373

      Retreat from Long Island—Sullivan’s mission.

    • To Major-General Heath, September 1st . . . 377

      Garrison at Mount Washington—Intelligence wanted of the enemy’s plans and movements—Need of horses and teams.

    • To the President of Congress, September 2d . . 378

      His situation truly distressing—Desertion of the militia—Evils of depending on the militia—Bounties of money and land to secure recruits—Ought New York to stand?

    • To Brigadier-General Mercer, September 3d . . 382

      Sent into New Jersey.

    • To Colonel Fisher Gay, September 4th . . . 383

      On obedience to general orders.

    • To the President of Congress, September 6th . . 385

      The city to be preserved—Movements of the enemy—Officers in the hands of the British—Pay of the militia—Troops from the south.

    • To Governor Trumbull, September 6th . . . 388

      The engagement on Long Island.

    • To the President of Congress, September 8th . . 390

      A council of officers called—Probable intentions of the enemy—War should be defensive—Importance of New York—Council decides town not tenable—Various opinions expressed—Difficulties of a retreating army—Militia’s impulse for going home.

    • To Governor Trumbull, September 9th . . . 398

      Defection of the inhabitants of Long Island—The militia—A naval force approved.

    • To the President of Congress, September 14th . . 402

      Impossible to maintain New York—A new council determines upon the removal of the army—An attack expected—Pay of nurses—Removal of the sick.

      Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
    • To the President of Congress, September 16th . . 406

      Movement of the enemy—Cowardice of the troops—A retreat ordered, with loss of baggage and heavy cannon—Hopes for success.

    • To Governor Cooke, September 17th . . . 410

      The retreat—The safety of Rhode Island—The expedition to Rhode Island—Matters to be considered—Need of Intelligence—A successful skirmish with the enemy—The abandoning Newport.

    • To the President of Congress, September 18th . . 416

      No general attack—A skirmish—Death of Major Knowlton—Camp necessaries urgent.

    • To the President of Congress, September 20th . . 420

      Progress of the enemy—The new army to be considered—Clothes—Militia lacking in every requisite.

    • To the President of Congress, September 22d . . 424

      A severe punishment for plundering, marauding, and burning of houses necessary.

    • To John Augustine Washington, September 22d . 425

      The battle of Long Island—Subsequent movements—Dependence on militia.

    • To Lieutenant-General Howe, September 23d . . 431

      Exchange of generals—That of privates—Treatment of prisoners.

    • To Governor Trumbull, September 23d . . . 434

      The operations of the enemy—A fire in New York.

    • To the President of Congress, September 24th . . 438

      The eve of a dissolution of the army—Greater encouragement needed to obtain recruits for the new—Higher pay to officers and men—The character of the officers—Bounties proposed of money, land, and clothes—Impolicy of depending on militia—The nature of temporary troops—The expense attending them—The selection of surgeons—Many now are great rascals—Rules for the government of the army—Plundering of private property—An example in McCumber’s case—There must be a change in the military system.

    • To Brigadier-General Mercer, September 26th . . 452

      Probable movement of the British—To obtain all intelligence possible.

      Edition: current; Page: [xvii]
    • To the President of Congress, September 28th . . 454

      On Captain Morgan.

    • To Lund Washington, September 30th . . . 456

      The conduct of Congress—Militia depended upon and its results—His own situation—Directions about the house—Exchange of Mr. Herbert.

    • To the President of Congress, October 2d . . 461

      British raising recruits and obtaining provisions on Long Island—An expedition across the Sound proposed—Disaffection in Westchester and Dutchess Counties—Recruits—Information from deserters.

    • To the President of Congress, October 4th . . 466

      The Committee from Congress—The army on the eve of its political dissolution—Pay of officers and men—Bounties and clothes—Pay and character of officers—No time for experiments—Difficulties of completing the new arrangement—Error in method of selecting officers.

    • To Patrick Henry, October 5th . . . . . 471

      The retreat summarized—Army dispirited—A little advantage gained—Dependence upon militia—Need of a permanent establishment—Indians—Defence of the Virginia waters—Officers for the new army.

    • To the President of Congress, October 5th . . 476

      Exchange of prisoners—The prisoners taken at the Cedars—Washington blamed for not performing the agreement concerning them—Recommends a performance—Promotions—Proposed corps of engineers—Putnam and Stadler—Ships for sinking in the channel—Right of succession.

    • To the President of Congress, October 7th . . 482

      Release of Dechambault—Penet—The French gentlemen.

    • To the President of Congress, October 8th . . 485

      Expense of States for prisoners—Should mechanics be exchanged?—The new army—Return of Lord Stirling—Intelligence—The decision in McCumber’s case—Passage of ships up the river—Probable designs.

    • To Major-General Heath, October 9th . . . 489

      Nomination of officers.

    • To Governor Trumbull, October 9th . . . . 490

      Suggestions for promotions—Choice of paymasters—The new army—Commissaries—Officers taken by the enemy on Long Island—Obstructions in the river.

      Edition: current; Page: [xviii]
    • To Governor Trumbull, October 15th . . . 496

      Plots and conspiracies—Intentions of the enemy—Defence of the passes on the Hudson.

    • To Mrs. Philips, October 22d . . . . . 501

      Permission to retain stock.

    • To Major-General Schuyler, October 22d . . . 502

      Destruction of Arnold’s fleet—Ticonderoga and the British—An opinion, not an order.

Edition: current; Page: [1]

THE WRITINGS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.

1776.

George Washington
Washington, George
1 April, 1776
Cambridge
Joseph Reed
Reed, Joseph

TO JOSEPH REED.

Dear Sir,

By the express which I sent to Philadelphia a few days ago, I wrote you a few hasty lines; I have little time to do more now, as I am hurried in despatching one brigade after another for New York, and preparing for my own departure by pointing out the duties of those that remain behind me.

Nothing of importance has occurred in these parts, since my last, unless it be the resignations of Generals Ward and Fry, and the reassumption of the former, or retraction, on account as he says, of its being disagreeable to some of the officers. Who those officers are, I have not heard; I have not enquired. When the application to Congress and notice of it to me came to hand, I was disarmed of interposition, because it was put upon the footing of duty, or conscience, the General being persuaded that his health would not allow him to take that share of duty that his office required.

The officers to whom the resignation is disagreeable, have been able, no doubt, to convince him of his mistake, and that his health will admit him to be alert Edition: current; Page: [2] and active. I shall leave him till he can determine yea or nay, to command in this quarter. General Fry, that wonderful man, has made a most wonderful hand of it. His appointment took place the 11th January; he desired ten days ago, that his resignation might take place the 11th April. He has drawn three hundred and seventy-five dollars, never done one day’s duty, scarce been three times out of his house, discovered that he was too old and too infirm for a moving camp, but remembers that he has been young, active and very capable of doing what is now out of his power to accomplish; and therefore has left Congress to find out another man capable of making, if possible, a more brilliant figure than he has done; add to these the departure of Generals Lee and Thomas, taking some little account of S[pencer] and H[owe?], and then form an opinion of the G[enera]ls of this army, their councils, &c.1

Your letter of the 15th ultimo contained a very unfavorable account of the Carolinas, but I am glad to find by the subsequent one of the 23d, that the prospect brightens, and that Mr. Martin’s first attempt, (through those universal instruments of tyranny, the Scotch,) hath met with its deserved success.2 The Edition: current; Page: [3] old proverb, of the first blow being half the battle, cannot better apply than in these instances, the spirits of the vanquished being depressed in proportion as the victors get elated.

I am glad to find my camp equipage in such forwardness; I shall expect to meet it, and I hope you, at New York, for which place I am preparing to set out on Thursday or Friday next.

The accounts brought by Mr. Temple,1 of the favorable disposition in the Ministry to accommodate matters, does not correspond with their speeches in Parliament;—how then does he account for their inconsistency? If the commissioners do not come over with full and ample powers to treat with Congress, I sincerely wish they may never put their feet on American ground, as it must be self-evident, (in the other case,) that they come over with insidious intentions; to distract, divide, and create as much confusion as possible; how then can any man, let his passion for reconciliation be never so strong, be so blinded and misled, as to embrace a measure evidently designed for his destruction? No man does, no man can, wish the restoration of peace more fervently than I do, but I hope, whenever made, it will be upon such terms, as will reflect honor upon the councils and wisdom of Edition: current; Page: [4] America. With you, I think a change in the American representation necessary; frequent appeals to the people can be attended with no bad, but may have very salutary effects. My countrymen I know, from their form of government, and steady attachment heretofore to royalty, will come reluctantly into the idea of independence, but time and persecution bring many wonderful things to pass; and by private letters, which I have lately received from Virginia, I find “Common Sense” is working a powerful change there in the minds of many men.1

The four thousand men destined for Boston on the 5th, if the ministerialists had attempted our works on Edition: current; Page: [5] Dorchester, or the lines at Roxbury, were to have been headed by Old Put. But he would have had pretty easy work of it, as his motions were to have been regulated by signals, and those signals from appearances. He was not to have made the attempt, unless the town had been drained, or very considerably weakened of its force.

I believe I mentioned in my last to you, that all those who took upon themselves the style and title (in Boston) of government’s men, have shipped themselves off in the same hurry, but under greater disadvantages than the king’s (I think it idle to keep up the distinction of ministerial) troops have done, being obliged in a manner to man their own vessels; seamen not being to be had for the king’s transports, and submit to all the hardships that can be conceived. One or two of them have committed what it would have been happy for mankind if more of them had done, long ago; the act of suicide. By all accounts a more miserable set of beings does not exist than these; taught to believe that the power of Great Britain was almost omnipotent, and if it was not, that foreign aid was at hand, they were higher and more insulting in their opposition than the regulars themselves. When the order issued therefore for embarking the troops in Boston, no electric shock, no sudden flash of lightning, in a word, not even the last trump, could have struck them with greater consternation; they were at their wit’s end and conscious of their black ingratitude, chose to commit themselves in the manner before described, to the mercy of the Edition: current; Page: [6] winds and waves in a tempestuous season, rather than meet their offended countrymen, and with this declaration I am told they have done it, that if they could have thought that the most abject submission would have procured peace for them, they would have humbled themselves in the dust, and kissed the rod that should be held out for chastisement.

Unhappy wretches! Deluded mortals! Would it not be good policy to grant a generous amnesty, and conquer these people by a generous forgiveness? I am, with Mrs. Washington’s compliments joined with my own to Mrs. Reed, dear sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [7]

P. S. I have this instant received an express from Governor Cooke, informing me that a man of war is just arrived in the harbor at New Port, and that twenty-seven sail of vessels (supposed to be part of the fleet from Boston) are within Seconet Point. I have ordered General Sullivan’s brigade, which marched from hence on Friday afternoon, to file off immediately for Providence, and General Greene’s, which was to begin its march to-day, to repair immediately to that place.1

G. W.
George Washington
Washington, George
3 April, 1776
Cambridge
Brigadier-General Arnold
Brigadier-General Arnold

TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL ARNOLD, IN CANADA.

Sir,

Your favor of the 27th of February is come to hand. I much fear you will be much disappointed Edition: current; Page: [8] in the number of troops you expected in that month, as the lakes were impassable. Major General Thomas will, long before you receive this, have informed you [of] the success of our operations here. The enemy have quitted this harbor last week. We have no certain accounts of their destination. It is generally believed they are gone to Halifax. If true, it is probable they will attempt to penetrate Canada on the opening of the St. Lawrence. I hope before that happens you will be in full possession of Quebec, and have its avenues well secured, upon which depends the fate of this campaign in these parts. I have despatched two companies of Colonel Knox’s regiment of artillery to you hence, two mortars, &c. as you will see at the foot hereof. If any thing else is wanting that cannot be had in Canada, and in my power to send, they shall be forwarded with all possible expedition, upon my being informed thereof. The chief part of the troops are marched from hence towards New York. I will set off to-morrow. If the enemy will not find us full employment and it is necessary, you may expect a detachment from thence to your assistance. I am very sorry that the gentlemen from New York and other officers should think themselves neglected in the new arrangement. It is true that I reserved places in this army for those officers, who went from hence under your command. The Congress have since informed me, that they would be provided for in the army raised for Canada. I was not acquainted with the gentlemen, who complain, nor with their circumstances. There is little doubt, but Edition: current; Page: [9] their merits will be rewarded in due time.1 I am very sensible of the many difficulties you have had to encounter. Your conduct under them does you great honor. As General Thomas will take the burthen off your shoulders, I hope you will soon gather strength sufficient to assist in finishing the important work, which you have with so much glory to yourself and service to your country hitherto conducted.

As I am informed, that there is a furnace somewhere near you, where shells and shot of any size can be cast, I would recommend to General Thomas to have what quantity of each, that may be wanting, immediately prepared. The roads are so very bad, that it is impossible to send you any great number of these necessary articles from hence. I have appointed Captain Lamb, who is a prisoner at Quebec, to be second major in the regiment of artillery, commanded by Colonel Henry Knox. The gentlemen of this family return you their compliments, and my best wishes attend General Thomas. I remain, Sir, yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 April, 1776
Cambridge

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was honored with your favors of the 21st and 25th ulto. on the 2d. instant, the former by Mr. Hanson, &c. the latter by Fessenden. I heartily Edition: current; Page: [10] wish the money had arrived sooner that the militia might have been paid as soon as their time of service expired. The disappointment has given them great uneasiness, and they are gone home much dissatisfied, nor have I been without severe complaints from the other troops on the same account. When I get to New York I hope a sufficient sum will be there ready to pay every claim.1

It is not in my power to make report of the deficiency of arms, in compliance with the direction of Congress, at this time, as some of the regiments are at and most of the others on their march to New York; nor do I know that it would answer any good purpose, if it were, having made repeated application to the several assemblies and conventions upon the subject, and constantly received for answer, that they could afford no relief.

When I arrive at New York I shall in pursuance of the order of Congress detach four battalions to Canada, if the situation of affairs will admit of it, and shall be extremely happy if they and the troops already there can effect the important end of their going.

In my letter of the 1st inst. and per post, I enclosed you a copy of a letter from Governor Cooke advising me of the arrival of a ship of war, &c., at and near the harbor of Newport. I have now the pleasure to inform you that the report was entirely premature Edition: current; Page: [11] and without any foundation. You have a copy of his letter of the 1st inst. to this effect. I wish the alarm had never been given. It occasioned General Sullivan and his brigade to make an unnecessary and inconvenient diversion from their route.

Enclosed is a copy of an account presented by the Honorable General Court of powder furnished the Continental Army by this Colony. From the account it appears that part of it was supplied before the army was under my command, and, therefore I know nothing of it; but have not the smallest doubt of the justice of the charge. I shall leave about two hundred barrels of this article with Major General Ward, out of which Congress will direct him to make a return, if they think proper, and also repayment of what may have been furnished by the other governments.

A proclamation of General Howe’s, issued a few days before his departure from town, having fallen into my hands, I have enclosed you a copy, which may probably have been the occasion of large quantities of goods being carried away, and the removal of many persons, which otherwise would not have happened.1

Colonel Warren, paymaster-general, finding the army likely to be removed from hence, informed me the other day, that the situation of his affairs and engagements Edition: current; Page: [12] in the business of the colony are such, as to prevent him personally attending the army; and offered, in case it should be required, to resign. This was rather embarrassing. To me it appears indispensably necessary that the paymaster-general, with his books, should be at or near head-quarters. Indeed it is usual for the head of every department in the army, however dispersed that army may be, to be with the commanding general, keeping deputies in the smaller departments. On the other hand, Colonel Warren’s merit and attachment to the cause are such, that I could do nothing less than desire, (as some money must be left for the pay and contingent charges of the army which will remain here,) that he would wait here till Congress shall be pleased to give their sentiments upon the matter,1 sending in the meantime some person in whom he could confide with the money, (but little of which there will be to carry, tho’ great the demands, as nine of the regiments which have marched to New York have only received £500 each towards their pay for the months of February and March, and others not one farthing). I hope therefore this matter will be considered by Congress and the result transmitted me as soon as done.

I would also mention to Congress, that the militia regiments, which were last called upon, in making up their abstracts, charged pay, the officers from the time they received orders to raise companies, and the privates from the time they respectively engaged to Edition: current; Page: [13] come, or were called upon, though they did not march for a considerable time after, some not within three, four, to twenty days, and during all which they remained at home about their own private affairs, without doing any thing else than preparing for the march, as they say by way of plea. This appeared to me so exceedingly unreasonable, and so contrary to justice, that the public should pay for a longer time than from the day of their march to that of their return, that I ordered the abstracts to be made out accordingly, and refused to give warrants on any other terms. They say that the enlisting orders, which went out from their governments, give them the pay they claim. The fact may be, that something in these may seem to authorize it; but I must submit it to Congress, and wish for their decision, whether the Continent must pay it.1 I am, &c.

P. S. I shall set off to-day.2

George Washington
Washington, George
4 April, 1776
Cambridge
Richard Henry Lee
Lee, Richard Henry

TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 26th ult. came to my hands last night, by the post; but as I am upon the point of setting out for New York, (by the way of Providence and Norwich,) I can do little more than acknowledge the receipt of it, and thank you for the proceedings Edition: current; Page: [14] and ordinances of the Virginia Convention, which came safely to hand.

At present, the lakes are in an impassable state, neither being clear of ice, nor covered with such as will admit of transportation; at present also, our troops are at different stages, on their march from hence to New York; nor is it possible for me, till I get there, as the Congress have annexed conditions to my sending the four battalions to Canada, to tell whether they can be spared or not, as I am unacquainted with the number of men, or strength of the works at that place. No time shall be lost in forwarding three battalions if there is a possibility of doing it with safety; as no person can be more sensible of the importance of securing Canada than I am. A letter of the 27th ult. from General Schuyler, informs me that there are many men now stopped at Albany, on account of the state the ice is in on the lakes. I thank you for your friendly congratulations on the retreat of the king’s troops from Boston. It was really a flight; their embarkation was so precipitate; their loading so confused, (after making greater havoc of the king’s stores than Dunbar did upon Braddock’s defeat, which made so much noise,) that it took them eleven days to fit their transports, adjust the loads of them, and take in water from the islands in Nantasket Road after they had fallen down there. The coast is now clear of them, except the Renown, (a 50 gun ship,) and one or two frigates, which remain here for the protection of such transports as shall be bound to this port. I Edition: current; Page: [15] pray you to make my best wishes acceptable to the good doctor, his lady, and family, &c., and believe me to be, as I really am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
14 April, 1776
New York
Commodore Eseck Hopkins
Hopkins, Commodore Eseck

TO COMMODORE ESECK HOPKINS.2

Sir,

I have just received information that the Nautilus sloop of war is arrived here from Newport, said to be Edition: current; Page: [16] sent express from thence for the Asia, Phœnix, and Savage, and that they are intended for New London in order to block up your squadron in that harbor. I thought it my duty to give you notice of this by express, that you might take your measures accordingly.1 The Phœnix, Savage, and Nautilus sailed this morning. The Asia still remains in the harbor. I should be much obliged to you, if you would forward the cannon and stores I left a list with you for, as soon as possible; and as the men-of-war are now out, I should be extremely glad if you would keep a good look out to see that the coast is clear, before any more of the Continental troops embark from New London. I am, very respectfully, Sir, your most obedient servant.2

Edition: current; Page: [17]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 April, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I am now to inform you, that on the 4th instant I set out from Cambridge, and arrived here on Saturday last. I came through Providence, Norwich, and New London, in order to see and expedite the embarkation of the troops. The third brigade, under the command of General Greene, was at New London when I left it, where there was a sufficient number of transports to embark them; and most probably they would have arrived here before this, had it not been for a severe storm, which happened the night they Edition: current; Page: [18] sailed, which dispersed them, and, I fear, has done them some injury.

General Spencer, with the last brigade, marched from Roxbury the day I left Cambridge, and would be at New London, ready to embark in the return transports, which brought General Sullivan’s division to this place. The whole of the troops may be reasonably expected here in the course of this week. The badness of the roads, and difficulty of procuring teams for bringing the stores and baggage, have greatly prolonged their arrival at this place.

I have not had time, since I came, to look fully about me; but find many works of defence begun, and some finished. The troops are much dispersed, some on Long Island, others on Staten Island, &c.

I have ordered four battalions from hence to Canada, and am taking measures to have them forwarded to Albany by water, with all possible expedition. This will greatly expedite their arrival, and ease the men of much fatigue. I have written General Schuyler of their coming, that he may have necessary measures taken to hurry their march to General Thomas.1

I am informed by General Putnam that the militia, Edition: current; Page: [19] that were called in for the support of this town, in case the ministerial army had arrived before our troops, are all discharged, it being unnecessary to keep them longer.

All the ships of war, besides the Asia, moved out of this harbor on Saturday, and the Asia yesterday; some of which are now below the Narrows, and the rest gone to sea.

Your favor of the 10th instant by Major Sherburne, directed to General Putnam or the commanding officer here, came to hand on Saturday evening, with three boxes of money, which I shall deliver to the paymaster as soon as he arrives, and transmit you his receipt for the same.

Having received information from hence before my departure from Cambridge, that thirty pieces of heavy cannon were wanting, and essentially necessary for the defence of this place, in addition to those already here, I took the liberty of applying to Admiral Hopkins, whom I saw at New London, for that number, with the mortars and stores he brought from Providence Island, a list of which he had transmitted you. He told me, that, as many were wanting for the defence of Providence River and the harbor at New London, it was uncertain whether I could have all I wanted; but that he would send me all that could be spared.1 I have not been able to get a return of the troops since I came. As soon as I do it, I will send it to you. I am, Sir, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [20]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 April, 1776
New York
Joseph Reed
Reed, Joseph

TO JOSEPH REED.

My Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 13th was this instant put into my hands, scarce time enough to acknowledge the receipt of it (by this Post,) and to thank you for your great care and attention in providing my Camp Equipage. Whatever the list you sent may fall short of your intention of providing, can be got here; and may be delayed; as the want or not of them, will depend upon circumstances.

I am exceedingly concerned to hear of the divisions and parties, which prevail with you, and in the southern colonies, on the score of independence. These are the shelves we have to avoid, or our bark will split and tumble to pieces. Here lies our great danger, and I almost tremble when I think of this rock. Nothing but disunion can hurt our cause. This will ruin it, if great prudence, temper, and moderation is not mixed in our counsels, and made the governing principles of the contending parties.1 When, my Edition: current; Page: [21] good Sir, will you be with me? I fear I shall have a difficult card to play in this Government [New York], and could wish for your assistance and advice to manage it. I have not time to add more, except that with great sincerity and truth I am, dear Sir, your most obedient and affectionate humble servant.

P. S. Mrs. Washington, &c., came the Hartford Road, and not yet arrived—detain’d by the illness (on the Road) of poor Mr. Custis, who is now better and coming on.1

George Washington
Washington, George
17 April, 1776

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF NEW YORK.

Gentlemen,

There is nothing that could add more to my happiness, than to go hand in hand with the civil authority of this, or any other government, to which it may be my lot to be ordered; and, if in the prosecution of such measures as shall appear to me to have a manifest tendency to promote the interest of the great American cause, I shall encounter the local convenience Edition: current; Page: [22] of individuals, or even of a whole colony, I beg it may be believed, that I shall do it with reluctance and pain; but, in the present important contest, the least of two evils must be preferred.

That a continuance of the intercourse, which has hitherto subsisted between the inhabitants of this colony and the enemy on board their ships of war, is injurious to the common cause, requires no extraordinary abilities to prove. A moment’s reflection not only evinces this truth, but points out the glaring absurdity of such a procedure. We are to consider ourselves either in a state of peace or of war with Great Britain. If the former, why are our ports shut up, our trade destroyed, our property seized, our towns burnt, and our worthy and valuable citizens Edition: current; Page: [23] led into captivity, and suffering the most cruel hardships? If the latter, my imagination is not fertile enough to suggest a reason in support of the intercourse.

In the weak and defenceless state, in which this city was some time ago, political prudence might justify the correspondence, that subsisted between the country and the enemy’s ships of war; but, as the largest part of the Continental troops is now here; as many strong works are erected and erecting for the defence of the city and harbor, those motives no longer exist, but are absorbed in others of a more important nature. To tell you, Gentlemen, that the advantages of an intercourse of this kind are altogether on the side of the enemy, whilst we derive not the smallest benefit from it, would be telling what must be obvious to every one. It is, indeed, so glaring, that even the enemy themselves must despise us for suffering it to be continued; for, besides their obtaining supplies of every kind, by which they are enabled to continue in your harbors, it also opens a regular channel of intelligence, by which they are, from time to time, made acquainted with the number and extent of our works, our strength, and all our movements; by which they are enabled to regulate their own plans, to our great disadvantage and injury. For the truth of this, I could produce instances; but, as it may be the subject of future discussion, I decline it at present. It would, Gentlemen, be taking up too much of your time, to use further arguments in proof of the necessity of putting an immediate and total stop to all further correspondence with the enemy. Edition: current; Page: [24] It is my incumbent duty to effect this, convinced as I am of the disadvantages resulting from it; and it cannot be thought strange or hard, that, under such conviction, I should be anxious to remove an evil, which may contribute, not a little, to the ruin of the great cause we are engaged in, and may, in its effects, prove highly detrimental to this colony in particular.

In effecting the salutary purposes above mentioned, I could wish for the concurrence and support of your honorable body. It certainly adds great weight to the measures adopted, when the civil authority coöperates with the military to carry them into execution. It would also redound much to the honor of the government, and of your Committee in particular; for the world is apt to judge from appearances;1 and, Edition: current; Page: [25] while such a correspondence exists, the reputation of the whole colony will suffer in the eyes of their American brethren.

It is therefore, Gentlemen, that I have taken the liberty to address you on this important subject, relying on your zeal and attachment to the cause of American liberty, for your assistance in putting a stop to this evil, and that you will coöperate with me in such measures as shall be effectual, either to prevent any future correspondence with the enemy, or in bringing to condign punishment such persons, as may be hardy and wicked enough to carry it on, otherwise than by a prescribed mode, if any case can possibly arise to require it. I have the honor to be, with the utmost respect, Gentlemen, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [26]
George Washington
Washington, George
18 April, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.1

Sir,

Permit me, through you, to convey to the honorable Congress the sentiments of gratitude I feel for the high honor they have done me in the public mark of Edition: current; Page: [27] approbation contained in your favor of the 2d instant, which came to hand last night. I beg you to assure them, that it will ever be my highest ambition to approve myself a faithful servant of the public; and that to be in any degree instrumental in procuring to Edition: current; Page: [28] my American brethren a restitution of their just rights and privileges, will constitute my chief happiness.

Agreeable to your request, I have communicated, in general orders, to the officers and soldiers under my command, the thanks of Congress for their good behavior in the service; and I am happy in having such an opportunity of doing justice to their merit. They were indeed, at first, “a band of undisciplined husbandmen”; but it is, (under God,) to their bravery and attention to their duty, that I am indebted for that success, which has procured me the only reward I wish to receive, the affection and esteem of my countrymen.

The medal, intended to be presented to me by your honorable body, I shall carefully preserve as a memorial of their regard. I beg leave to return you, Sir, my warmest thanks for the polite manner in which you have been pleased to express their sentiments of my conduct; and am, with sincere esteem and respect, Sir, your and their most obedient and most humble servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
19 April, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 12th instant from Fort George was delivered me (with the enclosures) yesterday by express. I agree with you, that the intelligence is very alarming and requires the strictest attention.1 The Edition: current; Page: [29] four regiments ordered from hence are now embarking, and I hope will soon be with you. I need not urge the necessity of forwarding them from Albany with all possible despatch. You will have with the troops five hundred barrels of provisions. The commissary-general Edition: current; Page: [30] expects every moment a large quantity from Connecticut, and what can be spared of it shall be sent to you in the same bottoms, without delay. What General Lee contracted for is not yet delivered. His sudden and unexpected departure to the southward left the contractors at a loss where to deliver the provisions, and apply for the pay. The commissary-general has since renewed the contract, and ordered them to send provisions here.

I have ordered a return to be made of the state of our magazine, and if the powder you request can possibly be spared, you shall have it.

I have wrote to Congress to know whether they would incline to send you a further reinforcement of men; but we are yet in a very uncertain situation, not knowing where the enemy may bend their force, and constant applications [are made] from all quarters of the seacoast for a supply of men and ammunition. The recruits, that have been raised here, are totally unfurnished with arms, and, what is still worse, we do not know where to procure them.1

Edition: current; Page: [31]

You, who know the temper and disposition of the savages, will, I doubt not, think with me, that it will be impossible to keep them in a state of neutrality. I have urged upon Congress the necessity of engaging them on our side, to prevent their taking an active part against us, which would be a most fatal stroke under our present circumstances.1 The commotions Edition: current; Page: [32] among the Canadians are really alarming. I am afraid proper measures have not been taken to conciliate their affections; but rather that they have been insulted and injured, than which nothing could have a greater tendency to ruin our cause in that country. For human nature is such, that it will adhere to the side from whence the best treatment is received. I therefore conjure you, Sir, to recommend to the officers and soldiers in the strongest terms to treat all the inhabitants, Canadians, English, and savages, with tenderness and respect, paying them punctually for what they receive, or giving them such certificates as will enable them to receive their pay.

As you are perfectly well acquainted with the country and its inhabitants in and about Albany, I think it would be best for you to remain there, at least until the troops and all their supplies are forwarded from thence to Canada. Besides the four regiments ordered for that service, I shall send a company of riflemen, a company of artificers, and two engineers. I beg you will continue to furnish me with intelligence of every interesting occurrence, and believe me, most affectionately, your obedient humble servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 April, 1776

TO THE NEW YORK COMMITTEE OF SAFETY.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for the polite and ready attention you paid to my requisition of the 17th Instant. When the Civil & Military Powers Co-operate, and Edition: current; Page: [33] afford mutual Aid to each other there can be little doubt of things going well—I have now to request the favor of your information in what manner and in what time a Body of 2000 or 2500 Militia might be collected from this Colony for actual Service upon any Sudden Emergency.

Although we may not, and I trust in God shall not have occasion for their Aid—common prudence does nevertheless dictate the Expediency of a preconcerted Plan for calling them in. that in Case of necessity they may be drawn together in proper Corps without tumult or disorder, and at the same time with the utmost expedition—This will not be the Case if men are not regularly embodied and notified that they are to step forth at a moments warning.

The Idea that strikes me as the properest to be pursued at present, is, to establish out of the Continental Forces, good lookouts on the Heights and Head Lands at the Entrance of the Harbor, who, upon the appearance of a Fleet shall make such signals as being answered from place to place shall convey the earliest intelligence to Head Quarters of the strength and approach of the Enemy—These signals for greater Certainty to be followed by Expresses, and then, in Case anything formidable should appear for the Committee of Safety, if sitting, if not those to whom the power shall be delegated, upon application from the Commanding officer of the Continental Forces to order in two or more Battallions as the Exigency of the Case may require, or for greater dispatch such Militia or part of them as Edition: current; Page: [34] shall be allotted to this Service by the Committee might be assembled (if in the Town or Vicinity) by Signals to be agreed on.

A mode of proceeding of a similar kind concerted with Jersey would bring in a reinforcement speedily and without those irregularities and unnecessary Expences which but too frequently attend the movement of Militia.

Thus Gentlemen, I have express’d my Sentiment to you upon the occasion—Your prudence will suggest to you the necessity of adopting these, or other methods of a like nature, and your wisdom will point out the most effectual and expeditious manner of carrying them into Execution.—I therefore submit them to your Consideration and am with great respect, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 April, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was this day honored with the receipt of your favor of the 20th instant.

I have now the pleasure to acquaint you, that the four regiments designed for Canada embarked yesterday with a fair wind for Albany, under the command of Colonels Greaton, Patterson, Bond, and Poor; besides which there was a company of riflemen, a company of artificers, and two engineers, the whole commanded by Brigadier-General Thompson.

I have repeatedly mentioned to the honorable Congress the distressful situation we are in for want of Edition: current; Page: [35] arms. With much pains and difficulty I got most of the regiments from the eastward tolerably well furnished; but I find the [New] York regiments very badly provided. Colonel Ritzema’s has scarcely any; and yet these men, being enlisted during the war, and at five dollars per month, ought not, (in my judgment), to be discharged; as we find it almost as difficult to get men as arms. This is a matter of some importance, which I should be glad to receive the particular opinion of Congress upon.1 Mr. Baldwin is one of the assistant-engineers ordered to Canada. He is indeed a very useful man in his department, but he declined the service on account of his pay, which he says is inadequate to his support. In order to induce him to continue, I promised to represent his case to Congress; and would recommend an increase of his pay, and that he should have the rank of lieutenant-colonel, of which he is very deserving. I beg leave therefore to recommend him to the Congress, and that they would make provision for him accordingly.2

A few days ago, application was made to me by the Committee of Safety for this colony for an exchange of prisoners. For the particulars I beg leave to refer you to their letter, a copy of which you have, enclosed. As there is a standing order of Congress, that no sailors or soldiers shall be exchanged for citizens, I did not incline to comply with the request Edition: current; Page: [36] without the particular direction of Congress; but I have been since informed, that the prisoners, mentioned in the Committee’s letter as citizens, are really seamen taken from private vessels, but not in arms. How far this may alter the case, or how far the reasons which induced the Congress to pass the resolve abovementioned may still exist, must be left to their determination.

The militia, who, on my application, were ordered to this place to keep possession, until I should arrive with the Continental forces, were obliged to return home without their pay, as there was not then money sufficient in the treasury for that purpose, and to answer the exigencies of the army. This occasioned great uneasiness among them, and may be attended with very bad consequences, in case we should have occasion for their service on any future emergency. I therefore beg the Congress would make provision for their pay, and point out particularly whether it is to be done by the commander of the Continental forces, or by the Provincial Assemblies or Conventions from whence they are sent.

As the time for which the riflemen enlisted will expire on the 1st of July next, and as the loss of such a valuable and brave body of men will be of great injury to the service, I would submit it to the consideration of Congress, whether it would not be best to adopt some method to induce them to continue. They are indeed a very useful corps; but I need not mention this, as their importance is already well known to the Congress. It is necessary they should Edition: current; Page: [37] pay an early attention to this matter, as we know from past experience that men are very slow in re-enlisting.1

When I had the honor of seeing Admiral Hopkins at New London, he represented to me the weak state of his fleet, occasioned by sickness and the damage he received in his engagement with the enemy2; and requested I would spare him two hundred men to assist him in a design he had formed of attacking Wallace. This I readily consented to; and the men are to be returned as soon as the service is performed. I wish it was in my power at present to furnish General Lee with the companies of artillery he desires.3 I have already sent two companies to Quebec; and I have not yet been able to procure a return of those that are here. I expect Colonel Knox every moment, and shall then be able to determine whether any can be spared from hence.4 Blankets we are in great want of ourselves; and it was with great difficulty a few could be procured for the riflemen, that were ordered for Canada.

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I enclose you Mr. Winthrop’s receipt for two hundred thousand dollars brought some time ago from Philadelphia by Major Sherburne, which you will please to deliver to the Continental treasurers.

On my arrival here I found that Mr. Livingston had been appointed by the Provincial Congress a Commissary to furnish the Continental troops stationed in this city, with provisions. I suppose this was done because there was no Continental Commissary then on the spot. Mr. Livingston still claims a right of furnishing all the troops but those lately arrived from Cambridge. Mr. Trumbull is now here, and as I consider him as the principal in that office I should be glad to know whether any part of the Continental troops is to be furnished by any other than the Commissary General. I must needs say that to me it appears very inconsistent, and must create great confusion in the accounts as well as in the contracts. I intended to have laid before Congress the amount of the rations as supplied by Colonel Trumbull and Mr. Livingston, and called upon those gentlemen to furnish me with a separate estimate for that purpose. Col. Trumbull has given me his, by which it appears he supplies the troops at 8⅓d per ration. I have not yet received any from Mr. Livingston but am informed his contract is at 10½d. The difference is immense as it will amount to no less than two hundred pounds per day for 20,000 men. It is indeed to be considered that Mr. Livingston’s contract is including every other charge, and that to Mr. Trumbull’s must be added store hire, clerks, and every other Edition: current; Page: [39] contingent expense, but even then it will not amount to so much as Mr. Livingston’s by a penny per ration which in the gross will be something very considerable. I thought it my duty, without prejudice or partiality to state the matter fairly to Congress that they might take such order upon it as to them shall seem necessary. I cannot however in justice to Mr. Trumbull help adding that he has been indefatigable in supplying the army, and I believe from his connections in New England, is able to do it on as good terms as any person in America.

The several matters contained in the foregoing I must beg the early attention of Congress to, and that I may be favored with an answer as soon as possible.1

George Washington
Washington, George
23 April, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

In a letter, which I had the honor to receive from Congress some considerable time ago, they were pleased to ask what rank aids-de-camp bore in the army; from whence I concluded, that they had adverted to the extraordinary trouble and confinement of those gentlemen, with a view to make them an adequate allowance. But nothing being since done or said of the matter, I take the liberty, unsolicited by, and unknown to my aids-de-camp, to inform your honorable body, that their pay is not by any means equal to their trouble and confinement.

Edition: current; Page: [40]

No person wishes more to save money to the public, than I do; and no person has aimed more at it. But there are some cases in which parsimony may be ill-placed; and this I take to be one. Aids-de-camp are persons in whom entire confidence must be placed; it requires men of abilities to execute the duties with propriety and despatch, where there is such a multiplicity of business, as must attend the Commander-in-chief of such an army as ours; and persuaded I am, that nothing but the zeal of those gentlemen, who live with me and act in this capacity, for the great American cause, and personal attachment to me, have induced them to undergo the trouble and confinement they have experienced, since they have become members of my family.

I give in to no kind of amusements myself; and consequently those about me can have none, but are confined from morning till eve, hearing and answering the applications and letters of one and another, which will now, I expect, receive a considerable addition, as the business of the northern and eastern departments, (if I continue here,) must, I suppose, pass through my hands. If these gentlemen had the same relaxation from duty as other officers have in their common routine, there would not be so much in it. But, to have the mind always upon the stretch, scarce ever unbent, and no hours for recreation, makes a material odds. Knowing this, and at the same time how inadequate the pay is, I can scarce find inclination to impose the necessary duties of their office upon them. To what I have here said, this further remark may be made, and it is a matter Edition: current; Page: [41] of no small concernment to me, and, in its consequences, to the public, and that is, that, while the duty is hard and the pay small, it is not to be wondered at, if there should be found a promptness in them to seek preferment, or in me to do justice to them by facilitating their views; by which means I must lose their aid, when they have it most in their power to assist me. Influenced by these motives, I have taken the liberty of laying the matter fully and with all due deference before your honorable body, not doubting its meeting with a patient hearing.1 I am, &c.2

George Washington
Washington, George
23 April, 1776
New York
Joseph Reed
Reed, Joseph

TO JOSEPH REED.

My dear Sir,

I have been favored with several of your Letters since I came to this place, some of them indeed after getting pretty well advanced on the Road towards Boston—My extreame hurry with one kind of business and engagement or another, leaves me little more than time to express my concern for your Indisposition and the interposition of other obstacles to prevent me from receiving that aid from you which I have been wishing for & hourly expecting.

Your Letter of the 18th descriptive of the jealousies and uneasinesses which exist among the Members of Congress is really alarming—if the House is divided, the fabrick must fall, and a few Individuals Edition: current; Page: [42] perish in the Ruins.—For the occurrences of this place I shall beg leave to refer you to Mr. Palfrey, who at the particular request of Mr. Hancock comes to Philadelphia.

The sooner my Camp Equipage is sent to this place the better, that it may be ready for any Service I may be sent, or find necessary to go upon—If you could hire Horses to bring the Waggon &c. to this place and could conveniently and readily, sell those two you bought I would now rather wish it as the use for them is uncertain, and the expense of keeping (Provender being both scarce and dear) great—to which may be added that I have not the same occasion now as when I first required them, having taken four of the Troop Horses, which were found in Boston and which answered the purpose exceeding well from Cambridge here to fit out my Baggage Waggons. I do not mean however by what I have said that you should with hold the Horses if you cannot immediately & readily dispose of them without loss.

Inclosed is a letter to Mr. Hancock for payment for the whole. I am with sincere esteem and regard Dr. Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
24 April, 1776
New York
Samuel Tucker
Tucker, Samuel

TO SAMUEL TUCKER.1

Sir,

The Readiness shewn by the Committee of Safety for the Province of New Jersey to succor this Place with their Militia on a late occasion when they where Edition: current; Page: [43] at my Request called upon by Brigadier General, the Earl of Stirling, and the Alacrity with which I am Informed the Militia then stepped forward in Defence of their Country, are sufficient Proofs of the Important Service the province of New Jersey is capable of rendering in Support of the Great cause of American Liberty, especially if the Millitia of that Province be put under such regulations, as will enable them to give their aid at the very time it may be wanted and without the least Delay possible. What renders such a regulation the more Necessary is that in the present Situation of Affairs, it is more than probable that the approach of the Enemy will be sudden and without our having long Notice of their being on the Coast. Late Experience has taught us that under the present Regulation it will take at least a fortnight (after the necessity of the requisition is seen) to assemble and embody any considerable Detachment of the Militia, whereof it seems absolutely necessary that there be a resolution of your Congress or Committee of Safety for alloting a particular number of your Millitia to March on the first Notice of the Approach of the Enemy; the Detachment from each Regiment should be fixed upon, who should March to Certain Places of Rendezvous on the first Alarm by regulated signals. A Regulation of such Signals was lately made by Lord Stirling for the Highlands of Neversinks and Staten Island a copy of which with some Alteration I now send you, and which I think are very proper for the purpose—the two last of which should be Repeated Edition: current; Page: [44] at a number of Eminences in your Province—And if on the Signal of the Appearance of a large Fleet the Detachments of your Militia were ordered to Rendezvous at Brunswick, Amboy, Woodbridge, Raway, Elizabeth Town, Newark, and Bergen, they might be ready in a day or two to March to such Place either in your Province or in this, as would be found to stand most in need of their Assistance. And in order to avoid the Inconveniences which may arise from the Absence of your Provincial Generals from that Part of the Country where the troops may assemble, it will be necessary that the Colonels and Commanding Officers of every Corps or Detachment be Directed Strictly to obey the Orders they may Receive from the Continental General to whom that Department may be allotted. I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
25 April, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have not yet heard, that there has been any trial of the prizes carried into Massachusetts Bay. This procrastination is attended with very bad consequences. Edition: current; Page: [45] Some of the vessels I had fitted out are now laid up, the crews being dissatisfied that they cannot get their prize-money. I have tired the Congress upon this subject; but the importance of it makes me again mention, that, if a summary way of proceeding is not resolved on, it will be impossible to get our vessels manned. I must also mention to you, Sir, that Captain Manly and his crew are desirous to know when they may expect their part of the value of the ordnance stores taken last fall. They are anxious to know what the amount may be. As the inventory of that cargo is in the hands of Congress, I would humbly submit it to them, whether a valuation thereof should not be made, and the captors’ dividend be remitted to them as soon as possible. It will give them spirit, and encourage them to be alert in looking out for other prizes.

Several officers belonging to the regiments raised in these middle colonies inform me, that their men, (notwithstanding their agreement,) begin to murmur at the distinction of pay made between them and the regiments from the eastward. I should be glad that the Congress would attend to this in time, lest it may get to such a pitch as will make it difficult to suppress. They argue that they perform the same duty, undergo the same fatigue, and receive five dollars, when the eastern regiments receive six dollars and two thirds per month.1 For my own part, I wish Edition: current; Page: [46] they were all upon the same footing; for, if the British army will not face this way, it will be necessary to detach a great part of our troops. In that case, I should, for many reasons, be sorry there should be any distinctions of regiments, that are all in pay of the United Colonies. The deficiency of arms (in the New York regiments especially) is very great. If I am rightly informed there are scarce as many in Colonel Ritzema’s regiment as will arm one company. Can the Congress remedy this evil? If they can, there should not be lost a moment in effecting it, as our strength at present is, in reality on paper only. Should we think of discharging those men who are without arms, the remedy would be worse than the disease, for by vigorous exertions I hope arms may be procured, and I well know that the raising men is extremely difficult, especially to be engaged during the continuance of the war, which is the footing on which Col. Ritzema’s regiment is engaged.

April 26th.—I had wrote thus far before I was honored with your favor of the 23d instant. In obedience to the order therein contained, I have directed six regiments more for Canada, which will embark as soon as vessels and other necessaries can be provided.1 These regiments will be commanded by General Sullivan. I shall give him instructions to join the forces in that country under General Thomas as soon as possible. With respect to sending more troops to that country, I am really at a loss what to advise, as it is impossible Edition: current; Page: [47] at present to know the designs of the enemy.1 Should they send the whole force under General Howe up the river St. Lawrence, to relieve Quebec and recover Canada, the troops gone and now going will be insufficient to stop their progress; and should they think proper to send that or an equal force this way from Great Britain, for the purpose of possessing this city and securing the navigation of Hudson’s River, the troops left here will not be sufficient to oppose them; and yet, for any thing we know, I think it not improbable they may attempt both; both being of the greatest importance to them, if they have men.

I could wish, indeed, that the army in Canada should be more powerfully reinforced; at the same time I am conscious, that the trusting of this important post, (which is now become the grand magazine of America,) to the handful of men remaining here is running too great a risk. The securing of this post and Hudson’s River is to us also of so great importance, that I cannot at present advise the sending any more troops from hence; on the contrary, the general officers now here, whom I thought it my duty to consult, think it absolutely necessary to increase the army at this place with at least ten thousand men, especially when it is considered, that, from this place only, the army in Canada must draw its supplies of ammunition, provisions, and, most probably, of men; and that all reinforcements can be sent Edition: current; Page: [48] from hence much easier than from any other place. By the enclosed return, you will see the state of the army here, and that the number of effective men is far short of what the Congress must have expected.1

I have found it necessary to order Colonel Dayton’s regiment from New Jersey to march as one of the six to Canada; wherefore I must reccommend it to Congress to order two companies of one of the regiments still in Pennsylvania to march to Cape May, which can be done much sooner2; for, had this destination of that regiment not taken place, it would have been very inconvenient to detach two companies from it to that place, as the march would, (according to Lord Stirling’s and other accounts,) have been at least two hundred miles from Amboy, and they must have passed within twenty miles of Philadelphia, there being no practicable road along the seacoast of New Jersey for their baggage to have passed. Doctor Potts who is bearer hereof, was, I understand, appointed director of the hospital for the Middle Colonies, but the army being removed with the general hospital from the eastward, does in course supercede him. He is inclined to go to Canada, where he may be very useful, if a person is not already appointed for that department. I would humbly beg leave to ask the Congress, whether in all these appointments Edition: current; Page: [49] it would not be best to have but one chief, to whom all the others should be subordinate.1

George Washington
Washington, George
26 April, 1776
New York
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

When you did me the honor of a visit at Norwich, on my way to this place, I communicated to you the recommendation I had received from Congress for sending four battalions from hence to reinforce our troops in Canada. I now beg leave to inform you, that, in compliance therewith, on Saturday and Sunday last, I detached four regiments thence, under the command of Brigadier-General Thompson; and, by an express received last night, I am ordered by Congress, in addition to those already gone, to send six more immediately.2 Our regiments being incomplete and much wanting in numbers, I need not add, that the army here felt a sensible diminution by this detachment; and, when the second is gone, it will be weak indeed, considering the importance of this place, and the many extensive posts, which must be guarded for its defence; and added to this, almost the whole of our valuable ordnance, stores, and magazines will be deposited here. For these reasons, it appears to Edition: current; Page: [50] me expedient, that some mode should be adopted, without loss of time, by this, your, and the Jersey government, for throwing in immediate succors, upon the appearance of the enemy, or any case of emergency. I have wrote to the Congress of New Jersey upon the subject, praying them to form such regulations respecting their militia, (they being the only resource we have,) that assistance may be had on the earliest notice of an approach by the enemy, for preventing the fatal and alarming consequences, which might result from the common, tedious, and slow methods generally used for obtaining their aid; And would take the liberty of mentioning, that, if the same should be done by you and your honorable Council, respecting your militia, or such part of them as are nearest to this place, the most salutary ends might result therefrom.

The benefits flowing from a timely succor being too obvious for repetition, I shall propose with all possible deference, for your consideration, whether it would not be advisable to have some select corps of men appointed, under proper officers, in the western parts of your government, to repair to this place on the earliest notice from the general, or officer commanding here, of the appearance of an enemy. If it should be thought necessary upon an emergency, in the first instance to resort to you, and for all the ordinary forms to be gone through, before any succors can be ordered in, it is to be feared, that the relief would be too late to answer any good purposes. This, however, I shall submit to you, in full confidence Edition: current; Page: [51] of your most ready assistance on every occasion, and that such measures, as appear to you most likely to advance the public good, in this and every other instance, will be most cheerfully adopted. I am, Sir, with great esteem, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 April, 1776
New York

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF NEW YORK.

Gentlemen,

In answer to your favor of the 25th delivered to me yesterday I shall beg leave to inform you, that it was my design to have included the Militia of this City in the 2000 or 2500 Men which I thought might be wanted upon an emergency, but whether common prudence may not dictate the expediency of extending your views to a greater number in case of necessity is submitted to the wisdom of your Board—

The Signals which I intended should convey the first notice of the approach of an Enemy’s fleet you will find in the inclosed paper, but if you will please to appoint a Committee of your body I will desire the Brigadiers Sullivan, Greene and Lord Sterling to meet them & adopt a better if a better can be thought of. New Jersey is already advertized of these signals.

If the four Battalions which were directed to be raised under the Command of the Colonels McDougall, Clinton, Ritzema and Wynkoop, are placed under the immediate care of the Committee of Safety for this Colony by Congress, I should be glad to know how far it is conceived that my powers over Edition: current; Page: [52] them extend, or whether I have any at all. Sure I am that they cannot be subjected to the direction of both, and I shall have no small reluctance in asuming an authority I am not vested with powers to execute, nor will my Solicitude (further than as a well-wisher to the Cause) on account of arms for, and returns of these Regiments continue, if they are not considered as within the line of my Command. It becomes therefore my indispensable duty to be ascertained of this matter and to know whether these Regiments cannot be ordered out of the Colony—for Instance, to New Jersey if necessity should require it.1

It would give me singular pleasure to advance you the sum asked for, but the low state of our Cash and heavy demands upon the paymaster render it altogether impracticable at this time. The Quarter Edition: current; Page: [53] Master and Commissary are both wanting money and cannot be supplied, nor can Genl. Ward get what he has sent for, to pay the five Regiments to the Eastward till a fresh Supply arrives, of which Congress is informed. Genl. Heath since my arrival here, has obtained a Warrant upon the Pay-Master for Money to replace the Sum which your Committee kindly lent him, and to the best of my recollection Genl. Thompson told me that he also meant to do the same, these matters shall be enquired into. I am &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [54]
George Washington
Washington, George
29th April, 1776
New York
Major-General Ward
Major-General Ward

TO MAJOR-GENERAL WARD.

Sir,

It is with great concern I learn, from every hand, that your works for the defence of Boston and the Harbour, go on exceeding slow. I must entreat you therefore to push Colo. Gridley on to a diligent and faithful discharge of his duty in this particular—We cannot possibly tell where the Enemy will pitch their Tents next—if Boston is left open, and unguarded, it may be a temptation to go there; but at any rate, no time should be lost in putting the Town in the best posture of defense the nature of the case will admit of.

I shall be glad, in your next, to receive a particular acct. of what has been done towards Fortifying the Harbor. Four Regiments to wit, Poor’s, Patterson’s, Seaton’s, and Bond’s are already off for Canada. Reed’s and Stark’s will Imbark this day for Albany on their Road to the same place, and four others will follow in a day or two. I am Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [55]
George Washington
Washington, George
29 April, 1776
New York
John Augustine Washington
Washington, John Augustine

TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.

Dear Brother,

Since my arrival at this place, I have been favored with two or three of your letters, and thank you for your kind and frequent remembrance of me. If I should not write to you as often as you do to me, you must attribute it to its true cause, and that is, the hurry and multiplicity of business in which I am constantly engaged, from the time I rise out of my bed till I go into it again. I wrote to you a pretty full account, just before I left Cambridge, of the movements of the two armies, and now refer you to it. Since that time, I have brought the whole army, which I had in the New England governments (five regiments excepted, and left behind for the defence of Boston and the stores we have there), to this place; and eight days ago detached four regiments for Canada; Edition: current; Page: [56] and am now embarking six more for the same place, as there are reasons to believe, that a push will be made there this campaign, and things in that country not being in a very promising way, either with respect to the Canadians or Indians. These detachments have weakened us very considerably in this important post, where, I am sorry to add, there are too many inimical persons. But as our affairs in Canada can derive no support, except what is sent to them, and the militia may be called in here, it was thought best to strengthen that quarter at the expense of this; but I am afraid we are rather too late in doing it. From the eastern army, (under my immediate command,) it was impossible to do it sooner.

We have already gone great lengths in fortifying this city and the Hudson River. A fortnight more will put us in a very respectable posture of defence. The works we have already constructed, and which they found we were about to erect, have put the King’s ships to flight; for, instead of lying within pistol-shot of the wharves, and their sentries conversing with ours, (whilst they received every necessary that the country afforded,) they have now gone down to the Hook, near thirty miles from this place, the last harbor they can get to, and I have prevailed upon the Committee of Safety to forbid every kind of intercourse between the inhabitants of this colony and the enemy. This I was resolved upon effecting; but I thought it best to bring it about through that channel, as I now can pursue my own measures in support of their resolves.

Edition: current; Page: [57]

Mrs. Washington is still here, and talks of taking the smallpox; but I doubt her resolution. Mr. and Mrs. Custis will set out in a few days for Maryland. I did not write to you by the ’Squire, because his departure, in the first place, was sudden; in the next, I had but little to say. I am very sorry to hear, that my sister was indisposed when you last wrote. I hope she is now recovered of it, and that your family are well. That they may continue so, and that our once happy country may escape the depredations and calamities attending on war, is the fervent prayer of, dear Sir, your most affectionate brother.

Mrs. Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Custis join in love to my sister and the rest of the family.1

George Washington
Washington, George
30 April, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I mean, through you, to do myself the honor of laying before Congress a copy of an address transmitted to them some time ago by the Assembly of Rhode Island, which Governor Cooke favored me Edition: current; Page: [58] with in the month of January, at the same time requesting me to interest myself in procuring a body of forces on the Continental establishment, for the defence of that colony. I doubt not but the address and subject of it have had the attention and consideration of Congress before now. But if they have not decided upon the matter, I would beg leave to mention, that I have made inquiry into the situation and condition of the colony, and find it to be as stated in the address; and, with all deference to the opinion of Congress, conceive it highly necessary and expedient, that they should adopt some measures for relieving their distress, and granting the aid prayed for. The importance of it [Rhode Island] in the chain of union, its extensive seacoast, affording harbors for our shipping and vessels, at the same time exposing and subjecting the inhabitants to the ravages and depredations of our enemies, the zeal and attachment which it has shown, and which still actuate it towards the common cause, their incapacity to pay a sufficient number of men for its defence, should they be able to furnish them after so many engaged in other services; these, and many other reasons, which are too obvious to be mentioned, plead powerfully for the notice and attention of Congress, and seem to me to claim their support.

Having thus stated the matter to Congress, for their consideration, agreeable to my promise to Governor Cooke when I had the honor of seeing him on my way hither, I shall leave it with them, not doubting but they will duly weigh its importance, and give Edition: current; Page: [59] such assistance as they may think reasonable and just. What they chiefly wish for is, that the troops they have raised may be taken into Continental pay, and commanding officers to be appointed by Congress.1 I have the honor, &c.2

George Washington
Washington, George
5 May, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I am honored with your favor of the 30 Ulto. and observe what Congress have done respecting the settlement of the pay masters accounts—This seems expedient as he is out of office and I am certain will be attended with but little, if any difficulty, nothing more being necessary thereto, than to compare the Warrants with his debits and the receipts he has given with his credits.3 I wish every other settlement as easy, and that a Committee was appointed to examine and audit the accounts on which the Warrants are founded, particularly those of the Quarter Master and Commissary Generals—they are long and of high amount, consisting of a variety of charges, and of course more intricate and will require time and an extraordinary degree of attention to adjust and liquidate in a proper manner.—Upon this subject I did Edition: current; Page: [60] myself the honor to write you a considerable time ago.1

Having had several complaints from the officers in the Eastern Regiments, who have been and are engaged in recruiting, about the expense attending it, and for which they have never been allowed any thing, tho the officers in their Governments have, as I am informed, I shall be glad to know whether the allowance of 10s. granted to the Officers for every man inlisted by the Resolve of Congress in—2 is general and Indiscriminate, or confined to the Middle districts: If general, must I have retrospect to the time of the Resolve, and pay for the Intermediate services, or only for future Inlistments?3

In a Letter I wrote Congress the 25th of December, I inclosed one I had received from Jacob Bayley, Esqr. about opening a Road from Newbury to Canada4; I received another on the 15 Ulto., and from his account of the intelligence of others I have no doubt of the practicability of the measure, and am well informed that the distance will be considerably shortened; in so much that our Troops going to Canada from any part of the New England Governments Eastward of Connecticut River, or returning from thence Home, will perform their march in five or Six days less than by going or returning any way Edition: current; Page: [61] now used. Add to this, that the Road may be carried to Missisque River, as it is said, from whence the water carriage to St. Johns is good, except forty odd miles or so far to the Northward as to keep clear of the Lakes altogether and which will afford an easy pass to and from Canada at all Seasons, the benefits resulting from this Route will be so great and Important that I have advanced Colo. Bayley Two Hundred and fifty pounds to begin with, and directed him to execute his plan. No doubt It will require a more considerable advance to accomplish it, but the whole will be soon sunk—The Expence saved by shortning Six days pay and provisions for the men returning to the Eastern Governments at the expiration of this Campaign, will be almost, if not more than equal to the charge of opening it; if not, as in all probability there will be often a necessity for detachments of our Troops from those Governments, to go and return, it will soon be repaid.1

By a letter from Genl. Schuyler of the 27 ulto. I find Genl. Thompson and his Brigade had arrived at Albany. Genl. Sullivan with the last except three or four companies of Colo. Wayne’s Regiment not yet come, is embarked and gone, and probably will be soon there. I am apprehensive from General Schuyler’s account, they will not proceed from thence with the expedition wished owing to a difficulty in getting Teams and provender for the Cattle necessary to carry their Baggage, and a scarcity of Batteaus for Edition: current; Page: [62] transporting so great a number, tho he is using the utmost Industry and diligence to procure ’em. Should they be retarded for any considerable time, it will be exceedingly unfortunate, as we are much weakened here by their going, and our Army in Canada not strengthened. I have sent with the last Brigade, Sixty Barrels of Powder and other Stores and Intrenching Tools, a supply being wanted; also the Chain for a Boom at the Narrows of Richlieu, and the three Boxes of money brought me by Mr. Hanson, and have wrote Genl. Schuyler to have the Boom fixed as soon as possible. The Commissary too has forwarded about Eight Hundred Barrels of pork and is in expectation of a further Quantity from Connecticut which will go on without stopping here.

As the Magazine from whence the Northern and Eastern Armies will occasionally receive supplies of powder, will probably be kept here, and our stock is low and inconsiderable being much reduced by the Sixty Barrells sent to Canada, I shall be glad to have a Quantity immediately forwarded. Our Stores should be great, for if the Enemy make an attack upon the Town or attempt to goe up the North River, the expenditure will be considerable. Money too is much wanted. The Regiments that are paid have only received to the first of April. By a letter from Genl. Ward, I find his Chest is just exhausted, the money left with him for the payment of the Five Regiments at Boston and Beverly, being almost expended by large drafts in favor of the Commissary and Quarter Master, and in fitting out the Armed Edition: current; Page: [63] Vessels. I would here ask a question, to wit, whether as Mr. Warren’s Commission is superseded by Mr. Palfrey’s appointment, it will not be necessary to fix upon some person to pay the Troops at those places, or are the payments to goe thro’ his Hands? He does not incline to do any thing in the affair without the direction of Congress.

I have inclosed you a Return of the last Brigade departed and also of the forces remaining here, and as it is a matter of much importance to know the whole of our strength from time to time, and to see it at one view for regulating our movements with propriety, I wish it were a direction from Congress to the Commanding Officers in the different Districts to make Monthly returns to the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, of the State of the Troops in their departments and also of the Military Stores. Such direction will probably make ’em more attentive than they otherwise would be—I could not get a Return of the army in Canada, all last year.1

I beg leave to lay before Congress a copy of the proceedings of a Court Martial upon Lieutent. Grover of the 2d Regiment, and of his defence, which I should not have troubled them with, had I not conceived, the Court’s sentence upon the facts stated in the proceedings, of a singular nature, the small fine imposed by no means adequate to the enormity of his offence, and to be of a dangerous and pernicious Tendency. For these reasons I thought it my duty to lay the proceedings before them in order to their Edition: current; Page: [64] forming such a Judgement upon the Facts, as they shall conceive right and Just, and advancive of the public good.1 At the same time I would mention that I think it of material consequence that Congress should make a Resolve taking away the supposed right of succession in the Military line from one Rank to another, which is claimed by many, upon the happening of Vacancies, and upon which principle this offence seems to have originated in a great measure and this ordinary Judgement to be founded; declaring that no succession or promotion can take place in case of vacancies, without a Continental commission giving and authorizing it. It is of much importance to check and entirely suppress this opinion and claim become too prevalent already, and which have an obvious tendency to introduce mutiny and disorder. Or if they conceive the claim good and that it should take place, that they will declare it so, that the point may be known and settled in future.2 I have &c.3

George Washington
Washington, George
5 May, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have so often, and so fully communicated my want of Arms to Congress that I should not have given them the trouble of receiving another Letter Edition: current; Page: [65] upon this subject, at this time, but for the particular application of Col. Wayne of Pennsylvania, who has pointed out a method by which he thinks they may be obtained.

In the hands of the Committee of Safety at Philadelphia, there are, According to Col. Wayne’s account not less than two or three thousand stand of Arms for Provisional use, from hence he thinks a number might be borrowed by Congress, provided they are replaced with Continental Arms as they are brought into the magazine in that City. At a crisis so important as this such a loan might be attended with signal advantages, while the defenceless state of the Regiments if no relief can be had, may be productive of fatal Consequences.

To give Congress some idea of our Situation with respect to arms (and justice to my own Character requires that it should be known to them, altho the world at large will form their opinion of our Strength from numbers, without attention to Circumstances) it may not be amiss to inclose a Copy of a Return which I received a few days ago from the Troops in the Highlands, and add that by a report from Colo. Ritzema’s Regiment of the 29th ult. there appeared to be only 97 Firelocks and seven Bayonets belonging thereto, and that all the Regiments from the Eastward are deficient from Twenty to Fifty of the former.

Four of those Companies at the Fortifications in the Highlands belong to Colo. Clinton’s Regiment, but in what condition the residue are, on account of Edition: current; Page: [66] arms and how Colo. Wynkoop’s men are provided, I cannot undertake to say, but am told most miserably; as Colo. Dayton’s (of New Jersey) and Colo. Wayne’s (of Pennsylvania) also are. This, Sir, is a true, tho’ Melancholy description of our Situation. The propriety therefore of keeping Arms, in Store when Men in actual pay are wanting of them, and who it is presumed will, as they ought, bear the heat and burthen of the day, is submitted with all due deference to the Superior judgement of others.

I cannot, by all the enquiries I have been able to make, learn, what number of Arms have been taken from the Tories—where they lay—or how they are to be got at. The Committee of Safety for this Colony have assured me that no exertions of theirs shall be wanting to procure Arms, but our sufferings in the meanwhile may prove fatal, as men without are in a manner useless. I have therefore thought of employing an Agent, whose sole business it shall be to ride through the middle and interior parts of these Governments for the purpose of buying up such Arms as the Inhabitants may incline to sell, and are fit for use.

1The designs of the enemy are too much behind the curtain, for me to form any accurate opinion of their Plan of operations for the summer’s Campaign; we are left to wander therefore in the field of Conjecture, and as no place (all its consequences considered) Edition: current; Page: [67] seemed of more importance in the execution of their grand Plan than possessing themselves of Hudson’s River I thought it advisable to remove, with the Continental Army to this City so soon as the troops evacuated Boston, but if Congress from their knowledge, information, or believe, think it best for the General good of the Service that I should go to the Northward, or elsewhere, they are convinced I hope that they have nothing more to do than signify their commands. With great respect, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [68]
George Washington
Washington, George
9 May, 1776
New York
Major-General Ward
Major-General Ward

TO MAJOR-GENERAL WARD, AT BOSTON.

Sir,

Your letters of the 27 & 28 ulto. came in course to Hand. I am glad that you have given your attention to the works, which I doubt not are by this time compleat. It will give me pleasure to hear they are, for should these accounts of Hessians and Hanoverian Troops coming over prove true it is possible the Enemy may make some attempts to Regain a Footing Edition: current; Page: [69] in your province. I have Represented to Congress the want you was in for Cash to which I have not yet received a Answer. When I do you shall be Inform’d thereof. The account you give of the Vessells at Beverly being unfit for Service surprize’s me prodigiously. I was taught to believe very Differently of the Ship Jenny, by Commodore Manly and Captain Bartlett, who you mention to have given you their oppinion of them. The Brigantine from Antigua was also thought very fit to arm. Doctr. Brown’s accounts are more Immediately in the Director Gen’l of the Hospital Department; when he arrives here I shall give them to him for his Inspection. Mr. Singletany’s account is Easily settled, as he has the Commissary’s Receipt for the Arms; if the account of the cost of the arms was more particular, it would be more regular & Satisfactory. A Letter is just come to my hands from Winthrop Sargent, Esqr. agent for the Navy at Gloucester. He says there are some women and children, whom he is obliged to Mantain at the Continental Expense; also a Number of men taken in some of the last prizes. You will please to Examine into their Situation; if Prisoners of war, they should be sent into some Inland place and confind; if Tories, the General Court are the proper persons to take cognizance of them; I see by the publick prints that the prizes at Beverly are to be sold the 20th Instant, as by the Obstructions put on Commerce in General there may appear but few purchasers for the vessel so of course they may be sold vastly under their Value. I think you had best have Edition: current; Page: [70] some persons in whom you can Confide, present at the sale with Power to purchase the large ship and the Brig from Antigua, if he finds them going very much under their Value. It is not above two or three years since the ship cost £3,000 Sterling, she is to be sure something worse for wear, & I believe is not Remarkably well formed at present, as she has been pillaged for the use of our Armed Vessells which must make a Considerable Abatement of her Value. The Brigantine is I suppose in the same predicament. But a good Judge will easily know the Value. Wm. Watson Esqr. of Plymouth Advises that the prizes Norfolk and Happy Return, are Condemned, and Desires I would appoint a Day for sale of them and their Cargoes. This you will please to do—letting them be Advertised in the papers at least a fortnight before the sale. I have had no advice from Congress relative to your resignation. I shall write them this day to know what officer they may think proper to the command in your state. When I receive their answer, you shall be informed. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 May, 1776
New York
Lund Washington
Washington, Lund

TO LUND WASHINGTON, MOUNT VERNON.

Dear Lund,

As I am not able to form any idea of the time of my return, and as it is very reasonable and just, that Mr. Custis should be possessed of his estate, although it is not in my power, (circumstanced as I am at present), to liquidate the accounts and make a final Edition: current; Page: [71] settlement with him, I have wrote to the clerk of the Secretary’s office for authentic copies of the last accounts, which I exhibited against him and the estate of his deceased sister. With these (for I have directed them to be sent to you) and the bundle of bonds, which you will find among my papers, I would have Mr. Custis and you repair to Colonel Mason and get him, as a common friend to us both, as a gentleman well acquainted with business, and very capable of drawing up a proper memorandum of the transaction, to deliver him his own bonds, which, if my memory fails me not, and no changes have happened, are in one parcel and endorsed; and at the same time deliver him as many bonds out of the other parcel, endorsed Miss Custis’s bonds, as will pay him his moiety of her fortune and the balance, which will appear due to him from me, at my last settlement with the General Court. How the account will then stand between us, I cannot with precision say, but I believe the balance will be rather in my favor than his.

In my last settlement of the estate of Miss Custis (which you will have sent to you, I expect, by Mr. Everard), every bond, mortgage, &c., were fully accounted for, and will be the best ground to found the dividend (between Mr. Custis and myself) upon lest any of the bonds or mortgages should be misplaced, or in the office.

Mr. Mercer’s bonds I have promised to take into my part; and, as there are wheat and other accounts opened between that estate and me, I should be glad to have them allotted accordingly. In like manner, Edition: current; Page: [72] I promised to take Mr. Robert Adams’s debt upon myself, and believe the last mortgage from him was taken in my own name. As to the others, I do not care how they are divided, nor was I anxious about these, further than that it served to comply with their desires, founded (I believe) on an opinion, that I should not press them for the money.

The bank stock must, I presume, be equally divided between us. Long before I left Virginia, I directed it to be sold, writing to Messrs. Cary and Company, who had always received the dividends, to negotiate the matter; in consequence, they sent me a power of attorney, and a great deal of formal stuff for Mrs. Washington and myself to execute before the governor. This we did, literally as required, and transmitted; since which, the directors of the bank have prescribed another mode, and I have had forwarded to me another set of papers, to be executed also before the governor, which it has never been in my power to do, as they arrived but a little while before I set out for the Congress last spring. Thus the matter stands, as far as I know, with respect to the money in the funds.

There is another matter, which I think justice to myself requires to be mentioned, and that is, with respect to the sterling balance, which it will appear I was owing to Mr. Custis upon the last settlement. It was then, and ever since has been, my intention to assign to him as many bonds, carrying interest, as would discharge this balance; but my attendance upon Congress in the fall of 1774, and spring of Edition: current; Page: [73] 1775, put it out of my power to attend the General Court at their sessions; consequently no order could be taken, or account rendered, of this matter; and now, by the rise of exchange, if I were to turn current money bonds into sterling, I should be a considerable sufferer, when I had not, nor could have, any interest in delaying of it; and that it was so delayed was owing to the reasons abovementioned, it being a practice to let out his money upon interest as soon as it came to my hands.

The many matters, which hang heavy upon my hands at present, do not allow me time to add more, but oblige me to request, as I have not written fully to Colonel Mason on this subject, that you will show him, and if necessary let him have this letter. I am, very sincerely, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
11 May, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 4 and 7 Instt. with their several inclosures, and am exceedingly glad that before the Resolution respecting Lt. Colo. Ogden came to hand, I had ordered him to join his Regiment, and had quelled a disagreeable spirit both of mutiny and desertion which had taken place and seemed to be rising to a great degree in consequence of it—In order to effect it, I had the Regiment paraded, and ordering two more at the same time under arms, convinced them of their error and ill conduct, and obtained a promise for their good behavior in future. To such of them as had absconded, I gave pardons on their assurances to return to their duty again.

In my Letter of the 5 Instt which I had the honor of addressing you, I mentioned to Congress the refractory and mutinous conduct of Lieut. Grover of Edition: current; Page: [75] the 2d. Regiment and laid before them a copy of the proceedings of a Court Martial upon him and of his defence, with a view that such measures might be adopted as they should think adequate to his crime.1 I will now beg leave to inform them, that since then he has appeared sensible of his misconduct, and having made a written acknowledgement of his offence and begged pardon for it, as by the inclosed copy will appear, I thought it best to release him from his confinement and have ordered him to join his Regiment, which I hope will meet their approbation, and render any determination as to him unnecessary; Edition: current; Page: [76] observing, at the same time that I have endeavored, and I flatter myself not ineffectually, to support their authority and a due subordination in the army. I have found it of importance and highly expedient to yield many points in fact, without seeming to have done it, and this to avoid bringing on a too frequent discussion of matters which in a political view ought to be kept a little behind the curtain, and not be made too much the subjects of disquisition. Time only can eradicate and overcome customs and prejudices of long standing—they must be got the better of by slow and gradual advances.

I would here take occasion to suggest to Congress, (not wishing or meaning of myself to assume the smallest degree of power in any instance,) the propriety and necessity of having their sentiments respecting the filling up the vacancies and issuing commissions to officers, especially to those under the rank of field-officers. Had I literally complied with the directions given upon this subject, when I first engaged in the service, and which I conceived to be superseded by a subsequent resolve for forming the army upon the present establishment, I must have employed one clerk for no other business than issuing warrants of appointment, and giving information to Congress for their confirmation or refusal. It being evident from the necessity of the thing, that there will be frequent changes and vacancies in office, from death and a variety of other causes, I now submit it to them, and pray their direction, whether I am to pursue that mode, and all the ceremonies attending Edition: current; Page: [77] it, or to be at liberty to fill up and grant commissions at once to such, as may be fit and proper persons to succeed.

When I came from Cambridge, I left instructions with Colo. Knox of the Artillery Regiment for the regulation of his conduct, and among other things directed him immediately to send forward to this place Lt. Colo. Burbeck, who notwithstanding he received orders for that purpose has refused to come,—considering himself as he says in his answer to Colo. Knox, his Letter, (copies of which I have inclosed) bound in point of generosity to stay in the service of the province, tho I am told by Col. Knox that some of the members of the General Court on hearing of the matter informed him, that they did not consider him as engaged to them, and that he had no just pretext for his refusal. I thought it right to lay this matter before Congress, and submit it to them, whether Colo. Burbeck, who will or will not serve the Continent, or go to this or that place as it may suit his convenience and square with his pretended notions of generousity, shou’d be longer continued in office.1

Before I have done, with the utmost deference and respect, I would beg leave to remind Congress of my former letters and applications, respecting the appointment of proper persons to superintend and take direction of such prisoners, as have already fallen and will fall into our hands in the course of the war, being fully convinced, that, if there were persons appointed for, & Edition: current; Page: [78] who would take the whole management of them under their care, that the continent would save a considerable sum of money by it, and the prisoners be better treated and provided with real necessaries, than what they now are; and shall take the liberty to add, that it appears to me a matter of much importance, and worthy of consideration, that particular and proper places of security should be fixed on and established in the interior parts of the different governments for their reception.

Such establishments are agreeable to the practice and usage of the English and other nations, and are founded on principles of necessity and public utility. The advantages, which will arise from ’em, are obvious and many. I shall mention only two or three. They will tend much to prevent escapes, which are difficult to effect, when the public is once advertised, that the prisoners are restrained to a few stated and well-known places, and not permitted to goe from thence; and the more ingenious among them from disseminating and spreading their artful and pernicious intrigues and opinions throughout the country, which would influence the weaker and wavering part of mankind, and meet with but too favorable a hearing. Further, it will be less in their power to join and assist our enemies in cases of invasions, and will give us an opportunity always to know, from the returns of those appointed to superintend them, what number we have in possession, the force sufficient to check and suppress their hostile views in times of emergency, and the expenses necessary for their maintenance & support. Many other reasons Edition: current; Page: [79] might be adduced to prove the necessity and expediency of the measure. I shall only subjoin one more, and then have done on the subject, which is, that many of the towns, where prisoners have been already sent, not having convenience for or the means of keeping them, complain that they are burdensome; and have become careless, inattentive, and altogether indifferent whether they escape or not; and those of ’em that are restricted to a closer confinement, the limits of jail, neglected, and not treated with that care and regard, which Congress wish.1

I have not received further intelligence of the German troops2 since my letter of the 7th instant, covering Mr. Cushing’s despatches: but, lest the account of their coming should be true, may it not be advisable and good policy to raise some companies of our Germans to send among them when they arrive, for exciting a spirit of disaffection and desertion? If a few sensible and trusty fellows could get with them, I should think they would have great weight and influence with the common soldiery, who certainly have no enmity towards us, having received no injury nor cause of quarrel from us. The measure having occurred, and appearing to me expedient, I thought it prudent to mention it for the consideration of Congress. Having received a letter from General Ward, advising that Congress have accepted his resignation, and praying to be relieved, and it being necessary that a general officer should be sent to take the command Edition: current; Page: [80] of the troops at Boston, especially if the army should arrive, which is talked of, and which some consider as a probable event, I must beg leave to recommend to Congress the appointment of some brigadier-generals, not having more here, (nor so many at this time) than are essential to the government, and conducting the forces and works, that are carrying on. Generals Sullivan and Thompson being ordered to Canada, I cannot spare one more general officer from hence without injuring the service greatly, and leaving the army here without a sufficient number.1 Having frequent application from the Committee of Safety and others, about an exchange of prisoners, and not having authority to pursue any mode in this instance, than that marked out by a resolve of Congress some considerable time ago, I hope they will pardon me when I wish them to take under consideration such parts of my letter of the 22d ultimo, as relate to this subject and for their determination upon it. I shall then have it in my power to give explicit and satisfactory answers to those who shall apply.2

George Washington
Washington, George
15 May, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Since my last of the 11 Instt. which I had the honor to address you, nothing of moment or importance Edition: current; Page: [81] has occurred, and the principal design of this is to communicate to Congress the intelligence I received last night from General Schuyler by a letter of the 10th respecting the progress of our Troops in getting towards Canada—not doubting of their impatience and anxiety to hear of it, and of every thing relating to the Expedition—for their more particular information & satisfaction, I have done myself the pleasure to extract the substance of his Letter on this Head, which is as follows:

“That Genl. Thompson with the last of his Brigade in the morning of Tuesday sennight embarked at Fort George and in the Evening of the next day Genl. Sullivan arrived at Albany. That he had ordered an Additional number of Carpenters to assist in building Boats, who finishing Eight every day, would have 110 complete by the 21st, before which he was fearfull the last of Genl. Sullivan’s Brigade could not embark. That they would carry 30 men each besides the Baggage, Ammunition and Intrenching Tools. That he has given most pointed orders to restrain the licentiousness of the Troops, which was disgraceful and very injurious, in those gone on heretofore, in abusing the Inhabitants and Batteau men and that he had ordered Captain Romans from Canada for Trial at Albany, there being sundry complaints lodged against him. He also informs that the 60 Barrells of powder had arrived and would be forwarded that day; that the 1st Regiment of Genl. Sullivan’s Brigade marched that morning, and that the Intrenching Tools and about 600 Barrells of Pork were also gone on; that he cannot possibly send more than half of the 300,000 Dollars into Canada being greatly in debt on the public Account, and the Creditors exceedingly clamorous and importunate for payment, which sum he hopes will be sufficient till the Canadians agree to take our paper Currency to which they are much averse, and of which he is exceedingly doubtfull; That he had got the Chain and would forward it that day to Genl. Arnold with orders to fix it at the Rapids of Richlieu. Edition: current; Page: [82] He adds that he had reviewed Genl. Sullivan’s Brigade in presence of about 260 Indians who were greatly pleased with the order and regularity of the Troops and surprized at the number which the Tories had industriously propagated consisted only of 3 Companies and that they were kept always walking the Streets to Induce ’em to believe their number was much greater than it really was.”1

I have inclosed a Copy of General Schuyler’s Instructions to Jas. Price Esqr Deputy Commy Genl for the regulation of his conduct in that department which I received last night & which Genl. Schuyler requested me to forward you; I also beg leave to lay before Congress a Copy of a Letter from Saml. Stringer director of one of the Hospitals, purporting an application for an increase of surgeons, mates &c.—an estimate of which is also inclosed and submit it to them what number must be sent from hence, or got elsewhere. It is highly probable that many more will be wanted in Canada, than what are already there, on account of the late augmentation of the Army, but I thought it most advisable to make his requisition known to Congress and to take their order Edition: current; Page: [83] and direction upon it. As to the Medicines, I shall speak to Doctor Morgan (not yet arrived) as soon as he comes and order him to forward such as may be necessary and can be possibly spared.1

Edition: current; Page: [84]
George Washington
Washington, George
17 May, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

I this morning Received your favor of the 13 Instant with its Enclosures, Conveying Intelligence of the Melancholy situation of our affairs in Canada,1 and am not without my fears, I confess, that the prospect we had of possessing that Country, of so much importance in the present controversy, is almost over, or at least that it will be effected with much more difficulty and effusion of blood, than were necessary, had our exertions been timely applied.—However we must not despair. A manly and spirited opposition only can ensure success, and prevent the Enemy from improving the advantage they have obtained.—I have forwarded the Letters to Congress; and their answer to you and the Honorable Commissioners I will transmit to you, as soon as they come to hand.—I Edition: current; Page: [85] am fully sensible, that this unfortunate event has greatly deranged your schemes, & will involve you in difficulties to be obviated only by your Zeal & assiduity which I am well satisfied will not be wanting in this or any other instance where the good of your Country requires them.

Notwithstanding the most diligent pains, but a small part of the Nails you wrote for is yet Collected, nor will there be a possibility of getting half the quantity, the Quarter Master expects that they will be here to day, when they will be instantly forwarded with the five Tons of lead—

I am, Sir, with sentiments of much esteem and regard, your most obedient humble servant.1

Edition: current; Page: [86]
George Washington
Washington, George
18 May, 1776
New York
Richard Henry Lee
Lee, Richard Henry

TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.

My Dear Sir,

In great haste I write you a few lines to cover the enclosed;1 they came in the manner you see them, and as explained in Captain Langdon’s letter to me. I hesitated some time in determining whether I could, Edition: current; Page: [87] with propriety, select them from the rest, considering in what manner they came to my hands; but as there are some things in each which may serve to irritate, I concluded it best to send not only the one directed to you, but the other also, (to Doctor Franklin) under cover to you, as you may communicate and secrete such parts as you like. I have no time to add the Edition: current; Page: [88] necessity of vigorous exertions; they are too obvious to need any stimulus from me. Adieu, my dear Sir.

P. S. Upon second thought, knowing that Doctor Franklin is in Canada, I send you a copy only of a letter to him, (which I take to be from Doctor Lee) and the original to the Doctor.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 May, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Your favor of the 16th, with several resolutions of Congress therein enclosed, I had not the honor to receive till last night. Before the receipt, I did not think myself at liberty to wait on Congress, although I wished to do it; and therefore the more readily consented to General Gates’s attendance, as I knew there were many matters, which could be better explained in a personal interview, than in whole volumes of letters. He accordingly set out for Philadelphia yesterday morning, and must have been too far advanced on his journey (as he proposed expedition) to be overtaken.1

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I shall, if I can settle some matters, which are in agitation with the Provincial Congress here, follow to-morrow or next day; and, therefore, with every sentiment of regard, attachment, and gratitude to Congress for their kind attention to the means, which they think may be conducive to my health, and with particular thanks to you for the politeness of your invitation to your house,1 I conclude, dear Sir, your most obedient, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [90]
George Washington
Washington, George
21 May, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

I have Enclosed for your perusal Copies of two Informations, and a letter I received on Saturday last from the Committee of King’s district by the hands of a Martin Bebee, who says he is their clerk and was sent express. From these you will readily discover the diabolical and Insidious Arts and Schemes carrying on by the Tories, and friends of government, to raise distrust, dissensions, and divisions among us. Having the utmost confidence in your Integrity, and the most incontestable proof of your great attachmt to our Edition: current; Page: [91] common Country and Its Interest, I could not but look upon the charge agt. you with an eye of disbelief, and sentiments of detestation and abhorrence; nor should I have troubled you with the matter, had I not been Informed, that Copies were sent to different Committees and to Govr Trumbull, which I conceived would get abroad, and that you, should you find that I had been furnished with them, would consider my suppressing ’em as an Evidence of my belief, or at best of my doubts of the charges.

The confidence and assurance I have of the Injustice and Infamy of the charges agt. the Convention obliged me also to lay the matter before them; lest my not doing it should be construed a distrust by them of their Zeal, and promote the views of the Tories; who, to excite disorder and confusion, judge it essential to Involve those in high departments in a share of the plot, which is not unlikely to be true in some parts, believing that our Internal Enemies have many projects in contemplation for to subvert our liberties.1 Before I conclude, I wou’d mention, that Edition: current; Page: [92] some Officers called upon me a few days agoe, having your permit to goe to Pennsylvania and settle some affairs there. This License, when there is really Edition: current; Page: [93] business, is certainly countenanced by Humanity and Generosity, but, nevertheless, it shou’d not be Indulged, and I hope will not be granted in future, as Edition: current; Page: [94] it gives them an opportunity of getting Intelligence of all our Operations, of forming opinions of our strength, the places proper for attack, and settling a channel of Correspondence with the disaffected by which our Enemies may and will be furnished with Edition: current; Page: [95] full accounts of our designs and every thing that can promote their service and Injure ours.—There is but little reason to believe, nay we are certain they will not conduct themselves upon principles of the strictest honor for the favors done ’em, but will, when in their power, exercise every matter, that can operate to our prejudice. I am, Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
Major-General Putnam
Major-General Putnam

TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.1
INSTRUCTIONS.

The Congress having been pleased to signify a desire that I should repair to Philadelphia, in order to advise and consult with them on the present posture of affairs, and as I am on the point of setting out accordingly I have to desire that you will cause the different works now in agitation to be carried on with the utmost expedition. To this end I have written to the Provincial Congress of this Colony for tools, and have hopes of obtaining them. Apply, therefore accordingly, taking an exact account of what you receive.

The works upon Long-Island should be completed as expeditiously as possible; so should those in and about this town and upon Governor’s Island. If new works can be carried on without detriment to the old, (for want of tools,) I would have that intended at Paulus Hook set about immediately, as I conceive it to be of importance. In like manner I would have that at the Narrows begun, provided Colonel Knox, after his arrangement of the artillery, should find there are any fit pieces of cannon to be spared for it; otherwise, as I have no longer any dependence upon cannon from Admiral Hopkins, it would be useless.

The barriers of those streets leading from the water are not to be meddled with, and where they have been pulled down are to be repaired, and nearer the water, if more advantageous.

Edition: current; Page: [96]

As it does not appear to me improbable that the enemy may attempt to run past our batteries in and about the town, and land between them and the woody grounds above Mr. Scott’s, I would have you employ as many men as you can in throwing up flushes at proper places and distances within that space, in order to give opposition in landing; but if there are not tools enough to carry on the other more essential works and these at the same instant, you are not to neglect the first, but esteem this as a secondary consideration only.

Delay not a moment’s time to have the signals fixed for the purpose of communicating an alarm upon the first appearance of the enemy. Let them be placed in such a manner, and at such distances, as to be easily discovered, day or night. If this was continued upon the Long Island shore for some distance, good consequences might result from it, as nothing can be attended with more signal advantages than having timely notice of the enemy’s approach, whilst nothing can add more to the disgrace of an officer than to be surprised; for this reason I have to beg that the same vigilance and precaution may be used as if the enemy were actually within sight, as a brisk wind and flowing tide will soon produce them when they are once on the coast. The officers and men, therefore, should be constantly at their quarters, the guards alert, and every thing in readiness for immediate action.

As I have great reasons to fear that the fortifications in the Highlands are in a bad situation, and the garrisons, on account of arms, worse, I would have you send Brigadier Lord Stirling, with Colonel Putnam, (and Colonel Knox if he can be spared) up there to see, report, and direct such alterations as shall be judged necessary for putting them into a fit and proper posture of defence.

Open any letters which may come directed to me upon publick service whilst I am absent; and if any very interesting advices should be contained therein, either from the eastward or northward, forward them to Philadelphia, after regulating your conduct thereby.

I must again beg that your particular attention be turned to our powder magazines, to see that that valuable article is properly Edition: current; Page: [97] placed and secured. I also beg that no time or means be neglected to make as many cartridges as possible.

I have reason to believe, that the Provincial Congress of this colony have in contemplation a scheme for seizing the principal Tories and disaffected persons on Long Island, in this city, and the country round about; and that, to carry the scheme into execution, they will have recourse to the military power for assistance. If this should be the case, you are hereby required during my absence to afford every aid, which the said Congress or their Secret Committee shall apply for. I need not recommend secrecy to you, as the success, you must be assured, will depend absolutely upon precaution, and the despatch with which the measure, when once adopted, shall be executed.

General Greene will, though not in person perhaps, have a principal share in ordering the detachments from his brigade on Long Island; of course he will be a proper person to be let into the whole plan. I would, therefore, when application is made by Congress, have you and him concert measures with such gentlemen, as that body shall please to appoint, and order the execution with as much secrecy and despatch as possible, and at the same time with the utmost decency and good order. Given under my hand at Head-Quarters, in the city of New York, this 21st day of May, 1776.1

Edition: current; Page: [98]
George Washington
Washington, George
22 May, 1776
Amboy
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

Congress having been pleased to request my attendance at Philadelphia, to advise with them on the situation of our affairs, and of such measures as may be necessary to adopt for this campaign, I had got thus far on my journey, when I called to view the Edition: current; Page: [99] ground, and such places on Staten Island contiguous to it, as may be proper for works of defence, when your favor of the 16th instant, with its several enclosures, came to hand. I am exceedingly concerned for the distress of our troops in Canada, and, as I informed you heretofore, have been very importunate with the commissary to forward all the provisions in Edition: current; Page: [100] his power; in consequence of which he has sent a good deal on, and I shall again repeat my orders and enjoin him to continue his supplies as largely and expeditiously as possible.

I wrote you on the 17th Inst. and am hopefull the 27 & ½ Casks of Nails, which were all that could be got, with the 5 tons of lead then sent will have reached you or got to Albany, from whence they will be forwarded, and in a Letter to Genl. Putnam have Edition: current; Page: [101] directed him to examine our stock of the latter, and to furnish you with a further quantity if it can be spared. At Philadelphia I will try to get a supply. I have also directed him to send you Two Tons more of Powder and such Intrenching Tools as can be possibly spared or procured from the Convention, in consequence of an Application I made two or three days since. We are deficient in those, not having a sufficiency to carry on the works for the defence of New York with the expedition I wish, or the exigency of the times demands.

In respect to Cannon, shot, and Guns for the vessells in the Lake I have requested him to consult with Col. Knox and with the Convention about sail Cloth, &c.; and if any of them can be spared or procured, that they be immediately sent you.

Our situation respecting the Indians is delicate and embarrassing. They are attached to Johnson, who is our enemy. Policy and prudence on the one hand suggest the necessity of seizing him and every friend of governmt; on the other, if he is apprehended, there will be danger of incurring their resentment. I hope the Committee will conduct the matter in the least exceptionable manner, and in that way that shall most advance the public good.

I observe by the minutes of a council of war, by General Thomas’s letter, and that of Messrs. Carroll and Chase to Dr. Franklin, that our troops cannot make a stand at Deschambault, as I had hoped. I wish it were practicable; for most certainly the lower down the river we can maintain our post, the more important will the advantages resulting from it be. Edition: current; Page: [102] Considering all the country below us as lost, and that there may be some prospect of gaining that above, from whence we might draw supplies in some degree, and have the friendship and assistance of the inhabitants,—it is certain we should make a stand as low down as we can, so as not to have a retreat cut off in case of necessity, or an opportunity of receiving provisions. But unacquainted as I am with the country, I cannot undertake to say where it should be. Not doubting and hoping that every thing for the best will be done, I am, Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
24 May, 1776
Philadelphia
Major-General Thomas
Major-General Thomas

TO MAJOR-GENERAL THOMAS, IN CANADA.

Sir,

I received your favor of the 8th instant with its enclosures, confirming the melancholy intelligence I had before heard, of your having been obliged to raise the siege of Quebec, and to make a precipitate retreat with the loss of the cannon in the batteaux, and interception of the powder going from General Schuyler. This unfortunate affair has given a sad shock to Edition: current; Page: [103] our schemes in that quarter, and blasted the hope we entertained of reducing that fortress and the whole of Canada to our possession.

From your representation, things must have been found in great disorder, and such as to have made a retreat almost inevitable; but, nevertheless, it is hoped you will be able to make a good stand yet, and by that means secure a large or all the upper part of the country. That being a matter of the utmost importance in the present contest, it is my wish and that of Congress, that you take an advantageous post as far down the river as possible, so as not to preclude you from a retreat, if it should be ever necessary, or from getting proper supplies of provision. The lower down you can maintain a stand, the more advantageous will it be, as all the country above will most probably take part with us, from which we may draw some assistance and support, considering all below as entirely within the power of the enemy and of course in their favor. This misfortune must be repaired, if possible, by our more vigorous exertions; and trusting that nothing will be wanting on your part or in your power to advance our country’s cause. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 May, 1776
Philadelphia
Major-General Putnam
Major-General Putnam

TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.

Sir,

I received yours of the 24th Inst. with its several inclosures, and the Letter and Invoice from Genl Ward giving Intelligence of the fortunate capture made by our Armed Vessells, on which event you have my Congratulations.

Edition: current; Page: [104]

I have wrote Genl. Ward as you will see by the inclosed Letter, which having read you will seal and send by post, to send forward to New York Colo. Putnam’s demand & also such Articles as Colo Knox may apply for out of the Cargoe taken.—In like manner I have desired him to send me as soon as possible part of the powder and eight hundred of the Carbines which will greatly assist in making up the deficiency in this instance.

As to the plan for employing the Armed Vessells I have no Objection to its being adopted, provided it will not frustrate the main design for which they were fitted out. That I would by no means have injured, as it is a matter of much importance to prevent a Correspondence between the disaffected and the Enemy, and the latter from getting supplies of provision, but if this end can be answered, and the other advantages in the plan mentioned, it is certainly an Eligible one.

The great variety of business, in which Congress are engaged, has prevented our settling what I was requested to attend for, though we have made several attempts, and a committee has been appointed for the purpose day after day; nor can I say with precision when I shall be at liberty to return. I must therefore pray your attention and vigilance to every necessary work; and further, if you should receive, before I come, certain advices, and such as you can rely on, of the enemy’s being on the coast, or approaching New York, that you inform me by express as early as possible. I do not wish an alarm to be given me without foundation; but, as soon as you are certified of their Edition: current; Page: [105] coming, that it be instantly communicated to me, and orders given the express who comes, to bespeak, at the different necessary stages on the road, as many horses as may be proper for facilitating my return, and that of the gentlemen with me, with the greatest expedition. I am, Sir, yours, &c.

P. S. I advise you’l speak to the several Colonls. & Hurry them to get their Colors done.1

George Washington
Washington, George
31 May, 1776
Philadelphia
John Augustine Washington
Washington, John Augustine

TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.

Dear Brother,

Since my arrival at this place, where I came at the request of Congress to settle some matters relative to the ensuing campaign, I have received your letter of the 18th from Williamsburg, and think I stand indebted to you for another, which came to hand some time ago in New York.

I am very glad to find that the Virginia Convention have passed so noble a vote, and with so much unanimity.1 Edition: current; Page: [106] Things have come to that pass now, as to convince us, that we have nothing more to expect from the justice of Great Britain; also, that she is capable of the most delusive arts; for I am satisfied, that no commissioners ever were designed, except Hessians and other foreigners; and that the idea was only to deceive and throw us off our guard. The first has been too effectually accomplished, as many members of Congress, in short, the representation of whole provinces, are still feeding themselves upon the dainty food of reconciliation; and, though they will not allow, that the expectation of it has any influence upon their judgment, (with respect to their preparations for defence,) it is but too obvious, that it has an operation upon every part of their conduct, and is a clog to their proceedings. It is not in the nature of things to be otherwise; for no man, that entertains a hope of seeing this dispute speedily and equitably adjusted by commissioners, will go to the same expense and run the same hazards to prepare for the worst event, as he who believes that he must conquer, or submit to unconditional terms, and its concomitants, such as confiscation, hanging, &c., &c.

Edition: current; Page: [107]

To form a new government requires infinite care and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid, the superstructure must be bad. Too much time, therefore, cannot be bestowed in weighing and digesting matters well. We have, no doubt, some good parts in our present constitution; many bad ones we know we have. Wherefore, no time can be misspent that is employed in separating the wheat from the tares. My fear is, that you will all get tired and homesick; the consequence of which will be, that you will patch up some kind of a constitution as defective as the present. This should be avoided. Every man should consider, that he is lending his aid to frame a constitution, which is to render millions happy or miserable, and that a matter of such moment cannot be the work of a day.

I am in hopes to hear some good accounts from North Carolina. If Clinton has only part of his force there, and not strongly entrenched, I should think that General Lee will be able to give a very good account of those at Cape Fear. Surely administration must intend more than five thousand men for the southern district, otherwise they must have a very contemptible opinion of those colonies, or have great expectations from the Indians, slaves, and Tories. We expect a very bloody summer of it at New York and Canada, as it is there I expect the grand efforts of the enemy will be aimed; and I am sorry to say, that we are not either in men or arms prepared for it. However, it is to be hoped, that, if our cause is just, as I do most religiously believe it to be, the same Edition: current; Page: [108] Providence, which has in many instances appeared for us, will still go on to afford its aid.

Your Convention is acting very wisely in removing the disaffected, stores, &c., from the counties of Princess Anne and Norfolk; and are much to be commended for their attention to the manufacture of salt, saltpetre, powder, &c. No time nor expense should be spared to accomplish these things.

Mrs. Washington is now under inoculation in this city; and will, I expect, have the smallpox favorably. This is the thirteenth day, and she has very few pustules. She would have written to my sister, but thought it prudent not to do so, notwithstanding there could be but little danger in conveying the infection in this manner. She joins me in love to you, her, and all the little ones. I am, with every sentiment of regard, dear Sir, your most affectionate brother.

George Washington
Washington, George
3 June, 1776
Philadelphia
Major-General Putnam
Major-General Putnam

TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.

Dear Sir,

I received your favor by yesterday evening’s express, with the several letters and intelligence from General Schuyler, and am much concerned for the further misfortunes, that have attended our arms in Canada. I have laid the whole before Congress, who had before resolved to send a considerable augmentation to our army there; and doubt not that General Schuyler may receive assistance from the Edition: current; Page: [109] militias, most convenient to him, for securing the different passes and communications, till they can be. As to sending a reinforcement from New York, neither policy nor prudence will justify it, as we have the strongest reasons to believe the day not far distant, when a large armament will arrive and vigorously attempt an impression there; to oppose which the forces we have will not be more than equal, if sufficient.

Congress have determined on building sundry gondolas and fire-rafts, to prevent the men-of-war and enemy’s ships from coming into the New York Bay or Narrows. I must therefore request, that you make inquiries after carpenters, and procure all you can, with materials necessary for building them, that they may goe on with all possible expedition, as soon as the person arrives from hence, whom I have employed to superintend the work. He will be there in a day or two. I am, dear Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [110]
George Washington
Washington, George
7 June, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

I have not time to answer your two last favors minutely, but only to acknowledge the receipt of them, Edition: current; Page: [111] being just returned from Philadelphia, and the post about to depart this morning. The situation of our affairs in Canada is truly alarming, and I greatly fear, from the intelligence transmitted from thence by Captain Wilkinson to General Greene,1 that ere this we have sustained further and greater misfortunes, than what happened when you wrote. I have enclosed you a copy of his letter, by which you will see I have too much ground for my concern; and I sincerely wish the next letters from the northward may not contain melancholy advices of General Arnold’s defeat, and the loss of Montreal. The most vigorous exertions will be necessary to retrieve our circumstances there, and I am hopefull you will strain every nerve for that purpose. Unless it can be now done, Canada will be lost for ever; the fatal consequences of which every one must feel.

I have enclosed to you a copy of a resolve of Congress for reinforcing the army in Canada, and keeping up the communication with that province.2 I hope the several colonies will immediately furnish their quotas of men, which, or as many of them as may be necessary, I should imagine had better be employed at the communications, and all the enlisted soldiers sent forward to Canada. You have, also, another resolution for employing and engaging a number of Indians in the service,3 though Congress have not particularized Edition: current; Page: [112] the mode for raising and engaging ’em. I would have you, and the Commissioners appointed for Indian affairs, pursue such measures for the purpose, as to you may seem best for securing their friendship and service. If a smaller number than two thousand will do, I would not advise more to be embodied than may be necessary.

If your presence or direction at St. John’s, or any post in Canada, could be of service and tend to put our affairs in a better channel than they now are, I would wish you to goe, as General Thomas is down with the smallpox; but I do not mean to direct or request you to do it, if you think by remaining where you are, or not going, will be of more public advantage, or that the cause will be injured by doing it. You will be governed by such measures, as appear to you best, and the circumstances of our affairs under your management, and those in Canada with which you must be much better acquainted than I am, or can possibly be, at this distance. It is probable your Edition: current; Page: [113] presence may be necessary & wanted at the negotiation with the Indians, which will be one cause to prevent your going.1

George Washington
Washington, George
7 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I do myself the honor to inform Congress, that I arrived here yesterday afternoon about one o’clock, and found all in a state of peace and quiet. I had not time to view the works carrying on, and those ordered to be begun when I went away; but have reason to believe, from the report of such of the general and other officers I had the pleasure to see, that they have been prosecuted and forwarded with all possible diligence and despatch.2 I am much concerned Edition: current; Page: [114] for the situation of our affairs in Canada, and am fearful, ere this, it is much worse than was first reported at Philadelphia. The intelligence from thence in a letter from Captn. Wilkinson of the 2d Regt. to Genl. Greene is truly alarming. It not only confirms the account of Colonel Bedel’s and Major Sherburne’s defeat, but seems to forebode General Arnold’s, with the loss of Montreal. I have enclosed a copy of the letter, which will but too well show that there is foundation for my apprehensions.

On Wednesday evening I received an express from General Schuyler, with sundry papers respecting Sir John Johnson, which I have not time to copy, as the post is just going off, but will do myself the honor of transmitting you as soon as I possibly can.1 Before Edition: current; Page: [115] I left Philadelphia, I employed a person to superintend the building of the gondolas, which Congress had resolved on for this place. He is arrived, and all things seem to be in a proper channel for facilitating the work; but when they are done, we shall be in much want of guns, having never received any of those taken by Commodore Hopkins. Be pleased to mention me to Congress with the utmost respect, and I am, Sir, with every sentiment of regard and esteem, your and their most obedient servant.

P. S. I this minute received your favor of the 5 Inst. I am in need of Commissions and beg Congress to point out precisely the line I am to pursue in filling ’em up. This I mentioned in my Letter of the 11 Ulto. . . . I am much pleased at the fortunate captures and the generous conduct of the owners and masters for the tender of the money to Congress.1

George Washington
Washington, George
8 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

In my letter of yesterday, which I had the honor of addressing you and which was designed to have Edition: current; Page: [116] come by the post, but was prevented by his departure before the usual time, I mentioned my having received by express a letter and sundry papers from General Schuyler, respecting Sir John Johnson, copies of which I herewith transmit to you for your inspection and perusal. They will show you what measures were planned and attempted for apprehending him, and securing the Scotch Highlanders in Tryon county.

Having heard that the troops at Boston are extremely uneasy and almost mutinous for want of pay (several months of which being now due) I must take the liberty to repeat a question contained in my Letter of the 5 Ulto. “what mode is to be pursued respecting it, whether is money to be sent from hence by the paymaster General, or some person subordinate to him to be appointed there for that purpose? I expected some direction would have been given in this instance long ere this, from what was contained in yours accompanying, or about the time of the last remittance. I presume it has been omitted by reason of the multiplicity of important business before Congress.1

In perusing the several resolves you honored me with when at Philadelphia and since my return, I Edition: current; Page: [117] find one allowing a chief engineer for the army in a separate department. The service requiring many of them, I wish Congress, if they know any persons skilled in this business, would appoint them. General Schuyler has frequently applied, and suggested the necessity of having some in Canada. I myself know of none. I also find there is a resolve of the 3d of June for taking Indians into service, which, if literally construed, confines them to that in Canada. Is that the meaning of Congress, or that the Commander-in-chief may order their service to any place he may think necessary?

In respect to the establishing expresses between the several Continental posts, who is to do it.—the Resolve does not say. Is it expected by Congress that I should? whoever the work is assigned to, I think should execute it with the utmost dispatch. The late imperfect and contradictory accounts respecting our defeat at the Cedars strongly point out the necessity there is for it—No intelligence has yet come from any officer in command there, and most probably for want of a proper channel to convey it, tho’ this misfortune happened so long agoe.1

When I had the honor of being in Congress, if I mistake not, I heard a resolve read, or was told of one, allowing the New York Troops the same pay Edition: current; Page: [118] of others in the Continental service. This, if any such, I do not find, and if there is not such a one, I shall be under some embarrassment how to pay the Militia to be provided by this Province. The Resolve providing them says, they are to be paid while in service as other Troops are. But if those Inlisted heretofore in this province, are to receive according to the first establishment, it is a matter of doubt what the Militia are to have.1

2Before this comes to hand, a Hand-Bill containing an account of a victory gained by General Arnold, over the party that had defeated Colo. Bedel and Major Sherburne will most probably have reached you. I have inquired into the authenticity of this fortunate report and have found there is no dependance to be put in it, nor do I believe it deserves of the least credit. I shall be happy not to hear the reverse. I have &c.

P. S. If Congress have come to any Resolution about an Allowance to Induce men to reinlist you will Edition: current; Page: [119] please to favor me with it, as the Time the Rifle Regimt. is engaged for is just expired.

As the Militia will be coming in and they will be in much need of covering please to have all the Tents and Cloth proper for making ’em that can be procured forwarded as soon as possible.1

George Washington
Washington, George
9 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was honored Yesterday with your Favor of the 7th, with its Inclosures. When Doctor Potts arrives I shall order him to Canada or Lake George, as may appear most proper it is certainly necessary that he or Doctor Stringer should go to the former.

The resolve respecting General Wooster’s recall, I will immediately transmit to him, with directions to repair hither without delay.2 The situation of our Edition: current; Page: [120] affairs in Canada, as reported by the honorable Commissioners, is truly alarming; and I am sorry, that my opinion of the ill consequences resulting from the short enlistment of the army should be but too well confirmed by the experience they have had of the want of discipline and order in our soldiery there. This induces me again to wish Congress to determine on a liberal allowance, to engage the troops already in service to re-enlist for a longer period, or during the continuance of the war; nor can I forbear expressing my opinion of the propriety of keeping the military chest always supplied with money, as evils of the most interesting nature are often produced for want of a regular payment of troops. The neglect makes them impatient and uneasy. I am much surprised Edition: current; Page: [121] at the scarcity of provisions there, particularly of flour; as, from several accounts I had received from thence, I was led to expect that considerable supplies of that article could be procured there. That our misfortunes may not become greater, I have wrote to the commissary to forward more provisions, in addition to those already sent.

An adjutant and quartermaster general are indispensably necessary, with assistants. The money saved the continent by their non-appointment will be but small and trifling, when put in competition with the loss for want of them. Colonel Fleming, who acted in the former capacity under General Montgomery is now here; but his indisposition is such as to render him unfit at this time for the post; it is an important one, and requires vigor and activity to discharge the duties of it. He will be of much service to Colonel Reed, the business of whose office will increase considerably by the augmentation of the army. It will be necessary, too, that the commissaries in Canada, and the deputy quartermaster-generals, should have several assistants and clerks; nor do I think a precise number can be fixed on, as a variety of circumstances may and must occur to render the number, essential for doing the business in those departments, greater or less at different times. It will be better, I apprehend, to leave it indefinite, and with power to the commanding officer to allow such as may be wanted.

I am still in the dark, how the unfortunate affair ended at the Cedars, or on what terms the surrender Edition: current; Page: [122] was made, as the last letter from the Commissioners has reference to a former, and mentions an agreement entered into, which I have not seen; but I know of it more than I could wish.

I have received from Providence in consequence of Mr. Morris’s Order as Chairman of the secret committee of Congress 234 Musquets in part of the 244 directed to be sent—the inclosed Copy of a Letter from Mr. Brown will account for the Deficiency.

I shall be much obliged by your ordering a Quantity of Lead and Flints to be immediately forwarded. Our Demands for both are and will be very pressing—there are also wanted some particular and necessary Medicines to compleat our Hospital Chests, of which I will get Dr. Morgan to furnish the Congress with a List, when he writes or waits on them about some other Matters necessary to be fixed in his Department.

As General Wooster in all Probability will be here in a little Time in Compliance with the Resolve of Congress and my Order transmitted him, I wish to know what I am to do with him when he comes—

Genl. Schuyler, in his Letter of the 31st Ulto. of which I transmitted you a Copy Yesterday, mentions that sundry Persons had a Design to seize him as a Tory and probably still have, and wishes Congress to give him some public Mark of their Approbation, if they are convinced of his Zeal and Attachment to the Cause of his Country—whether he intended that I should communicate his Desire to them or not; I am not certain; but supposing that he did, I must beg Leave to request that you lay the Paragraph before Edition: current; Page: [123] them that they may do in the Instance of his Requisition, whatever they may judge necessary. I have &c.

P. S. If Congress have agreed to the Report of the Committee for allowing the Indians 50£ for every Prisoner they shall take at Niagara &c. it is material I should be informed of it—this will be a favorable Opportunity for them to embrace to gain Possession of Detroit and the other Posts whilst the Enemy are engaged towards Montreal, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
9 June, 1776
New York
General Schuyler
General Schuyler

TO GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

I am now to acknowledge the Receipt of your several Favors of the 21st 24th 26th & 26th 27 28 & Edition: current; Page: [124] 31st Ulto. with the several Papers enclosed—the Whole of them except the last, I communicated to Congress when at Philadelphia; that I did not get till on my return, but have since transmitted them a copy of it and of the papers respecting Sir J. J[ohnson].

In Regard to a further remittance to Canada, the Commissioners have wrote Congress fully on the Subject, and I presume they will forward such a Supply of Money immediately as they think necessary.

As there is but too much probability that Sir J. J. may attempt to ravage the frontier counties and to excite the disaffected to take arms against us, I think it will be advisable that Colonel Dayton should remain as you request, as long as you apprehend a Necessity for it.

It is not in my power to spare any more men from hence, either for the communication, or to assist in repairing Ticonderoga— The detachments already gone to Canada have weakened the force necessary for the defence of this place, considering its Importance, more perhaps than policy will justify— Be that as it may, the reinforcements which Congress have resolved to send to Canada for keeping open the communication between that country and these Colonies as you will see by the copy inclosed in my letter of the 7th would supersede the necessity of men going from this camp provided they could be spared. I should suppose that Vanschaick’s and Wynkoop’s regiments exclusive of any other men would nearly suffice for the purposes mentioned in your Edition: current; Page: [125] several letters, or that very few men more in addition to them certainly would,—if they were compleat and properly employed; but I am informed by a letter from General Sullivan of the 18th Ulto., dated at Albany, that those regiments were not to be found on the strictest enquiry he could make; that Colo. Vanschaick, who was there, never furnished a single man for guard or any other duty after he got there, and that Lieutenant Colo. Courtland, of Wynkoop’s Regiment, when he applied for pay for two companies said to be in Tryon County to keep the Tories in order, informed him they had neither arms nor ammunition; that in some Companies there was not a man present fit for duty, and that in others there were not more than eleven and in some less. He also complains of the great waste of pork by the Waggoners drawing out the brine to lighten the carriage—and in his letter two days before charges the batteau men and the Waggon Master with indolence, and a strange neglect of duty— I well know, my dear Sir, that the multiplicity of matters you are engaged in will necessarily put in the power of these who are not influenced by principles of honesty and justice to practise many impositions; but I must beg you will turn your attention as much as possible to these things, and reform such abuses as have already happened or prevent them in future.

I am very doubtful whether the flour you seem to think may be had in Canada, can be got. The Commissioners’ letters as late as the 28th Ulto. seem to preclude every such hope.

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I esteem it a matter of importance not only to fortify and secure Ticonderoga but every other post on the communication, and that you should garrison them with men under judicious and spirited officers to be fixed there who might be called to account for misconduct, which is difficult to do where they are shifting and changing continually, and who would esteem it their indispensible duty to carry on and maintain the Works against any surprizes or attacks that may be attempted— I have wrote to Congress to appoint Engineers, if they can fix upon proper Persons for the office. If you know of any, you had better employ them. I am confident Congress will allow them the usual Pay.

When I came from Philadelphia I left the Indians there and doubt not but Congress will use their Endeavors to prevent them returning for some time. I shewed them what you said upon the Subject.

I have spoken to the Q. M. about proper Person to Superintend the Building of gondolas; but he knows of none. There is a man who came to direct the building of some here; and if any of the Carpenters shall be deemed qualified after seeing the model, I will send you one. I have wrote to Philadelphia for a supply of flints which shall be forwarded you as soon as possible and will give direction that you be furnished with a quantity of necessary medicines—

With respect to St. Luc Lacorne, Major Campbell and the other prisoners at Esopus, I think it will be prudent for you to remove them or such of them as Edition: current; Page: [127] you apprehend dangerous to some other secure place; and they should be under a suitable and trusty guard.

Your continuing to build batteaus appear a necessary measure, as a sufficient number should be had to transport our troops going to Canada or coming from thence, if they should ever be under the disagreeable necessity of evacuating the possession they now have to the enemy—an event I sincerely wish not to happen but which from the melancholy complexion of things in that quarter, I conceive possible.

I have been much surprized at not receiving a more perfect and explicit account of the defeat of Colo. Bedel and his party at the Cedars. I should have thought some of the officers in command there would undoubtedly have transmitted it immediately; but as they have not, it is probable I should have long remained in doubt as to the event, had not the Commissioners called on me to-day, nor should I consider my not having a return of the army stores &c in Canada, a matter of less wonder, had I not been accustomed to the neglect. If it is not become too inveterate, I wish it could be got the better of—It is certainly of much importance and necessary to be known frequently.

Since mine of the 21st & yours of the 31st Ulto. Captns Swann and Dundee with three privates have been here, having a permit to go to Philadelphia. They came down the North River from Albany (I believe) to this place where I make no doubt they reconnoitre all our works, and in their passage there at the Highlands. This Indulgence I conceive of such Edition: current; Page: [128] Infinite prejudice to our cause for the reasons I have assigned and many more that may be added, that I hope it will be never granted again.

I wish you to notify the Several Committees in the neighborhood of Albany, having the care of prisoners, of the injurious consequences which must necessary result from such a license, to prevent their allowing it to any on future applications.

As Congress have resolved on a large augmentation to the army in Canada, as you will see by the copy of their vote transmitted in my last, it seems material that you should advise with the Commissary in that department and Mr. Trumbull there and concert a plan for their subsistence. If they cannot be supplied plentifully with provisions, their going will be of more injury than benefit, and encrease the distress of the whole.

In your favor of the 28th, you are desirous that a Court of Inquiry should be ordered respecting the charges contained in the Informations I enclosed you in mine of the 21st. If you conceive it necessary, I will do it with pleasure, if you will point out the mode to be pursued to me, the matters objected to you, appear so uncertain, vague and incredible, that there is nothing to found the proceedings on, were there the most distant necessity for the scrutiny—By reason of a paragraph in your letter of the 31st I mentioned the matter to Congress, to whom I had the honor of writing this day, and when at Philadelphia communicated it to some of them, on their reading your first letter in which mention was made of the subject. In Edition: current; Page: [129] doing this and giving you the Information I had received, I consider myself as having only discharged the duties of justice and of friendship.

I am sorry for the attack you have had of the Ague, and wishing you a perfect Recovery, I am &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.1

Sir,

Since I did myself the honor of writing to you yesterday, I have had the satisfaction of seeing, (and for a few minutes conversing with), Mr. Chase and Mr. Carroll, from Canada. Their account of our troops and the situation of affairs in that department, cannot possibly surprise you more than it has done me. But I need not touch upon the subject, which you will be so well informed of from the fountain-head; nor should I have given you the trouble of a letter by this day’s post, but for the distraction, which seems to prevail in the commissary’s department, (as well as others in that quarter); the necessity of having it under one general direction; and the dissatisfaction of Colonel Trumbull, at the allowance made him by Congress (as an equivalent for his trouble). With respect to this particular matter, I can only say, that I think he is a man well cut out for the business, and that, where a shilling is saved in the pay, a pound may be lost by mismanagement in the office; and that his resignation at this time, (I mean this campaign,) Edition: current; Page: [130] may possibly be attended with fatal consequences. I therefore humbly submit to Congress the propriety of handsomely rewarding those gentlemen, who hold such very important, troublesome, and hazardous offices, as commissary and quartermaster.1

In speaking to the former about the supplies necessary for the troops to be raised, he informed me, that the quantity of salt provisions, which was shipping from hence, might render his attempts to do it precarious; in consequence of which I desired him to lay the matter before the Convention of this colony, which he will do this day, but in the mean while desired Congress might be informed of the matter, which I cannot better do than in his own words enclosed, and submit the consideration of it to the wisdom of that honorable body. To Congress I also submit the propriety of keeping the two Continental battalions, under the command of Colonels Shae and McGaw, at Philadelphia, when there is the greatest probability of a speedy attack upon this place from the King’s troops. The encouragements given by Governor Tryon to the disaffected, which are circulated, no one can well tell how; the movements of these kind of people, which are more easy to perceive than describe; the confident report, which is said to have come immediately from Governor Tryon, and brought by a frigate from Halifax, that the troops at that place were embarking for this; added to a thousand incidental circumstances, trivial in themselves, but Edition: current; Page: [131] strong from comparison; leaves not a doubt upon my mind, that troops are hourly expected at the Hook.1

I had no doubt when I left this city for Philadelphia, but that some measures would have been taken to secure the suspected and dangerous persons of this government before now, and left orders for the military to give every aid to the civil power. But the subject is delicate, and nothing is done in it. We may therefore have internal as well as external enemies to contend with. I have the honor to be, &c.2

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George Washington
Washington, George
12 June, 1776
New York
Lund Washington
Washington, Lund

FORGED LETTER.1
TO LUND WASHINGTON.

Dear Lund,

Though I wrote to you but a very few days ago, and have nothing new of much moment to communicate, I cannot deny myself the comfort of unburthening my mind to you, whenever I have a little leisure, amid the thousand anxieties and disquietudes that almost distract me. I know the goodness of your heart, and that you will attend to me with indulgence and sympathy, though it be not in your power any otherwise to afford me relief. There cannot, in the nature of things, be a situation so truly irksome to an ingenuous mind, as the being perpetually obliged to act a part foreign to our true feelings; yet this, alas! as you know, is, and must be, my lot. I wear a countenance dressed in the calm serenity of perfect confidence, whilst my heart is corroded with infinite Edition: current; Page: [133] apprehensions, and I have no bosom friend near me, to whom I dare lay it open. Tell me, Lund, for you have long been privy to my most secret thoughts,—trusting to thy native candor, I have never hesitated to lay my heart bare and open to thy inspection; tell me then, am I, do you think, more subject to fears than other men? For I will not conceal it from you, that, at this moment, I feel myself a very coward. Do not mistake me; I thank my God, I have never yet known what it was to fear for any personal danger that might befal me. I am not afraid to die, why should I? I am afraid only to die with infamy and disgrace. And, if I am afraid so to die, need I tell you that I am ten thousand times more afraid to live, like Lucifer, a fallen angel. No, Lund, that were too much; betide what will, I cannot, and I will not survive either my misfortunes, or my disgraces. Heaven, that knows how truly I love my country; and that I embarked in this arduous enterprize on the purest motives. But we have overshot our mark; we have grasped at things beyond our reach: it is impossible we should succeed, and I cannot with truth, say that I am sorry for it; Edition: current; Page: [134] because I am far from being sure that we deserve to succeed. That the British Ministry had meditated schemes fatal to the liberties of America; and that, if we had not opposed their first efforts to impose taxes upon us, without our consent, we might have bid adieu to every idea of constitutional security hereafter, I have not a doubt. Nay, I am so thoroughly persuaded of the unworthiness of their designs, and of the duty of every honest American to oppose them, that, dissatisfied as I am with my situation, were it to do over again, I would rather be even as I am, than tamely crouch, whilst chains were fastening round my neck. For there is not, in my estimation, so vile a thing upon earth as a human being who, having once enjoyed liberty, can patiently bear to see it taken from him. I would, and I will die ten thousand deaths, rather than be this thing myself. On these principles, and these only, I first took up arms; but my misfortune, and the true source of all my uneasiness is, that though in good policy, as well as honor, these ought to be the principles of every American, I have long ago discovered they are not. And on this account alone, that I dread our defeat. Our want of skill, our want of ammunition, in short, our want of Edition: current; Page: [135] everything which an army ought to have, are all, no doubt, exceedingly against us; but, they are all nothing to our want of virtue.—

Unused to the many arts and devices, by which designing men carry their points, I unwillingly listened to my own apprehensions, when early in the first Congress, I thought I saw a tendency to measures which I never could approve of I reasoned myself, however, out of my fears, with no ordinary reproach on my own meanness, in having given way to suspicions, which could not be true, unless we had men amongst ourselves more flagitious than even those we were opposing. At length, however, when a continental army came to be voted for, my fears returned with redoubled force; for then, for the first time, I clearly saw our aims reached farther than we cared to avow. It was carried with an unanimity that really astonished me; because I knew many who voted for it, were as averse to the independency of America, as I was. And they even ridiculed me for my apprehensions on that account; and indeed, when they suggested that Great Britain, seeing us apparently determined to risque every thing rather than that they should tax us, would never think of engaging in a civil war with us, which must necessarily cost her more than even America could repay her, I could not but hope, that I was mistaken; and that our military preparations might be a good political movement. In one thing, however, we all agreed, that, as the forces were chiefly to be raised in New-England, it would be extremely rash and imprudent in the southern delegates to leave them in the possession of so formidable a power without any check. I need not tell you, that it was this consideration which, if I am to be credited, sorely against my will, determined me to accept of the command of this army. We set out with bad omens; I was mistrustful of them in every thing; and they were taught to look upon me with jealousy.

This soon manifested itself in forming them to any thing like decent discipline. But I have, long ago, pestered you more than enough with complaints on this head. I knew not, however, certainly, that I had been appointed to this high station only to be disgraced and ruined, till about the middle and latter end of last February.

When, contrary to my wishes, I found it absolutely necessary that we should come to open hostilities against our fellow subjects in the ministerial army; doubtless, common prudence required that when we did attempt it, we should, if possible, do it speedily and effectually. And having all the reason in the world to believe that large armies would be sent against us early in the summer, I resolved, cost what it would, to cut off those already here, which would have Edition: current; Page: [136] given us such infinite advantages over any future reinforcements that might be sent. And this I believe was easily in our power: but as I have already told you, nothing is to be done with our New England allies, unless they are let into all your secrets. I could not advance a step without communicating my intentions to the gentlemen in the civil department; a thing ever ruinous in war. It soon got wind, as I had foreseen; and it appeared that the general of the enemy was apprized of my design. Still, however I persevered in my purposes; which in spite of all his care and caution, I was confident must succeed, and reduce him to the utmost extremity. But (as every military man must know) so capital a blow was not to be struck without the loss both of many men, and much property!

For my design was, if they would not surrender by an honorable capitulation to burn the town about their ears, and so rush in, and cut them off in their attempts to escape to the ships. And this, with our superiority of numbers, we certainly could have effected; though, no doubt it would have been a bloody business, if they had not surrendered as I think they would. But when, as I was obliged, I laid this before the Council and Representatives, they not only found a thousand objections to it, but absolutely restrained me; and I could not have got a man that would have gone on what they called so desperate a scheme. Hence was I under a necessity of proceeding in the poor, slow, and un-soldier-like manner, which not only gave them an opportunity to escape, but has taught them to despise us. There is no forming an idea of the importance of such a stroke at that juncture. If any thing upon earth could have made America independent and glorious, that was the golden opportunity. I confess to you, I had worked my imagination up to such a pitch of high expectation, that my disappointment has dispirited me in a manner I never can recover. For, from that moment, I have despaired of our ever doing any thing truly great. Any little gleams of success, or fairer prospects we have since had, serve but to make our inferiority the more conspicuous. For what incidents can fall out to aggrandize us, who can be made great only by great and spirited efforts, when we have shewn that we wanted both the understanding and the virtue to purchase to ourselves immortal glory on better and cheaper terms than ever we can hope hereafter to have it? But the worst remains yet to be told. Some of those very men who were the most forward to thwart me in this measure, had discovered a different way of thinking on other occasions, and I am persuaded that were the question put to them now, as to this city, and the southern regiments, I should not hear a dissentious voice. But, let me spare you.

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After all this, you will again, I doubt not, as you often have, ask me why I continue in a situation so disagreeable to me? I wish you had forborne this question, the truth being, that I neither am able, nor very willing to answer it. My resolution to hold it out as long as I can, is dictated by my feelings, which I neither can describe to you, nor wholly justify on paper, but which, however, I find it impossible for me to disregard.—The eyes of all America, perhaps, of Europe, of the world are fixed on me. It has been our policy, (and, at the time, I thought it well founded) to hold out false lights to the world. There are not a hundred men in America that know our situation; three-fourths of the Congress itself are ignorant of it;—yourself excepted, there lives not a man at all acquainted with my peculiar circumstances. The world looks upon us as in possession of an army all animated with the pure flame of liberty and determined to die rather than not be free. It is in possession of proofs, that it is so, under my own hand: I have always so spoken of it, and I still do. But, you know how remote, in my judgment, all this is from the truth, though I am not sure that there is another man in the army, besides myself, that thinks so. I should guess, however, that there are many. But, tied up as my own mouth is, it is little to be wondered at that theirs are so too, at least to me.

Thus, circumstanced, can you point out a way in which it is possible for me to resign, just now as it were, on the eve of action, without imputation of cowardice? There is no such way. Besides, diffident and desponding as I am, how do I know, that it is not so with those we have to oppose? they certainly have reason. The events of war depend on a thousand minutiæ without the ken of a mere by-stander. I know not that the commander of the armies of the low countries, could his heart have been read as you do mine, had not the same fears, and the same causes for them that I have. You learn not this from the history; nor was it to be expected you should. Yet, he succeeded at last And, who knows, what an over-ruling providence, who often brings about the greatest revolutions by the most unlikely means, may intend for America? If it be the will of God, that America should be independent of Great Britain, and that this be the season for it, even I and these hopeful men around may not be thought unworthy instruments in his hands. And, should we succeed, we are heroes, and immortalized beyond even those of former times. Whereas, disgrace only, and intolerable infamy await our retreat. In this persuasion, I resolve to go on, contented, with the glorious King William, to save my country, or die in the last ditch. I am, my dear Lund, your Faithful Friend and Servant.

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George Washington
Washington, George
10 June, 1776
New York
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

Before this, I expect you have received the resolve of Congress for augmenting our army here and in Canada, with their requisition for the quota of men to be furnished by your colony.1 I must beg leave to add, that, from the intelligence I have just received, and a variety of circumstances combining to confirm it, General Howe, with the fleet from Halifax, or some other armament, is hourly expected at the Hook, with designs doubtless to make an impression here, and possess themselves of this colony, of the last importance to us in the present controversy. Our works are extensive and many, and the troops here but few for their defence, being greatly reduced by the regiments detached on the Canada expedition.

In this critical conjuncture of affairs, the experience I have had of your zeal and readiness to assist the common cause, induces me to request the most speedy and early succor, that can be obtained from your colony, and that the militia may be forwarded, one battalion after another, as fast as they can possibly be raised, without waiting to make up the whole complement to be furnished for this place, before any of them march. I would advise, that they come properly Edition: current; Page: [139] provided with field and other officers, and that the person appointed by the colony to command the whole be here a day or two before them, to receive his orders, and to be in readiness to take the command on their arrival. It will be proper, too, that notice be sent a day or two before their coming, that provision may be made for furnishing and disposing of them in proper places. I have wrote a similar letter to the Jersey Convention, praying aid from them. I am, Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
13 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have the honor of transmitting to Congress a letter, which came by express last night from General Schuyler, enclosing the copy of a letter to him from Colonel Kirkland. I have likewise enclosed the copy of one directed to General Putnam, or the commanding officer at New York. The representations contained in these letters have induced me, without waiting the determination of Congress, to direct General Schuyler immediately to commence a treaty Edition: current; Page: [140] with the Six Nations, and to engage them in our interest, upon the best terms he and his colleagues in commission can procure; and I trust the urgency of the occasion will justify my proceeding to the Congress. The necessity for decision and despatch in all our measures, in my opinion, becomes every day more and more apparent. The express, Mr. Bennet, was overtaken at Albany by General Schuyler, who had received intelligence at Fort George, that a considerable body of Mohawk Indians were coming down the Mohawk River under the conduct of Sir John Johnson. The general’s extreme hurry would not allow him to write; but it seems his intention is to collect at Albany a sufficient force to oppose Sir John. I have given him my opinion, that Colonel Dayton’s regiment should be employed in that service, and to secure the post where Fort Stanwix formerly stood.

In consequence of an information, that several merchants were exporting salted pork and beef from this place, I requested the commissary to make application to the Provincial Congress for a restraint to be laid on the exportation of those articles, as I apprehended, not only that the enemy might receive supplies by the capture of our vessels, but that our people might shortly experience a scarcity. The Provincial Congress have accordingly made a resolution (a copy of which is enclosed) to stop the exportation for fourteen days. They expect Congress will in the meantime frame some general regulations on this head. They are unwilling, they say, to subject their constituents to partial restraints.

Edition: current; Page: [141]

I once mentioned to Congress, that I thought a war-office extremely necessary, and they seemed inclined to institute one for our army; but the affair seems to have been since dropped. Give me leave again to insist on the utility and importance of such an establishment. The more I reflect upon the subject, the more I am convinced of its necessity, and that affairs can never be properly conducted without it.

T’is with pleasure that I receive the resolve enclosed in your favor of the 11th instant. One considerable ground of dissatisfaction in the army is thereby removed. I have employed persons in building the gondolas and rafts, which the Congress thought necessary for the defence of this place, and, in conjunction with the Provincial Congress, I have determined to sink chevaux de frise one of which is already begun. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
13 June, 1776
New York
Brigadier-General Sullivan
Brigadier-General Sullivan

TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL SULLIVAN, IN CANADA.

Dear Sir,

Having received intelligence of the unfortunate death of General Thomas, occasioned by the smallpox he had taken, the command of the army in Canada devolves on you. I am therefore to request your most strenuous exertions to retrieve our circumstances in that quarter from the melancholy situation, they are now in, and for performing the arduous task of bringing order out of confusion. I confess there is more room for enterprise and activity, than I could Edition: current; Page: [142] wish; but then you will remember, that you and your colleagues will be entitled to the grateful thanks of your country, in proportion to the services you render.

Being extremely hurried in sending despatches to Congress and General Schuyler, I have not time to write to you so fully as I could wish; and therefore shall only add my request, that you from time to time make me regular returns of the strength of the army, military stores, and every material occurrence, & wishing you and your Brothers, under the direction of a gracious Providence, to lead your army to conquest and victory, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I herewith transmit to you copies of a letter from General Schuyler, and its several enclosures, which I have received since I had the honor of addressing you yesterday. From these you will learn that General Thomas died the 2d instant1; and the apprehensions of our frontier friends in this colony, that our savage foes are meditating an attack against them.

I must beg leave to refer you to a paragraph in the Copy of General Schuyler’s Letter to General Putnam or the Commanding Officer here, Inclosed in mine of the 13th where he requests a supply of clothing Edition: current; Page: [143] to be sent for the Army in Canada. As there is but little or no probability of getting it here, I shall be glad to know whether there will be any chance of procuring it in Philadelphia, and if it should be sent thro’ the hands of the Qr. Master here, to what account it is to be charged.

I was last Evening favored with yours of the 11th Inst. and hope the Two Battallions which Congress have ordered from Philadelphia to the defence of this place, will come provided with Arms; if they do not, they will be of no service, as there are more Troops here already than are armed.

From Genl. Schuyler’s Letter he has in view the taking post where Fort Stanwix formerly stood. I wrote him I thought it prudent previous to that, to secure a post lower down about the Falls below the German Flatts, lest the Savages should possess themselves of the Country, and prevent supplies of men and provisions that may be necessary to send there in future, he says he is in want of Cannon and ammunition, but has expressed himself so ambiguously that I am at a loss to know whether he meant what he has said, as an application or not, this being the only Intelligence on the subject and the first mention of his want. I have desired him to explain the matter and in his future requisitions for necessaries to be more certain and explicit as to quantity and quality. In the mean time I shall send him some Intrenching Tools and inquire whether there are any Cannon that can be spared from hence. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [144]
George Washington
Washington, George
16 June, 1776
New York
Major-General Ward
Major-General Ward

TO MAJOR-GENERAL WARD.

Sir,

I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 27th Ulto. & of the 3d & 6th Instt. and in answer to the 1st think you was right in your direction to Mr. Barttoll about Brigantine Hannah as Mr. Morris had wrote for one.

The two schooners, considering their force and number of men, certainly behaved extremely well in repelling the attack, made by such a number of boats; and it is only to be lamented that the affair was attended with the death of Captain Mugford. He seemed to deserve a better fate.1

The determination of the Court of Inquiry upon Colo. Varnum’s complaint transmitted in that of the 3d, is very different from what he expected or I imagined it would be from his state of the case.—Whether it is right or wrong, it is not in my power to so determine, as the Evidence which was before them is not Inserted in the proceedings, which ought to have been, as I at this distance can have no other means to warrant me, either in confirming or rejecting the Sentence. I cannot but add that it seems extraordinary to me and exceedingly strange, that Capn. Lane should have been at so much trouble and expence to get the men without having a right to Edition: current; Page: [145] ’em—For which reason, to discountenance a practice extremly pernicious in its nature, of one officer trying to take away and seduce the men of another, and on account of the imperfection in the proceedings in not stating the matter fully & the whole evidence; the Complaint should be reheard and every thing appertaining to it, the manner of Inlistment &c. particularly specified for me to found my Judgement on.1

The arms &c. which you sent to Norwich as mentioned in the Invoice contained in that of the 6th are not Arrived—The number of Carbines is only half of what Genl. Putnam wrote for, as I have been Informed, and it is less by three hundred than I directed to be sent in my Letter from Philadelphia, of the 28 Ulto. This I suppose had not come to hand when you wrote, as you have not acknowledged the receipt of it.

I have inclosed two Letters for Majr. Small and Chs. Procter Esqr. supposed to be at Halifax, which being wrote with a design to procure the enlargement of Capt. Procter a prisoner on board the Mercury Man of War, or Induce them to intercede for a more Edition: current; Page: [146] humane Treatment to be shewn him, I request you to forward by the first opportunity by way of Nova Scotia.

I am this moment favored with yours of the 9 Inst. advising me of the capture, made by our armed vessels, of one of the transports with a company of Highlanders on board, and I flatter myself, if our vessels keep a good look out, as the whole fleet are bound for Boston, which sailed with her, that more of them will fall into our hands. This is a further proof that Governmt. expected Genl. Howe was still in Boston.

I am extremely sorry that your health is more and more impaired, and, having heard by a letter from Col. Hancock, that Mr. Whitcomb, Colonel Whitcomb’s brother, is appointed a brigadier-general, I shall order him to relieve you as soon as I am informed, that he accepts his commission; and if he does, you may immediately call him to your assistance, before I am certified of his acceptance. This will ease you of some trouble, till I can regulate a few matters of importance here, which I hope to do in a little time. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant.1

Edition: current; Page: [147]
George Washington
Washington, George
16 June, 1776
New York
Brigadier-General Sullivan
Brigadier-General Sullivan

TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL SULLIVAN.

Dear Sir,

I was favored with yours of the 5th and 6th instant by express yesterday evening from General Schuyler; and am exceedingly happy on account of the agreeable and interesting intelligence it contains. Before it came to hand, I almost dreaded to hear from Canada, as my advices seemed to promise nothing favorable, but rather our further misfortunes. But I am now hopefull that our affairs, from the confused, distracted, and almost forlorn state, in which you found them, will emerge and assume an aspect of order and success.1 I am convinced that many of our misfortunes are to be attributed to a want of discipline, and a proper regard to the conduct of the soldiery. Hence it was, and from our feeble efforts to protect the Canadians, that they had almost joined and taken part against us. As you are fully apprized of this, and conceive them well disposed towards us, with confidence I trust, you will take every step in your power to conciliate and secure their friendship. If this can be effected, & of which you seem to have no doubt, I see no objection to our indulging a hope that this country, of such importance in the present controversy, may yet be added to and complete our union. I confess this interesting work is now more difficult, than it would have been heretofore, had matters Edition: current; Page: [148] been properly conducted; but yet, I flatter myself it may be accomplished by a wise, prudent, and animated behavior in the officers and men engaged in it; especially if assisted by the friendly disposition of the inhabitants. I think every mark of friendship and favor should be shown them, to encourage their zeal and attachment to our cause, and from which if they once heartily embark we shall derive innumerable benefits.

Your conduct in pushing and securing posts low down the country is certainly judicious, and of the utmost advantage. The farther down we can take and maintain posts, the greater will our possession of the country be; observing at the same time the necessity of having a safe retreat left, if you should be obliged to abandon them by a superior force. I am hopefull and shall anxiously wait to hear of General Thompson’s making a successful attack upon the party intrenching at the Three Rivers. Their defeat will be of the most essential service. It will chagrin them and disconcert their schemes on the one hand, and animate our men and give life to our Canadian friends on the other, and efface from their minds the unfavorable impressions, our late conduct has made.

It will be of material consequence, in your advances down the country, to secure the several important posts as you goe; at which, you may in case you should be obliged to decline the main object you have in view, make a vigorous and successful stand in your retreat. I concur with you in thinking it not of material moment to keep a very large number of men at Edition: current; Page: [149] Lachine or the upper posts. There should be no more than will be necessary to repel such attacks and attempts, as may be made by the savages, and the regular troops above you; allowing for such a number of disaffected Canadians as may join them. But then there should be a sufficient number for that purpose, as our further misfortunes there might be of the most injurious consequence. If they can be maintained, the disaffected above will dwindle away, and the insurrection promise nothing disastrous.

It is impossible for me at this distance, and not acquainted with the situation of affairs as well as you, who are on the spot, to give any particular direction for your conduct and operations. I therefore have only to request, that you with your officers will in every instance pursue such measures, as the exigency of our affairs may seem to require, and as to you shall appear most likely to advance and promote the interest and happiness of your country. The return which you mention to have inclosed, was not in your Letter; you probably thro hurry forgot to put it in, or Genl. Schuyler may have omitted it when in his hands. I wrote you on the 13 Inst on this Subject and must again enjoin a particular attention to this part of your duty, it being of the utmost importance to be frequently certified of our whole strength and Stores.—In compliance with your request I shall transmit a Copy of your letter to Congress by tomorrow’s post. It will give them sensible pleasure and such as they had no good reason to expect, at least so soon.

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I have inclosed you an Extract of a Letter from Genl. Ward. from the capture mentioned in it there is no reason to expect the other transports that sailed with her are not far off the coast.1

In regard to your giving Commissions, it is a measure that I can neither approve or disapprove, having no authority to act in this instance myself—The propriety of it, must depend upon the powers and practice of your predecessors in command—If they had none, it will be judged of most probably by the good or bad consequences it may produce—Congress from your Letter will see you have exercised such a power, and when they write you, will either confirm or refuse it in all probability.2

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Lest you should conceive that I do not think Lachine or the Cedars posts of importance, and whose defence are not very material, I must then add, that I esteem them of much consequence but only mean that more men need not be employed than what will be equal to any probable attack that may be made against them.

I would observe before I have done that it is my most earnest request, that harmony, a good understanding, and a free communication of sentiments may prevail and be preserved between the general and field-officers, particularly the former. Nothing can produce greater benefits than this, nor tend more to promote your military operations; whereas history and observation sufficiently evince (they abound with numberless examples) the fatal consequences, which have ever resulted from distrust, jealousy, and disagreement among officers of these ranks. Wishing therefore your counsels and efforts to be founded in a happy union, and to meet the smiles of a kind Providence, I am, dear Sir, &c.

P. S. Knowing your great zeal for the cause of your country, and desire to render her every possible service, I must caution you not to put too much to the hazard in your exertions to establish her rights, and to receive with a proper degree of caution the professions the Canadians may make. They have the character of an ingenious, artful people, and very capable of finesse and cunning. Therefore my advice is, that you put not too much in their power; but seem to trust them, rather than do it too far. I Edition: current; Page: [152] would also have you to keep all your posts, as you goe, well secured, to guard against any treacherous conduct.

George Washington
Washington, George
17 June, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

I last night received by Mr. Bennet your favor of the 8 Inst. addressed to Genl Putnam, or the Officer commanding here, covering one for Congress with a copy of Col. Kirkland’s to you—both of which I shall immediately forward to Philadelphia.

In consequence of your former Letters the Commissary has been directed to continue Supplies of Provisions, I shall repeat the direction and doubt not of his exertions in this Instance—If its arrival at Albany ceased for a time, it might be owing to the accounts received that a good deal, particularly flour might be had in Canada. I will speak to him about the expenditure of pork here, and request that no more be used than he may find necessary, that there may be a large quantity for the Canada department.1 I will also speak to the Quarter Master General to provide and forward all the clothing he Edition: current; Page: [153] can get as soon as possible.—As to Intrenching Tools, they are extremely scarce and what we have far too few, for the works carrying & proper to be carried on for the defence of this place—However I will try to furnish you with a few more, and wish your endeavors to purchase what you can from the country people—Many of them perhaps will part with a Spade or Pick Ax and some with both, and tho’ many may not be collected in that way, what are, will be of great Service.

If the accounts of Colonel Bedel’s and Major Butterfield’s conduct be true, they have certainly acted a part deserving the most exemplary notice. I hope you will take proper measures, and have good courts appointed to bring them, and every other officer, that has been or shall be guilty of malconduct, to trial, that they may be punished according to their offences. Our misfortunes at the Cedars were occasioned, as it is said, entirely by their base and cowardly behavior, and cannot be ascribed to any other cause.1

In my letter of the 7th, which will have reached you ere this, I enclosed a resolve of Congress for engaging the Indians, not more than two thousand, Edition: current; Page: [154] in our service. This will indicate to you their opinion; and knowing their sentiments fully upon this head, I cannot but advise, that you forthwith hold a conference with the Six Nations, and any others, you with your brother commissioners may think necessary; and form with them an alliance on such terms and conditions, as shall seem most likely to secure their interest and friendship, without waiting the further direction of Congress.1

The situation of our affairs will not suffer the delay, and I am persuaded your conduct, and the speech you intend to deliver the Sachems, will meet their approbation and thanks. I think that part of it, which mentions the time and place of our taking post, might be omitted; but this I leave to you. I shall inform Congress of what I have wrote you on this subject, and of the verbal intelligence you sent me by Bennet from Albany, where you overtook him, respecting the Indians coming down the Mohawk River under Sir John Johnson, and of your preparing to resist them. I sincerely wish you success, and that their first incursions and attempts against us may be attended with their entire defeat. It will be necessary to employ Colonel Dayton and his regiment in this service, and in securing a post where Fort Stanwix formerly stood, which I esteem of much importance; but I submit it Edition: current; Page: [155] to you, who are much better acquainted with that country than I am, whether, previous to that, it will not be necessary and essential, that a post be established lower down somewhere about the falls below the German Flatts, to secure our communication with that garrison. Should this not be done, will it not be in the power of the savages to come between that and our frontiers, and intercept all supplies of men and provisions going thither?

I observe you esteem the ground opposite to Ticonderoga to be more advantageous for a post against the enemy. Messrs. Chase and Carroll had told me the same. I should think, therefore, that the place most capable of defence, and having the greatest advantages, should be improved, and necessary works thrown up, with the utmost despatch. But will not both be best? Cannot Ticonderoga be kept, and this improved and maintained at the same time? I must submit this to you and refer you to my Letter of the 9th upon the subject of fortifying all the posts and about the Engineers. If you know of any persons, who can be of service in that way, do employ them. I know of none myself, or have I one whom I can possibly spare.

I have been applied to by Colo Nicholson who says he was appointed by Congress to the Command of a Regiment to be raised out of 2 Battallions of York Troops that were in Canada last year, for instructions for that purpose. As this concerns the department more immediately under your direction and with which you must be much better Edition: current; Page: [156] acqd than I am, I did not think it right to give him any direction about it, but if the fact is so, advise that you will give him such orders, that the views of Congress may be carried into execution as you judge necessary.1 In like manner I have had several applications from officers coming from the Canada department for pay that became due them, which did not conceive myself at liberty to comply with being ignorant of their appointments or service and as they will perhaps apply to you for certificates to lay before me, I wish you to be very explicit as to the time of their being in office and from which their pay is due.

George Washington
Washington, George
17 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

The enclosed came to my hands as a private letter from General Sullivan. As a private letter I lay it before Congress.2 The tendency (for it requires no explanation) will account for the contrast between it and the letter of General Arnold. That the former is aiming at the command in Canada is obvious. Whether he merits it or not, is a matter to be considered; and that it may be considered with propriety, I think it my duty to observe, as of my own knowledge, that he is active, spirited, and zealously attached to the cause. That he does not want abilities, Edition: current; Page: [157] many members of Congress as well as myself, can testify; but he has his wants, and he has his foibles. The latter are manifested in a little tincture of vanity, and in an over desire of being popular, which now and then leads him into embarrassments. His wants are common to us all—the want of experience to move upon a large scale; for the limited and contracted knowledge, which any of us have in military matters, stands in very little stead, and is greatly overbalanced by sound judgment, and some knowledge of men and books, especially when accompanied by an enterprising genius, which, I must do General Sullivan the justice to say, I think he possesses.

But, as the security of Canada is of the last importance to the well-being of these colonies, I should like to know the sentiments of Congress respecting the nomination of any officer to that command. The character I have drawn of General Sullivan is just, according to my ideas of him. Congress will, be pleased therefore, to determine upon the propriety of continuing him in Canada, or sending another, as they shall see fit. Whether General Sullivan knew of the promotion of General Gates (at the time of his writing,) and that he had quitted the department he left him in, when he marched his brigade hence to Canada, I cannot undertake to say; nor can I determine whether his wish to be recalled would be changed by it, if he did. I shall add no more than my respectful compliments to Congress, and that I have the honor to be, with every sentiment of regard and esteem, Sir, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George

TO THE COMMITTEE OF ESSEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY.

Gentlemen,

The absolute necessity of preventing all correspondence between the Inhabitants of this County and our Enemies, obliges me to [use] every Degree of Intelligence that lead to the Channel of such Intercourse—Doctor William Burnet of New Ark1 can inform you of certain Informations and Charges against Part of the Army under my Command, as if they were liable to Bribery and Corruption in permitting Persons to go from Staten Island to the Men-of-War at or near Sandy Hook; and as the Person from whom he has received the Intelligence resides at New Ark within the District of your Commitee, I must request it as a Matter of great Importance that your Committee will as soon as possible call on David Ogden Esqr. to declare who the Person was, who informed him, that he had engaged the Guard of the Rifle-Men at Staten Island to carry him on Board the Men-of-War with all the Circumstances within his Knowledge and also that you do call on the Person whom he points out to be his Informant to declare every Circumstance within his Knowledge relative to the Matter.

George Washington
Washington, George
17 June, 1776
New York

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

Gentlemen,

I was this Evening honored with yours of the 15 Instt., and it is with no small degree of pain, that I am under the necessity of informing you, that it is Edition: current; Page: [159] out of my power at this time to comply with the request made by your honorable body.1 The many important works carrying on for the defence of this place, against which there is the highest probability of an attack being made in a little time, will not allow me to spare from hence any person having the least skill in the business as an engineer, nor have I but one on whose judgment I should wish to depend in laying out any work of the least consequence. Congress well know my wants in this instance, and several of my late letters to ’em have pressed the appointment of gentlemen qualified for the business.

Added to this on account of the deficiency, I have not been able to secure or improve two posts in the Highlands, esteemed of the utmost importance to prevent the enemy passing up the North River, and getting into the interior parts of this colony, should our attempts to stop them here prove ineffectual. But I beg you to be assured, Sir, and to Inform the Committee as soon as it is in my power, I shall with infinite pleasure direct a person to attend them for two or three days, if the service will not admit of a longer absence, in order to trace out such works and plans for carrying them on, as shall appear necessary; and wishing you to ascribe my noncompliance to want of ability, and not inclination to comply with your request, I have the honor, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
18 June, 1776
John Parke Custis
Custis, John Parke

FORGED LETTER.
TO JOHN PARKE CUSTIS.

My Very Dear Jack,

You have exceedingly obliged me by your letter which I received by yesterday’s post. It discovers an attention to the great affairs now carrying on, and an information concerning them, which I own to you, I had not given you credit for. Your youth and inexperience pleaded your excuse; and though you gave me no opportunity to praise you for any active exertions, I paid you no ordinary compliments, in my own mind, for your modesty in forbearing to meddle with things which it was no reproach to you to confess, were out of your reach. Considering your rank, fortune and education, whenever it is proper for you to come forward on the theatre, it must not be any underpart that you act. You are, therefore, certainly in the right to decline taking any part at all, till you are fit for a first and leading character. And you have my full and perfect approbation of your resolution to persist in your purpose, for the present, not to accept of any rank, civil or military. I see your anxiety, lest the present opportunity for signalizing your just love for your country should, by your unnecessary caution, be suffered to slip by you, unimproved. Your ardor is commendable; and far be it from me to discourage in you a spirit I so much love. But, whilst you retain these honorable principles, there is little danger of your wanting opportunities to call them forth into action. The momentous enterprize in which your country is engaged, is not to be accomplished in this or that year. If, in no longer a period than the siege of Troy, we bring all our mighty schemes to bear, it will be the greatest work that ever was perfected in so little a time. You have set your heart, you tell me on a military employment. This is the usual bent of young men; and, as it was my own, it will be with an ill grace, that I reprehend it in you. But, with the experience that I have had of it, I should be wanting in that love and esteem I owe you, should I hesitate to tell you that, as your father, there is not a profession you could have chosen in which I should not more cordially have concurred with you. Yet, I love arms; I am married to my sword, as well as to your amiable mother; and herein is my witness, that I am in earnest when I say death alone shall divorce me from either. I am not so blindly devoted, however, to my profession, as not to see by how frail a tenure I hold the little reputation I have in it. As a statesman, as a senator, it is in the general, sufficient that you mean well, that you are careful to qualify yourself to form a right judgment of the true interests of your Edition: current; Page: [161] country, and that, with the honest impartiality of a free man, you have still exerted, your best endeavors to promote those interests. But, with a soldier, success alone is merit; and there is nothing that can atone for the want of it. The world is a worse judge of military matters than any other. It would astonish you, to find, on a minute comparison, how very little difference there was in the skill and spirit which guided Braddock and Wolfe in the last actions of their lives. But, how different has been their fate!—I think, I am not without some talents for the line of life which has fallen to my lot. But, opposed as I must be by men, probably, of infinitely superior skill, and encompassed moreover with such hosts of other difficulties and discouragements as I am, it is not mine to command success, and when either my contemporaries, or future historians, shall sit in judgment on my conduct, if, haply, ill-fortune should overtake me, seeing our miscarriages only, and having neither curiosity nor ability to investigate the thousand causes which led to them, am I not too well warranted in concluding, that they will be attributed to mismanagement? Have I not then reason to wish that your choice had fallen on the quieter but not less important calling of a private gentleman, in which as a senator, you might have given proof of your abilities, in a way, in which fortune would not have had so great a share? But notwithstanding all this, and if after all, you be irrevocably determined to try your fortune in the field, and you can gain your mother’s and your wife’s consent, I here give it you under my hand, that you shall not want mine. Most certainly there cannot be a more honorable employment: and if, (which Heaven avert) Fortune should declare against you, my consolation will be, that I can assure myself, you will deserve to be successful. I will on the opening of the next campaign, procure you an appointment to the command of a regiment, either here, or in the southern wing. And if my opinion may have any weight with you, you will for many reasons, prefer the being stationed in some of the southern states. There is no fear of its being an inactive station. I have little expectation that this year will close with aught considerably decisive on either side: and if our enemies be able to hold out another campaign, it is most likely their policy will be, by means of their naval superiority, to carry on a kind of an incursive war, by making unexpected descents in different and distant places. Meanwhile, permit me to press you to persevere in your attention to military matters. The manual exercise, which you were so justly diligent to learn, whilst I was with you, is but the A. B. C. of your profession.

Neither will you profit so much as you might reasonably expect, from the study of those authors, who have written professedly on the art of war. This Edition: current; Page: [162] is like the learning the game of Whist by reading Hoyle. I have been witness to the mischievious effects of it. A man, book-learned only, does very well in the still scenes of marchings and encampments. But when, in the various bustles of actual war, a cause arises, as must often be the case, not described in his books, he is utterly at a loss. I would not, however, have you to understand me as if I meant to discourage your reading these books at all; so far from it, I would have you read them very often, and make yourself acquainted with the subject, as much as you can in theory. My caution meant only to guard you against placing too much reliance on them. Their best commentators, next to your own experience, will be, the historians of Greece and Rome; which it is your happiness to be able to read in the originals. But, the main and most essential qualification is an high sense of honor, an elevation of sentiment and a certain dignified stile of behavior that distinguishes, or should distinguish, a soldier from every other man. It is a shame indeed, if he who undertakes to command others, has not first learned to command himself. I will not endure any thing mean or sordid either in your principles, or your manners; having determined, if it were left with me, to be as strict and rigorous in these particulars, as were the knights of old, when a candidate was to be invested with the orders of chivalry. I cannot dissociate the ideas between a soldier and a gentleman; and however common it may be to give that last appellation to persons of every character, it yet conveys to me an idea of worth I want words to express. I am not solicitous to pay you compliments, even by implication; but, I may certainly be permitted to say, that if I had not known you to be a gentlemen, you never should have had my consent to your becoming a soldier.

Your observations on this important contest are just and accurate, and discover a reach of thought, and a penetration beyond what I had expected of you. What you say on the subject of independency is perfectly judicious, and, no doubt, highly worthy of all our most serious consideration. Yet, I have a presentiment, that it will take place, and speedily. Open and unreserved as my conduct towards you has ever been, I have no reluctance to confess to you, that the measure is diametrically opposite to my judgment; for I have not yet despaired of an honorable reconciliation; and whilst I can entertain but an hope of that, both interest and inclination lead me to prefer it to every thing else upon earth. Human affairs are oddly ordered: To obtain what you most wish for, you must often make use of means you the least approve of.

As in bargaining, to obtain a fair and equal price, you must frequently ask more than you wish to take. I do not really wish for independence. I hope Edition: current; Page: [163] there are few who do; but, I have never heard the reasonings of those, who have proved that, if we did not declare for it we should fail to obtain the constitutional subordination to which we are entitled, fairly refuted. I would not have you, therefore, hastily conclude that if, in this struggle, we fall short of every thing we have claimed; we are worsted; perhaps, the very worst thing that could befal us, is that we should gain all. I do assure you that, in my opinion, the next misfortune to that of being thrust from our just rank in the order of freemen, would be the giving us up, and leaving us to ourselves. But, this Great Britain will never do, voluntarily: for, if even she does, whatever may become of us, from that moment she may date the commencement of her own downfall.

I am exceedingly happy in the becoming moderation which you observe and endeavor to introduce towards the unhappy men whose political creeds differ from ours. But for this blot in her scutcheon, thrown on her by two many of her rash and unworthy advocates, by a contrary conduct, this effort of America would have done her honor, even though she had failed. I am shocked at the instances of intolerance I daily hear of, and have no power to prevent. But, like the other evils of war, it is a calamity that unavoidably grows out of such a convulsion; and one might as well hope to stem the fury of a torrent, as to give laws to an outraged people. It is, however, the duty of every true friend to liberty, by every gentle and conciliatory means in his power to restrain it. And, I am happy to find this sentiment daily becoming more general amongst us. All things considered, I cannot but think, it not a little to our honor that things have not been carried to still a greater heighth in this way.

Remember me affectionately to Nelly, and tell her, that though I should be most happy to see her, I may not hope for that happiness speedily; as the din of arms, I imagine, would be but unpleasing entertainment to her; and I have little prospect of any leisure, at least before we go into winter quarters. I hope Mr. Calvert, and all the family are well; I beg to be remembered to them, I will write to your mother in a few days. You are very good in leaving her alone as little as may be. Continue to write to me frequently, freely, and fully; the hearing of my dearest friends and family’s welfare being the only true happiness I have any chance to enjoy amidst the perpetual hurry in which I live.

I am my dear Jack,

Your very affectionate Friend and Father,
Geo. Washington.1
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George Washington
Washington, George
20 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 14th and 18th instant, and the interesting resolves contained in them, with which I have been honored. The several matters recommended to my attention shall be particularly regarded, and the directions of Congress and your requests complied with in every instance, as far as in my power.

The instituting a war-office is certainly an event of great importance, and, in all probability, will be recorded as such in the historic page. The benefits Edition: current; Page: [165] derived from it, I flatter myself, will be considerable, though the plan upon which it is first formed may not be entirely perfect. This, like other great works, in its first edition, may not be free from error; time will discover its defects, and experience suggest the remedy, and such further improvements as may be necessary; but it was right to give it a beginning, in my opinion.1 The recommendation of the Convention of New York for restraining and punishing disaffected persons, I am hopefull will be attended with salutary consequences; and the prohibition against exporting provisions appears to have been a measure founded in sound policy, lest proper supplies should be wanted, wherewith to subsist our armies. I have transmitted General Schuyler the resolves about the Indians, and the others on which he is to act; and have requested his strict attention and exertions in order to their being carried into execution with all possible despatch.

I note your request respecting Mr. Hancock—he shall have such directions as may be necessary for Edition: current; Page: [166] conducting his office and are happy he will have so early a remittance for paying the Troops in his Department.

The Silver and paper money designed for Canada will be highly serviceable and I hope will be the means of re-establishing our credit there in some degree with the Canadians and also encourage our men too, who have complained in this Instance. When it arrives, I will send it forward under a proper guard.

I have communicated to Major-General Gates the resolve of Congress for him to repair to Canada, and directed him to view Point-au-fer,1 that a fortress may be erected if he shall judge it necessary. He is preparing for his command, and in a few days will take his departure for it. I would fain hope his arrival there will give our affairs a complexion different from what they have worn for a long time past, and that many essential benefits will result from it. The kind attention Congress have shown to afford the Commander-in-chief here every assistance, by resolving that recommendatory letters be written to the Conventions of New Jersey, New York, and Assembly of Connecticut, to authorize him to call in the militia in case of exigency, claims my thankful acknowledgments; and, I trust, if carried into execution, will produce many advantages in case it may be expedient at any time to call in early reinforcements. The delays incident to the ordinary mode may frequently Edition: current; Page: [167] render their aid too late, and prove exceedingly injurious.

I this evening received Intelligence of the 19th Inst. from Capt. Pond of the armed Sloop Schuyler of his having taken about 50 miles from this on the South side of Long Island, a Ship and a Sloop bound to Sandy Hook—The ship from Glasgow with a Company of the 42 Regimt had been taken by one of Commodore Hopkins’s fleet who took the Soldiers out and ordered her to Rhode Island—after which it was retaken by the Cerberus and put under the Convoy of the Sloop—As Captain Pond Informs, there were Five Commissd. officers, Two Ladies, & four privates on board—they are not yet arrived at Head Quarters—Inclosed is an invoice of what they have on board.

General Wooster having expressed an inclination and wish to wait on Congress, I have given him permission, not having any occasion for him here. He set out this morning. I have been up to view the grounds about Kingsbridge, and find them to admit of several places well calculated for defence; and, esteeming it a pass of the utmost importance, have ordered works to be laid out, and shall direct part of the two battalions from Pennsylvania to set about the execution immediately, and will add to their numbers several of the militia, when they come in, to expedite them with all possible despatch.1 Their consequence Edition: current; Page: [168] as they will keep open the communication with the country requires the most speedy completion of them. I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
20 June, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

I herewith transmit to you sundry resolves of Congress, respecting the Indians, the fortifying Fort Stanwix, and for rendering more easy and commodious our passes into Canada. As the resolves are of an interesting and important nature, I must request your particular attention to them, and most active exertions for accomplishing and carrying the whole into execution with all possible despatch.

I am hopeful the bounty, which Congress have agreed to allow, as you will perceive by the last resolve, will prove a powerful inducement to engage the Indians in our service, and their endeavors to make prisoners of all the King’s troops they possibly can.2 You will use every method, you shall judge necessary, to conciliate their favor; and to this end you are authorized to promise them a punctual payment of the allowance, Congress have determined on Edition: current; Page: [169] for such officers and privates belonging to the King’s army, as they may captivate and deliver to us.

June 21st.—I have this moment received your favors of the 15th and 17th, and, the post being about to depart, have not time to answer them fully. I shall only add, that Lady Johnson may remain at Albany, till further directions. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I herewith transmit you an extract of a letter from General Ward, which came to hand by last night’s post, containing the agreeable intelligence of their having obliged the King’s ships to leave Nantasket Road, and of two transports more being taken by our armed vessels, with two hundred and ten Highland troops on board.1

I sincerely wish the like success had attended our arms in another quarter; but it has not. In Canada, Edition: current; Page: [170] the situation of our affairs is truly alarming. The enclosed copies of Generals Schuyler’s, Sullivan’s, and Arnold’s letters will inform you, that General Thompson has met with a repulse at Three Rivers, and is now a prisoner in the hands of General Burgoyne, who, these accounts say, is arrived with a considerable army.1 Nor do they seem to promise an end to our misfortunes here; it is greatly to be feared, that the next advices from thence will be, that our shattered, divided, and broken army, as you will see by the return, have been obliged to abandon the country, and retreat, to avoid a greater calamity, that of being cut off or becoming prisoners. I will be done upon the subject, and leave you to draw such conclusions as you conceive, from the state of facts, are most likely to result; only adding my apprehensions, that one of the latter events, either that they are cut off, or become prisoners, has already happened, if they did not retreat while they had an opportunity. Edition: current; Page: [171] General Schuyler and General Arnold seem to think it extremely probable; and if it has taken place, it will not be easy to describe all the fatal consequences that may flow from it. At least our utmost exertions will be necessary, to prevent the advantages they have gained from being turned to our greater misfortunes. General Gates will certainly set out tomorrow, and would have gone before now, had he not expected to receive some particular instructions from Congress, which Colonel Braxton said he imagined would be given and transmitted here.

Enclosed is a copy of a letter from General Arnold, respecting some of the Indian tribes, to General Schuyler, and of a talk had at Albany with thirteen of the Oneidas. They seemed then to entertain a friendly disposition towards us, which I wish may not be changed by the misfortunes we have sustained in Canada. I have the honor to be &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
Major-General Gates
Major-General Gates

TO MAJOR-GENERAL GATES.
INSTRUCTIONS.

Sir,

The honorable Continental Congress, reposing the greatest confidence in your wisdom and experience, have directed me to appoint you to the very important command of the troops of the United Colonies in Canada, with power to appoint a deputy adjutant-general, a deputy quartermaster-general, a deputy mustermaster-general, and such other officers as you shall find necessary for the good of the service. You are also empowered to fill up all vacancies in the army in Canada, and notify the same to Congress for their approbation.

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You are also authorized, until the first of October next, to suspend any officers and fill up all vacancies, transmitting to the honorable Congress such order and suspension, giving your reasons therefor, and specifying the particular charge made against such officer. You are directed, previous to your departure, to consult with the commissary-general, and concert with him the most effectual measures for continuing proper supplies of provisions for that department. You are in like manner to consult with Colonel Knox about the artillery, which may be wanted, and what may probably be procured there; and whether any brass or iron field-pieces can be spared from hence for that service.

Upon your arrival in Albany, you will consult with general Schuyler, in regard to the present state of provisions and stores, and fix upon some certain means of forwarding the regular supplies in future from that place. At the same time endeavor to learn whether supplies heretofore sent have not reached that department, and by what means such failures have happened that a proper remedy may be provided. From General Schuyler you will also receive such advice and information, respecting the operations of the campaign, as may be useful and necessary. You are to direct all the general officers, deputy quartermaster-general, local commissaries, paymaster in Canada, and all other persons there, or on the communication, without delay to render their accounts and settle them. No general officer on such settlement is to receive pay as colonel of a regiment, nor any field-officer as captain of a company.

Upon your taking the command of the troops, you will give particular orders, agreeably to a rule of Congress, that no officer shall suttle or sell to the soldiers, on penalty of being fined one month’s pay, and being dismissed the service with infamy; that all sales of arms, clothing, ammunition, and accoutrements, made by soldiers, are to be deemed void; and that the baggage of officers and soldiers is hereafter to be regulated conformably to the rules of the British army.

By a like resolve no troops in Canada are to be disbanded there, but all soldiers in that country ordered to be disbanded, or, their times of enlistment being expired, refusing to re-enlist, shall be sent under proper officers to Ticonderoga, or such other Edition: current; Page: [173] posts on the lakes, as you shall direct, where they are to be mustered, and the arms, accoutrements, blankets, and utensils, which they may have belonging to the public, shall be delivered up and deposited in the public store. You will, as soon as possible, make as accurate a return as you can procure of the troops, artillery, arms, ammunition, provisions, and stores, which you find in Canada, or upon the communication with Albany, distinguishing where stationed, and in what magazines; and, if possible, transmit such a return to the honorable Continental Congress, and to me, once a fortnight.

The distance of the scene, and the frequent changes, which have happened in the state of our affairs in Canada, do not allow me to be more particular in my instructions. The command is important, the service difficult but honorable, and I most devoutly pray, that Providence may crown our arms with abundant success. Given under my hand at Head-Quarters, New York, June 24th, 1776.1

George Washington
Washington, George
24 June, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

On the 20 Inst. I received your two favors of the 15th & 17th by Bennet, and yesterday evening that of the 19 continued to the 20th, with Genl. Sullivan’s Edition: current; Page: [174] Letter and return, and the several Copies you Inclosed. The accounts transmitted by General Sullivan are truly alarming, and I confess I am not without apprehension lest the next advices should be, that the unfortunate defeat and taking of General Thompson have been succeeded by an event still more unfortunate, the destruction of a large part if not the whole of our army in that quarter. The weak, divided, and disheartened state, in which General Sullivan represents it to be, does not seem to promise any thing much more favorable, and is what General Arnold appears to be suspicious of. From the whole of the accounts, supposing the facts all true, there was nothing left to prevent their ruin, but a retreat.1 That, I hope, has been made, as the only means of saving themselves, and rendering their country the least service.

By reason of the succession of ills, that has attended us there of late, and this last one, I fear we must give up all hopes of possessing that country, of such importance in the present controversy, and that our views and utmost exertions must be turned to prevent the incursions of the enemy into our colonies. To this end, I must pray your strictest attention, and request that you will use all the means in your power to fortify and secure every post and place of importance on the communication. You are as much impressed with the necessity of the measure, as any man can be; and with confidence I trust, that nothing Edition: current; Page: [175] you can do will be wanting to effect it. If the troops have retreated, they will in a little time, I am hope-full, complete such works on the passes, as to bid defiance to the most vigorous efforts of the enemy to penetrate our country; especially when you are assisted by the militia, who most probably are on their march ere now. Had this unfortunate defeat not happened, the militia were designed, not only to reinforce the army in Canada, but to keep up the communication with that province, as you will see by recurring to the resolve directing them to be employed.1

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Major-General Gates, whom Congress had appointed to command after General Thomas’s death, will set out to-morrow and take with him one hundred Barrells of powder out of which the supplies necessary for the different posts must be drawn.

I have also directed Col. Knox to send up the Cannon you wrote for, if they can be possibly spared from hence, with some artillerists, &c, a proper quantity of Ball and other necessaries for them, and will in every instance afford you all the assistance I can. At the same time I wish if there are any Cannon at Ticonderoga, or other necessaries there or elsewhere, that you may want and which can be spared for any other post or purpose, that you would get them in preference to any here, as the number we have is not more [than] sufficient for the extensive and important works necessary to be maintained for the defence of this place.

In respect to the proceedings of the Commissioners for raising two companies of the Mohekans or and Connecticut Indians, they appear to me not to answer the views of Congress, as I presume they live within the Government of Connecticut and are to be considered in the same light with its Inhabitants; and that their design was extended to those who were not Edition: current; Page: [177] livers among us, and were of Hostile character or doubtfull friendship. But in this I may be mistaken and there may be a necessity of engaging those you have to secure their Interest.

As to your doubts about the Officer Commanding in Canada, his right to punish capitally, I should suppose that necessity, independent of any thing else, would Justify the exercise of such an authority; but Congress having determined, that the Commanding officer there should inflict exemplary punishmt on those who violate the military regulations established by them has put the matter out of question and I apprehend every Commander there has such power and of right may and should exercise it.

As Colonel Parsons has requested you to send down the person, who is supposed to have murdered his brother, I have no objection to your doing it, if you judge necessary. He, from what I have been told, designs to apply to Congress for instituting some mode of trial for the offence.

I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
George Washington
Washington, George
24 June, 1776
Mrs. Washington
Mrs. Washington

FORGED LETTER.
TO MRS. WASHINGTON.

My Dearest Life and Love,

You have hurt me, I know not how much, by the insinuation in your last, that my letters to you have lately been less frequent, because I have felt less concern for you. The suspicion is most unjust;—may I not add, it is most unkind? Have we lived, now almost a score of years, in the closest and dearest conjugal intimacy to so little purpose, that, on an appearance only of inattention to you, and which you might have accounted for in a thousand ways more Edition: current; Page: [178] natural and more probable, you should pitch upon that single motive which alone is injurious to me? I have not, I own, wrote so often to you as I wished and as I ought. But think of my situation, and then ask your heart, if I be without excuse. We are not my dearest, in circumstances the most favorable to our happiness: but let us not, I beseech you, idly make them worse, by indulging suspicions and apprehensions which minds in distress are but apt to give way to. I never was, as you have often told me, even in my better and more disengaged days, so attentive to the little punctilios of friendship, as, it may be, became me: but my heart tells me, there never was a moment in my life, since I first knew you, in which it did not cleave and cling to you with the warmest affection; and it must cease to beat, ere it can cease to wish for your happiness, above any thing on earth.

I congratulate you most cordially on the fair prospect of recovery of your amiable daughter-in-law; nor can I wonder, that this second loss of a little one should affect you, I fear the fatigues of the journey, and the perpetual agitations of a camp, were too much for her. They are, however, both young and healthy; so that there can be little doubt of their soon repairing the loss.

And now will my dearest love permit me, a little more earnestly than I have ever yet done, to press you to consent to that so necessary, so safe and so easy, though so dreadful a thing—The being innoculated. It was always advisable; but at this juncture it seems to be almost absolutely necessary.

I am far from sure, that, that restless madman, our quondam Governor, from the mere lust of doing mischief, will not soon betake himself to the carrying on a predatory war in our rivers. And as Potomack will certainly be thought most favorable for his purposes, as affording him scope to keep without the reach of annoyance. I have little reason, to flatter myself that it would not be particularly pleasing to him, to vent his spite at my house. Let him; it would affect me only as it might affect you; and, for this reason, among others, I wish you out of his reach. Yet I think I would not have you quit your house, professedly, from an apprehension of a visit from him. An appearance of fearfulness and timidity, even in a woman of my family, might have a bad effect; but, I must be something more or less than man, not to wish you out of the way of a danger, which to say the least, must be disagreeable to you, and could do good to no one. All this makes for your going to Philadelphia, a place of perfect security; and it would almost be worth while to be innoculated, if it were only for the fair pretence it furnishes you with of quitting Virginia, at a time when I could not but be exceedingly uneasy at your remaining in it. Edition: current; Page: [179] But I flatter myself, any further argument will be unnecessary, when I shall add, as I now do, that till you have had the smallpox, anxiously as else I should wish for it, I never can think of consenting to your passing the winter here in quarters with me.

I would have Lund Washington immediately remove all the unmarried and suspicious of the slaves to the quarters in Frederick. The Harvesting must be got in by hirelings. Let him not keep any large stock of grain trod out, especially at the mill, or within the reach of water carriage; in particular, let as little as may be, be left at Clifton’s quarters. It will not be too late, even in the first week of July, to sow the additional supply of hemp and flax-seed, which Mr. Mifflin has procured for me in Philadelphia; and which I hope will be with you before this letter. For obvious reasons, you will not sow it on the island, nor by the water side. But I hope you will have a good account of your crop on the Ohio. If Bridgey continues refractory and riotous, though I know you can ill spare him, let him by all means be sent off, as I hope Jack Custis’s boy Joe already is, for his sauciness at Cambridge.

My attention is this moment called off to the discovery, or pretended discovery, of a plot. It is impossible, as yet, to develope the mystery in which it either is, or is supposed to be involved. Thus much only I can find out with certainty, that it will be a fine field for a war of lies on both sides. No doubt it will make a good deal of noise in the country; and there are who think it useful to have the minds of the people kept constantly on the fret by rumors of this sort. For my part, I who am said to be the object principally aimed at in it, find myself perfectly at my ease; and I have mentioned it to you only from an apprehension that, hearing it from others and not from me, you might imagine that I was in the midst of danger that I knew not of.

The perpetual solicitude of your poor heart about me, is certainly highly flattering to me; yet I should be happy to be able to quiet your fears. Why do you complain of my reserve? Or, how could you imagine that I distrusted either your prudence or your fidelity? I have the highest opinion of them both. But why should I teaze you with tedious details of schemes and views which are perpetually varying? and which therefore might not improbably mislead, where I meant to inform you? Suffice it that I say, what I have often before told you, that, as far as I have the control of them, all our preparations of war, aim only at peace. Neither do I, at this moment, see the least likelihood of there being any considerable military operations this season; and, if not in this season certainly in no other. It is impossible to suppose, that, in the leisure, Edition: current; Page: [180] and quiet of winter quarters, men will not have virtue to listen to the dictates of plain common sense and sober reason. The only true interest of both sides is reconciliation; nor can there be a point in the world clearer, than that both sides must be losers by war, in a manner which even peace will not compensate for. We must, at last, agree and be friends; for we cannot live without them, and they will not without us: and a byestander might well be puzzled to find out, why as good terms cannot be given and taken now, as when we shall have well nigh ruined each other by the mutual madness of cutting one another’s throats. For all these reasons, which cannot but be as obvious to the English commissioners, and ours, as they are to me, I am at a loss to imagine how any thing can arise to obstruct a negotiation, and, of consequence, a pacification. You, who know my heart, know that there is not a wish nearer to it than this is; but I am prepared for every event, one only excepted—I mean a dishonorable peace. Rather than that, let me, though with the loss of every thing else I hold dear, continue this horrid trade, and by the most unlikely means, be the unworthy instrument of preserving political security and happiness to them, as well as to ourselves.—Pity this cannot be accomplished without fixing on me that sad name, Rebel. I love my king; you know I do: a soldier, a good man cannot but love him. How peculiarly hard then is our fortune to be deemed traitors to so good a king! But I am not without hopes, that even he will yet see cause to do me justice; posterity I am sure will. Mean while I comfort myself with the reflection that this has been the fate of the best and bravest men, even of the Barons who obtained Magna Charta, whilst the dispute was pending. This, however, anxiously as I wish for it, it is not mine to command; I see my duty; that of standing up for the liberties of my country; and whatever difficulties and discouragements lie in my way, I dare not shrink from it; and I rely on that Being, who has not left to us the choice of duties, that, whilst I conscientiously discharge mine, I shall not finally lose my reward. If I really am not a bad man, I shall not long be so set down.

Assure yourself, I will pay all possible attention to your recommendations. But happy as I am in an opportunity of obliging you, even in the smallest things, take it not amiss, that I use the freedom with you to whisper in your ear, to be sparing of them. You know how I am circumstanced: hardly the promotion of a subaltern is left me. And, free and independent as I am, I resolve to remain so. I owe the Congress no obligations for any personal favors done to myself; nor will I run in debt to them for favors to others. Besides, I am mortified to have to ask of them, what, in sound policy (if other motives Edition: current; Page: [181] had been wanting) they ought to have granted to me, unasked. I cannot describe to you the inconveniences this army suffers for want of this consequence being given to its commander in chief. But, as these might be increased, were my peculiar situation in this respect generally known, I forbear; only enjoining you a cautious silence on this head.—In a regular army, our Virginia young men, would certainly, in general, make the best officers; but I regret that they have not now put it in my power justly to pay them this compliment. They dislike their northern allies; and this dislike is the source of infinite mischiefs and vexations to me. In the many disputes and quarrels of this sort which we have had, one thing has particularly struck me. My countrymen are not inferior in understanding; and are certainly superior in that distinguished spirit and high sense of honor which should form the character of an officer. Yet, somehow or other, it forever happens, that in every altercation, they are proved to be in the wrong; and they expect of me attentions and partialities which it is not in my power to shew them.

Let me rely that your answer to this will be dated in Philadelphia. If I am not very busily engaged, (which I hope may not be the case,) perhaps I may find ways and means to pay you a visit of a day or two; but this I rather hint as what I wish, than what I dare bid you expect. If you still think the fragments of the set of greys I bought of Lord Botetourt unequal to the journey, let Lund Washington sell them, singly, or otherwise as he can, to the best advantage, and purchase a new set of bays. I could, as you desire, get them here, and perhaps on better terms; but, I have a notion, whether well or ill founded I know not, that they never answer well in Virginia. I beg to be affectionately remembered to all our friends and relations; and that you will continue to believe me to be Your most faithful and tender Husband.1

George Washington
Washington, George
27 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I this morning received, by express, letters from Generals Schuyler and Arnold, with a copy of one Edition: current; Page: [182] from General Sullivan to the former, and also of others to General Sullivan; of all which I do myself the honor to transmit to you copies. They will give you a further account of the melancholy situation of our affairs in Canada, and show that there is nothing left to save our army there but evacuating the country.

I am hopeful General Sullivan would retreat from the Isle-aux-Noix, without waiting for previous orders for that purpose; as, from Generals Schuyler’s and Arnold’s letters, it is much to be feared, by remaining there any considerable time, his retreat would be cut off, or at best be a matter of extreme difficulty. I would observe to Congress, that it is not in my power to send any carpenters from hence to build the gondolas and galleys, General Arnold mentions, without taking them from a work equally necessary, if not more so, here of the same kind; and submit it to them whether it may not be advisable as it is of great importance to us to have a number of those vessels on the lake, to prevent the enemy passing, to withdraw the carpenters for the present from the frigates building up the North River, and detach them immediately, with all that can be got at Philadelphia, for that purpose and carrying on those here.

I have the pleasure to inform you of another capture, made by our armed vessels, of a transport on the 19th instant, with a company of Highland grenadiers on board. The enclosed extract of a letter from General Ward, by last night’s post, contains the particulars; to which I beg leave to refer you.

I have been honored with your favors of the 21st Edition: current; Page: [183] and 25 Inst. in due order with their important enclosures, to which I shall particularly attend. I have transmitted to General Schuyler a copy of the resolve of Congress respecting the Mohickan and Stockbridge Indians, and directed him to put an immediate stop to the raising the two companies.1

The Quarter Master General has been called upon for stopping the tents designed for Massachusetts bay, and ordered to forward them immediately—he means to write to Congress upon the subject and hopes his conduct will not appear to deserve their reprehension, of this they will judge from his relation of the matter.

Being extremely desirous to forward the intelligence from Canada to Congress, well knowing their anxiety about our Affairs there, I must defer writing upon some other matters I want to lay before them, till the next opportunity, which I hope will be tomorrow, when I will inform them fully upon the subject of Rations having desired the Commissary General to furnish me with some things necessary in that instance. I have, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [184]
George Washington
Washington, George
28 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

In compliance with the request of Congress, contained in your favor of the 25 Inst: and my promise of yesterday, I do myself the honor to inform you Edition: current; Page: [185] that the Cost of a ration according to the Commissary General’s estimate from the 1st of July to the 1st of December will be from 8d to 8½ York currency.

Having discharged the obligation I was under in this Instance and finding that many applications have been made for victualling the Flying Camp, I would with all possible deference wish Congress to consider the matter well before they come to any determination upon it. Who the Gentlemen are that have made offers upon this occasion I know not, consequently my Objections to their appointment cannot, proceed from personal dislike, nor have I it in view to serve Mr. Trumbull, the Commissary General, by wishing him to have the direction of the whole supplies for his emolument, because whatever rations are taken from him, save him the trouble of supplying Provisions to the amount, without diminishing his pay, that being fixed and certain; but what Influences me, is a regard to the public good. I am morally certain if the Business is taken out of Mr. Trumbulls hands and put into anothers, that it may, and will in all probability be attended with great and many Inconveniences.

It is likely, during the continuance of the War between us and Great Britain, that the Army here or part of it, and the Troops composing the Flying Camp will be frequently joined and under the necessity of affording each other mutual aid. If this event is probable, and most certainly it is, the same confusion and disorder will result from having two Commissaries Edition: current; Page: [186] or one Commissary and one Contractor in the same Army, in the same department, as did between Mr. Trumbull and Mr. Livingston on the coming of the former to New York.

I cannot discriminate the two cases, and not foreseeing that any good consequences will flow from the measure but that many bad ones will, such as clashing of Interests—a contention for stores, Carriages and many other causes that might be mentioned if hurry of Business would permit, I confess I cannot perceive the propriety of appointing a different person or any but the Commissary. I would also add, that few Armies, if any, have been better supplied than the Troops under Mr. Trumbull’s care in this instance which I should suppose ought to have considerable weight, especially as we have strong reasons to believe that a large share of the misfortunes our Arms have sustained in Canada, sprang from a want of proper and necessary supplies of provisions.

Mr. Trumbull too I am informed, has already made provision in New Jersey for the Flying Camp which will be stationed there, and employed proper persons in that Colony to transact the business incident to his department, in obedience to my orders and his full confidence that it was to come under his management. My great desire to see the Affairs of this important post on which so much depends, go on in an easy smooth and uninterrupted course has led me to say thus much upon the subject, and will I hope, if I am unhappy enough to differ in opinion with Congress, plead my excuse for the liberty I have taken.

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I would also beg leave to mention to Congress the necessity there is of some new regulations being entered into, respecting the Chaplains of this Army. they will remember that applications were made to increase their pay which was conceived too low for their support, and that it was proposed, if it could not be done for the whole, that the number should be lessened, and one be appointed to Two Regiments with an additional allowance. This latter expedient was adopted and while the Army continued altogether at one encampment answered well, or at least did not produce many Inconveniences. But, the Army now being differently circumstanced from what it then was,—part here,—part at Boston—and a third part detached to Canada, has Induced much confusion and disorder in this Instance; nor do I know how it is possible to remedy the evil but by affixing one to each Regiment with salaries competent to their support no shifting no change from one Regiment to another can answer the purpose and in many cases it would never be done, the Regiments should consent; as where details are composed of unequal numbers or ordered from different posts. Many more Inconveniences might be pointed out, but these it is presumed will sufficiently shew the defect of the present establishment, and the propriety of an alteration.—What that alteration shall be Congress will please to determine.

Congress, I doubt not, will have heard of the plot, that was forming among many disaffected persons in this city and government for aiding the King’s troops upon their arrival. No regular plan seems to have Edition: current; Page: [188] been digested; but several persons have been enlisted, and sworn to join them. The matter, I am in hopes, by a timely discovery, will be suppressed and put a stop to. Many citizens and others, among whom is the mayor, are now in confinement. The matter has been traced up to Governor Tryon; and the mayor appears to have been a principal agent or go-between him and the persons concerned in it. The plot had been communicated to some of the army, and part of my guard engaged in it. Thomas Hickey, one of them, has been tried, and, by the unanimous opinion of a court-martial, is sentenced to die, having enlisted himself, and engaged others. The sentence, by the advice of the whole council of general officers, will be put in execution to-day at eleven o’clock. The others are not tried. I am hopeful this example will produce many salutary consequences, and deter others from entering into the like traitorous practices.1

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The enclosed copy of a resolve of the Provincial Congress will show, that some of the disaffected on Long Island have taken up arms. I have, agreeably to their request, sent a party after them, but have not as yet been able to apprehend them, having concealed themselves in different woods and morasses. General Gates set out on Tuesday with a fine wind, which has been fair ever since, and would soon arrive at Albany. I this moment received a letter from Lieutenant Davison, of the Schuyler armed sloop, a copy of which I have enclosed; to which I beg leave to refer you for the intelligence communicated by him.1 I could wish General Howe and his armament Edition: current; Page: [190] not to arrive yet, as not more than a thousand militia have yet come in, and our whole force, including the troops at all the detached posts, and on board the armed vessels, which are comprehended in our returns, is but small and inconsiderable, when compared with the extensive lines they are to defend, and, most probably, the army that he brings. I have no farther intelligence about him, than what the Lieutenant mentions; but it is extremely probable his accounts and conjectures are true. I have the honor to be, &c.

P. S. I have Inclosed a Gen’l Return—& It may be certainly depended on that Gen’l Howe & fleet have sailed from Halifax—

Some of the men on board the prizes ment’d in the Lt’s Letter were on board the Greyhound & saw Gen’l Howe.1

George Washington
Washington, George
28 June, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 25th and its Inclosures with Gen’l Arnold’s of the same date I received by yesterday morning’s Express—that of the 24th came by today’s Post. I am sorry General Sullivan in the Situation our affairs were in should have stopped at the Isle-aux-Noix, until he could obtain orders for retreating further, thereby hazarding his army without a prospect of success, and rendering his retreat liable to an interception, or at least difficult, in case Edition: current; Page: [191] the enemy were in a condition to pursue their victory. For these reasons I cannot but approve your directions, and I hope they have arrived in time, if he had not before left the Isle-aux-Noix, by the advice of his council of war, and joint intercession of his officers. My letter of the 24th would show you, had it been received, that from his representation of matters I thought a retreat the only means left for the security of his army, and doing the least essential service to their country. If he gets off, I shall be happy that our loss was so inconsiderable in numbers, though I regret much the captivity of General Thompson.

I have wrote Congress about Carpenters on General Arnold’s letter, and having none to spare from hence, have pointed out the necessity of their sending some from Philadelphia if not there, withdrawing for the present those employed up the North River, deeming it a Matter of Infinite Importance to have a considerable number of Gundaloes on the Lakes to prevent the Enemy passing.

I have directed the Quarter Master General to procure and forward you the Anchors and Cables, Mill saws and files if to be had. I have also requested Colo. Knox to examine whether some more field pieces cannot be sent up, and I design to order a further Quantity of Powder to be forwarded you, to Answer two purposes, One, that you may have proper supplies for the several Posts and every contingency—the other because I do not wish to keep a larger stock here than may be necessary, least any unfortunate Edition: current; Page: [192] event should cast up, and we be deprived of more than we are yet able to loose.

I would have you make ready every thing necessary for taking post at Fort Stanwix; and, when you are prepared, to use your utmost industry for erecting and completing the work. Our most vigorous exertions will be required in every instance. I am convinced our enemies will strain their every nerve against us this campaign, and try to injure us wherever we may be unprovided. It will be extremely proper to forward on the militia for reinforcing the several garrisons on the communication, and securing the different passes. I wish they were not so slow in repairing to the places of rendezvous; but I would fain apprehend they will be in time to prevent any attempts our enemies may have in view. I am extremely sorry for your indisposition, and that you should be so harrassed by the ague and fever; and wishing you a perfect recovery from it and a speedy one, I am, dear Sir, &c.

P. S. Congress by a Letter I received from the President last night have resolved up on four Thousand men more to augment the Army in the Northern department and recommended the colonies of New Hampshire immediately to send one Regimt. of militia—Massachusetts two and Connecticut one—they have also resolved on a bounty of Ten Dollars for every Soldier that will Inlist for three years and requested the Several Governments who are to furnish militias to do it with all possible expedition.1

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Our Armed Vessels at the Eastward have taken some valuable prizes,—and also three more Transports, safely brought in with about 320 or 30 Highland Troops well accoutred. Captain Nedel, one of Commodore Hopkin’s fleet took two also with about 150 more—he put all the prisoners on board one of the prizes we fear she is retaken—the arms he took into his own Vessell—the other prize was retaken and again taken by another of our Vessels—Yesterday I received a letter from Lt. Davison of the Schuyler Armd Sloop advisg that she with another of our Cruizers, had retaken 4 prizes, which had been taken by the Grey Hound Man of War—the prisoners on board the prizes Informed the Lt. that Genl. Howe was on board the Grey Hound and sailed from Hallifax the 9 Inst with 132 Transports—that they saw a Vessel the Evening before standing towards the Hook which they imagined was the Grey Hound, there is reason to conclude he is now there—The Militia ordered for the defence of this place come on slowly—not more than a thousand yet arrived—our force by no means so strong as It should be—It is Edition: current; Page: [194] said and I believe with authority that 20 Tons of powder and 2000 Sterlgs worth of goods have got into Providence.1

George Washington
Washington, George
29 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was last night honored with your favour of 26th Inst. and agreable to your request shall pay proper attention to the Resolves It inclosed.

I observe the augmentation Congress have resolved to make to the forces destined for the Northern department and the bounty to be allowed such Soldiers as will Inlist for three years. I hope many good consequences Edition: current; Page: [195] will result from these measures, and that from the latter a considerable number of men may be induced to engage in the service.

I should esteem myself extremely happy to afford the least assistance to the Canada department in compliance with the desire of Congress and your requisition, were it in my power, but it is not. The Return which I transmitted yesterday will but too well convince Congress of my Incapacity in this instance, and point out to them, that the force I now have is trifling, considering the many, and important posts that are necessary and must be supported if possible. But few militia have yet come in; the whole being about Twelve hundred Including the Two Battalions of this City and One Company from the Jerseys. I wish the delay may not be attended with disagreable circumstances, and their aid may not come too late, or when It may not be wanted. I have wrote, I have done everything I could, to call them in, but they have not come, tho I am told that they are generally willing.

The accounts communicated yesterday through Lieutenant Davison’s letter are partly confirmed, and, I dare say, will turn out to be true on the whole. For two or three days past, three or four ships have been dropping in; and I just now received an express from an officer appointed to keep a look-out on Staten Island, that forty-five arrived at the Hook to-day; some say more; and I suppose the whole fleet will be in, within a day or two. I am hopeful, before they are prepared to attack, that I shall get some Edition: current; Page: [196] reinforcements. Be that as it may, I shall attempt to make the best disposition I can of our troops, in order to give them a proper reception, and to prevent the ruin and destruction they are meditating against us.

As soon as the Express arrived last night, I sent the Letters for the Northern Colonies to the Qr. Master General with orders to forward them immediately.

When Monsieur Wiebert comes, (I have not seen him yet), I shall employ him as Congress have directed.—The terms upon which he offers his service, seem to promise something from him.1 I wish he may Answer, and be skilled in the business he says he is acquainted with.2

George Washington
Washington, George
30 June, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 29th early this morning, with which you have been pleased to honor me, together with the resolves for a further augmentation of our army. The battalion of Germans, which Congress have ordered to be raised, Edition: current; Page: [197] will be a corps of much service; and I am hopefull that such persons will be appointed officers, as will complete their enlistments with all possible expedition. I shall communicate to Colonel Stephenson and one of his field-officers what you have requested, and direct them to repair immediately to Philadelphia. It is an unlucky circumstance, that the term of enlistment of these three companies, and of the rifle battalion, should expire at this time when a hot campaign is, in all probability, about to commence.1

Canada, it is certain, would have been an important acquisition, and well worth the expenses incurred in the pursuit of it. But as we could not reduce it to our possession, the retreat of our army with so little loss, under such a variety of distresses, must be esteemed a most fortunate event. It is true, the accounts we have received do not fully authorize us to say, that we have sustained no loss; but they hold forth a probable ground for such conclusion. I am anxious to hear it confirmed.2

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I have the honor of transmitting to you an extract of a letter received last night from General Ward. If the scheme the privateers had in view, and the measures he had planned, have been carried into execution, the Highland corps will be tolerably well disposed of; but I fear the fortunate event has not taken place. In General Ward’s letter was enclosed one from Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, who was made prisoner with the Highland troops. I have transmitted you a copy. This will give you a full and exact account of the number of prisoners on board the four transports; and will prove, beyond a possibility of doubt, that the evacuation of Boston by the British troops was a matter neither known or expected when he received his orders. Indeed, so many facts had concurred before to settle the matter, that no additional proofs were necessary.

When I had the honor of addressing you yesterday, I had only been informed of the arrival of Forty five of the fleet in the Morning, since that I have received authentic Intelligence from Sundry persons, among them, from Genl Greene, that One hundred and Ten Sail came in before night that were counted, and that more were seen about dusk in the offing. I have no doubt but the whole that sailed from Hallifax are now at the Hook.1

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Just as I was about to conclude my Letter, I received one from a Gentn.1 upon the Subject of calling the Five Regiments from Boston to the defence of Canada, or New York, and to have Militia raised in their lieu. I have sent you a copy and shall only observe that I know the author well, his handwriting is quite familiar to me—he is a member of the General Court, very sensible, of great Influence, and a warm and zealous friend to the cause of America, the expedient proposed by him is submitted to Congress. I have, &c.2

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George Washington
Washington, George
July the 3d, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Since I had the honor of addressing you and on the same day several ships more arrived within the Hook making the number that came in then, 110, and there remains no doubt of the whole of the Fleet from Hallifax being now here. Yesterday Evening 50 of ’em Edition: current; Page: [201] came into the Bay and anchored on the Staten Island side.1 Their views I cannot precisely determine but am extremely apprehensive as a part of ’em only came, that they mean to surround the Island and secure the whole stock upon it. I had consulted with a Committee of the Provincial Congress on the subject, and a person was appointed to superintend the business and to drive the stock off. I also wrote to Brigadier General Heard and directed Edition: current; Page: [202] him to the measure lest it might be neglected, but am fearfull it has not been effected.

Our reinforcements of militia are but small yet—their amount I can not ascertain, having not been able to procure a return. However I trust, if the Enemy make an Attack they will meet with a repulse, as I have the pleasure to inform you, that an agreeable spirit & willingness for Action seem to animate and pervade the whole of our Troops.1

As it is difficult to determine what Objects the Edition: current; Page: [203] Enemy may have in contemplation, and whether they may not detach some part of their force to Amboy and to ravage that part of the Country, if not to extend their views farther, I submit it to Congress whether it may not be expedient for ’em to repeat and press home their requests to the different Governments that are to provide men for the flying Camp, to furnish their Quotas with all possible dispatch. It is a matter of great Importance and will be of serious consequence to the Camp established in case the Enemy should be able to possess themselves of this River, and cut off the supplies of Troops that might be necessary on certain Emergencies to be sent from hence.

I must entreat your Attention to an application I made some time agoe for Flints we are extremely deficient in this necessary article and shall be greatly distressed if we cannot obtain a supply—1 Of Lead we have a sufficient quantity for the whole Campaign, taken off the Houses here.

Esteeming it of infinite Importance to prevent the Enemy from getting fresh provisions and Horses for their Waggons, Artillery, &c., I gave orders to a party of our men on Staten Island and writing Genl. Heard to drive the stock off without waiting for the Assistance or direction of the Committee there, lest their slow mode of transacting business might produce too much delay and have sent this morning to know what they have done.—I am this minute Informed by a Gentleman that the Committee Edition: current; Page: [204] of Elizabeth Town, sent their Company of Light Horse on Monday to effect it and that some of their Militia was to give their aid yesterday. He adds he was credibly told last night by part of the Militia coming to this place that yesterday Evening they saw a good many Stock driving off the Island and crossing to the Jerseys—If the business is not executed ’ere now, it will be impossible to do it.

I have the Honor &c.1
George Washington
Washington, George
4 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

When I had the honor to address you on the 30 Ulto. I transmitted a Copy of a Letter I had received from a Gentleman, a member of the Honorable the General Court of Massachusetts bay, suggesting the improbability of succors coming from thence in any seasonable time for the defence of this place, or to reinforce our Troops engaged in the Canada expedition—I Edition: current; Page: [205] am sorry to inform you that from a variety of Intelligence his apprehensions appear to be just and to be fully confirmed. Nor have I reason to expect but that the supplies from the other two Governmts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, will be extremely slow and greatly deficient in number—As it now seems beyond question and clear to demonstration that the Enemy mean to direct their operations and bend their most vigorous Efforts against this Colony and will attempt to unite their two Armies, that under Genl Burgoyne and the one arrived here, I cannot but think the expedient proposed by that Gentleman is exceedingly just, and that the Continental Regiments now in the Massachusetts Bay, should be immediately called from thence and be employed where there is the strongest reason to believe their aid will be indispensably necessary.

The expediency of the measures I shall Submit to the Consideration of Congress and will only observe as my Opinion that there is not the most distant prospect of an attempt being made where they now are by the Enemy, and if there should, that the Militia that can be assembled upon the shortest notice will be more than equal to repel it.—they are well armed, resolute and determined, and will Instantly oppose any Invasion that may be made in their own province.

I shall also take the liberty again to request Congress to Interest themselves in having the Militia raised and forwarded with all possible expedition as fast as any considerable number of ’em can be collected that Edition: current; Page: [206] are to compose the flying Camp.—This I mentioned in my Letter of Yesterday but thought proper to repeat it, being more and more convinced of the necessity. The Camp will be in the neighborhood of Amboy and I shall be glad [if] the Conventions or Committees of Safety of those Governments from whence they come, may be desired to give me previous notice of their Marching that I may form some plan and direct provision to be made for their reception.

The disaffection of the People at that place and others not far off, is exceedingly great, and unless it is checked and overawed, it may become more general and be very alarming. The arrival of the Enemy will encourage it. They or at least a part of ’em are already landed on Staten Island which is quite contiguous and about 4000 were marching about Yesterday, as I have been advised and are leaving no Arts unessayed to gain the Inhabitants to their side, who seem but too favorably disposed.—It is not unlikely that in a little time they may attempt to cross to the Jersey side, and induce many to join ’em, either from motives of Interest or fear, unless there is a force to oppose ’em.1

As we are fully convinced that the Ministerial Army we shall have to oppose this campaign will be Edition: current; Page: [207] great and numerous and well know that the utmost Industry will be used as it already has been, to excite the savages and every body of people to Arms against us whom they can Influence, it certainly behoves us to strain every nerve to counteract their designs:—I would therefore submit it to Congress whether, especially as our scheme for employing the Western Indians does not seem to be attended with any great prospect of success from General Schuyler’s accounts, it may not be advisable to take measures to engage those of the Eastward, the St. Johns’ Nova Scotia, Penobscot &c, in our favor. I have been told that several might be got, perhaps five or six hundred or more, readily to join us if they can. I should immagine it ought to be done. It will prevent our Enemies from securing their friendship, and further they will be of infinite service in annoying and harrassing them should they ever attempt to penetrate the country. Congress will be pleased to consider the measure and if they determine to adopt it, I conceive it will be necessary to authorize and request the General Court of the Massachusetts bay to carry it into execution, their situation and advantages will enable them to negotiate a Treaty and an Alliance better than it can be done by any persons else.1

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I have been honored with your two favors of the 1st Instt. and agreable to the wishes of Congress shall put Monsieur Wiebert in the best place I can to prove his abilities in the Art he professes. I shall send him up immediately to the works erecting towards Kings Bridge under the direction of General Mifflin, whom I shall request to employ him.

I have this moment received a letter from General Greene, an extract from which I have enclosed. The intelligence it contains is of the most important nature, and evinces the necessity of the most spirited and vigorous exertions on our part. The expectation of the fleet under Admiral Howe is certainly the reason the army already come has not begun its hostile operations. When that arrives we may look for the most interesting events, and such as, in all probability, will have considerable weight in the present contest. It behoves us to be prepared in the best manner; and I submit it again to Congress, whether the accounts given by their prisoners do not show the propriety of calling the several Continental regiments from the Massachusetts government, raising the Flying Camp with all possible despatch, and engaging the eastern Indians.

July 5th.—General Mercer arrived here on Tuesday, and, the next morning, was ordered to Paulus Hook to make some arrangements of the militia as Edition: current; Page: [209] they came in, and the best disposition he could to prevent the enemy’s crossing from Staten Island if they should have any such views. The distressed situation of the inhabitants of Elisabethtown and Newark has since induced me, upon their application, to give up all the militia from the Jerseys, except those engaged for six months. I am hopeful they will be able to repel any incursions, that may be attempted. Generals Mercer and Livingston are concerting plans for that purpose. By a letter from the latter last night, I am informed the enemy are throwing up small works at all the passes on the north side of Staten Island, which it is probable they mean to secure.

None of the Connecticut militia is yet arrived; so that the reinforcement we have received is very inconsiderable. A letter from General Schuyler, with sundry enclosures, of which No. 1, 2, & 3 are exact copies, this moment came to hand, and will no doubt claim, as it ought to do, the immediate attention of Congress. The evils, which must inevitably follow a disputed command, are too obvious and alarming to admit a moment’s delay in your decision thereupon1; and, although I do not presume to advise in a matter Edition: current; Page: [210] now of this delicacy, yet as it appears evident, that the northern army has retreated to Crown Point, and mean to act upon the defensive only, I cannot help giving it as my opinion, that one of the major-generals in that quarter would be more usefully employed here, or in the Flying Camp, than there; for it becomes my duty to observe, if another experienced officer is taken from hence in order to command the Flying Camp, that your grand army will be entirely stripped of generals, who have seen service, being in a manner already destitute of such.1 My distress on this account, the appointment of General Whitcomb to the eastern regiments,2 a conviction in my own breast that no troops will be sent to Boston, and the certainty of a number coming to this place, occasioned my postponing, from time to time, the sending of any general officer from hence to the eastward heretofore; and now I shall wait the sentiments of Congress relative to the five regiments in Massachusetts Bay, before I do any thing in this matter.

The Commissary Genl. has been with me this Edition: current; Page: [211] morning concerning the other matter contained in Genl. Schuyler’s Letter respecting the business of that departure.

He has I believe in order to remove difficulties, recalled Mr. Avery but seems to think it necessary in that case that Mr. Livingston should be left to himself as he cannot be responsible for persons not of his own appointment—this matter should also be clearly defined by Congress.—I have already given my Opinion of the necessity of these in matters being under one Genl. direction in so full & clear a manner, that I shall not take up the time of Congress to repeat it in this place.1

George Washington
Washington, George
5 July, 1776
William Livingston
Livingston, William

TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL WILLIAM LIVINGSTON.2

Sir:

Your Favor of the 4th came safely to hand—the Situation of New Jersey is such, and the apprehensions of the Inhabitants so justly excited that I have concluded to discharge the Militia from this Place, except those from Morris County, whose internal situation is such as to leave them nothing to fear from the Enemy. These I have posted in Bergen in Edition: current; Page: [212] Order to prevent any Communication and to give the Enemy Obstruction, in case they should attempt to land in that Quarter which, with the Assistance of the Continental Troops posted there, I hope they will be able effectually to do.

The Remainder of the Militia I have dismissed as I have reason to believe the Enemy is waiting for the European Fleet, and will not make a general attack untill it arrives,—but we have not yet one Man from Connecticut. You will observe I have dismissed the Militia from hence, but have not discharged them, as I am of Opinion a Part of them may be usefully employed in the immediate defence of the Province. In this view they fall properly under your Command, and I would suggest to you the propriety of stationing them in proper Places along the shore opposite to Staten Island, so as to relieve the inhabitants from the apprehensions they are under of being plundered, as well as preventing any communication with the Enemy. There are a Number of People in Amboy who will undoubtedly open a correspondence with them immediately, and endeavor to excite disaffection, thro’ the Province, now they feel themselves under some kind of Protection. If it is practicable in the present situation of things, I am of Opinion those Officers of Government and the notoriously disaffected, there should be removed with all Expedition to less dangerous Places; that the cattle and Sheep and Horses on the shores contiguous to Staten Island should be immediately drove back; the Ferries carefully attended to, and all Boats watched that pass Edition: current; Page: [213] or attempt so to do. The number of Men necessary for these services you will be able to ascertain better than I can, but in such Emergency it is better to exceed than fall short. As to Provision for the Men, I presume while the Militia are employed in the immediate Defence of the Province the Expence at least in the first Instance will fall upon the Colony. How far the Continent will reimburse the Province I cannot determine; but the necessity of some supplies being collected is so evident that I make no doubt the Convention will immediately go into it. In the mean time I should think no person could run any Risque in doing what is immediately necessary under your appointment.

I have been the more induced to dismiss the Militia that the new Levies (or 6 months men) may be forwarded as soon as possible, and I must request your exertions for this purpose, as it is my intention to have them here without a moments delay. Since this Letter was begun, another of your favors came to my hands, informing me that the Enemy have thrown up two small Breast works on the Cause way from the Point.

You also request some experienced Officers to be sent over, which I would gladly comply with, if in my Power, but I have few of that character, and those are so necessarily engaged here that for the present I must refer you to General Mercer, whose Judgment and Experience may be depended on. I have wrote him that I should endeavor to send over an Engineer as soon as possible. From all Accounts Edition: current; Page: [214] we receive I cannot think they have any serious intentions at present beyond making themselves masters of Staten Island, guarding against any Attack from us, and collecting what stock they can. But at the same time it is highly prudent for you to be in the best posture of Defence you can. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 July, 5 o’clock P.M., 1776
New York
William Livingston
Livingston, William

TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL WILLIAM LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Your favor of this date, enclosing Major Duyckinck’s letter, was this moment received. The known disaffection of the people of Amboy, and the treachery of those of Staten Island, who, after the fairest professions, have shown themselves our most inveterate enemies, induced me to give directions, that all persons of known enmity or doubtful character should be removed from places, where they might enter into a correspondence with the enemy, and aid them in their schemes. In this end, General Heard had directions to apprehend such persons, as from their conduct have shown themselves inimical, or whose situations, connexions, or offices gave just cause of suspicion.

I have no knowledge of the persons apprehended; but suppose General Heard had good reason for taking hold of them. However, if there are any, whom, from your personal knowledge and opinion, you think may be permitted to return, I have no objection, and sending the others to Provincial Congress for their disposal. But, as to the former, I would suggest to Edition: current; Page: [215] you, that my tenderness has been often abused, and I have had reason to repent the indulgence shown to them. I would show them all possible humanity and kindness, consistent with our own safety; but matters are now too far advanced to sacrifice any thing to punctilios. I have given direction to forward you a Supply of Ammunition but must beg you to inculcate the utmost frugality & care of it as we have no superfluity. This supply of Cartridges, some loose powder, & Lead—If you have any occasion for Ammunition for Field pieces which the latter will not supply, I will endeavor to assist you, but I would wish you to make no more drafts than are absolutely necessary.

General Mercer has just set off for Jersey. In his experience and judgment you may repose great confidence. He will proceed to Amboy after conferring with you. You will please to keep me constantly informed of the proceedings of the enemy, and be assured of every assistance and attention. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [216]
George Washington
Washington, George
7 July, 1776
New York
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

I have been honored with your favors of the 3d and 4th Instant and return you my sincere thanks for your kind intention to afford me every Assistance in your power at this Truly Critical and Alarming period—The situation of our Affairs calls aloud for the most Vigorous Exertions and nothing else will be sufficient to avert the Impending blow. From four prisoners taken the other day we are Informed that Genl Howe has already about ten Thousand men, being joined by the Regiment from the West Indies and some of the Highland Troops in his passage hither, that he is in daily Expectation of the Arrival of Admiral Howe and that nothing would be attempted till he came, having come from Halifax in Consequence of Advices received a few days before from England, that the Admiral was ready to sail with a fleet of one Hundred and fifty Ships with a large Reinforcement to Join him here. These Armies when United you will readily Conceive will be Extreamly Formidable and such as will Require a large and Numerous one on our part to oppose them—But yet I have been under the Necessity of Informing Col. Silliman that it will be impossible to subsist the Horse of the three Regiments ordered—and if it could be done the Expence would be enormous, and Edition: current; Page: [217] what I do not apprehend I have authority to Assent to. At the same time knowing the Important advantages that may result from their Aid, I have entreated his Exertions to prevail on the Men to come themselves—I hope on the one hand they will see the propriety of my objecting to their Horses and on the other the Necessity there is of coming themselves.1 Edition: current; Page: [218] My anxiety leads me to request a continuance of your Good offices in forwarding the Battalions Ordered with all possible Dispatch. The Interest of America is now in the Ballance and it behoves all attached to her Sacred Cause and the Rights of Humanity to hold forth their Utmost and most speedy Aid. I am convinced nothing will be wanting in your power to Effect.

The Situation of the Northern Army is certainly Distressing but no Relief can be afforded by me—This I am persuaded you will Readily agree to. I should suppose, if proper precautions are taken, the small pox may be prevented from spreading—this was done at Cambridge and I trust will be contrived by Generals Schuyler and Gates, who are well Apprized of fatal Consequences that may Attend its infecting the whole Army1—but a small part of the forces here have had it and were it not the case—neither policy or prudence would allow me to send any more from hence that have seen the least of service—too many have been already Detached; to part with more would be to put all to the Hazard—

The Retreat of the Army from Canada I doubt not will Occasion a General Alarm to the Frontier Inhabitants, and our Enemies without question will Edition: current; Page: [219] use every means they can Suggest to Excite the Savages against them. But I would feign hope their Incursions will be prevented and Repelled without much Difficulty. The first Opportunity I have I will Transmit a Copy of your Letter to Congress upon this subject and Request their attention to it. I am, Sir.1

George Washington
Washington, George
July the 8, 1776
New York
Lund Washington
Washington, Lund

FORGED LETTER.
TO MR. LUND WASHINGTON.

Dear Lund,

We are still going on with all imaginable briskness and success with our works, which, I think are already impregnable. It would really astonish you to see the progress we have made. I do not believe that all history can furnish a precedent of so much being done in so little a time, or in so masterly a manner, where you had so little right to look for consummate skill. If in every thing else, we could but come up to our exertions in these fortifications, I should hardly know how to doubt the judgment of those who think that we may bid defiance to the world. But, I know not how it is, I am diffident of every thing. Whilst almost every body else seem to have persuaded themselves that we have nothing to fear, I alone torment myself with thinking that every thing is against us. Even from these very works which have inspired us with such confidence, I anticipate only misfortune and disgrace. By this time the die is cast, and America is authoritatively declared free and independent; and unless we can be contented to appear ridiculous in the eyes of all the Edition: current; Page: [220] world, we must resolve to support this declaration by a suitable conduct; we must fight our way to freedom and independencey; for in no other way, shall we be permitted to obtain it, farther than words.

A war, therefore, and a most serious one, is now inevitable. Next to good finances, which it is not my promise to provide for, a good army is, doubtless, a main requisite to the carrying on a successful war. And a good army, is by no means secured, as some seem to reckon by securing a large number of men. We want soldiers, and between these, and raw, undisciplined men, there is a wide difference.

The question then is, how are these raw and undisciplined men to be formed into good soldiers? And I am free to give it as my opinion, that so far from contributing to this, will strong holds, fortified posts, and deep intrenchments be found, that they will have a direct contrary effect. To be a soldier, is to be inured to, and familiar with danger; to dare to look your enemy in the face, unsheltered and exposed to their fire, and even when repulsed, to rally again with undiminished spirit. The Indian maxim is, that it is equally your duty to take care of yourself and to annoy your enemy. To a general, this may not be an unusual caution; but I will venture to assert, that whenever a private sentinel allows himself to act on this principle, the odds are, that, in the moment of trial, in his exceeding solicitude not to forget the former, the latter will be but little attended to. Now, what I ask, are all these mighty ditches and breast-works, but so many lessons and admonitions to our men of what prodigious importance it is to take care of themselves? It would be almost worth our while to be defeated, if it were only to train us to stand fire, and to bear a reverse of fortune with a decent magnanimity. If it had not been for this ill-judged humor of fighting from behind a screen, the 19th of April, and 27th of June last year, might have been the happiest days America ever saw. All these things have I, again and again, represented to my masters; I am ashamed to say, to how little purpose. They return me answers and instructions, which, though I cannot refute, have not yet convinced what I would call the feelings of my own mind.

This day week, the enemy’s fleet was first descried off Sandy Hook. They have been employed since then, in debarking their troops on Staten Island, where they are cantoned, as far as I can judge, in a very uncompact and unguarded manner; I cannot exactly ascertain their number, but I have reason to believe, that they fall short of seven thousand. It is more extraordinary still, that I am not able to inform you of the exact number of forces under my Edition: current; Page: [221] own command: I fancy, however, we might bring into the field, at this place, double their number at a minute’s warning; and with this superiority of numbers, making all possible allowances for our other disadvantages, one would hope we might be able to give a good account of them. You, who are sanguine in the extreme, and all impatience, will eagerly ask, why we suffered them to land unmolested, and to remain so ever since. What excellent expeditions your fire-side generals can instantly plan and execute! But you forget that they are posted on an island, and that we have no way of coming at them unless they would lend us their ships and boats, which I have not presumed to ask of them. Aware, however, of the importance of falling on them, whilst there is a chance of doing it with success, and e’er they become a match for us, by reinforcements, which they daily expect, I have formed a scheme, which at least, is plausible, and promises fair to be successful. I have submitted it to Congress, and every moment expect their answer; and if they will but support me with alacrity, and in good earnest, my next, I trust will not be so desponding. I expect to be all ready to put my plan in execution on Tuesday, or at farthest, on Wednesday night; so that probably, at the very moment you are reading this, we may be engaged in a very different service. You will, no doubt, be impatient to hear from me as soon as may be after Wednesday, and I will not disappoint you. Meanwhile I shall not need to tell you, that end how it will, all that I freely chatter to you is to remain a profound secret to every body else.

Doctor, now Brigadier-General Mercer, is here, and is a great comfort to me. Like myself, he wants experience; but he is very shrewd and sensible, and though a Scotsman, is remarkable humane and liberal. I have communicated the whole of my design to him, alone; and am not ashamed to own, that I have received much assistance from him. I know not how it may turn out; but though neither he nor I are very apt to be sanguine, we have both confessed to be so on this occasion. Animated, however, as I feel myself with the near prospect of at length doing something, not unworthy the high rank to which I am raised, I own to you, I take a serious pleasure in it, only as it flatters me with the hope of thereby obtaining a speedier and happier peace. Let us, since war must be our lot, distinguish ourselves as freemen should, in fields of blood, still remembering, however, that we fight not for conquest, but for liberty.

I am with the truest Esteem, Dear Lund, your faithful Friend and Servant,

G. W.
Edition: current; Page: [222]
George Washington
Washington, George
9 July, 1776
New York
Major-General Ward
Major-General Ward

TO MAJOR-GENERAL WARD.

Sir,

The enclosed Declaration will show you, that Congress at length, impelled by necessity, have dissolved the connexion between the American Colonies and Great Britain, and declared them Free and Independent States; and in compliance with their order I am to request, you will cause this Declaration to be immediately proclaimed at the head of the Continental regiments in the Massachusetts Bay. It being evident, from a variety of concurring circumstances, that the British armies mean to direct their most vigorous operations this campaign against the State of New York, to penetrate into it by way of the lakes and the North River, and to unite their attacks, the importance of it has induced Congress to take further measures, for baffling their designs, and rendering it more secure.

You will see by the resolves now transmitted, that the northern army is to be augmented by part of the troops under your command; and I do desire, that you will immediately detach for that purpose three of the fullest regiments forthwith to march to Ticonderoga, or such other place as the said army may be at, and put themselves under the order and directions of the general officer commanding the same.

You will also perceive, that Congress have resolved, that the arms taken in the Scotch transports should be sent here. The President informs me, he has wrote to the agents respecting ’em; but as I presume they are in your possession, or in some of the stores Edition: current; Page: [223] by your order, you will have the whole of them forwarded with all possible despatch, in the usual route and with necessary directions. Congress have made some alteration in the establishment of chaplains, and advanced their pay, as they have that of the regimental surgeons; as you will see by their proceedings, copies of which in their instances are also transmitted.1

You will be particularly attentive to hastening the march of the three regiments, and give proper orders for their route, and to the commissary and quartermasters, that every thing necessary for the same may be immediately provided. Their aid is much wanted, and may be of the utmost importance. When they have marched, you will be pleased to put the remaining regiments under the command of the oldest colonel, with such instructions as you may judge necessary, and then retire, if it shall be agreeable to you, for the recovery of your health, as I cannot possibly request you longer to continue; and, wishing you a speedy restoration of it, I am, Sir, &c.2

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P. S. I would have you consult with proper persons and some of the members of the General Court, respecting the route of the three regiments to be detached to the northern army.

And if they shall be of opinion that they may probably arrive from thence for Albany, I should think that would be more preferable for Two reasons—First it will ease the Troops of much fatigue and 2, they might if there was a necessity for it, afford succor how they passed. I do not mean to give any direction in the matter, nor do I wish this mode to be adopted, unless there appears a probability of their arriving where they are Intended to be sent by Congress as early as if they pursued their march by Land and across the Country.1

George Washington
Washington, George
10 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your two favors of the 4th and 6th instant, which came duly to hand, with their important enclosures.

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I perceive that Congress have been employed in deliberating on measures of the most interesting nature. It is certain, that it is not with us to determine in many instances what consequences will flow from our counsels; but yet it behoves us to adopt such, as, under the smiles of a gracious and all-kind Providence, will be most likely to promote our happiness. I trust the late decisive part they have taken is calculated for that end, and will secure us that freedom and those privileges, which have been and are refused us, contrary to the voice of nature and the British constitution. Agreeably to the request of Congress, I caused the Declaration to be proclaimed before all the army under my immediate command; and have the pleasure to inform them, that the measure seemed to have their most hearty assent; the expressions and behavior, both of officers and men, testifying their warmest approbation of it. I have transmitted a copy to General Ward at Boston, requesting him to have it proclaimed to the Continental troops in that department.1

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It is with great pleasure, that I hear the militia from Maryland, the Delaware government, and Pennsylvania, will be in motion every day to form the Flying Camp. It is of great importance, and should be accomplished with all possible despatch. The readiness and alacrity, with which the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania and the other conferees, have acted, in order to forward the associated militia of Edition: current; Page: [227] that state to the Jerseys for service, till the men to compose the Flying Camp arrive, strongly evidence their regard to the common cause, and that nothing on their part will be wanting to support it. I hope, and I doubt not, that the associated militia, impressed with the expediency of the measure, will immediately carry it into execution, and furnish in this instance a proof of the continuance of that zeal, which has so eminently marked their conduct. I have directed the commissary to make necessary provision for their reception, who will also supply the army for the Flying Camp with rations. A proper officer will be appointed to command it.1

In pursuance of the power given me by Congress, and the advice of my general officers, I have wrote to General Ward, and desired him forthwith to detach three of the fullest regiments from the Massachusetts Bay to join the northern army, esteeming it a matter of the greatest importance to have a sufficient force there to prevent the enemy passing the lake, and making an impression in that quarter.

The Gondolas and Gallies will be of great service and I am hopefull the Carpenters you have sent from Philadelphia and that will go from the Eastward on Edition: current; Page: [228] your application, will be able to build a sufficient number in time to answer every exigency.1

I have requested Governor Cooke if the Duck mentioned in Mr. Green’s Letter is proper for Tents, to have it made up as early as possible and forwarded here. I have also desired him to send the Flints and small arms, as I have Genl Ward those of the latter that were taken out of the Scotch Transports, our deficiency in these necessary articles being still great.

Observing that Congress have particularly Mentioned a bounty of Ten Dollars to be paid to men of some Corps directed to be raised in two or three Instances since their Resolve of the 26 of June, allows such bounty, I have been led to doubt how that Resolve is to be construed, whether it is a general regulation and extends to all men that will engage for three years; for instance the Soldiers of the present Army if they will Inlist for that time.2 If it is and extends to them, it will be necessary to forward a large sum of money many perhaps would engage. I also observe by the Resolve of the 25th June for raising four Regiments of Militia in the Eastern Governments to augment the Troops in the Northern department that the assemblies of those Governments are empowered to appoint paymasters to the said Regiments; this appears to me a regulation of great use and I could wish that it was made General, and one allowed to Edition: current; Page: [229] every Regiment in the service, many advantages would result from it.

The Connecticut militia begin to come in; but from every account the battalions will be very incomplete, owing, they say, to the busy season of the year. That government, lest any inconvenience might result from their militia not being here in time, ordered three regiments of their light-horse to my assistance, part of which have arrived. But, not having the means to support them (and, if it could be done, the expense would be enormous), I have thanked the gentlemen for their zeal, and the attachment they have manifested upon this occasion, and informed them, that I cannot consent to their keeping their horses, at the same time wishing them to stay themselves. I am told that they or part of them mean to do so.

Genl. Mercer is now in the Jerseys for the purpose of receiving and ordering the Militia coming for the Flying Camp, and I have sent over our Chief Engineer to view the Ground within the neighborhood of Amboy and to lay out some necessary works for the Encampment, and such as may be proper at the different passes in Bergen Neck and other place on the Jersey shore, opposite Staten Island, to prevent the Enemy making impressions and committing depredations on the property of the Inhabitants.

The Intelligence we have from a few deserters that have come over to us, and from others, is, that Genl. Howe has between nine and Ten thousand men who are chiefly landed on the Island, posted in different Edition: current; Page: [230] parts and securing the several communications from the Jerseys with small works and Intrenchments to prevent our people from paying ’em a visit. That the Islanders have all Joined them, seem well disposed to favor their cause, and have agreed to take up arms in their behalf. They look for Admiral Howe’s arrival every day with his fleet and a large reinforcement; are in high spirits, and talk confidently of success and carrying all before ’em when he comes. I trust thro divine favor and our own exertions they will be disappointed in their views, and at all events any advantages they may gain will cost them very dear. If our Troops will behave well, which I hope will be the case, having every thing to contend for that Freemen hold dear, they will have to wade thro much blood and slaughter before they can carry any part of our Works, if they carry ’em at all, and at best be in possession of a melancholy and mournfull victory. May the sacredness of our cause Inspire our Soldiery with sentiments of Heroism, and lead ’em to the performance of the noblest exploits with this wish.

I have &c.1
George Washington
Washington, George
11 July, 1776
New York

TO THE GENERAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY.

Gentlemen,

At a crisis like the present, when our enemies are prosecuting a war with unexampled severity, when they have called upon foreign mercenaries, and have excited slaves and savages to arms against us, a regard Edition: current; Page: [231] to our own security and happiness calls upon us to adopt every possible expedient to avert the blow, and prevent the meditated ruin. Impressed with this sentiment, and impelled by necessity, the Congress have been pleased to empower me, as you will perceive by the enclosed copy of their resolve, which I have the honor of transmitting you, to call to our aid so many of the St. John’s, Nova Scotia, and Penobscot Indians, as I might judge necessary. At the same time they have desired, that I should request the assistance of your honorable body in carrying their views into execution, and to assure you, that whatever expenses you may necessarily incur in doing it, and as incident to it, they will reimburse. Esteeming their service of such importance, particularly if the enemy should attempt an impression into the interior parts of the country, I must entreat your kind offices upon this occasion, and your friendly exertions immediately to engage, on the best terms you can, five or six hundred men of these tribes, and have them marched with all possible expedition to join the army here.

Having professed a strong inclination to take part with us in the present contest, it is probable they may be engaged for less pay and on better terms, than the Continental troops; but, if they cannot, they must be allowed it. The term of their enlistment should be for two or three years, unless sooner discharged (the right of which should be reserved us), if they will engage for so long a time; if not, for such time as they will agree, and provided it is not too Edition: current; Page: [232] short; and it must be part of the treaty, and enjoined upon them, to bring every man his firelock, if it can be possibly effected. As the services they may render will probably depend on their early and timely arrival, it is unnecessary to suggest to you the necessity of the utmost despatch in the matter. I well know the execution of the work will be attended with some trouble and inconvenience; but a consideration of the benefits, that may arise from employing them, and your zeal for the common cause, I am persuaded, will surmount every obstacle, and apologize for my requisition; especially as it comes recommended and supported by authority of Congress. Since I had the Honor of Addressing you on ye 9th Inst. I have recd. a resolve from Congress for calling ye other small Contl. Regts. from the Massachusetts Bay to join the Army here, a copy of which I have enclosed, & by the advice of my Genl. Officers have wrote Genl. Ward to detach them immediately, the accounts that we have all agreeing that Lord Howe is every day expected with 150 Transports with 15,000 men at least in addition to those already here.1

I have the honor to be, &c.
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George Washington
Washington, George
11 July, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

I received your favors of the 1st and 2d instant, and agreeable to your request transmitted Congress a copy of the former and of its several enclosures. The important subjects referred to ’em have met with their attention, and the letter accompanying this will inform you and General Gates of the result of their deliberations. I hope that harmony and a good agreement will subsist between you, as the most likely means to advance the interest of the cause, you both wish to promote. They have determined the matter between Mr. Trumbull and Mr. Livingston, and decided the right of supplying the northern army, and appointing persons for that purpose, to be in the former.1

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I gave orders immediately on Receipt of your favor for the several Articles you wrote for to be sent you If they could be had—Ball or Buck Shot could not be spared from hence, and I directed a Quantity of lead to be sent you out of which you must attempt to have them made.

I have not heard any thing of the money mentioned By Mr. Duane—I imagine it has not been sent. If any Accident had befallen It, the Matter would have been known ’ere now—

Since my last, General Howe’s fleet from Halifax has arrived, in number about one hundred and thirty sail. His army is between nine and ten thousand, being joined by some of the regiments from the West Indies, and having fallen in with part of the Highland troops in his passage. He has landed his men on Staten Island, which they mean to secure, and is in daily expectation of the arrival of Lord Howe, with one hundred and fifty ships, with a large and powerful reinforcement. This we have from four prisoners, which fell into our hands, and some deserters that an advice Packett arrived at Halifax before they left it, informing that he was ready to Sail when they came from England to join General Howe here, in Consequence of which he came with the present armament. They add that nothing will be attempted till his arrival. Their intelligence I have no doubt is well founded; indeed the enemy’s having done nothing yet affords proof beyond question, that they are waiting for more troops. We are strengthening ourselves as much as possible, and Edition: current; Page: [235] deem their staying out so long a fortunate circumstance, as it not only gives us an opportunity of advancing our works, but of getting some relief from the neighbouring provinces. From every appearance, they mean to make a most vigorous push to subdue us this campaign; and for this purpose to possess themselves of this colony, if possible, as a step leading to it. Our utmost exertions must be used, and I trust, through the favor of divine Providence, they will be disappointed in their views. As having a large Number of Gundolas & Gallies on the lakes will be of Great Importance, Mr. Hancock Informs me in his letter of the 6th Instant that fifty Carpenters were gone from Philadelphia in Order to Build them, & that he had wrote to Govr. Cooke to engage & forward the same Compliment. I am advised by Govr Trumbull in a letter Just Received, that he has procured Two Companies of Twenty five Each who were about to set out. When they arrive they will be able I am in hopes to turn Several of the Stocks in a little time.—

It being evident that an attempt will be made by General Burgoyne to penetrate and make an impression into the colonies by way of the lakes, unless there is a sufficient force to oppose him, I have exercised a discretionary power, with which I was honored by Congress, and ordered three of the fullest Continental regiments, that were stationed in the Massachusetts government, to march immediately on receiving my orders to join the northern army. I have directed them to come to Norwich, and there Edition: current; Page: [236] embark for Albany, hoping they will arrive as expeditiously in this way, and with much less fatigue, than if they had pursued their route by land altogether at this hot uncomfortable season. These, with such militia as may be furnished from the several colonies required to provide them, and the troops that were under General Sullivan in Canada, I flatter myself will be able and more than equal to repel any invasion, that may be attempted from that quarter. It will be some time before their aid can be had, having never had the authority of Congress to order ’em until within this week.

You will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, that Congress of late have been deliberating on matters of the utmost importance. Impelled by necessity, and a repetition of injuries no longer sufferable, without the most distant prospect of relief, they have asserted the claims of the colonies to the rights of humanity, absolved them from all allegiance to the British crown, and declared them Free and Independent States. In obedience to their order, the same must be proclaimed throughout the northern army.

I am, dear Sir, &c.

A prisoner taken yesterday belonging to the 10 Regiment, informs that Admiral Howe is hourly expected—he adds that a vessel has arrived from his fleet.—1

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George Washington
Washington, George
11 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir:

I was honored with your favor of the 8th Instant by yesterday morning’s post with the several Resolves to which you referred my attention.—I shall duly regard them, and attempt their execution as far as I am able.

By virtue of the discretionary power that Congress were pleased to vest me with, and by advice of such of my General Officers as I have had an opportunity of consulting, I have ordered the Two remaining Continental Regiments in the Massachusetts bay to march immediately for the defence of this place, in full confidence that nothing hostile will be attempted against that State in the present Campaign.

I have wrote to the General Court of Massachusetts bay, and transmitted a copy of the resolve for employing the Eastern Indians; entreating their good offices in this Instance, and their exertions to have them forthwith engaged and marched to join this Army. I have desired Five or Six hundred of them to be Inlisted for two or three years, if they will consent to it, subject to an earlier discharge if it shall be thought necessary and upon the same Edition: current; Page: [238] Terms of the Continental Troops, if better cannot be had, tho’ I am hopefull they may.

In my letter of yesterday, I mentioned the arrival of part of the Connecticut light-horse to assist in the defence of this place, and my objection to their horses being kept. Four or five hundred of them are now come in; and, in justice to their zeal and laudable attachment to the cause of their country, I am to inform you, they have consented to stay as long as occasion may require, though they should be at the expense of maintaining their horses themselves. They have pastured them out about the neighborhood of Kingsbridge, being unwilling to send them away, at the rate of half a dollar per week each, meaning to leave it entirely with Congress either to allow or refuse it, as they shall judge proper. I promised to make this representation, and thought it my duty; and will only observe, the motives which induced them at first to set out were good and praiseworthy, and were to afford the most speedy and early succor, which they apprehended would be wanted before the militia arrived. Their services may be extremely important, being most of them, if not all, men of reputation and of property.

The subject of the enclosed copy of a letter from Governor Trumbull I beg leave to submit to the consideration of Congress. They will perceive from his representation the disquieting apprehensions, that have seized on the minds of the people since the retreat of the northern army, and how exposed the northern frontiers of New York and New Hampshire are Edition: current; Page: [239] to the ravages and incursions of the Indians. How far it may be expedient to raise the battalion he conceives necessary to prevent the calamities and distresses he points out, they will determine, upon what he has said, and the necessity that may appear to them for the measure.1

What I have done being only meant to lay the matter before them in compliance with his wishes. I have also Inclosed a memorial from the Surgeons mates setting forth the Inadequacy of their payments—their services and maintenance and praying that it may be encreased. I shall observe that they have a long time since complained in this Instance and that some additional allowance may not be unnecessary.

As I am truly sensible the time of Congress is much taken up with a variety of important matters, it is with unwillingness and pain I ever repeat a request after having once made it, or take the liberty of enforcing any opinion of mine after it is once given; but, as the establishing of some office for auditing accounts is a matter of exceeding importance to the public interest, I would beg leave once more to call Edition: current; Page: [240] the attention of Congress to an appointment competent to the purposes. Two motives induce me to urge the matter: first, a conviction of the utility of the measure; secondly, that I may stand exculpated if hereafter it should appear, that money has been improperly expended, and necessaries for the army obtained upon unreasonable terms.

For me, whose time is employed from the hour of my rising till I retire to bed again, to go into an examination of the accounts of such an army as this, with any degree of precision and exactness, without neglecting other matters of equal importance, is utterly impracticable. All that I have been able to do and that, in fact, was doing nothing was, when the commissary, and quartermaster, and director-general of the hospital (for it is to these the great advances are made) applied for warrants, to make them at times produce a general account of their expenditures. But this answers no valuable purpose. It is the minutiæ that must be gone into, the propriety of each charge examined, the vouchers looked into; and, with respect to the commissary-general, his victualling returns and expenditures of provisions should be compared with his purchases; otherwise a person in this department, if he was inclined to be knavish, might purchase large quantities with the public money, and sell one half of it again for private emolument, and yet his accounts upon paper would appear fair, and be supported with vouchers for every charge.

I do not urge this matter from a suspicion of any unfair practices in either of the departments before Edition: current; Page: [241] mentioned; and sorry should I be if this construction was put upon it, having a high opinion of the honor and integrity of these gentlemen. But there should nevertheless be some control, as well upon their discretion as honesty; to which may be added, that accounts become perplexed and confused by long standing, and the errors therein not so discoverable as if they underwent an early revision and examination. I am well apprized, that a treasury office of accounts has been resolved upon, and an auditor-general for settling all public accounts; but, with all deference and submission to the opinion of Congress, these institutions are not calculated to prevent the inconveniences I have mentioned; nor can they be competent to the purposes, circumstanced as they are.1

We have intelligence from a deserter that came to us, that on Wednesday morning the Asia, Chatham and Greyhound men-of-War weighed Anchor and it was said, intended to pass up the North river above the City to prevent the communication with the Jerseys. They did not attempt it, nor does he know what prevented them.2 A prisoner belonging to the Edition: current; Page: [242] 10th Regimt. taken yesterday, informs that they hourly expect Admiral Howe and his Fleet, he adds that a Vessel has arrived from them, and the prevailing opinion is that an Attack will be made immediately on their arrival.

By a letter from Genl. Ward I am informed, that the small-pox has broke out at Boston and Infected some of the Troops—I have wrote him to place the Invalids under an Officer to remain till they are well, and to use every possible precaution to prevent the Troops coming from thence bringing the Infection.

The distresses and calamities we have already suffered by this disorder in one part of our army, I hope will excite his utmost care that they may not be Increased. I have, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
12 July, 1776 half past 8, p. m.
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

The design of this is to inform Congress that about half after three o’clock this evening, two of the enemy’s ships of war, one of forty and the other of twenty guns, with three tenders, weighed anchor in the bay opposite to Staten Island, and, availing themselves of a brisk and favorable breeze, with a flowing tide, ran past our batteries up the North River, without receiving any certain damage that I could perceive, notwithstanding a heavy and incessant cannonade was kept up from our several batteries Edition: current; Page: [243] here, as well as from that at Paulus Hook. They, on their part, returned and continued the fire as they ran by. I despatched an express to Brigadier-General Mifflin, at our encampment towards the upper end of the island, but I have not heard whether they have got by or received any damage.1 The account transmitted by this morning’s post, respecting the arrival of one of the fleet, seems to be confirmed. Several ships have come in to-day; among them one this evening with a St. George’s flag at her foretop-mast head, which we conclude to be Admiral Howe, from the circumstance of the flag, and the several and Edition: current; Page: [244] general salutes that were paid. It is probable they will all arrive in a day or two, and immediately begin their operations.

As it will be extremely necessary that the flying Camp should be well provided with powder and Ball and it may be impracticable to send supplies from hence on account of our hurry and engagements, besides the communication may be uncertain, I must beg the attention of Congress to this matter, and request that they will forward with all possible expedition such a Quantity of Musket powder and Lead, if Balls of different sizes cannot be had, as will be sufficient for the Militia to compose that Camp. By an Express this minute arrived from Genl. Mifflin the Ships have passed his works. I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
13 July, 1776

TO THE SECRET COMMITTEE OF THE CONVENTION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.2

Gentlemen,

A multiplicity of engagements, and a continual pressure of other concerns, has prevented our proceeding in the case of the soldiers confined for seditious Edition: current; Page: [245] and treasonable practices; but, as soon as time will admit, a proper attention will be paid to it. In the mean time, I beg leave to suggest the propriety of the authority of the province taking some steps, with regard to those persons confined by them for the same offences. They certainly are to be deemed the principals, and justice to the inferior agents, while the others pass unnoticed, I observe, only excites compassion and censure. I am very sensible, it is a case full of difficulty and perplexity, and well deserving your most serious deliberation; nor do I entertain a doubt, but the result will be such, as will conduce to the public good. I have, some time ago, mentioned to the body of which you are a committee, the necessity of falling upon some measures to remove from the city and its environs persons of known disaffection and enmity to the cause of America. The safety of the army, the success of every enterprise, and the security of all, depend so much on adopting the most speedy and effectual steps for the purpose, that I beg leave again to repeat it; and do most earnestly entreat you to adopt some plan for this purpose, or give me your assistance so to do as to remove those disquieting and discouraging apprehensions, which pervade the whole army on this subject. A suspicion, that there are many ministerial agents among us, would justly alarm soldiers of more experience and discipline than ours; and I foresee very dangerous Edition: current; Page: [246] consequences, in many respects, if a remedy to the evil is not soon and efficaciously applied.

The removal of the tory prisoners, confined in the gaol of this city, is a matter to which I would solicit your attention. In every view, it appears dangerous and improper. In case of an attack and alarm, there can be no doubt what part they would take, and none can tell what influence they might have. You will, Gentlemen, do me the justice to believe, that nothing but the importance and necessity of the case could induce me thus to urge these matters, in which you have also an immediate and common interest.1 The gentlemen appointed to give passes to persons leaving the city, I am informed, decline acting. Great inconvenience will ensue to the citizens, if this business should be committed to the officers of the army, who, from their ignorance of the inhabitants, as well as other reasons, are wholly improper for the management of it. I should be glad, if your committee will take this matter also into their consideration. I am, Gentlemen, with great respect and regard, your most obedient humble servant.2

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George Washington
Washington, George
14 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

My last of friday evening which I had the honor of addressing you, advised that Two of the Enemies Ships of War and Three Tenders had run above our Batteries here, and the Works at the upper end of the Island. I am now to Inform you, that yesterday forenoon receiving Intelligence from Genl Mifflin that they had past the Taupan Sea and were trying to proceed higher up, by advice of R. R. Livingston Esqr and other Gentn, I despatched expresses to Genl. Clinton of Ulster and the Committee for safety for Dutchess County, to take measures for securing the passes in the Highlands, lest they might have designs of seizing them and have a force concealed for the purpose. I wrote the Evening before to the Edition: current; Page: [248] commanding Officer of the Two Garrison’s there to be vigilant and prepared against any Attempts they or any disaffected persons might make against them and to forward expresses all the way to Albany, that provision and other Vessels might be secured and prevented falling into their hands. The Information given Genl. Mifflin was rather premature as to their having gone past the Sea. A Letter from the Committee of Orange County which came to hand this morning says they were there yesterday and that a Regiment of their Militia was under Arms to prevent their landing and making an Incursion. The messenger who brought it, and to whom it refers for particulars, adds, that a party of them in two or three boats had approached the shore but were forced back, by our people firing at them. Since the manœuvre of friday there have been no other movements in the Fleet.

General Sullivan, in a letter of the 2d instant, informs me of his arrival with the army at Crown Point, where he is fortifying and throwing up works. He adds, that he has secured all the stores except three cannon left at Chamblee, which in part is made up by taking a fine twelve-pounder out of the Lake. The army is sickly, many with the smallpox; and he is apprehensive the militia, ordered to join them, will not escape the infection. An officer, he had sent to reconnoitre, had reported that he saw at St. John’s about a hundred and fifty tents, twenty at St. Roy’s, and fifteen at Chamblee; and works at the first were busily carrying on.

I have Inclosed a General return of the Army here Edition: current; Page: [249] which will shew the whole of our strength. All the detached posts are Inclosed.

A Letter from the Eastward by last nights post to Mr. Hazard, post master in this city, advises “That Two ships had been taken & carried into Cape Ann. One from Antigua consigned to Genl Howe with 439 puncheons of Rum—The other a Jamaica man with 400 Hogsheads of Sugar, 200 puncheons of Rum, 39 Bales of Cotton, pimento, Fustick, &c &c. Each mounted 2 Guns, Six pounders.

About three o’clock this afternoon I was informed, that a flag from Lord Howe was coming up, and waited with two of our whale-boats until directions should be given. I immediately convened such of the general officers as were not upon other duty, who agreed in opinion, that I ought not to receive any letter directed to me as a private gentleman; but if otherwise, and the officer desired to come up to deliver the letter himself, as was suggested, he should come under a safe-conduct. Upon this, I directed Colonel Reed to go down and manage the affair under the above general instruction. On his return he informed me, after the common civilities, the officer acquainted him, that he had a letter from Lord Howe to Mr. Washington, which he showed under a superscription, “To George Washington, Esq.” Colonel Reed replied, there was no such person in the army, and that a letter intended for the General could not be received under such a direction. The officer expressed great concern, said it was a letter rather of a civil than military nature, that Lord Edition: current; Page: [250] Howe regretted he had not arrived sooner, that he (Lord Howe) had great powers. The anxiety to have the letter received was very evident, though the officer disclaimed all knowledge of its contents. However, Colonel Reed’s instructions being positive, they parted. After they had got some distance, the officer with the flag again put about, and asked under what direction Mr. Washington chose to be addressed;1 to which Colonel Reed answered, his station was well known, and that certainly they could be at no loss how to direct to him. The officer said they knew it, and lamented it; and again repeated his wish, that the letter could be received. Colonel Reed told him a proper direction would obviate all difficulties, and that this was no new matter, the subject having been fully discussed in the course of the last year, of which Lord Howe could not be ignorant; upon which they parted.

I would not upon any occasion sacrifice essentials to punctilio; but in this instance, the opinion of others concurring with my own, I deemed it a duty to my country and my appointment, to insist upon that respect, which, in any other than a public view, I would willingly have waived. Nor do I doubt, but, from the supposed nature of the message, and the anxiety expressed, they will either repeat their flag, or fall upon some mode to communicate the import and consequence of it.2

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I have been duly honored with your two Letters, that of the 10th by Mr. Anderson, and the 11th with its Inclosures. I have directed the Quarter Master to provide him with every thing he wants to carry his Scheme into execution. It is an Important one, and I wish it success, but I am doubtfull that it will be better in Theory than practice.1

The passage of the ships of war and tenders up the river is a matter of great importance, and has excited much conjecture and speculation. To me two things have occurred, as leading them to this proceeding; first, a design to seize on the narrow passes on both sides of the river, giving almost the only land communication with Albany, and of consequence with our northern army, for which purpose they might have troops concealed on board, which they deemed competent of themselves, as the defiles are narrow; or that they would be joined by many disaffected persons in that quarter. Others have added a probability of their having a large quantity of arms on board, to be in readiness to put into the hands of the Tories immediately on the arrival of the fleet, or rather at the Edition: current; Page: [252] time they intend to make their attack. The second is, to cut off entirely all intercourse between this place and Albany by water, and the upper country, and to prevent supplies of every kind from going and coming.

These matters are truly alarming, and of such importance, that I have wrote to the Provincial Congress of New York, and recommended to their serious consideration the adoption of every possible expedient to guard against the two first; and have suggested the propriety of their employing the militia, or some part of them, in the counties in which these defiles are, to keep the enemy from possessing them, till further provision can be made; and to write to the several leading persons on our side in that quarter, to be attentive to all the movements of the ships and the disaffected, in order to discover and frustrate whatever pernicious schemes they have in view.1

In respect to the second conjecture of my own, and which seems to be generally adopted, I have the pleasure to inform Congress, that, if their design is to keep the armies from provision, the commissary has told me upon inquiry, that he has forwarded supplies to Albany (now there and above it) sufficient Edition: current; Page: [253] for ten thousand men for four months; that he has a sufficiency here for twenty thousand men for three months, and an abundant quantity secured in different parts of the Jerseys for the Flying Camp, besides having about four thousand barrels of flour in some neighboring part of Connecticut. Upon this head, there is but little occasion for any apprehensions, at least for a considerable time.

I have the honor to be, &c.

P. S. I have sent orders to the commandg officer of the Pennsylvania militia to march to Amboy, as their remaing at Trenton can be of no service.1

George Washington
Washington, George
15th July, 1776
New York
Governor Cooke
Governor Cooke

TO GOVERNOR COOKE.

Dear Sir,

Since my last Two of the Enemies Ships, one of Forty the other twenty Guns, taking advantage of a Strong Wind and Tide pass’d us notwithstanding a warm fire from all our Batteries, they now lie in Taapen Sea, between Twenty and thirty Miles up Hudsons River, where no Batteries from Shore can molest them. Their Views no doubt are to cut off all Communication between this and Albany by Water, which they effectually will do.—If the Gundaloes Row Gallies &c. from Providence and Connecticut were here I should think of making their Station uncomfortable. If possible I must request they may be sent on, as soon as conveniently may be, I have wrote Governor Edition: current; Page: [254] Trumbull requesting the same of him. ’Tis not unreasonable to suppose these ships have a number of Small Arms on Board which are intended to put into the hands of the disaffected on the North River, and in the back parts of this Province when a favorable opportunity may offer for their making use of them against Us. I am sorry to say their numbers by the best information I can get, are great.

We have one large Row Galley compleate, and another which will be ready by the time those arrive from Providence and Connecticut, the whole when collected will be sufficient to Attack the two ships up the River,—if no material alteration between this time and their arrival. The channel they now lie in is so narrow they cannot work their Guns to Advantage—Lord Howe arrived on Fryday last—his fleet cannot be far of. I have the honor, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 July, 1776
New York
Lund Washington
Washington, Lund

FORGED LETTER.
TO LUND WASHINGTON.

Dear Lund,

Last Friday, the British fleet was seen off Staten-Island; they have since been employed, uninterrupted by us, in debarking their men, stores, &c. And as they must now, I should imagine, be pretty nearly as strong as they expect to be this campaign, no doubt we shall soon hear of their motions, I have reason to believe, their first essay will not be on this, but on Long-Island; where injudiciously I think, we also are, or soon shall be in force, Yet, if we do but act our parts as becomes us, be the issue as it may, we shall at least give them no pleasing earnest of what they have to expect in the course of the War. But there is no relying on any plan that is to be executed by raw men.

You have heard much of the powers with which commissioners were to be invested for the purpose of settling this dispute. Like most other things belonging Edition: current; Page: [255] to it, these too have made a much greater figure in talk, than they do in fact. There are but two commissioners, the two Howes; and their powers are extremely vague and undefined. It is a pity, methinks, that Congress had not had better information on this subject; if they had, it is to be presumed, they would not have precipitated the declaration of independency, so as to preclude all possibility of negotiation. I may venture to whisper in your ear, that this excepted, I firmly believe, that America might have carried every other point: and, certainly, there was a time when this would have been deemed a conquest beyond the warmest wishes of the warmest American. Whether in the present posture of affairs, it still be so, is another question: I can answer only for myself, that I would not even ask so much. Different men will judge differently with respect to this conduct, on the part of Great Britain; I own I am bewildered and puzzled to account for it. After such an astonishing expence as they have been at, and with such fair prospects as they have before them of being soon in a capacity to prescribe their own terms, it certainly is extraordinary to find them condescending to be friends with us, on conditions as mortifying and degrading to them, as they are flattering to us. I can account for it but in one way; I really ascribe it to their magnanimity. It must be an unpleasant contest to the nation: I say the nation; for however expedient it may be for us to have it called a ministerial war, no man who knows anything of the English government, can imagine, that the ministry, could have moved a step in it, if it had not been the sense of the nation. It must, too be a most fruitless, and unprofitable war; since every advantage they can gain, must in fact be a loss, as being gained over themselves. No wonder, therefore, they have been slow and backward to enter into it; no wonder they would be glad to be well rid of it, on almost any terms. I have ever been of this opinion, and it was this persuasion alone that reconciled me to the measure of taking up arms. I see, however, the world around me viewing it in a different light: every concession that is made to us, they attribute to timidity only, and despondency. I own appearances make for this conjecture; and no doubt Congress will give it its sanction.

I have not adopted this opinion, that we might have peace with Great Britain on terms which would once, have been thought most honorable, on slight grounds. Yesterday, a letter was brought to me, making overtures for a negotiation, from Lord Howe. I had expected it; and had my instructions. It was addressed to me, as I had foreseen as in a private character only. On the ground of independency if we chose to maintain it this was not a mere matter Edition: current; Page: [256] of punctilio; it was the critical moment of trial, whether we would assert, or recede from our pretentions. Never did men sit in debate on a question of higher magnitude: and, when they had once determined to declare their country free, I see not why they might not support this their declaration, by this as well as other means. A contrary conduct would certainly have indicated some want of firmness. Yet I confess to you, I felt aukward upon the occasion, the Punctilio seemed, and it could not but seem, to be my own; and as such-it looked, methought, as though I were proud of my titles. Put yourself in my place; and see me, longing as you know I do most earnestly for peace, yet turning my back on a gentleman, whom I had reason to consider as the harbinger of it, only because he asked for Mr. and not, General Washington. How often it is my lot to find it my indispensible duty to act a part contrary to both my own sentiments and inclinations. But, if I mistake not, it is in such instances only, that, properly speaking, we manifest our fortitude and magnanimity.

I shall astonish you, when I inform you, that this first rebuff abated not the ardor of the noble commissioner. His deputy paid us a second visit, and vouchsafed to honor me with the appellation of General. What name will you give to this condescention? I own it hurt me; and has well nigh led me into a train of thinking very different from all my former opinions. The gentleman who brought the message, is a Colonel Patterson, Adjutant-General, and a sensible well informed man. He requested to speak to me alone; and I was glad he did. After the first salutations, he told me the purport of the letter which had been refused; and his errand now was to ask me to point out the most eligible means of opening a negociation, for the purpose of accommodating the unhappy dispute. I replied that I knew of but one way, and that was by application to Congress. He said, the King’s Commissioners would have no objection to treating with the members who composed the Congress, provided only that they came with legal authority from the regular legislatures of their respective countries. I answered, they, doubtless would come with such authority; as, indeed, they could come with no other. I evidently saw his drift in the exception, as he did mine: and so put a stop to all possibility of mistake; he declared it impossible for his masters ever to acknowledge the Congress, as such, a legal, and constitutional body of men, and as it seemed to be rather a punctilio of pride, than of any real importance, he hoped it might be waved. I stared: How, Sir, have you not already acknowledged the powers of Congress, by acknowledging the honorable rank I hold, and which I Edition: current; Page: [257] hold from them, and them only? That said he, was the concession merely of politeness; and made for the purpose only of getting access to me; and he was persuaded, I was too sensible a man to lay any stress on so mere a trifle, I thanked him for his compliment, but assured him, that I meant to lay the most serious stress on it. If he really had that opinion of my understanding which he was pleased then to express, he must have supposed, that though a trifle in itself, it ceased to be so after I had made a point of it.

Words could not have told him more strongly that our resolutions were to assert and maintain our independency. And if the Commissioners of the King of Great Britain found themselves either unable or unwilling to give up this, as a preliminary article, they, and he must pardon me for saying, that I could but think them very idly employed in soliciting an interview with me. On this he prepared to take his leave, first adding, with a degree of sharpness and animation, that I own affected me. Sir, said he, you are pleased to be cavalier with me: I consider you as a well-meaning—I wish I could say, well-informed man; yet, I am mistaken, if your head, as well as your heart, would not, at this moment, dictate a very different language. There may be heroism, for ought I know, in desperately resolving to go all lengths with the men with whom you have connected yourself; but it is madness: and you may be thankful if posterity gives no worse name to a man who has no judgment of his own. Wrong, Sir, your judgment no longer. We certainly stooped as low as the proudest wrong-head among you could ask us; but, if you really think as you seem to effect to do, that we have made these overtures either from meanness, from a distrust of our cause, or our ability to make good our just claims you are out in all your reckoning. That the mean and narrow minded leaders of your councils may disseminate such opinions, in your unhappy country, I can easily suppose; but remember Sir, you, and your party, owe some account to the world? and when the world shall come to know your infatuated insolence in this instance before us, as know it they must, think how you will excuse yourselves? I replied with no less warmth, nor I trust, dignity. I was, indeed, stung: for after once having owned me as a General, you must confess there was something singularly contemptuous in presuming thus to school me. A few personal civilities put an end to the conference.

I have transmitted a faithful account of it to Congress; but as I can hardly suppose, they will judge it expedient to make it public, I thought I owed to you, not wholly to disappoint your curiosity. You will not, therefore, need me to caution you to be secret, as well on this as on other things, which I write to you.

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One thing more I must not omit to mention to you. In my conference with Colonel Patterson, I thought I could discover that it was intended I should be impressed with a persuasion that the Commissioners thought not unfavorably of our pretensions, as urged in the beginning of the dispute. This is to be accounted for. They are Whigs; and if I am rightly informed, the General owes his seat in Parliament to the interests of the dissenters. But why approve of our first pretensions only? Surely if we were then right, we are not now wrong; I mean as to what we have a right to, by the principles of the constitution; the expediency of our measures is now out of question. I cannot dissociate the ideas between our having a right of resistance in the case of taxation, and the same right in the case of legislating for us. You know I am no deep casuist in political speculations, but having happily been brought up in revolution principles, I thought I trod surely when I traced the footsteps of those venerable men. Wonderful! These too are the principles of our opponents; so that all our misfortune and fault is the having put in practice the very tenets which they profess to embrace.

But I shall exhaust your patience; which I should not do, foreseeing as I do, that I shall, hereafter, have occasion to put it to the trial.

I am with the truest regard,
Dear Lund, Yours, &c,
G. W.
George Washington
Washington, George
15 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

This will be handed to you by Mr. Griffin,1 who has also taken upon him the charge and delivery of two packets containing sundry letters, which were sent to Amboy yesterday by a flag, and forwarded to me to-day by General Mercer. The letter addressed to Governor Franklin came open to my hands.2

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I was this morning honored with yours of the 13th instant, with its important and necessary enclosures; and, in obedience to the commands of Congress, I have transmitted to General Howe the resolves intended for him. Those for General Burgoyne I enclosed and sent to General Schuyler, with directions immediately to forward to him.

The inhuman treatment of the whole, and murder of part, of our people, after their surrender and capitulation, was certainly a flagrant violation of that faith, which ought to be held sacred by all civilized nations, and founded in the most savage barbarity. It highly deserved the severest reprobation; and I trust the spirited measures Congress have adopted upon the occasion will prevent the like in future; but if they should not, and the claims of humanity are disregarded, justice and policy will require recourse to be had to the law of retaliation, however abhorrent and disagreeable to our natures in cases of torture and capital punishments. I have, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
17 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was this morning honored with yours of the 15th Instt. with sundry resolves. I perceive the measures Congress have taken to expedite the raising of the Flying Camp and providing it with articles of the greatest use. You will see by a post script to my Letter of the 14th I had wrote to the Commanding Officer of the Pensylvania Militia, ordering them to be marched from Trenton to Amboy, as their remaining there could not answer the least public good. For having consulted with sundry Gentn I was Informed, if the Enemy mean to direct their views towards Pensylvania or penetrate the Jerseys, their Route will be from near Amboy and either by way of Edition: current; Page: [261] Brunswic or Bound Brook. The lower road from South Amboy being thro’ a Woody sandy country. Besides they will then be able to throw in succor here, & to receive it from hence in cases of emergency.

The Connecticut light-horse, mentioned in my letter of the 11th, notwithstanding their then promise to continue here for the defence of this place, are now discharged, and about to return home, having peremptorily refused all kind of fatigue duty, or even to mount guard, claiming an exemption as troopers. Though their assistance is much needed, and might be of essential service in case of an attack, yet I judged it advisable, on their application and claim of such indulgences, to discharge them; as granting them would set an example to others, and might produce many ill consequences.

The number of men Included in the last return by this, is lessend about 500.

I last night received a Letter from Genl Schuyler with several Inclosures, Copies of which I have herewith transmitted. They will give Congress every Information I have respecting our Northern Army, and the situation of our affairs in that Quarter to which I beg leave to refer their attention. I cannot but express surprize at the scarcity of provisions which Genl Schuyler mentions, after what the Commissary assured me & which formed a part of my Letter of the 14th he still assures of the same. This is a distressing circumstance as every article of provision and every thing necessary for that Department can have no other now than a Land conveyance, the Water Edition: current; Page: [262] communication from hence to Albany being entirely cut off. Congress will please to consider the Inclosure No. 6 about raising Six Companies out of the Inhabitants about the Lakes to prevent the Incursions of the Indians. The Genl Officers in their Minutes of Council have determined it a matter of much Importance, and their attention to the price of Goods furnished the soldiery may be extremely necessary, they have complained much upon this head.

The retreat from Crown Point seems to be considered in opposite views by the general and field officers. The former, I am satisfied, have weighed the matter well; and yet the reasons assigned by the latter against it appear strong and forcible. I hope whatever is done will be for the best.

I was apprehensive the appointment of General Gates over General Sullivan would give the latter disgust. His letter, which I transmitted to Congress, seemed to warrant the suspicion. He is not arrived yet; when he does, I shall try to settle the affair with him and prevail on him to continue, as I think his resignation will take from the service a useful and good officer.1

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By a letter from the Committee of Orange County received this morning the Men-of-War & Tenders were yesterday at Haverstraw Bay about Forty miles above this. A number of men in four Barges from the Tenders attempted to land with a view they suppose, of taking some sheep & Cattle that had been previously removed. A small number of Militia that was collected, obliged ’em to retreat without their doing any damage with their Cannon, they were sounding the Water up towards the Highlands, by which it is probable they will attempt to pass with part of the Fleet if possible.

Yesterday evening a flag came from General Howe with a letter addressed to “George Washington, Esq., &c., &c., &c.” It was not received, on the same principle that the one from Lord Howe was refused.2 I have the honor to be, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
16th July, 1776
New York
Lund Washington
Washington, Lund

FORGED LETTER.
TO LUND WASHINGTON.

Dear Lund.

How cruelly are all my hopes in one sad moment blasted and destroyed! I am positively ordered to wait for the enemy in our lines; and lest I should be mad enough not to obey their mandates, not a single tittle of any thing I had Edition: current; Page: [265] asked for, is granted. Thus has a second opportunity of rendering my country an essential service, in the way of my profession, been unwisely, and in the most mortifying manner denied me. I profess, I hardly know how to bear it: having to regret not only, that two opportunities, such as may never again occur, have been suffered to pass by us unimproved, but that none can happen, we can improve. Managed as matters are, we neither are, nor ever shall be, a military people; and yet, in the train in which things are now put, unless we are, it were idiotism to hope for either freedom or independence.

I remember well, in a conversation I once had with a friend, now, most unjustly as unwisely, driven from his friends and his home, on the subject of monarchies and republics, he objected to the unavoidable slowness and dilatoriness of the executive power in the latter. Aiming to answer him in his own way, I replied that, if popular councils were slow, they yet were sure, and that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. His answer was prophetical. If ever (he said) we of these countries should rashly put these things to the proof it would be found, that, however true this adage might be in the cabinet, it was not so in the field. Convinced, by melancholy experience, that this is the case, and, that without some different system, we shall but expose ourselves to contempt and ruin, I resolve this evening honestly & openly to say so to the Congress. I will go farther, and add, that if they cannot in fact, as well as in appearance, trust me with the uncontrouled command of their army, I will no longer be their puppet. Why should I? it being now morally certain that by going on as we have hitherto done, I can neither bring honor nor profit to them; and yet am sure to lose all the little of either which I have or might have, possessed.

I want words to express to you what I have felt, and still do feel on this disappointment of all my hopes: I had allowed myself to build too much on my scheme; and I seem to be in the situation of one who should be allowed to rise, on purpose only to be thrown down. The enemy, in the midst of all our blusterings, must despise us; and did not shame or some better principle restrain them, I should be but little surprized to find General Howe, even with his present little handful attacking us; yes, attacking us in our entrenchments—What shall I do? to retreat is to entail on myself the curses of every public man in my country; and to go on is certain ruin and disgrace. Were the world to know only my true history on this trying occasion, I persuade myself, all the candid and considerate in it would acquit me of blame. But this the world can know only by my resolving to tell a tale, which, considering the rank Edition: current; Page: [266] I now hold in it, must involve my country in such internal broils and quarrels, as must be fatal to the glorious cause in which we have embarked. And this, I trust, I shall have the virtue never to do, be my private wrongs and sufferings ever so great.

I have finished my letter to the Congress, to whom I have, at length, spoken in a more peremptory tone, than, I fancy, they have been used to. It was absolutely necessary; and I should ill deserve their confidence, if through any mistaken complaisance or diffidence, I hesitated to point out to them the mischievous consequences of their interference. I have also insisted on precise instructions in what manner I am to conduct myself towards the British commissioners, if peradventure, as is possible, their overtures should be made through me. Their answer will have a great influence on all my future measures; as I shall then know, (and surely it is time I should) on what ground I stand. The very decided and adventurous measure, which Congress itself has just taken is big with the most important consequences, not only to the community at large, but to every man in it. The temper and judgment which they shall now manifest, on their first avowed assumption of the reins of government, will be indicative of what we may hereafter expect. Hoping for the best, I yet will watch them most carefully.

’Tis all fearful expectation! Every man I see seems to be employed in preparing himself for the momentous rencontre, which every man persuades himself must shortly come on. There is an ostensible eagerness and impetuosity amongst us, I could willingly have excused: I should have been better pleased with that steady composure which distinguishes veterans. One thing is in our favor, the passions of our soldiery are seldom suffered to subside; being constantly agitated by some strange rumor or other. Happen what will, it can hardly be more extraordinary, than some one or other is perpetually presaging. And, we have already performed such feats of valor whilst we have no enemies to engage but such as our own imaginations manufacture for us, that I cannot but hope we shall do well, merely because no one ever seems to entertain a suspicion that we shall not. I can as yet give no guess, where or when they will approach us: I conclude, however, that they will hardly stir, till they are joined by all the men they expect. Desponding as I am, I wish they were arrived, and that, at this moment they were in a condition to attack us: They may gain by procrastination, but we are sure to lose.

I wrote to Mrs. Washington, lately, and shall again in a week or two, if I do not hear of her, ere that in Philadelphia. It has surprized me, that after Edition: current; Page: [267] what I wrote she should hesitate. I beg of you, if she be still fearful, to second my persuasions by every means in your power. Exposed as she must be to so many interviews with people in the army, all of whom are in the way of the small-pox, I have the most dreadful apprehensions on her account. I know not well how the notion came into my head, but it is certain, I have, for several days, persuaded myself that she is already inoculated, and that out of tenderness and delicacy, she forbears to inform me of it, till she can also inform me she is out of danger.

I note sundry particulars in your letter, to which I am not solicitous to give you answers. Why, when you have so often asked me in vain, will you press me for Congress-secrets? Whatever your or my private sentiments or wishes may be, it is sufficient for us that we know the highest authority in our country has declared it free and independent. All that is left for us to do is, so far as we can, to support this declaration, without too curiously enquiring into either its wisdom or its justice. I firmly believe, that the advocates for this measure, meant well; and I pay them but an ordinary compliment in thinking that they were fitter to determine on a point of this sort, than either you or I are. At any rate, the world must allow it to be a spirited measure; and all I have to wish for is, that we may support it with a suitable spirit.

I am, my Dear Lund,
Yours most affectionately,
G. W.
George Washington
Washington, George
17 July, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

Yesterday evening I was favored with your of the 12th Instt. with its Several Inclosures.

As to the propriety or impropriety of giving up Crown Point, and vacating that post, it is impossible for me to determine. My ignorance of the country, my unacquaintance with its situation, and a variety of circumstances, will not permit me to pronounce any certain opinion upon the subject, or to declare whether it might or could not be maintained against Edition: current; Page: [268] the enemy. I doubt not, that the measure was duly weighed by the general officers in council, and seemed to them best calculated to secure the colonies and prevent the enemy from penetrating into them. However, I cannot but observe,—though I do not mean to encourage in the smallest degree, or to give the least sanction to inferior officers, to set up their opinions against the proceedings and councils of their superiors, knowing the dangerous tendency of such a practice,—that the reasons assigned by the officers in their remonstrance appear to me forcible and of great weight. They coincide with my own ideas. I have ever understood Crown Point to be an important post, and, from its situation, of the utmost consequence to us, especially if we mean to keep the superiority and mastery of the Lake. If it is abandoned by us, it is natural to suppose the enemy will possess it. If they do, and my judgment does not mislead me, any vessels or galleys we employ upon the Lake will certainly be in their rear, and it will not be in our power to bring them down to Ticonderoga, or the post opposite to it, or from thence to have the least communication with them, or the means of granting them succors or supplies of any kind. Perhaps it is intended to employ the galleys only on the communication between the two posts, that of Crown Point and the one now to be established. How far they would there answer our views I cannot tell. As I said before, I have not a sufficient knowledge of the several posts, or the neighboring country, to form an accurate judgment Edition: current; Page: [269] upon the matter, and of consequence do not design any thing I have said by way of direction, trusting that whatever is best to advance the interest of the important struggle we are engaged in will be done.1

I am extremely sorry to have such unfavorable accounts of the condition of the army. Sickness of itself is sufficiently bad; but when discord and disorder are added, greater misfortunes cannot befall it, except that of a defeat. While they prevail there is but little Hopes of Things succeeding well. I must entreat your attention to these matters, and your exertions to introduce more discipline, and to do away the unhappy pernicious distinctions and jealousies between the troops of different governments. Enjoin this upon the officers, and let them inculcate, and press home to the soldiery, the necessity of order and harmony among them, who are embarked in one common cause, and mutually contending for all that freemen hold dear. I am persuaded, if the officers will but exert themselves, that these animosities and disorders will in a great measure subside; and nothing being more essential to the service, than that it Edition: current; Page: [270] should, I am hopefull nothing on their part will be wanting to effect it.1

The scarcity of provision which you mention, surprises me much. I had hoped, that an ample and competent supply, for a considerable time, was now in Store, nor can I but believe, the most lavish & extravagant Waste has been made of it. Not longer than three or four Days ago, & just after the two Men of War & Tenders passed by, as mentioned in my last, the situation of the northern Army in Respect to this article, occurred to my Mind, & induced an Inquiry after the Commissary about it, being certain the Water communication with Albany would be entirely cut off, & was happy to find from him, that the supplies he had forwarded with such a Proportion of Fresh Meat as could be procured, would be fully sufficient for 10,000 Men for four Months. This I informed Congress of, as a most fortunate Event. To be told now, that there is none, or next to none, is so contrary to what I expected that I am filled with Wonder and Astonishment. I have informed the Commissary of it, who is equally surprised, & must request, as our Navigation is so circumstanced that you will direct those whose Business it is, to use every possible Means, to provide such supplies as may be necessary, & that proper attention be paid to the Expenditure, or it will be impossible ever to subsist that Army.

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As to intrenching Tools, I have from Time to Time forwarded all that can possibly be spared.

I have directed the Quarter Master, to send such Things contained in your List, as can be had & may be transported by Land. The greatest Part it would be difficult to procure & if they could be had, it would be attended with immense Trouble & Expence to forward them. I must, therefore, entreat your utmost Diligence and Inquiry to get them, & not only them but every necessary you want wherever they may be had. The Water Intercourse being now at an End, but few supplies can be expected from hence, & I make not the least Doubt, if active proper Persons are employed, in many Instances you will be able to obtain such Articles as you stand in Need of. I am under the necessity of doing so here, and by much Pains and Industry have procured many Necessaries.

As for the Articles wanted for the Gondolas, I should suppose many of them may be purchased of the Proprietors of Crafts about Albany, & of Persons who have vessels there, by allowing them a good Price. The Communication by Water being now stop’d they cannot employ them, & I presume may be prevailed on to part with most of their Tackle for a good Consideration.

I transmitted Congress a copy of your Letter and of its several Inclosures, & recommended to their particular attention, the Resolution No. 6, for raising six companies to guard the Frontiers, & the high Price of Goods furnished the soldiery, & that some Measures might be taken thereon.

There is a Resolve of Congress against officers Edition: current; Page: [272] holding double Commissions, & of long standing, none are allowed it except Adjutants & Quarter Masters. They generally are, also first or second Lieutenants. In this Army there is no Instance of double offices, but in the cases I mention.

The Carpenters from Philadelphia, unfortunately had not Time to get their Tools &c. on Board a Craft here before the Men-of-War got up. They set out by Land next Day, and I suppose will be at Albany in the course of this Week, as also two Companies from Connecticut.

I have enquired of Mr. Hughes, & find that the six Anchors & Cables were on Board Capn. Peter Post’s Vessel belonging to Esopus; who, upon the first appearance of the Fleet coming above the Narrows, went off without taking the necessaries brought by Captain Douw. Mr. Hughes says, Captain Douw who brought you the Lead, had Orders to get them.

I have inclosed you a List of the naval articles the Qr. Master expects to obtain & send from hence, which will evince the Necessity of your Exertions to get the Rest elsewhere. Many of the articles, I should suppose may be made at Albany & within the neighborhood of it.

I am in hopes, in consequence of your application, the different governments will take some steps for apprehending deserters. It is a growing evil, and I wish it may be remedied. From the northern army they have been extremely numerous, and they should most certainly be returned if they can be found. How far the mode suggested by you may answer, the event Edition: current; Page: [273] will show; but I am doubtful whether many will return of themselves.

I fancy a Part of your Letter was omitted to be sent. When you come to speak of Deserters, what I have on the subject begins a new sheet and seems to suppose something preceding about them. After requesting Mr. Hughes to be spoke to about the Anchors, &c., the next page begins “unanimously agreed that I should write &c.”

You will perceive by the enclosed Resolve, Congress mean to raise the Garrison for Presque Isle, &c., in the counties of Westmoreland & Bedford in Pennsylvania. I am, Sir, &c.

P. S. I have this minute spoke to Mr. Trumbull again about Provisions, & pressed his most vigorous Exertions; I believe he is determined to leave nothing undone on his Part, & has already sent off some Persons upon the Business, of which I suppose he will inform you or Mr. Livingston.1

Edition: current; Page: [274]
George Washington
Washington, George
19 July, 1776
New York

TO THE COMMITTEE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK.1

Gentlemen,

I enclose you a copy of a resolution of the Convention of the State of New York, dated the 16th instant, recommending it to all the general and subcommittees, to apprehend and secure all those persons, whose going at large at this critical time, they may deem dangerous to the safety of the State. As this city is hourly threatened with an attack from a powerful enemy, and as there is too much reason to apprehend from their vicinity to this city, and from the number of suspicious characters still in it, that they may receive intelligence, which may counteract all my operations for its defence, I strongly recommend it to you, to remove, for some time, all equivocal and suspicious characters. This appears to me to be the spirit of the resolution of the Provincial Convention; and the propriety of it is founded on the law of self-preservation, and confirmed by the practice of all nations in a state of war.

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I esteem it my duty to add my recommendation to that of the Convention, that if, through an ill-timed lenity, my attempts to secure this province should be baffled, the blame of it may not be imputed to my want of vigilance. I have enclosed a list of persons represented as dangerous. As I can only speak from information, I must rely upon your taking proper steps with them; unless, from your better knowledge, you determine them to be of different characters from that represented. I am, Gentlemen, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
19 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have been duly honored with your favors of the 16th & 17th with the several Resolves they contained, to the execution of which so far as shall be in my power, I will pay proper attention.

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In my Letter of the 17th I transmitted you a Copy of one from Genl Schuyler and of its several Inclosures. I confess the determination of the Council of General Officers on the 7th to retreat from Crown Point surprized me much, and the more I consider it the more striking does the impropriety appear. The reasons assigned against it by the Field Officers in their remonstrance, coincide greatly with my own Ideas, and those of the other General Officers I have had an opportunity of consulting with, and seem to be of considerable weight,—I may add conclusive. I am not so fully acquainted with the Geography of that country and the situation of the different posts as to pronounce a peremptory Judgement upon the matter, but if my ideas are right, the possession of Crown Point is essential to give us the superiority and mastery upon the Lake. That the Enemy will possess it as soon as abandoned by us, there can be no doubt, and if they do, whatever Gallies or force we keep on the Lake, will be unquestionably in their rear. How they are to be supported there, or what succor can be drawn from ’em there, is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps it is only meant, that they shall be employed on the communication between that and Ticonderoga. If this is the case, I fear the views of Congress will not be answered, nor the salutary effects be derived from them that were Intended. I have mentioned my surprize to General Schuyler, and would by the advice of the Generals here have directed, that that post should be maintained, had it not been for two causes; Edition: current; Page: [277] An apprehension that the Works have been destroyed, and that if the Army should be ordered from Ticonderoga or the post opposite to it, where I presume they are, to repossess it, they would have neither one place or another secure and in a defensible state. The other, lest it might encrease the Jealousy and diversity in Opinions which seem already too prevalent in that Army, and establish a precedent for the Inferior Officers to set up their Judgements when ever they would, in opposition to those of their superiors—a matter of great delicacy, and that might lead to fatal consequences, if countenanced; tho’ in the present instance I could wish their reasoning has prevailed. If the Army has not removed, what I have said to General Schuyler may perhaps bring on a reconsideration of the matter and it may not be too late to take measures for maintaining that post but of this I have no hope.

In consequence of the resolve of Congress for three of the Eastern Regiments to reinforce the Northern Army I wrote General Ward and, by advice of my General Officers, directed them to march to Norwich and there to embark for Albany, conceiving that two valuable purposes might result therefrom:—First, that they would sooner Join the Army by pursuing this Route and be saved from distress and fatigue that must attend every long March thro’ the country at this hot uncomfortable season; and secondly, that they might give succor here in case the Enemy should make an Attack about the Time of their passing: But the Enemy having now with Edition: current; Page: [278] their Ships of War and Tenders cut off the water communication from hence to Albany, I have wrote this day and directed them to proceed by Land across the Country. If Congress disapprove the route, or wish to give any orders about them, you will please to certifye me, thereof, that I may take measures accordingly.1

Enclosed I have the honor to transmit you copies of a letter and sundry resolutions, which I received yesterday from the Convention of this State.2 By them you will perceive they have been acting upon matters of great importance, and are exerting themselves in the most vigorous manner to defeat the wicked designs of the enemy, and such disaffected persons as may incline to assist and facilitate their views. In compliance with their request, and on account of the scarcity of money for carrying their salutary views into execution, I have agreed to lend them, out of the small stock now in hand (not more than sixty thousand dollars), twenty thousand dollars, as a part of what they want; which they promise speedily to replace. Had there been money sufficient Edition: current; Page: [279] for paying the whole of our troops and not more, I could not have done it. But as it was otherwise, and by no means proper to pay a part and not the whole, I could not foresee any inconveniences that would attend the loan; on the contrary, that it might contribute in some degree to forward their schemes. I hope my conduct in this instance will not be disapproved.

I enclosed Governor Trumbull a copy of their letter, and of their several resolves by Colonel Broome and Mr. Duer, two members of the Convention, who are going to wait on him; but did not think myself at liberty to urge or request his interest in forming the camp of six thousand men, as the levies, directed by Congress to be furnished the 3d of June for the defence of this place by that government, are but little more than one third come in. At the same time, the proposition I think a good one, if it could be carried into execution. In case the enemy should attempt to effect a landing above Kingsbridge, and to cut off the communication between this city and the country, an army to hang on their rear would distress them exceedingly.

I have the honor to be, &c.1

P. S. The enclosed paper should have been sent before but was omitted thro’ hurry.

P. S. After I had closed my Letter I received one from Genl Ward, a copy of which is herewith Transmitted. I have wrote him to forward the Two Regimts. now at Boston by the most direct road to Edition: current; Page: [280] Ticonderoga, as soon as they are well, with the utmost expedition, & consider their having had the small pox as a fortunate circumstance—When the three arrive which have marched for Norwich, I shall immediately send one of ’em on, if Congress shall judge it expedient, of which you will please to Inform me.1

George Washington
Washington, George
19 July, 1776
New York
Major-General Gates
Major-General Gates

TO MAJOR-GENERAL GATES, TICONDEROGA.

Dear Sir,

I expected ere this to have heard from you; and I will open the correspondence by expressing my exceeding great concern, on account of the determination of your board of general officers to retreat from Crown Point to Ticonderoga, assigning, contrary to the opinion of all your field-officers, for reason, that the former place is not tenable with your present force, or the force expected.

My concern arises from information, and a firm belief, that your relinquishing Crown Point is in its consequence a relinquishment of the Lakes, and all the advantages to be derived therefrom; for it does not admit of a doubt, that the enemy will, if possible, possess themselves of that pass (which is a key to all these colonies), the moment you leave it, and thereby confine your vessels to the narrow part of the Lake in front of that post; or, by having them Edition: current; Page: [281] in the rear of it, cut off all kind of supplies from and all intercourse between your camp and them, securing by this means a free and uninterrupted passage into the three New England governments for invasion thereof.

Nothing but a belief, that you have actually removed the army from Crown Point to Ticonderoga, and demolished the works at the former, and the fear of creating dissensions, and encouraging a spirit of remonstrating against the conduct of superior officers by inferiors, has prevented me, by advice of general officers, from directing the post at Crown Point to be held, till Congress should decide upon the propriety of its evacuation. As the case stands, I can give no order in the matter, lest between two opinions neither of the places are put into such a posture of defence, as to resist an advancing enemy. I must however express my sorrow at the resolution of your council, and wish that it had never happened, as every body who speaks of it also does, and that the measure could yet be changed with propriety.

We have the enemy full in view; but their operations are to be suspended, till the reinforcement (hourly expected) arrives, when I suppose there will soon be pretty warm work. Lord Howe is arrived. He and the General, his brother, are appointed commissioners to dispense pardons to repenting sinners. My compliments to the gentlemen with you of my acquaintance. I am, dear Sir, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
22 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Your favors of the 18th & 19th with which you have been pleased to honor me have been duly received with the Several Resolves alluded to.

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When the letter and declaration, from Lord Howe to Mr. Franklin and the other late governors, come to be published, I should suppose the warmest advocates for dependence on the British crown must be silent, and be convinced beyond all possibility of doubt, that all that has been said about the Commissioners was illusory, and calculated expressly to deceive Edition: current; Page: [284] and put off their guard, not only the good people of our own country, but those of the English nation, that were averse to the proceedings of the King and ministry. Hence we see the cause why a specification of their powers was not given to the mayor and city of London, on their address requesting it. That would have been dangerous, because it would then [have] been manifest, that the line of conduct they were to pursue would be totally variant from that they had industriously propagated, and amused the public with. The uniting the civil and military offices in the same persons, too, must be conclusive to every thinking one, that there is to be but little negotiation of the civil kind.

I have enclosed, for the satisfaction of Congress, the substance of what passed between myself and Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson, adjutant-general, at an interview had yesterday in consequence of a request from General Howe the day before; to which I beg leave to refer them for particulars.1

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Colonel Knox of the train having often mentioned to me the necessity of having a much more numerous body of artillerists, than what there now is, in case Edition: current; Page: [286] the present contest should continue longer, and knowing the deficiency in this instance, and their extreme usefulness, I desired him to commit his ideas upon Edition: current; Page: [287] the subject to writing, in order that I might transmit them to Congress for their consideration. Agreeably to my request, he has done it; and the propriety of his plan is now submitted for their decision. It is certain, that we have no more at this time than are sufficient for the several extensive posts we now have, including the drafts which he speaks of, and which, I presume, not only from what he has informed me, but from the nature of the thing, can never be qualified to render the same service, as if they were regularly appointed and formed into a corps for that particular purpose.

I beg leave to remind Congress, that some time ago I laid before them the proposals of some persons here for forming a company of light-horse; and of the President’s answer, a little time after, intimating that the plan seemed to be approved of. As those, who wanted to make up the troop, are frequently pressing me for an answer, I could wish to be favored with the decision of Congress upon the subject.

By a letter from General Schuyler, of the 14th instant, dated at Albany, he informs me, that, the day before, some desperate designs of the Tories in that quarter had been discovered, the particulars of which he could not divulge, being under an oath of secrecy; however, that such measures had been taken, as to promise a prevention of the intended mischief; and that four of the conspirators, among them a ringleader, were apprehended about one o’clock that morning, not far from the town. What the plot was, or who were concerned in it, is a matter I am ignorant Edition: current; Page: [288] of as yet. With my best regards to Congress, I have the honor to be your and their most obedient servant.

P. S. Congress will please to observe what was proposed respecting the exchange of Mr. Lovell, and signify their pleasure in your next. The last week’s return is also Inclosed.1

George Washington
Washington, George
July 22, 1776
New York
Lund Washington
Washington, Lund

FORGED LETTER.
TO LUND WASHINGTON.

I wish I could say I thoroughly approved of all the new regulations in the new institution of government in my native state. It could, however, hardly have been expected that a reformation so capital and comprehensive should be perfect at first; the wonder is, it is not still more exceptionable. My heart glows with unusual warmth when I advert, as I often do, to that pure and disinterested ardor which must have animated the bulk of my countrymen throughout the whole of this controversy. There may be exceptions amongst us, and no doubt, there are; but it is not fair to infer this from our uncommon impetuosity and violence. This one would wish restrained, but, by no means extirpated; for is it not the effect of a highly agitated spirit; the mere effervescence of good principles thrown into a state of strong fermentation? And, surely, even, precipitency is preferable to the spirit-breaking cautions of chill despondency. Yet I am no advocate, in general, either for rash measures, or rash men; but at such a conjuncture as this, men had need to be stimulated by some more active principle than cool and sober reason. They must be enthusiasts, or they will continue to be slaves.

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I give this in answer to my friend Mr. Carter’s objections to the first procedures of the new government. No doubt, Henry is, in many respects, the unfittest man in the State for Governor of Virginia. He has no property, no learning, but little good sense, and still less virtue or public spirit; but he is the idol of the people; and as it is by their means only that you can hope to effect the grand schemes which you have meditated you must humor them, and indulge them with their rattle. They will soon tire of him; and the opportunity must then be watched gently to lead them to a better choice; for they may be led, though they cannot be driven. And though it be alas! but too true, that they often mistake their real interests, I am of opinion they never mistake them long. Sooner or later, they will judge and act from their settled feelings, and these I take it are generally founded in their settled interests. When great enterprises are to be performed, we may well dispense with some errors in judgment; when without that, we have, in its stead, that which perhaps we could not have with it; I mean, that undisciplined ardor which is infinitely better adapted to our purposes.

There cannot be a more striking instance that the judgment of the people may, in general, be safely trusted, in the long run, than is to be met with in Virginia. Very few countries have to boast of more men of respectable understandings; I know of none that can produce a family, all of them distinguished as clever men, like our Lees. They are all of them the very men one would wish for to take the lead of a willing multitude; for they are certainly men of shining talents, and their talents are of that particular kind which usually render men popular. No men are more so, than the men in question once were. It is obvious, this is no longer the case; and the reason must be that they are no longer worthy of it with all their cleverness, they are selfish in the extreme. The people, at length, found this out; or, no doubt, R. H. Lee would have now been governor, the grand object of all his aims.

You would be mortified to hear the criticisms which are common here on Henry’s inauguration speech. It is, indeed, a poor and pitiful performance; and yet I can believe that set off by his smooth and oily delivery, it would appear clever when he spoke it. Why did he not ask Mr. Page to prepare it for him? There is not a man in America more capable. The Counsellors of State are certainly irreproachable, and will do honor to those who appointed them. I am particularly pleased with the success of my honest brother-in-law Bat Dandridge; and the pleasure is not lessened by the assurance he makes me, that my letters were serviceable to him, there being but Edition: current; Page: [290] few men whom I love more than I do him. As you are soon to go down the country, you will see him; and therefore spare me the trouble of writing particularly to him. My friends must now be be so indulgent to me, as to wave the matter of compliment: I think myself happy, whenever I can write, as I should on urgent business. You know how ticklish my situation is; little as one would think there is to be envied in it, I yet am envied. And though, in all good reason, their fears should take a direct contrary course, there are who are for ever suggesting suspicions and jealousies of the army and its commander. My own heart assures me I mean them no ill: however if I really have the influence and ascendency which they suppose, I will for their sakes as well as my own, hereafter maintain it at some little cost. A thousand considerations determine me to strain every nerve to prevent the army’s being under any other controul whilst I live. Let a persuasion of the necessity of this, if occasion should arise, be seasonably urged in my native state; and in the mean while, let some more than ordinary pains be taken to make me popular. Their own honor and interest are both concerned in my being so. Shew this to Mr. Dandridge; and, as you both can enter into my meaning, even from the most distant hints, I can rest satisfied that you will do every thing I wish you.

We have lately had a general review; and I have much pleasure in informing you, that we made a better appearance, and went through our exercises more like soldiers than I had expected. The Southern states are rash and blamable in the judgment they generally form of their brethren of the four New England states; I do assure you, with all my partiality for my own countrymen, and prejudices against them, I cannot but consider them as the flower of the American Army. They are a strong, vigorous, and hardy people, inured to labor and toil; which our people seldom are. And though our hot and eager spirits may, perhaps, suit better in a sudden and desperate enterprise; yet in the way in which wars are now carried on, you must look for permanent advantages only from that patient and persevering temper, which is the result of a life of labor. The New Englanders are cool, considerate, and sensible; whilst we are all fire and fury: like their climate, they maintain an equal temperature, where as we cannot shine, but we burn. They have a uniformity and stability of character, to which the people of no other states have any pretension; hence they must, and will always preserve their influence in this great Empire. Were it not for the drawbacks and the disadvantages, which the influence of their popular opinions, on the subject of government, Edition: current; Page: [291] have over their army, they soon might, and probably would, give law to it. If General Putnam had the talents of Mr. S. Adams, or Mr. Adams had his, perhaps, even at this moment, this had not been matter of conjecture. But Putnam is a plain, blunt, undesigning old fellow, whose views reach no further than the duties of his profession, he is, indeed, very ignorant; yet, I find him a useful officer; and chiefly because he neither plagues me nor others, with wrangling claims of privileges. I owe him too no small acknowledgments, for the fairness of his accounts. I could open to you some strange scenes in this way. Some people seem to have gotten such a habit of cheating government, that, though sufficiently conscientious in other respects, they really are far less scrupulous in their manner of charging than, I think, becomes them.—But, as I have often told you, General Mercer is the man, on whom these states must rest their hopes. The character that one of his countrymen gave to the Pretender, fits him exactly; “He is the most cautious man I ever saw, not to be a coward; and the bravest not to be rash.” In my judgment, he is not inferior to General Lee, in military knowledge; and in almost every thing else, he is, infinitely, his superior. Yet the overbearing virtues of this last named gentleman are useful to us, especially at our setting out: we wanted not the sober and slow deductions of argument and reason; and Lee, like the author of Common Sense, has talents perfectly formed to dazzle and confound.

I thank you for your care in making the remittances you mention to Messrs. Carey & Co. I sincerely wish they may arrive safe; as I certainly owe it to them, to take every step in my power to make them easy. There is a pleasure in doing as one ought, in little as well as great affairs; but, in my present circumstances, I should often want this pleasure, were it not for your affectionate assiduity, and truly friendly attention. God bless you, my dear friend, for every instance of your care and concern for me.

I am, &c—
G. W.
George Washington
Washington, George
22 July, 1776
New York
John Augustine Washington
Washington, John Augustine

TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.

Dear Brother,

Whether you wrote to me or I to you last, I cannot undertake to say; but as it is some time since a Letter has passed between us, and as I expect every Edition: current; Page: [292] hour to be engaged in too busy a Scene to allow time for writing private Letters, I will take an opportunity by this day’s post to address to you a few lines, giving a brief acct. of the situation of affairs in this Quarter.

To begin, then, we have a powerful Fleet within full view of us, distant about eight miles. We have General Howe’s present army, consisting, by good report, of abt eight or nine thousand men upon Staten Island, covered by their Ships. We have Lord Howe just arrived, (that is about 10 days ago) and we have ships now popping In, which we suppose but do not know, to be part of the Fleet with the expected Reinforcements. When this arrives, if the Report of Deserters, Prisoners, and Tories are to be depended upon, the Enemy’s numbers will amount at least to twenty-five thousand men; ours to about fifteen thousand. More, indeed, are expected, but there is no certainty of their arrival, as Harvest and a thousand other excuses are urged for the Reasons of delay. What kind of opposition we shall be able to make, time only can show. I can only say, that the men appear to be in good spirits, and, if they will stand by me, the place shall not be carried without some loss, notwithstanding we are not yet in such a posture of defence as I could wish.

Two ships, to wit: the Phœnix of forty-four Guns, and Rose of twenty, run by our Batteries on the 12th, exhibiting a proof of what I had long most religiously believed; and that is, that a Vessel, with a brisk wind and strong tide, cannot, unless by a Edition: current; Page: [293] chance shott, be stopped by a Battery, without you could place some obstruction in the Water to impede her motion within reach of your Guns.1 We do not know that these ships received any capital Injury. In their Rigging they were somewhat damaged, and several shot went through their Hulls; but few if any Lives were lost. They now, with three Tenders, which accompanied them, lye up the North or Hudson’s River, abt. forty miles above this place, and have totally cut off all communication, by water, between this city and Albany, and between this army and ours upon the Lakes. They may have had other motives inducing them to run up the River, such as supplying the Tories with arms, etc., etc., but such a vigilant watch has hitherto been kept upon them, that I fancy they have succeeded but indifferently in those respects, notwithstanding this country abounds in disaffected Persons of the most diabolical dispositions and Intentions, as you may have perceived by the several publications in the gazettes, relative to their designs of destroying this army by treachery and Bribery, which was providentially discovered.

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It is the general report of Deserters and Prisoners, and a prevailing opinion here, that no attempt will be made by Genl Howe, till his reinforcement arrives, which, as I said before, is hourly expected. Our situation at present, both in regard to men and other matters, is such as not to make it advisable to attempt any thing against them, surrounded as they are by water and covered with Ships, least a miscarriage should be productive of unhappy and fatal consequences. It is provoking, nevertheless, to have them so near, without being able in their weakness [to give] them any disturbance. [Their ships] that passed us are also saf[ely moored] in a broad part of the river, out [of reach] of shott from either shore.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
24 July, 1776
New York
John Parke Custis
Custis, John Parke

TO JOHN PARKE CUSTIS.

Dear Sir,

I wrote to you two or three posts ago, since which your letter of the tenth instant is come to hand. With respect to the proposed exchange of lands with Colonel Thomas Moore, I have not a competent knowledge of either tract to give an opinion with any degree of precision; but from the situation of Moore’s land, and its contiguity to a large part of your estate, and where you will probably make your residence, I should, were I in your place, be very fond of the exchange; Edition: current; Page: [296] especially, as the land you hold in Hanover is but a small tract, and totally detached from the rest of your estate. What local advantages it may have I know not. These ought to be inquired into, because a valuable mill seat often gives great value to a poor piece of land (as I understand that of yours in Hanover is). I have no doubt myself, but that middling land under a man’s own eye, is more profitable than rich land at a distance, for which reason I should, were I in your place, be for drawing as many of my slaves to the lands in King William and King and Queen as could work on them to advantage, and I should also be for adding to those tracts if it could be done upon reasonable terms.

I am very sorry to hear by your account that General Lewis stands so unfavorably with his officers. I always had a good opinion of him, and should have hoped that he had been possessed of too much good sence to maltreat his officers, and thereby render himself obnoxious to them.

We have a powerful fleet in full view of us,—at the watering-place of Staten Island. General Howe and his army are landed thereon, and it is thought will make no attempt upon this city till his re-enforcements, which are hourly expected, arrive.1 When this happens it is to be presumed that there will be some pretty warm work. Give my love to Nelly, and compliments to Mr. Calvert and family, and Edition: current; Page: [297] to others who may inquire after, dear Sir, your affectionate.

Mrs. Washington is now at Philadelphia, & has thoughts of returning to Virginia, as there is little or no prospect of her being with me any part of this summer. I beg of you to present my Love to my Sister and the children, and compliments to any inquiring friends, and to do me the justice to believe, that I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
25 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Disagreeable as it is to me, and unpleasing as it may be to Congress, to multiply officers, I find myself under the unavoidable necessity of asking an increase of my aids-de-camp. The augmentation of my command, the increase of my correspondence, the orders to give, the instructions to draw, cut out more business than I am able to execute in time with propriety. The business of so many different departments centring with me, and by me to be handed on to Congress for their information, added to the intercourse Edition: current; Page: [298] I am obliged to keep up with the adjacent states, and incidental occurrences, all of which require confidential and not hack writers to execute, renders it impossible, in the present state of things, for my family to discharge the several duties expected of me, with that precision and despatch that I could wish. What will it be, then, when we come into a more active scene, and I am called upon from twenty different places perhaps at the same instant?

Congress will do me the justice to believe, I hope, that it is not my inclination or wish to run the Continent into any unnecessary expense; and those who better know me will not suspect, that show and parade can have any influence on my mind in this instance. A conviction of the necessity of it, for the regular discharge of the trust reposed in me, is the governing motive for the application,1 and as such is submitted to Congress by &c., &c.,2

Edition: current; Page: [299]
George Washington
Washington, George
26 July, 1776
New York
George Clinton
Clinton, General

TO GENERAL GEORGE CLINTON.

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 23d Instant is duly Received and am pleased with your timely notice of your Situation Strength, movements, &c., &c., and think time is not to be lost or expence regarded in getting yourselves in the best posture of Defence not knowing how soon the Enemy may attempt to pass you.

The Fire Rafts you mention are not of the best construction but probably are the best that can be procured with the dispatch necessary—Cables and Anchors I should suppose might easily be procured from the vessels which used to be plying up and down the River—and are now lying Idle;—Salt Petre from the Manufactures in the Country, as neither are to be had in this place,—the necessity of the Case will fully Justify your taking the former wherever to be found, and the safety of the people I should imagine would induce them to assist you to the latter all in their power.

I have sent up Lieut Machin1 to lay out and over-see Edition: current; Page: [300] such Works as shall be tho’t necessary by the Officers there, and from your representation of the Hill, which overlooks the Fort, I think it ought to be taken possession of Immediately.—You who are on the spot must be a better judge than I possibly can, must leave it with you to erect such Works as you, with Col. Clinton and the Engineer may think Necessary,—a proper Abstract or pay Roll should be made out, of the Wages due the Artificers, examined and certified by you or your Bro. when it may be sent here and the Money drawn.—Your method of fixing fires, with advanced Guards, if they are vigilant must answer the purpose you intend—Your dismissing all the New Englandmen to 300 is a step I approve of,—I hope you may continue to prevent the Enemy from obtaining any supplies or Intelligence and from committing any Ravages on the distress’d Peasentry on and about the Shores,—while you are able to keep them in this Situation below the Forts they can do little Damage—by every conveyance I shall like to hear of your Situation and the Enemies manœuvers.

I am Sir wishing you success—

P. S. Since the above the Q. M. Genl. Informs me you may be supplied with Turpentine here, and thinks can get Salt Petre enough for the present Emergency.1

Edition: current; Page: [301]
George Washington
Washington, George
27 July, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was yesterday morning honored, with your favor of the 24th Instt. with Its several Inclosures, to which I shall pay the strictest attention. The confidence Congress are pleased to repose in my Judgement demands my warmest acknowledgements and they may rest assured It shall be invariably employed so far as It shall be in my power, to promote their views and the public weal.

I have Inclosed a Letter received from Major French two days ago, also one from him to his Lady. Congress will perceive thereby what he says and thinks about his parole, and will be pleased to transmit me by the earliest Opportunity the result of their opinion and such orders as they may think necessary to be taken upon It. The Letter for Mrs. French they will please to return me; it was only forwarded to shew his views more explicitly than what that for me does.

Since my last nothing material has occurred—Yesterday Evening report was made that Eight ships were seen in the offing standing towards the Hook. The men of War & Tenders still are up the River, they have never attempted to pass the Highland fortifications and a day or two ago quitted their Station, and fell down the River Eight or Ten Miles—The Edition: current; Page: [302] The vigilance and activity of the Militia opposite where they were, have prevented their Landing and doing much Injury.

I would wish to know whether the Allowance given to officers the 17th of January of One and a third Dollars for every man they Inlist, Congress mean to extend to the officers who Inlist for the New Army for three Years:—At first it may appear wrong or rather exorbitant, supposing that many will be recruited out of the Regiments now in service and under them; but the allowance will be of great use, as It will Interest the officers and call forth their exertions which otherwise would be faint and languid.1 Indeed I am fearfull from the Inquiries I have made that their utmost exertions will not be attended with but little success. It is objected that the bounty of Ten Dollars is too low and argued that If the States furnishing men for five or Six months allow considerably more, why should that be accepted and when the Form of Inlistment is to be for three years. I heartily wish a bounty in Land had been or could be given as was proposed some time agoe. I think It would be attended with salutary consequences.

In consequence of my application to Governor Trumbull, he has sent me two row-galleys; and I expect another from him. None from Governor Cooke are yet come; nor have I heard from him on the subject. One is complete here. The fire-ships Edition: current; Page: [303] are going on under Mr. Anderson’s direction, but rather slowly; and I am preparing some obstructions to the channel nearly opposite the works at the upper end of this island. When all things are ready I intend to try, if it shall seem practicable, to destroy the ships and tenders above, and to employ the galleys, if they can be of advantage. The militia for the Flying Camp come in but slowly. By a return from General Mercer yesterday, they are but little more than three thousand. If they were in, or can be there shortly, and the situation of the enemy remains the same, I would make some effort to annoy them, keeping our posts here well guarded, and not putting too much to hazard, or in any manner to risk. I have the honor, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [304]
George Washington
Washington, George
29 July, 1776
New York

TO THE BOARD OF WAR.

Gentlemen,

At length I have been able to comply with the first part of a resolution of Congress, of the 27th ulto., relative to a return of the vacancies in the several regiments, composing that part of the army under my immediate command. I thought to have made this return much sooner, but the dispersed situation of our troops, the constant duty they are upon, the difficulty of getting returns when this is the case, especially when those returns are to undergo several corrections, and the variety of important occurrences, which have intervened of late to draw attention from this matter, will I hope be admitted as an excuse, and the delay not ascribed to any disinclination in me to comply with the order; as I shall while I have the honor to remain in the service of the United States, obey to the utmost of my power, and to the best of my abilities, all orders of Congress with a scrupulous exactness.

With respect to the latter part of the aforementioned resolution of the 27th of June, I have to observe that I have handed in the names of such persons as the Field officers of the several Regiments & their Brigadiers, have pointed out as proper Edition: current; Page: [305] persons to fill these vacancies. I have neither added to, or diminished ought from their choice, unless the following Special Information which I conceived my indispensible duty to give should occasion any alterations.

For the 20th Regiment then, late Arnold’s, there are two competitors, to wit: Col. Durkee, the present Lieut. Colonel, who has had charge of the Regiment ever since the first establishment of it, and Lieut. Colonel Tyler of Parson’s Regiment.

The pretensions of both, and a State of the case, I have subjoined to the list of vacancies given in by General Spencer. As I have also done in the case of Col. Learned, to another list exhibited by General Heath. If Learned returns to the Regiment the vacancies stand right; If he should not, I presume the Regiment will be given to the Lieut. Colonel William Shepperd who stands next to Tyler in Rank and not second to him in reputation, this change would in its consequences occasion several moves. There is a third matter in which I must be more particular, as it is unnoticed else where, and, that is, the Lieut. Colonel of Wylly’s Regiment. Rufus Putnam acts here as a Chief Engineer, by which means the Regiment is totally deprived of his services, and to remove him from that department, the Public would sustain a capital injury, for altho’ he is not a man of scientific knowledge, he is indefatigable in business and possesses more practicable knowledge in the Art of Engineering than any other we have in this Camp or Army. I would humbly submit it therefore to Edition: current; Page: [306] Congress, whether it might not be best to give him (Putnam) the appointment of Engineer with the pay of Sixty Dollars per month; less than which I do not suppose he would accept; as I have been obliged in order to encourage him to push the business forward in this our extreme hurry, to give him reasons to believe that his Lieutenant Colonel’s pay would be made equal to this sum.

If this appointment should take place then, it makes a vacancy in Wyllys’s Regiment which I understand he is desirous of having filled by Major Henly an Active and spirited officer, now a Brigade Major to General Heath.

I am sorry to take up so much of your time, as the recital of particular cases, and some others, requires, but there is no avoiding it, unless Congress will be pleased to appoint one or more persons, in whom they can confide, to visit this part of this army once a month, inspect into it, and fill up the vacancies, as shall appear proper to them upon the spot. This cannot be attended with any great trouble, nor much expense, as it is only in the part of the army under my immediate direction, that such regulations would be necessary; the officers commanding in other departments having this power, I believe, already given them.1

Edition: current; Page: [307]

I have the honor to enclose a list of the officers of the regiments at this place, and long ago directed the like return to be made from the northern and eastern troops, which I hope is complied with. I also make return of the artillery according to Colonel Knox’s report, and of the ordnance stores &c, agreeably to the commissary’s return.

I come now to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 20th Instant, with several Inclosures relative to a proposal of Mr. Goddard and beg leave to give it as my opinion, that the Introduction of that Gentleman into the Army as Lieut. Colonel would be attended with endless confusion. I have spoke to Colo Parsons who is a very worthy man upon this subject. I have done more—I have shewn him the memorial; in answer to which he says, that in the conversation had between him and Mr. Goddard the latter was told, that unless Lieut. Colonel Tyler was provided for, Major Prentice advanced to a Lieut. Colonelcy in some other Regiment, and his eldest Captain (Chapman) not deprived of his expectation of the Majority, his coming in there would give uneasiness, but nevertheless if it was the pleasure of Congress, to make the appointment, he would Edition: current; Page: [308] do every thing in his power to make it palatible. If all these contingencies were to take place before Mr. Goddard could get into a Regiment he had been paving the way to, what prospect can there be of his getting into any other without spreading Jealousy as he goes?

With respect to the regiment of artificers, I have only to observe, that the forming them into one corps at the time I did, when immediate action was expected, was only intended as a temporary expedient to draw that useful body of near six hundred men into the field, under one head and without confusion. The appointment of officers, therefore, in this instance, was merely nominal, and unattended with expense.

The mode of promotion, whether in a Continental, colonial, or regimental line, being a matter of some consideration and delicacy to determine, I thought it expedient to know the sentiments of the general officers upon the consequences of each, before I offered my own to your board; and have the honor to inform you, that it is their unanimous opinion, as it is also mine, from observations on the temper and local attachments of each corps to the members thereof, that regimental promotions would be much the most pleasing; but this it is thought had better appear in practice, than come announced as a resolution, and that there ought to be exceptions in favor of extraordinary merit on the one hand, and demerit on the other; the first to be rewarded out of the common course of promotion, whilst the other might stand, and sustain no injury. It is a very difficult matter to Edition: current; Page: [309] step out of the regimental line now, without giving much inquietude to the corps in which it happens. Was it then to be declared, as the resolution of Congress, that all promotions should go in this way without some strong qualifying clauses, it would be almost impossible to do it without creating a mutiny. This is the sense of my officers; as also, that the promotions by succession are not meant to extend to non-commissioned officers, further than circumstances of good behavior may direct.

As the Lists of Vacancies are returned in consequence of an order of Congress, and would I doubt not be referred to your Board, I have sent no Duplicates, nor have I wrote to Congress on the subject, but that I may [not] appear inattentive to their commands, I must request the favor of having this Letter or the substance of it laid before them. I have the honor, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
30 July, 1776
New York
Lieutenant-General Howe
Lieutenant-General Howe

TO LIEUTENANT-GENERAL HOWE.

Sir,

Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson, adjutant-general of the army under your command, at the interview between us, having proposed an exchange of Mr. Lovell for Governor Skene, I am authorized to inform you, that the Congress have not only approved of this proposition, but, judging that a general exchange of prisoners will be attended with mutual convenience and pleasure to both parties, have empowered their commanders in each department to negotiate one, in Edition: current; Page: [310] the following manner;—“Continental officers for those of equal rank either in the land or sea service, soldier for soldier, sailor for sailor, and citizen for citizen.” They have also particularly mentioned the exchange of Colonel Ethan Allen for any officer of the same or inferior rank.

You will be pleased to signify the time and place for that of Mr. Lovell and Governor Skene, that I may give direction for the latter to be ready, who is now at Hartford, about one hundred and twenty miles from hence; also to favor me with your sentiments, as well on the proposition respecting Colonel Allen, as on the subject of a general exchange. I have the honor to be, with due respect, Sir, your most obedient servant.1

George Washington
Washington, George
31 July, 1776
New York
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

Your favors of the 14th, 17th, 20th & 24th have been duly received & I am extremely happy to find, that you have discovered and apprehended some of the ringleaders of a dangerous plot, you say was forming in the neighborhood of Albany; nor do I hear with less pleasure of the harmony and good Edition: current; Page: [311] agreement between you and General Gates, knowing how essential they are to the service.

Agreeable to your Request I communicated to Mr. Trumbull that part of your Letter respecting Mr. Livingston’s & your Apprehensions of his resigning in Case any Person should be appointed to act, independently of him in the Business he usually managed. Upon this occasion I must observe, that as Mr. Trumbull has the supreme Direction given him by Congress, of supplying the Northern Army, & is the Person that is accountable if it is not done in a proper Manner, his Appointments should, & must be regarded, or Things in this Instance will never proceed in a regular Channel, and fatal Consequences will otherwise ensue. Mr. Trumbull, I believe, has wrote Mr. Livingston on the subject, & I imagine has mentioned in what Manner he would have him to act & also given necessary Instructions to his Deputies.

It gives me great satisfaction to hear, that taking post at Fort Stanwix has not given umbrage to the Indians; and, also, that those, that were at Philadelphia and this place, have returned with such favorable ideas of our strength and resources to their several nations. From this circumstance I am hopeful that you will be able to engage them in our interest, and, with the assistance of the reward allowed by Congress, to excite their efforts to make prisoners of our enemies. I would have you press the matter strongly in both instances, and though you should not succeed, I flatter myself that you will secure their neutrality. That will be an important point to gain.

Edition: current; Page: [312]

I conceive it will not be only proper, but absolutely necessary, to request General Howe to deliver the officers, who, regardless of their paroles, have escaped from Pennsylvania; and all others, that have acted in the same manner; pointing out the impropriety of such conduct, and the difficulty it lays us under as to the line of treatment to be observed to others. In a conversation with the adjutant-general of the King’s army, I touched upon this subject, and he assured me, all complaints of this nature would be strictly attended to by General Howe, and those who gave rise to them be handled with severity. Lord Howe, too, I am confidently informed, has expressed his great disapprobation of such behavior, and said that those who were guilty of it should be severely noticed, if they came into his hands. Every thinking and sensible person must see the impropriety of it, and the consequences that must attend it. I should suppose the requisition will claim General Burgoyne’s attention and be readily complied with.

The swivels you mention cannot be had; but if the Experiments of a Person who has undertaken to cast some three Pounders, should succeed; perhaps after some Time you may be furnished in part with a Quantity of these. Colo. Knox seems to think they will be far superior to swivels. The Man supposes, after he begins, he will be able to compleat twenty every week.

Neither are there any Hand Granadoes; We have a large number of 4½ Inch Shells, which might be a good substitute. But I do not know how Things of Edition: current; Page: [313] this Sort can be forwarded to you, as the Water Communication with Albany is entirely cut off. The Difficulty will be great if not almost insuperable.

I observe your reasons for quitting Crown Point, and preferring Ticonderoga. My knowledge of the importance of the former was not properly my own; it arose from the information I had from gentlemen and persons, who were, or said they were, well acquainted with it, and the situation of the country about it. Being founded on that, I cannot say any thing myself on the subject. Your representation of it most certainly lessens its consequence in a capital degree. However, I am fearful the observation of the field-officers, “that the New England governments will be thereby exposed to the incursions of our cruel and savage enemies,” will be but too well verified. If that post could not have been maintained, this evil with others greater must have happened.

In Respect to the Privilege you have given the Officers who held double Commissions, to retain which they choose I cannot object. If the Authority giving them was the same, & such as was exercised usually & approved, I see no Cause for it, & suppose the Officers have that Right.

As to Lieut. Colo. Buell’s Case, I cannot give any direction about it, not having Authority to appoint Officers generally.

It is not in my Power to spare you any money from hence. Our Chest is all but empty. Congress would be informed by your Letters of your situation, Edition: current; Page: [314] doubtless. I mentioned it in mine and have suggested as I often have, the Expediency, nay the Necessity of keeping regular supplies.

All the eastward accounts say, that three or four captures have been made lately; among them a provision vessel from Ireland, which of herself came into Boston harbor. In the southern department we have been still more lucky. Sir Peter Parker and his fleet got a severe drubbing in an attack made upon our works on Sullivan’s Island, just by Charleston, in South Carolina; a part of their troops at the same time, attempting to land, were repulsed. The papers I presume have reached you announcing this fortunate event, where you will see the particulars as transmitted by General Lee to Congress. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
2 August, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Your favor of the 30th Ulto. with Its several Inclosures I was honored with by Wednesday’s post.

Congress having been pleased to leave with me the direction of Colonel Ward’s regiment, I have wrote to Governor Trumbull, and requested him to order their march to this place, being fully satisfied that the enemy mean to make their grand push in this quarter, and that the good of the service requires every aid here that can be obtained. I have also wrote Colonel Elmore, and directed him to repair hither with his regiment. When it comes I shall fill up commissions for such officers, as appear with their respective companies. Colonel Holman with a regiment from the Massachusetts state is arrived. Colonel Carey from thence is also here, waiting the arrival of his regiment, which he hourly expects. He adds, when he left New London he heard that the third regiment from the Massachusetts was almost ready, and would soon be in motion.

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The enemy’s force is daily augmenting, and becoming stronger by new arrivals. Yesterday, General Greene reports, that about forty sail, including tenders, came into the Hook. What they are, or what those have brought that have lately got in, I remain uninformed. However, I think it probable they are a part of Admiral Howe’s fleet with the Hessian troops. It is time to look for ’em.1 I have the honor to be, &c.

P. S. I am extremely sorry to inform Congress, our troops are very sickly.2

Edition: current; Page: [317]
George Washington
Washington, George
5 August, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was honored with your favor of the 31st ulto. on Friday with its several Inclosures, and return you my thanks for the agreeable Intelligence you were pleased to communicate of the arrival of one of our ships with such valuable Articles as Arms and Ammunition, also of the capture made by a privateer.

The mode for the exchange of prisoners, resolved on by Congress, is acceded to by General Howe, so far as it comes within his command.1 A copy of my letter and his answer upon the subject I have the Edition: current; Page: [318] honor to enclose you; to which I beg leave to refer Congress.

The enclosed copy of a letter from Colonel Tupper, who had the general command of the galleys here, will inform Congress of the engagement between them and the ships of war up the North River on Saturday evening, and of the damage we sustained. What injury was done to the ships, I cannot ascertain. It is said they were hulled several times by our shot. All accounts agree, that our officers and men, during the whole of the affair, behaved with great spirit and bravery. The damage done to the galleys shows beyond question, that they had a warm time of it. The ships still remain up the river; and, before any thing further can be attempted against them, should it be thought advisable, the galleys must be repaired. I have also transmitted Congress a copy of a letter I received by Saturday’s post from Governor Cooke, to which I refer them for the intelligence it contains. The seizure of our vessels by the Portuguese is, I fear, an event too true. Their dependence upon the British crown for aid against the Spaniards must force them to comply with every thing required of them. I wish the Morris may get safe in with her cargo. As to the ships which Captain Buchlin saw on the 25th ultimo, they are probably arrived, for yesterday twenty-five sail came into the Hook.

By a letter from General Ward of the 29 Ulto. he informs me that two of our Armed Vessels the day before had brought into Marblehead a Ship bound from Hallifax to Staten Island. She had in Edition: current; Page: [319] about 1509£ cost of British Goods, besides a good many belonging to Tories. A Hallifax paper found on board her I have inclosed, as also an account sent me by Mr. Hazard, transmitted him by some of his Friends, as given by the Tories taken in her. Their Intelligence I dare say is true respecting the arrival of part of the Hessian Troops. Genl. Ward in his Letter mentions the day this prize was taken, Capn. Burke in another of our Armed Vessels had an Engagement with a Ship and a Schooner which he thought were Transports, and would have taken them, had it not been for an unlucky accident in having his Quarter deck blown up. Two of his men were killed and several more wounded. The hulks and three chevaux-de-frise, that have been preparing to obstruct the channel, have got up to the place they are intended for, and will be sunk as soon as possible.1 I have transmitted Congress a Genl. Return Edition: current; Page: [320] of the Army in & about this place on the 3d Inst. by which they will perceive the amount of our force.

Before I conclude I would beg leave to remind Congress of the necessity there is of having some major-generals appointed for this army, the duties of which are great, extensive, and impossible to be discharged as they ought, and the good of the service requires, without a competent number of officers of this rank. I mean to write more fully upon the subject; and, as things are drawing fast to an issue, and it is necessary to make every proper disposition and arrangement that we possibly can, I pray that this matter may be taken into consideration, and claim their early attention. I well know what has prevented appointments of this sort for some time past; but the situation of our affairs will not justify longer delays in this instance. By the first opportunity I shall take the liberty of giving you my sentiments more at large upon the propriety & necessity of the measure. I have &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [321]
George Washington
Washington, George
7 August, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

In my letter of the 5th, which I had the honor of addressing you I begged leave to recall the attention of Congress to the absolute necessity there is for appointing more general officers, promising at the same time, by the first opportunity, to give my sentiments more at large upon the subject. Confident I am, that the postponing this measure has not proceeded from motives of frugality, otherwise I should take the liberty of attempting to prove, that we put too much to the hazard by such a saving. I am but too well apprized of the difficulties that occur in the choice. They are, I acknowledge, great; but at the same time it must be allowed, that they are of such a nature as to present themselves whenever the subject is thought of. Time, on the one hand, does not remove them; on the other, delay may be productive of fatal consequences. This army, though Edition: current; Page: [322] far short as yet of the numbers intended by Congress, is by much too unwieldy for the command of any one man, without several major-generals to assist. For it is to be observed, that a brigadier-general at the head of his brigade is no more than a colonel at the head of a regiment, except that he acts upon a larger scale. Officers of more general command are at all times wanted for the good order and government of an army, especially when the army is composed chiefly of raw troops; but in an action they are indispensably necessary. At present there is but one major-general for this whole department and the Flying Camp; whereas, at this place alone, less than three cannot discharge the duties with that regularity they ought to be.

If these major-generals are appointed, as undoubtedly they will, out of the present brigadiers, you will want for this place three brigadiers at least. The northern department will require one, if not two, (as General Thompson is a prisoner, and the Baron Woedtke reported to be dead or in a state not much better,) there being at present only one brigadier-general, Arnold, in all that department. For the eastern governments there ought to be one, or a major-general, to superintend the regiments there, and to prevent impositions that might otherwise be practised. These make the number wanted to be six or seven; and who are to be appointed, Congress can best judge. To make brigadiers of the oldest colonels would be the least exceptionable way; but it is much to be questioned whether by that mode the Edition: current; Page: [323] ablest men would be appointed to office. And I would observe, though the rank of the colonels of the eastern governments was settled at Cambridge last year, it only respected themselves, and is still open as to officers of other governments. To pick a colonel here and a colonel there through the army, according to the opinion entertained of their abilities, would no doubt be the means of making a better choice, and nominating the fittest persons; but then the senior officers would get disgusted, and, more than probable, with their connexions, quit the service. That might prove fatal at this time. To appoint gentlemen as brigadiers, that have not served in this army, in this part of it at least, would not wound any one in particular, but hurt the whole equally, and must be considered in a very discouraging light by every officer of merit. View the matter, therefore, in any point of light you will, there are inconveniences on the one hand, and difficulties on the other, which ought to be avoided. Would they be remedied by appointing the oldest colonels from each state? If this mode should be thought expedient, the enclosed list gives the names of the colonels from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania inclusive, specifying those who rank first, as I am told, in the several colony lists.1

I have transmitted the copy of a Letter from Mr. John Glover setting forth the nature and Grounds of a dispute between him and a Mr. [John] Bradford respecting their agency. Not conceiving myself authorized nor having the smallest Inclination to Interfere Edition: current; Page: [324] in any degree in the matter, it is referred to Congress who will determine and give direction upon it in such manner as they shall judge best. I will only observe that Mr. Glover was recommended to me as a proper person for an agent when we first fitted out armed vessels and was accordingly appointed one, and so far as I know discharged his office with fidelity and Industry.

I received Yesterday Evening a Letter from Genl. Schuyler containing Lt. McMichel’s report who had been sent a Scout to Oswego. A copy of the Report I have inclosed for the information of Congress, lest Genl. Schuyler should have omitted it in his Letter which accompanies this. He was at the German Flatts when he wrote, which was the 2d Instt., and the Treaty with the Indians not begun, nor had the whole expected there arrived; but of these things he will have advised you more fully I make no doubt.

The paymaster informs me he received a supply of money yesterday. It came very seasonably, for the applications and clamors of the Troops had become Incessant and distressing beyond measure. There is now Two months’ pay due ’em. I have the honor, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [325]
George Washington
Washington, George
7 August, 1776
New York
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

By two deserters this day, we have the following intelligence, namely, that General Clinton and Lord Cornwallis, with the whole southern army, have arrived and landed on Staten Island from South Carolina, in number about three or four thousand; that the fleet, which came in a few days since, are the Hessians and Scotch Highlanders, part of twelve thousand, who were left off Newfoundland; in the whole making about thirty thousand men; and that, it is said by the officers of the navy and army, they are to attack New York and Long Island, &c., in the course of a week. The uncommon movements of the fleet this day, together with the above intelligence, convince us, that, in all human probability, there can but a very few days pass, before a general engagement takes place.1 When I consider the weakness of Edition: current; Page: [326] our army by sickness, the great extent of ground we have to defend, and the amazing slowness with which the levies come forward, I think it absolutely necessary that the neighboring militia should be immediately sent to our assistance; and, agreeably to your letter of the 6th of July, I have ordered the colonels with their regiments to march, with all convenient speed, to this place.

The disgrace of the British arms at the southward, and the season being far advanced, will make them exert every nerve against us in this quarter. To trust altogether in the justice of our cause, without our own utmost exertions, would be tempting Providence; and, that you may judge of our situation, I give you the present state of our army.1 By this, you will see, we are to oppose an army of thirty thousand experienced veterans, with about one third the number of raw troops, and these scattered some fifteen miles apart. This will be handed you by Mr. Root. To him I must refer you for further particulars; and have the pleasure to be your Honor’s most obedient servant.2

Edition: current; Page: [327]
George Washington
Washington, George
8 August, 1776
New York

TO THE NEW YORK CONVENTION.

Gentlemen,

I have been favored with your letter of the 6th instant, and am happy to find the nomination I made of General Clinton, in consequence of your request to appoint an officer to the command of the levies on both sides Hudson’s River, has met the approbation of your honorable body. His acquaintance with the country, abilities, and zeal for the cause, are the motives that induced me to make choice of him. Edition: current; Page: [328] However, I am led to conclude, from that part of your letter, which desires me to transmit him his apment, with the resolution subjecting the levies on both sides of the river to his command, that your honorable body entertain ideas of the matter somewhat different from what I do, or ever did.

When I was honored with your letter, of the 16th ulto. with the resolves of the Convention upon this subject, the state of the army under my command would not allow me to send a general officer in the Continental service to command the levies you then proposed to raise, supposing I had been authorized to do it; but considering myself without power in this instance, and the levies altogether of a provincial nature, to be raised by you and subject to your direction, I esteemed the nomination of a general officer over them, entrusted to my choice, a matter of favor and compliment, and as such I gratefully fill it. I am persuaded, that I expressed myself in this manner to the gentlemen, who were pleased to attend me upon the occasion, and that they had the same ideas. Under the influence of this opinion, all I expected was, that an appointment would be made in conformity to my nomination, if there was no objection to the gentleman I proposed, conceiving then, as I do now, that, if he was approved by the Convention, he was their officer, and derived his appointment and authority from them. In this light I presume General Clinton must be viewed, and his powers over the levies you allude to flow from you. Least accident may have mislaid the letter I wrote you on the subject, Edition: current; Page: [329] I have enclosed an extract of it so far as it had relation to it. It is not in my power to send an experienced officer at this time to the post you mention. I trust that Colonel Clinton1 will be equal to the command of both the Highland fortifications. They are under his direction at present.

In respect to the two Commissaries, I thought the matter had been fixed—but as it is not, I have requested Mr. Trumbull, who has the charge of this, to wait upon and agree with the Convention, on proper persons to conduct the business and in such a way that their purchases and his may not clash; to him therefore, I beg leave to refer you upon this subject.

I am extremely obliged by the order for the Telescope, I have obtained it and will try to employ it for the valuable purposes you designed it.

I shall pay proper attention to your members and persons employed in their service and give it in General orders that they be permitted to pass our Guards without Interruption.

Before I conclude, I cannot but express my fears, lest the Enemy’s army so largely augmented should possess themselves of the whole Stock on Long Island; When the further reinforcement arrives, which they hourly expect, they may do it, without a possibility on our part of preventing them.

I wish the Convention may not see cause to regret that they were not removed.

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George Washington
Washington, George
8 August, 1776
New York

TO THE OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION.1

Gentlemen,

I had fully resolved to have paid you a visit in New Jersey, if the movements of the enemy, and some intelligence indicating an early attack, had not induced me to suspend it. Allow me, therefore, to address you in this mode, as fellow citizens and fellow soldiers engaged in the same glorious cause; to represent to you, that the fate of our country depends, in all human probability, on the exertion of a few weeks; that it is of the utmost importance to keep up a respectable force for that time, and there can be no doubt, that success will crown our efforts, if we firmly and resolutely determine to conquer or to die. I have placed so much confidence in the spirit and zeal of the Associated Troops of Pennsylvania, that I cannot persuade myself an impatience to return home, or a less honorable motive will defeat my well-grounded expectation, that they will do their country essential service, at this critical time, when the powers of despotism are all combined against it, and ready to strike their most decisive stroke.

If I could allow myself to doubt your spirit and perseverance, I should represent the ruinous consequences of your leaving the service, by setting before Edition: current; Page: [331] you the discouragement it would give the army, the confusion and shame of our friends, and the still more galling triumph of our enemies. But as I have no such doubts, I shall only thank you for the spirit and ardor you have shown, in so readily marching to meet the enemy, and I am most confident you will crown it by a glorious perseverance. The honor and safety of our bleeding country, and every other motive that can influence the brave and heroic patriot, call loudly upon us, to acquit ourselves with spirit. In short, we must now determine to be enslaved or free. If we make freedom our choice, we must obtain it by the blessing of Heaven on our united and vigorous efforts.

I salute you, Gentlemen, most affectionately, and beg leave to remind you, that liberty, honor, and safety are all at stake; and I trust Providence will smile upon our efforts, and establish us once more, the inhabitants of a free and happy country. I am, Gentlemen, your most humble servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 August, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

By yesterday morning’s post I was honored with your favor of the 2d Instant, with sundry Resolutions of Congress to which I shall pay strict attention. As the proposition for employing the Stockbridge Indians has been approved. I have wrote Mr. Edwards, one of the Commissioners, and who lives among Edition: current; Page: [332] them, requesting him to engage them or such as are willing to enter the service. I have directed him to Indulge them with liberty to Join this, or the Northern Army, or both as their inclination may lead.1 I wish the salutary consequences may result from the regulation respecting seamen taken that Congress have in view. From the nature of this kind of people, and the privileges granted on their entering into our service, I should suppose many of them would do it. We want them much.

I yesterday transmitted the Intelligence I received from the Deserters from the Solebay Man-of-War. The Inclosed Copy of a Letter by last-night’s Post from the Honble. Mr. Bowdoin, with the Information of a Captain Kennedy lately taken corroborating their accounts respecting the Hessian Troops. Indeed his report makes the fleet and Armament to be employed against us, greater than what we have heard they would be; However, there remains no doubt of their being both large and formidable, and such as will require our most vigorous exertions to oppose them. Persuaded of this, and knowing how much Inferior our Numbers are and will be to theirs, when the whole of their troops arrive—of the Important Edition: current; Page: [333] consequences that may and will flow from the appeal that will soon be made, I have wrote to Connecticut and New Jersey for all the succor they can afford, and also to the Convention of this State. What I may receive, and in what time the event must determine. But I would feign hope, the situation, the exigency of our Affairs, will call forth the most strenuous efforts and early assistance of those, who are friends to the cause. I confess there is too much occasion for their exertions. I confidently Trust they will not be withheld.

I have enclosed a copy of a letter from Mr. Bowdoin, respecting the eastern Indians. Congress will thereby perceive, that they profess themselves to be well attached to our interest, and the summary of the measures taken to engage them in our service. I have the treaty at large between the honorable Council of the Massachusetts, on behalf of the United States, with the delegates of the St. John’s and Micmac tribes. The probability of a copy’s being sent already, and its great length, prevent one coming herewith. If Congress have not had it forwarded ’em, I will send a copy by the first opportunity, after notice that it has not been received.

August 9th.—By a report received from General Greene last night, at sunset and a little after about a hundred boats were seen bringing troops from Staten Island to the ships, three of which had fallen down towards the Narrows, having taken in soldiers from thirty of the boats. He adds, that, by the best observations of several officers, there appeared to be Edition: current; Page: [334] a general embarkation. I have wrote to General Mercer for two thousand men from the Flying Camp. Colonel Smallwood’s battalion, as part of them, I expect this forenoon; but where the rest are to come from, I know not, as, by the General’s last return, not more than three or four hundred of the new levies had got in.

In my letter of the 5th I inclosed a Genl. Return of the Army under my immediate command, but I immagine the following state will give Congress a more perfect Idea, tho’ not a more agreeable one, of our situation. For the Several posts on New York, Long and Governor’s Islands and Paulus Hook we have fit for duty 10,514, sick present 3039—sick absent 629—On Command 2946; on Furlow 97—Total 17,225. In addition to those we are only certain of Colo. Smallwood’s Battallion in case of an immediate Attack.—Our posts too are much divided, having waters between many of them, and some distant from others Fifteen miles. These circumstances sufficiently distressing of themselves, are much aggravated by the sickness that prevails thro’ the Army—Every day, more or less are taken down so that the proportion of men that may come in, cannot be considered as a real and serviceable augmentation in the whole. These things are melancholy, but they are never the less true. I hope for better. Under every disadvantage my utmost exertions shall be employed to bring about the great end we have in view, and so far as I can judge from the professions and apparent disposition of my Troops, I shall have their support. Edition: current; Page: [335] The superiority of the Enemy and the expected attack, do not seem to have depressed their spirits. Those considerations lead me to think that tho’ the appeal may not terminate so happily in our favor as I could wish, yet they will not succeed in their views without considerable loss. Any advantage they may get, I trust will cost them dear.

By the Reverend Mr. Madison and a Mr. Johnson, two gentlemen of Virginia, who came from Staten Island yesterday, and where they arrived the day before in the packet with Colonel Guy Johnson, I am informed that nothing material had taken place in England when they left it; that there had been a change in the French ministry, which many people thought foreboded a war; that it seemed to be believed by many, that Congress would attempt to buy off the foreign troops, and that it might be effected without great difficulty. Their accounts from Staten Island nearly corresponded with what we had before. They say that every preparation is making for an attack; that the force now upon the island is about fifteen thousand; that they appear very impatient for the arrival of the foreign troops, but a very small part having got in. Whether they would attempt any thing before they come, they are uncertain; but they are sure they will as soon as they arrive, if not before. They say, from what they could collect from the conversation of officers, &c., they mean to hem us in by getting above us and cutting off all communication with the country. That this is their plan seems to be corroborated and confirmed by the circumstances of Edition: current; Page: [336] some ships of war going out at different times within a few days past, and other vessels. It is probable that a part are to go round and come up the Sound. Mr. Madison says Lord Howe’s powers were not known when he left England; that General Conway moved, before his departure, that they might be laid before the Commons, and had his motion rejected by a large majority. I have the honor to be, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
12 August, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have been duly honored with your favors of the 8th and 10th instant, with their several inclosures. I shall pay attention to the resolution respecting Lieutenant Josiah, and attempt to relieve him from his rigorous usage.1 Your letters to such of the gentlemen as were here have been delivered. The rest will be sent by the first opportunity. Since my last, of the 8th and 9th, the enemy have made no movements of consequence. They remain nearly in the same state; nor have we any further intelligence of Edition: current; Page: [338] their designs. They have not been yet joined by the remainder of the fleet with the Hessian troops. Colonel Smallwood and his battalion got in on Friday; and Colonel Miles is also here, with two battalions more of Pennsylvania riflemen.

The Convention of this State have been exerting themselves to call forth a portion of their militia to an encampment forming above Kingsbridge, to remain in service for the space of one month after their arrival; and also half of those in King and Queen’s counties, to reinforce the troops on Long Island till the 1st of September, unless sooner discharged. General Morris too is to take post with his brigade on the Sound and Hudson’s river for ten days, to annoy the enemy in case they attempt to land; and others of their militia are directed to be in readiness, in case their aid should be required.1 Upon the whole, from the information I have from the Convention, the militia ordered are now in motion, Edition: current; Page: [339] or will be so in a little time, and will amount to about three thousand or more. From Connecticut I am not certain what succors are coming. By one or two gentlemen, who have come from thence, I am told some of the militia were assembling, and, from the intelligence they had, would march this week. By a letter from Governor Trumbull of the 5th I am advised, that the troops from that State, destined for the northern army, had marched for Skenesborough. General Ward too, by a letter of the 4th, informs me that the two regiments would march from Boston last week, having been cleansed and generally recovered from the smallpox. I have also countermanded my orders to Colonel Elmore, and directed him to join the northern army, having heard, after my orders to Connecticut for his marching hither, that he and most of his regiment were at Albany or within its vicinity. General Ward mentions, that the Council of the Massachusetts State will have in from two to three thousand of their militia to defend their lines and different posts, in lieu of the regiments ordered from thence agreeably to the resolution of Congress.

The enclosed copy of a resolve of this State, passed the 10th instant, will discover the apprehension they are under of the defection of the inhabitants of King’s county from the common cause, and of the measures they have taken thereupon. I have directed General Greene to give the Committee such assistance as he can, and they may require, in the execution of their commission; though at the same time I Edition: current; Page: [340] wish the information the Convention have received upon the subject may prove groundless. I would beg leave to mention to Congress, that, in a letter I received from General Lee, he mentions the valuable consequences that would result from a number of cavalry being employed in the southern department. Without them, to use his own expressions, he can answer for nothing; with one thousand, he would ensure the safety of those States. I should have done myself the honor of submitting this matter to Congress before, at his particular request, had it not escaped my mind. From his acquaintance with that country, and the nature of the grounds, I doubt not he has weighed the matter well, and presume he has fully represented the advantages, that would arise from the establishment of such a corps. All I mean is, in compliance with his requisition, to mention the matter, that such consideration may be had upon it, if not already determined, that it may be deserving of.1 . . . I am, &c.2

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George Washington
Washington, George
12 August, 1776
New York

TO THE NEW YORK CONVENTION.

Gentlemen,

As the time is certainly near at hand, and may be hourly expected, which is to decide the fate of this city and the issue of this campaign, I thought it highly improper, that persons of suspected character should remain in places, where their opportunities of doing mischief were much greater, than in the enemy’s camp. I therefore have caused a number of them to be apprehended and removed to some distance; there to remain until this crisis is passed. Having formerly mentioned this subject to your honorable body, I would not again trouble them in a business, which former connexions, obligations, and interests must make very unpleasant, and which, I apprehend, must have been in danger of failing in the execution, unless done with all possible secrecy and despatch. I postponed this most disagreeable duty until the last moment; but the claims of the army upon me, and an application from a number of well affected inhabitants, concurring with my own opinion, obliged me to enter upon it while time and circumstances would admit. I have ordered a very strict attention to be paid to the necessities of the gentlemen apprehended, and to their comfortable accommodation in every respect, both here and at the places of their destination. I have also written to the Committee of Queen’s county, that this step is not to be considered as making their property liable to any injury or appropriation, unless they should receive directions Edition: current; Page: [342] from your honorable body, to whom I have referred them on this subject; being resolved in all cases, where the most absolute necessity does not require it, to confine myself wholly to that line, which shall exclude every idea interfering with the authority of the State.

Some of these gentlemen have expressed doubts, and raised difficulties, from engagements they lay under to your honorable body, or to some committees. They do not appear to me to deserve much attention, as they cannot, with any propriety, be charged with a breach of any parole under their present circumstances; but I beg leave to submit to your consideration the propriety of removing the pretence. I am, Gentlemen, with great respect and regard, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
14 August, 1776
New York
Major-General Gates
Major-General Gates

TO MAJOR-GENERAL GATES.

Dear Sir,

I yesterday morning received your letter by Bennet, the express, and am extremely sorry to find, that the army is still in a sickly and melancholy state. The precaution taken to halt the reinforcements at Skenesborough, Edition: current; Page: [344] which are destined for your succor, is certainly prudent. They should not be exposed or made liable to the calamities already too prevailing, unless in cases of extreme necessity. Dr. Stringer has been here, with Dr. Morgan, and is now at Philadelphia. I trust he will obtain some necessary supplies of medicines, which will enable him, under the smiles of Providence, to relieve your distresses in some degree. By a letter from General Ward, two regiments, Whitcomb’s and Phinny’s, were to march to your aid last week. They have happily had the small-pox, and will not be subject to the fatal consequences attending that disorder. I am glad to hear, that the vessels for the Lakes are going on with such industry. Maintaining the superiority over the water is certainly of infinite importance. I trust neither courage nor activity will be wanting in these, to whom the business is committed. If assigned to General Arnold, none will doubt of his exertions.

In answer to those parts of your letter, which so highly resent the conduct of the general officers here, I would observe, Sir, that you are under a mistake, when you suppose a council of officers had sat upon those, who composed the board at Crown Point. When intelligence was first brought, that the post was evacuated, it spread a general alarm, and occasioned much anxiety, to all who heard it, as it was almost universally believed, that it was a post of the last importance, and the only one to give us, in conjunction with our naval force, a superiority over the Lake, and for preventing the enemy’s penetrating into this and the eastern governments. As this matter Edition: current; Page: [345] was occasionally mentioned, the general officers, some from their own knowledge, and others from the opinion they had formed, expressed themselves to that effect, as did all I heard speak upon the subject. Added to this, the remonstrance of the officers, transmitted by General Schuyler at the same time the account was brought, did not contribute a little to authorize the opinion which was generally entertained. They surely seemed to have some reasons in their support, though it was not meant to give the least encouragement or sanction to proceedings of such a nature. Upon the whole, no event that I have been informed of for a long time, produced a more general chagrin and consternation. But yet there was no council called upon the occasion, nor court of inquiry, nor court-martial, as has been suggested by some. I will not take up more time upon the subject, nor make it a matter of further discussion, not doubting but those, who determined that the post ought to be abandoned, conceived it would promote the interest of the great cause we are engaged in, the others have differed from them. By the by, I wish your description perfectly corresponded with the real circumstances of this army. You will have heard before this comes to hand, most probably of the arrival of Clinton and his army from the southward. They are now at Staten Island, as are the whole or the greatest part of the Hessian and foreign troops. Since Monday, ninety-six ships came in, which we are informed is the last division of Howe’s fleet, which touched at Halifax, and by a deserter are not to land their troops. We are in daily expectation, Edition: current; Page: [346] that they will make their attack, all their movements, and the advices we have, indicating that they are on the point of it. I am, dear Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [347]
George Washington
Washington, George
17 August, 1776
New York

TO THE NEW YORK CONVENTION.

Gentlemen,

When I consider, that the city of New York will in all human probability very soon be the scene of a bloody conflict, I cannot but view the great numbers of women, children, and infirm persons remaining in it, with the most melancholy concern. When the men-of-war passed up the river, the shrieks and cries of these poor creatures running every way with their children, were truly distressing, and I fear they will have an unhappy effect on the ears and minds of our young and inexperienced soldiery. Can no method be devised for their removal? Many doubtless are of ability to remove themselves, but there are others in a different situation. Some provision for them afterwards would also be a necessary consideration. It would relieve me from great anxiety, if your honorable body would immediately deliberate upon it, and form and execute some plan for their removal and relief; in which I will coöperate and assist to the utmost of my power. In the mean time, I have thought it proper to recommend to persons, of the above description, to convey themselves without delay to some place of safety, with their most valuable effects.1 I have the honor to be, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [348]
George Washington
Washington, George
17 August, 1776
New York
Lord Howe
Howe, Lord

TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE LORD HOWE.

My Lord,

Being authorized by Congress, as their commanders in every department are, to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, and presuming, as well from the nature of your Lordship’s command, as the information that General Howe has been pleased to honor me with, that the exchange in the naval line will be subject to your Lordship’s directions, I beg leave to propose the following mode of exchange for your Lordship’s consideration, namely, “Officers for those of equal rank, and sailors for sailors.” If this proposal should be agreeable to your Lordship, I am charged in a particular manner to exchange any officer belonging to the British navy in our hands, and of equal rank, for Edition: current; Page: [349] Lieutenant Josiah, who was lately made prisoner in a ship retaken by the Cerberus frigate. The reason, my Lord, of my being charged to propose the exchange of Lieutenant Josiah, in preference to that of any other officer, is, that authentic intelligence has been received, that, regardless of his rank as an officer, he has not only been subjected to the duties of a common seaman, but has experienced many other marks of indignity.

As a different line of conduct, my Lord, has ever been observed towards the officers of your navy, who have fallen into our hands, it becomes not only a matter of right, but of duty, to mention this to your Lordship, to the end that an inquiry may be made into the case above referred to. From your Lordship’s character for humanity, I am led to presume, that the hardships imposed on Lieutenant Josiah are without either your knowledge or concurrence, and therefore most readily hope, that, upon this representation, your Lordship will enjoin all officers under your command to pay such regard to the treatment of those, who may fall into their hands, as their different ranks and situations require, and such as your Lordship would wish to see continued by us to those, who are already in our power, or who may hereafter, by the chance of war, be subjected to it. I have the honor to be, my Lord, with great respect, your Lordship’s most obedient servant.1

Edition: current; Page: [350]
George Washington
Washington, George
17 August, 1776
New York
Lord Drummond
Drummond, Lord

TO LORD DRUMMOND.1

My Lord,

I have your Lordship’s favor of this day, accompanied by papers on subjects of the greatest moment, and deserving the most deliberate consideration. I can allow much of your Lordship’s well-meant zeal on such an occasion, but I fear it has transported you beyond that attention to your parole, which comprehends the character of a man of strict honor. How your Lordship can reconcile your past or present conduct with your engagement, so as to satisfy your own mind, I must submit to your own feelings; but I find myself under the disagreeable necessity of objecting to the mode of negotiation proposed, while your Lordship’s conduct appears so exceptionable. I shall, by express, forward to Congress your Lordship’s letter and the papers which accompanied it. The result will be communicated as soon as possible. I am sorry to have detained your Lordship so long, but the unavoidable necessity must be my apology. I am, my Lord, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [351]
George Washington
Washington, George
18 August, 1776
New York
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

I have been duly honored with your favor of the 13th instant; and, at the same time that I think you and your honorable Council of Safety highly deserving of the thanks of the States, for the measures you have adopted in order to give the most early and speedy succor to this army, give me leave to return you mine in a particular manner. When the whole Edition: current; Page: [352] of the reinforcements arrive, I flatter myself we shall be competent to every exigency, and, with the smiles of Providence upon our arms and vigorous exertions, we shall baffle the designs of our inveterate foes, formidable as they are. Our situation was truly alarming a little while since; but, by the kind interposition and aid of our friends, it is now much better.

You may rest assured, Sir, that due consideration shall be had to the several militia regiments that have come, and are marching to our assistance, and that Edition: current; Page: [353] they shall be dismissed as soon as circumstances will admit of it. I trust, so long as there is occasion for their services, that the same spirit and commendable zeal, which induced them to come, will induce their continuance. I sincerely wish it were in my power to ascertain the particular period when they would be needed, that they may not be detained one unnecessary moment from their homes and common pursuits. But, as this cannot be done, as the approaching contest and trial between the two armies will, most unquestionably, produce events of the utmost importance to the States, as the issue, if favorable, will put us on such a footing, as to bid defiance to the utmost malice of the British nation, and those in alliance with her, I have not a doubt but they will most readily consent to stay, and cheerfully undergo every present and temporary inconvenience, so long as they are necessary.

I am happy Captain Van Buren has succeeded so well in the business he was upon, it being of great consequence for us to fit out and maintain our vessels on the Lakes.1 On the night of the 16th, two of our fire-vessels attempted to burn the ships of war up the river. One of them boarded the Phœnix of forty-four guns, and was grappled with her for some minutes, but unluckily she cleared herself. The only damage the enemy sustained was the destruction of one tender. It is agreed on all hands, that our people, engaged in this affair, behaved with great resolution Edition: current; Page: [354] and intrepidity. One of the captains, Thomas, it is to be feared, perished in the attempt or in making his escape by swimming, as he has not been heard of. His bravery entitled him to a better fate. Though this enterprise did not succeed to our wishes, I incline to think it alarmed the enemy greatly; for this morning the Phœnix and Rose, with their two remaining tenders, taking advantage of a brisk and prosperous gale, with a favorable tide, quitted their stations, and have returned and joined the rest of the fleet. As they passed our several batteries, they were fired upon, but without any damage that I could perceive.1 The whole of the British forces in America, except those employed in Canada, are now here, Clinton’s arrival being followed the last week by that of Lord Dunmore, who now forms a part of the army we are to oppose. His coming has added but little to their strength. I have the honor to be, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [355]
George Washington
Washington, George
20 August, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was yesterday morning favored with yours of the 17th, accompanied by several resolutions of Congress, and commissions for officers appointed to the late vacancies in this army. I wrote some days ago to General Schuyler, to propose to Generals Carleton and Burgoyne an exchange of prisoners, in consequence of a former resolve of Congress authorizing their commanders in each department to negotiate one. That of Major Meigs for Major French, and Captain Dearborn for any officer of equal rank, I submitted to General Howe’s consideration, by letter on the 17th, understanding their paroles had been sent to him by General Carleton; but have not yet received his answer upon the subject.

In respect to the exchange of prisoners in Canada, Edition: current; Page: [356] if a proposition on that head has not been already made, and I believe it has not, the enclosed copy of General Carleton’s orders (transmitted to me under seal by Major Bigelow, who was sent with a flag to General Burgoyne from Ticonderoga, with the proceedings of Congress on the breach of capitulation at the Cedars, and the inhuman treatment of our people afterwards) will show it is unnecessary, as he has determined to send them to their own provinces, there to remain as prisoners; interdicting at the same time all kinds of intercourse between us and his army, except such as may be for the purpose of imploring the King’s mercy. The assassination, which he mentions, of Brigadier-General Gordon, is a fact entirely new to Edition: current; Page: [357] me, and what I never heard of before. I shall not trouble Congress with my strictures upon this indecent, illiberal and scurrilous performance, so highly unbecoming the character of a soldier and gentleman, only observing that its design is somewhat artful, and that each boat-man with Major Bigelow was furnished with a copy. I have also transmitted Congress a copy of the Major’s journal, to which I beg leave to refer them for the intelligence reported by him on his return from the truce.1

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By a Letter from Genl Greene yesterday Evening he informed me, he had received an Express from Hog Island Inlet advising that 5 of the Enemy’s small vessells had appeared at the mouth of the Creek with some Troops on board—also that he had heard Two pettiaugers were off Oister Bay, the whole supposed to be after live stock and to prevent their getting it, he had detached a party of Horse & Two Hundred & Twenty men, among ’em Twenty Rifle men. I have not received further intelligence upon the subject.

I am also advised by the examination of a Captain Britton (master of a vessel that had been taken), Edition: current; Page: [359] transmitted to me by General Mercer, that the general report among the enemy’s troops, was, when he came off, that they were to attack Long Island, and to secure our works there if possible, at the same time that another part of their army was to land above this city. This information is corroborated by many other accounts, and is probably true; nor will it be possible to prevent their landing on the Island, as its great extent affords a variety of places favorable for that purpose, and the whole of our works on it are at the end opposite to the city. However, we shall attempt to harass them as much as possible, which will be all that we can do. I have the honor, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [360]
George Washington
Washington, George
22 August, 1776
New York
Major-General Heath
Major-General Heath

TO MAJOR-GENERAL HEATH.

Dear Sir,

As the enemy must pass this place before they can attempt the posts above, and as your troops there are now augmented, I would have you pick out a body of about eight hundred, or a thousand, light, active men, and good marksmen (including the light infantry and riflemen), ready to move this way upon the appearance of the shipping coming up, or upon the commencement of the Cannonade of any of our works. By the time these troops get into the flat grounds of Haerlem, they will be able (especially if you send a horseman or two on before, for intelligence, which will be proper) to determine whether the ships intend higher up than this neighborhood, and regulate themselves accordingly.

There is a road out of the Haerlem flat lands that leads up to the hills and continues down the North River by Bloomingdale, Delancey’s, &c., which road I would have them march, as they will keep the river in Sight, and pass a tolerable landing-place for troops in the neighborhood of Bloomingdale. This detachment should bring a couple of light field-pieces.

I think two, or even four, pieces of cannon might be spared from Fort Washington to the post over the bridge;—but query, whether it might not do to run them from thence when occasion shall seem to require it, as that post never can be attacked without sufficient notice to do this. Colonel Knox will have four carriages ready for that place, immediately, if Edition: current; Page: [361] we have not other employment upon hand, which General Putnam, who is this instant come in seems to think we assuredly Shall, this day, as there is a considerable embarkation on board of the enemy’s boats. I shall therefore only add that you should delay no time in forming your detachment for our aid, or your own defence, as circumstances may require. Yours &c, in haste.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 August, 1776
New York

TO THE NEW YORK CONVENTION.

Gentlemen,

I am favored with yours of the 22d, acquainting me with a report now circulating, “that if the American army should be obliged to retreat from this city, any individual may set it on fire.” I can assure you, Gentlemen, that this report is not founded upon the least authority from me; on the contrary, I am so sensible of the value of such a city, and the consequences of its destruction to many worthy citizens and their families, that nothing but the last necessity, and that such as should justify me to the whole world, would induce me to give orders for that purpose. The unwillingness shown by many families to remove, notwithstanding your and my recommendations, may perhaps have led some persons to propagate the report, with honest and innocent intentions; but as your letter first informed me of it, I cannot pretend to say by whom, or for what purpose, it has been done. As my views, with regard to the removal Edition: current; Page: [362] of the women and children, have happily coincided with your sentiments, and a committee appointed to carry them into execution, I submit it to your judgment, whether it would not be proper for the Committee to meet immediately in this city, and give notice of their attendance on this business. There are many, who anxiously wish to remove, but have not the means. I am, with much respect and regard, Gentlemen, yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 August, 1776
New York
Major-General Heath
Major-General Heath

TO MAJOR-GENERAL HEATH.

Sir,

Yesterday morning the enemy landed at Gravesend Bay, upon Long Island, from the best information I can obtain to the number of about eight thousand. Colonel Hand retreated before them, burning as he came along several parcels of wheat, and such other matter as he judged would fall into the enemy’s hands. Our first accounts were, that they intended, by a forced march, to surprise General Sullivan’s (who commands during the illness of General Greene) lines; whereupon I immediately reinforced that post with six regiments. But they halted last night at Flatbush.1 If they should attack General Sullivan Edition: current; Page: [363] this day, and should show no disposition to attack me likewise, at the making of the next flood, I shall send such further reinforcements to Long Island as I may judge expedient, not choosing to weaken this post too much, before I am certain that the enemy are not making a feint upon Long Island to draw our force to that quarter, when their real design may perhaps be upon this.1 I am, &c.

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P. S. The flood tide will begin to make about eleven o’clock, at which time, if the detachment ordered yesterday were to move to the high and open grounds about Mr. Delancey’s and Bloomingdale, they would be ready to come forward, or turn back, as occasion should require; it would give them a little exercise, and show them wherein they are wanting in any matter.

George Washington
Washington, George
24 August, 1776
New York
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

On Thursday last the enemy landed a body of troops, supposed to amount (from the best accounts I have been able to obtain) to eight or nine thousand men, at Gravesend Bay on Long Island, ten miles distance from our works on the Island, and immediately marched through the open lands to Flatbush, where they are now encamped. They are distant about three miles from our lines, and have woods and broken grounds to pass (which we have lined) before they can get to them. Some skirmishing has happened between their advanced parties and ours, in which we have always gained an advantage.1 What the real designs of the enemy are, I am not yet able Edition: current; Page: [365] to determine. My opinion of the matter is, that they mean to attack our works on the Island and this city at the same time, and that the troops at Flatbush are waiting in those plains till the wind and tide (which have not yet served together) will favor the movement of the shipping to this place: Others think they will bend their principal force against our lines on the Island, which, if carried, will greatly facilitate their designs upon this city. This also being very probable, I have thrown what force I can over, without leaving myself too much exposed here; for our whole number (if the intelligence we get from deserters, &c., be true) falls short of that of the enemy; consequently the defence of our own works, and the approaches to them, is all we can aim at. This, then, in a manner, leaves the whole Island in possession of the enemy, and of course of the supplies it is capable of affording them. Under these circumstances would it be practicable for your government to throw a body of one thousand or more men across the sound, to harass the enemy in their rear or upon their flanks? This would annoy them exceedingly, at the same time that a valuable end, to wit, that of preventing their parties securing the stocks of cattle, &c., would be answered by it; the cattle to be removed or killed. The knowledge I have of the extraordinary exertions of your State upon all occasions, does not permit me to require this, not knowing how far it is practicable; I only offer it, therefore as a matter for your consideration, and of great public utility, if it can be accomplished.

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The enemy, if my intelligence from Staten Island be true, are at this time rather distressed on account of provisions; if then, we can deprive them of what this Island affords, much good will follow from it.

The foreigners are yet upon Staten Island1; the British troops are upon Long Island, and on shipboard. I remain &c.2

George Washington
Washington, George
25 August, 1776
Major-General Putnam
Major-General Putnam

TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.3
INSTRUCTIONS.

It was with no small degree of concern, I perceived yesterday a scattering, unmeaning, and wasteful fire from our people at the enemy—a kind of fire that tended to disgrace our own men as soldiers, and to render our defence contemptible in the eyes of the enemy. No one good consequence can attend such irregularities, but several bad ones will inevitably follow from them. Had it not been for this unsoldierlike and disorderly practice, we have the greatest reason imaginable to believe, that numbers of deserters would have left the enemy’s army last year; but fear prevented them from approaching our lines then, and must for ever continue to operate in like manner, whilst every soldier conceives himself at liberty to fire when and at what he pleases. This is Edition: current; Page: [367] not the only nor the greatest evil resulting from the practice; for, as we do not know the hour of the enemy’s approach to our lines, but have every reason to apprehend that it will be sudden and violent whenever attempted, we shall have our men so scattered, and more than probable without ammunition, that the consequences must prove fatal to us; besides this, there will be no possibility of distinguishing between a real and a false alarm.

I must therefore, Sir, in earnest terms desire you to call the colonels and commanding officers of corps without loss of time before you; and let them afterwards do the same by their respective officers, and charge them, in express and positive terms, to stop these irregularities, as they value the good of the service, their own honor, and the safety of the army, which, under God, depends wholly upon the good order and government that is observed in it. At the same time, I would have you form proper lines of defence around your encampment and works on the most advantageous ground. Your guards, which compose this defence, are to be particularly instructed in their duty, and a brigadier of the day is to remain constantly upon the lines, that he may be upon the spot to command, and see that orders are executed. Field-officers should also be appointed to go the rounds, and report the situation of the guards; and no person should be allowed to pass beyond the guards, without special order in writing.

By restraining the loose, disorderly, and unsoldierlike firing before mentioned, I do not mean to discourage partisans and scouting parties; on the contrary I wish to see a spirit of that sort prevailing, under proper regulations, and officers, either commissioned or non-commissioned, as cases require, to be directed by yourself or licensed by the brigadier of the day upon the spot, to be sent upon this service. Such skirmishing as may be effected in this manner will be agreeable to the rules of propriety, and may be attended with salutary effects, inasmuch as it will inure the troops to fatigue and danger, will harass the enemy, and may make prisoners and prevent their parties from getting the horses and cattle from the interior parts of the Island, which are objects of infinite importance to us, especially the two last. All the men not upon duty are to be compelled to remain in or near their respective camps, or quarters, that they may turn out Edition: current; Page: [368] at a moment’s warning; nothing being more probable, than that the enemy will allow little time enough to prepare for the attack. The officers also are to exert themselves to the utmost to prevent every kind of abuse to private property, and to bring every offender to the punishment he deserves. Shameful it is to find, that those men, who have come hither in defence of the rights of mankind, should turn invaders of it by destroying the substance of their friends. The burning of houses where the apparent good of the service is not promoted by it, and the pillaging of them, at all times and upon all occasions, are to be discountenanced and punished with the utmost severity. In short, it is to be hoped, that men who have property of their own, and a regard for the rights of others, will shudder at the thought of rendering any man’s situation, in whose protection he has come, more insufferable than his open and avowed enemy would make it; when by duty and every rule of humanity they ought to aid, and not oppress, the distressed in their habitations. The distinction between a well regulated army and a mob, is the good order and discipline of the first, and the licentious and disorderly behavior of the latter. Men, therefore, who are not employed as mere hirelings, but have stepped forth in defence of every thing, that is dear and valuable not only to themselves but to posterity, should take uncommon pains to conduct themselves with the greatest propriety and good order, as their honor and reputation call loudly upon them to do it.

The wood next to Red Hook should be well attended to. Put some of the most disorderly riflemen into it. The militia are the most indifferent troops, those I mean which are least tutored and have seen least service, and will do for the interior works, whilst your best men should at all hazards prevent the enemy’s passing the wood, and approaching your works. The woods should be secured by abatis where necessary, to make the enemy’s approach as difficult as possible. Traps and ambuscades should be laid for their parties, if you find they are sent out after cattle, &c.

Given under my hand, at Head Quarters, this 25th day of August, 1776.

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George Washington
Washington, George
26 August, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have been duly honored with your favors of the 20th and 24th, and am happy to find my answer to Lord Drummond has met the approbation of Congress. Whatever his views were, most certainly his conduct respecting his parole is highly reprehensible. Since my letter of the 24th almost the whole of the enemy’s fleet have fallen down to the Narrows; and, from this circumstance, and the striking of their tents and their several encampments on Staten Island from time to time previous to the departure of the ships from thence, we are led to think they mean to land the main body of their army on Long Island, and to make their grand push there. I have ordered over considerable reinforcements to our troops there, and shall continue to send more as circumstances may require. There has been a little skirmishing and irregular firing kept up between their and our advanced guards, in which Colonel Martin of the Jersey levies has received a wound in his breast, which, it is apprehended, will prove mortal; a private has had his leg broken by a cannon-ball, and another has received a shot in the groin from their musketry. This is all the damage they have yet done us; what they have sustained is not known.

The shifting and changing, which the regiments have undergone of late, have prevented their making proper returns, and of course put it out of my power to transmit a general one of the army. However, I Edition: current; Page: [370] believe our strength is much the same as it was when the last was made, with the addition of nine militia regiments from the State of Connecticut, averaging about three hundred and fifty men each. These are nine of the fourteen Regiments mentioned in my Letter of 19th. Our people still continue to be very sickly. The papers designed for the foreign troops have been put into several channels, in order that they might be conveyed to ’em; and from the information I had yesterday, I have reason to believe many have fallen into their hands.1 I have enclosed a copy of Lord Drummond’s second letter in answer to mine, which I received since I transmitted his first, and which I have thought it necessary to lay before Congress, that they may possess the whole of the correspondence between us, and see how far he has exculpated himself from the charge alleged against Edition: current; Page: [371] him—The Log Book he mentions to have sent Colo. Moylan proves nothing in his favor. That shews he had been at Bermuda and from thence to some other Island, and on his passage from which to this place the Vessel he was in was boarded by a pilot who brought her into the Hook, where he found the British Fleet, which his Lordship avers he did not expect were there, having understood their destination was to the southward.1

George Washington
Washington, George
29 August, half past four, A.M., 1776
Long Island

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was last night honored with your favor, of the 27th accompanied by sundry resolutions of Congress. Those respecting the officers, &c that may be wounded in the service of the States, are founded Edition: current; Page: [372] much in justice, and I should hope may be productive of many salutary consequences. As to the encouragement to the Hessian officers, I wish it may have the desired effect. Perhaps it might have been better, had the offer been sooner made. Before this, you will probably have received a letter from Mr. Harrison, of the 27th, advising you of the engagement between a detachment of our men and the enemy on that day.1 I am sorry to inform Congress. that I have not yet heard either of General Sullivan or Lord Stirling, who were among the missing after the engagement; nor can I ascertain our loss. I am hopeful, part of our men will yet get in; several did yesterday morning. That of the enemy is also uncertain; the accounts are various. I incline to think they suffered a good deal. Some deserters say five hundred were killed and wounded.

There was some skirmishing the greater part of yesterday, between parties from the enemy and our people; in the evening it was pretty smart. The event I have not yet learned. The weather of late has been extremely wet. Yesterday it rained severely the whole afternoon, which distressed our people much, not having a sufficiency of tents to cover them, and what we have not got over yet. I am in hopes they will all be got to-day, and that they will be more comfortably provided for, though the great scarcity of these articles distresses us beyond measure, not having any thing like a sufficient number to protect Edition: current; Page: [373] our people from the inclemency of the weather; which has occasioned much sickness, and the men to be almost broke down.1 I have the honor to be, &c.2

George Washington
Washington, George
31 August, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Inclination as well as duty would have induced me to give Congress the earliest information of my removal, Edition: current; Page: [374] and that of the troops, from Long Island and its dependencies, to this city the night before last; but the extreme fatigue, which myself and family have undergone, as much from the weather since, as the engagement on the 27th, rendered me and them entirely unfit to take pen in hand. Since Monday, scarce any of us have been out of the lines till our passage across the East River was effected yesterday morning; and, for forty-eight hours preceding that, I had hardly been off my horse, and never closed my eyes; so that I was quite unfit to write or dictate till this morning.

Our retreat was made without any loss of men or ammunition, and in better order than I expected from troops in the situation ours were. We brought off all our cannon and stores, except a few heavy pieces, which, in the condition the earth was, by a long continued rain, we found upon trial impracticable; the wheels of the carriages sinking up to the hobs rendered it impossible for our whole force to drag them. We left but little provisions on the island, except some cattle, which had been driven within our lines, and which after many attempts to force across the water, we found it impossible to effect, circumstanced as we were. I have enclosed a copy of the council of war held previous to the retreat, to which I beg leave to refer Congress for the reasons, or many of them, that led to the adoption of that measure.1 Yesterday evening and last night, Edition: current; Page: [375] a party of our men were employed in bringing our stores, cannon, and tents, from Governor’s Island, which they nearly completed. Some of the heavy cannon remain there still, but I expect they will be got away to-day.

In the engagement on the 27th, Generals Sullivan and Stirling were made prisoners. The former has Edition: current; Page: [376] been permitted, on his parole, to return for a little time. From my Lord Stirling I had a letter by General Sullivan, a copy of which I have the honor to transmit, that contains his information of the engagement with his brigade. It is not so full and certain as I could wish; he was hurried most probably, as his letter was unfinished; nor have I been yet able to obtain an exact account of our loss; we suppose it from seven hundred to a thousand killed and taken.1 General Sullivan says Lord Howe is extremely desirous of seeing some of the members of Congress; for which purpose he was allowed to come out, and to communicate to them what has passed between him and his lordship. I have consented to his going to Philadelphia, as I do not mean, or conceive it right, to withhold or prevent him from giving such information as he possesses in this instance. I am much hurried and engaged in arranging and making new dispositions of our forces; the movements of the enemy requiring them to be immediately had; and therefore I have only time to add, that I am, with my best regards to Congress, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [377]
George Washington
Washington, George
1 September, 1776
New York
Major-General Heath
Major-General Heath

TO MAJOR-GENERAL HEATH.

Sir,

I received your favor of this date, and intend this evening to go to Haerlem and see whether the situation of things will admit of the several detachments and dispositions you mention, so that every place necessary to be maintained should have measures taken for their defence. I should suppose that Hutchinson’s regiment, and the three hundred men you say are at Mount Washington, will do to garrison it for the present, and will be equal to any force that will be brought against it, if they keep a good look-out and do not suffer a surprise. This you must strongly press upon them to guard against.—

As it is of great consequence to gain intelligence of the enemy’s designs, and of their intended operations, I cannot but recommend your attention to this subject, and that you will Concert some measures with General Clinton for establishing a Channel of Edition: current; Page: [378] information. I apprehend that his general acquaintance with most of the people in the colony will give him an opportunity of fixing upon suitable persons, and in whom a confidence may be reposed, to embark in this business, and who, from their connections on the island and the assistance of their friends there, might obtain frequent accounts that would be useful and of great advantage. Perhaps some might be got who are really Tories, for a reasonable reward, to undertake it. Those who are friends would be preferable, if they could manage it as well. I will not add more upon the subject, but heartily wish you and General Clinton could fall upon some mode to carry into execution a Scheme of this Sort.

We are in extreme want here of a number of horses and teams to transport baggage &c., from place to place, and therefore have enclosed a warrant authorizing you, or any substituted by you to impress them. If they can be procured immediately by hiring, it would be better; but if not, I beg you will take the most early means to send them down by impressing them. They must be had at all events.

If there is a possibility of procuring boats for the Haerlem River, it shall be done. I am, Sir.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 September, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

As my intelligence of late has been rather unfavorable, and would be received with anxiety and concern, Edition: current; Page: [379] peculiarly happy should I esteem myself, were it in my power at this time to transmit such information to Congress, as would be more pleasing and agreeable to their wishes; but, unfortunately for me, unfortunately for them, it is not. Our situation is truly distressing. The check our detachment sustained on the 27th ultimo has dispirited too great a proportion of our troops, and filled their minds with apprehension and despair. The militia, instead of calling forth their utmost efforts to a brave and manly opposition in order to repair our losses, are dismayed, intractable, and impatient to return. Great numbers of them have gone off; in some instances, almost by whole regiments, by half ones, and by companies at a time. This circumstance, of itself, independent of others, when fronted by a well-appointed enemy superior in number to our whole collected force, would be sufficiently disagreeable; but, when their example has infected another part of the army, when their want of discipline, and refusal of almost every kind of restraint and government, have produced a like conduct but too common to the whole, and an entire disregard of that order and subordination necessary to the well-doing of an army, and which had been inculcated before, as well as the nature of our military establishment would admit of,—our condition is still more alarming; and, with the deepest concern, I am obliged to confess my want of confidence in the generality of the troops.

All these circumstances fully confirm the opinion I ever entertained, and which I more than once in my Edition: current; Page: [380] letters took the liberty of mentioning to Congress, that no dependence could be put in a militia, or other troops than those enlisted and embodied for a longer period than our regulations heretofore have prescribed. I am persuaded, and as fully convinced as I am of any one fact that has happened, that our liberties must of necessity be greatly hazarded, if not entirely lost, if their defence is left to any but a permanent standing army; I mean, one to exist during the war. Nor would the expense, incident to the support of such a body of troops, as would be competent to almost every exigency, far exceed that, which is daily incurred by calling in succor, and new enlistments, which, when effected, are not attended with any good consequences. Men, who have been free and subject to no control, cannot be reduced to order in an instant; and the privileges and exemptions, they claim and will have, influence the conduct of others; and the aid derived from them is nearly counterbalanced by the disorder, irregularity, and confusion they occasion.

I cannot find that the bounty of ten dollars is likely to produce the desired effect. When men can get double that sum to engage for a month or two in the militia, and that militia frequently called out, it is hardly to be expected. The addition of land might have a considerable influence on a permanent enlistment.1 Our number of men at present fit for duty is under twenty thousand; they were so by the last returns and best accounts I could get after the engagement Edition: current; Page: [381] on Long Island; since which, numbers have deserted. I have ordered General Mercer to send the men intended for the Flying Camp to this place, about a thousand in number, and to try with the militia, if practicable, to make a diversion upon Staten Island. Till of late, I had no doubt in my own mind of defending this place; nor should I have yet, if the men would do their duty; but this I despair of. It is painful, and extremely grating to me, to give such unfavorable accounts; but it would be criminal to conceal the truth at so critical a juncture. Every power I possess shall be exerted to serve the cause; and my first wish is, that, whatever may be the event, the Congress will do me the justice to think so.

If we should be obliged to abandon the town, ought it to stand as winter-quarters for the enemy? They would derive great conveniences from it on the one hand; and much property would be destroyed on the other. It is an important question, but will admit of but little time for deliberation. At present, I dare say the enemy mean to preserve it, if they can. If Congress, therefore, should resolve upon the destruction of it, the resolution should be a profound secret, as the knowledge of it will make a change in their plans.1 I have &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
3 September, 1776
New York
Brigadier-General Mercer
Brigadier-General Mercer

TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL MERCER.

Dear Sir,

From the present complexion of our affairs, it appears to me, of the utmost importance and that the most salutary consequences may result from our having a strong encampment at the post on the Jersey side of the North River, opposite to Mount Washington, on this island. I therefore think it advisable, and highly necessary, that you detach such a force from Amboy and its dependencies under the command of an officer of note, authority, and influence, with a skilful engineer to lay out such additional works, as may be judged essential and proper, and the situation of the ground will admit of. They should be begun and carried on with all possible diligence and despatch.

It will be necessary, that a considerable quantity of provision should be collected for the maintenance and support of the camp; and for this purpose I wish you to have proper measures adopted to procure it, and have it deposited there and at places of security not far distant. As the Continental officers now at this post will take rank and the command, probably, of any one you may send, unless he should be a general officer, I think and wish, if you have one that possibly can be spared, and in whose judgment, activity, and fortitude you can rely, that he may be appointed to the command, rather than an officer of inferior rank. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [383]
George Washington
Washington, George
4 September, 1776
New York
Fisher Gay
Gay, Fisher

TO COLONEL FISHER GAY.

Sir,

Whether you do not get the General Orders with that regularity which is to be wished, or whether (which is hard to suppose) you do not attend to them, I will not undertake to determine; but it is a melancholy truth that returns essentially necessary for the commanding officer to govern himself by, and which Edition: current; Page: [384] might be made in an hour after they are called for, where care and order are observed, are obtained with so much difficulty. Nor can I help regretting, that not only regular returns, but that orders, in instances equally important, should be so little attended to. I therefore address myself to you in this manner, requesting in express and peremptory terms, that you do without delay make out and return to the Adjutant General’s office immediately an exact state of the regiment or corps under your command, and that the like return be given in every Saturday, at orderly time, without fail.

I also desire, in terms equally express, that you do not suffer the men of your corps to straggle from their quarters, or be absent from camp without leave, and even then but a few at a time. Your own reputation, the safety of the army, and the good of the cause, depend, under God, upon our vigilance and readiness to oppose a crafty and enterprising enemy, who are always upon the watch to take advantages. To prevent straggling, let your rolls be called over three times a day, and the delinquents punished.1 I have one thing more to urge, and that is, that every attempt of the men to plunder houses, orchards, gardens, Edition: current; Page: [385] &c., be discouraged, not only for the preservation of property and sake of good order, but for the prevention of those fatal consequences which usually follow such diabolical practices. In short, Sir, at a time when every thing is at stake, it behoves every man to exert himself. It will not do for the commanding officer of a regiment to content himself with barely giving orders; he should see (at least know) they are executed. He should call his men out frequently, and endeavor to impress them with a just sense of their duty, and how much depends upon subordination and discipline.

Let me, therefore, not only command, but exhort you and your officers, as you regard your reputation, your country, and the sacred cause of freedom in which you are engaged, to manly and vigorous exertions at this time, each striving to excel the other in the respective duties of his department. I trust it is unnecessary for me to add further, and that these and all other articles of your duty you will execute with a spirit and punctuality becoming your station. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 September, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was last night honored with your favor of the 3d, with sundry resolutions of Congress; and perceiving it to be their opinion and determination, that no damage shall be done to the city in case we are obliged to abandon it, I shall take every measure in my power Edition: current; Page: [386] to prevent it. Since my letter of the 4th, nothing very material has occurred, unless it is that the fleet seem to be drawing more together, and all getting close in with Governor’s Island. Their designs we cannot learn; nor have we been able to procure the least information of late, of any of their plans or intended operations.

As the enemy’s movements are very different from what we expected, and, from their large encampments a considerable distance up the Sound, there is reason to believe they intend to make a landing above or below Kingsbridge, and thereby to hem in our army, and cut off the communication with the country, I mean to call a council of general officers to-day or to-morrow, and endeavor to digest and fix upon some regular and certain system of conduct to be pursued in order to baffle their efforts and counteract their schemes; and also to determine on the expediency of evacuating or attempting to maintain the city and the several posts on this island. The result of their opinion and deliberations I shall advise Congress by the earliest opportunity, which will be by express, having it not in my power to communicate any intelligence by post, as the office is removed to so great a distance, and entirely out of the way.1

I have enclosed a list of the officers, who are prisoners, and from whom letters have been received by a flag. We know there are others not included in the list. General Sullivan having informed me, that General Howe was willing that an exchange of him Edition: current; Page: [387] for General Prescott should take place, it will be proper to send General Prescott immediately, that it may be effected.

As the militia regiments in all probability will be impatient to return, and become pressing for their pay, I shall be glad of the direction of Congress, whether they are to receive it here or from the Conventions or Assemblies of the respective States to which they belong. On the one hand, the settlement of their abstracts will be attended with trouble and difficulty; on the other, they will go away much better satisfied, and be more ready to give their aid in future, if they are paid before their departure. Before I conclude, I must take the liberty of mentioning to Congress the great distress we are in for want of money. Two months’ pay (and more to some battalions) is now due to the troops here, without any thing in the military chest to satisfy it. This occasions much dissatisfaction, and almost a general uneasiness. Not a day passes without complaints, and the most importunate and urgent demands, on this head. As it may injure the service greatly, and the want of a regular supply of cash produce consequences of the most fatal tendency, I entreat the attention of Congress to this subject, and that we may be provided as soon as can be with a sum equal to every present claim.

I have wrote to General Howe, proposing an exchange of General McDonald for Lord Stirling,1 and Edition: current; Page: [388] shall be extremely happy to obtain it, as well as that of General Prescott, being greatly in want of them, and under the necessity of appointing, pro tempore, some of the colonels to command brigades.

I have the honor to be, &c.

P. S. As two regiments from N. Carolina and 3 regiments more from Virginia are ordered here, if they could embark at Norfolk, &c., and come up the Bay with security, it would expedite their arrival, and prevent the men from a long fatiguing march. This, however, should not be attempted if the enemy have Vessels in the Bay, and which might probably intercept ’em.1

George Washington
Washington, George
6 September, 1776
New York
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

I have been honored with your favor of the 31st ultimo, and am extremely obliged by the measures you are taking, in consequence of my recommendatory letter. The exertions of Connecticut upon this, as well as upon every other occasion, do great honor, and I hope will be attended with successful and happy consequences. In respect to the mode of conduct to be pursued by the troops, that go over to the island, I cannot lay down any certain rule; it must be formed and governed by circumstances, and the direction of those who command them.

I should have done myself the honor of transmitting to you an account of the engagement between a Edition: current; Page: [389] detachment of our troops and the enemy on Long Island on the 27th, and of our retreat from thence, before now, had it not been for the multiplicity of business I have been involved in ever since; and, being still engaged, I cannot enter upon a minute and particular detail of the affair. I shall only add, therefore, that we lost, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, from seven hundred to one thousand men. Among the prisoners are General Sullivan and Lord Stirling. The enclosed list will show you the names of many of the officers that are prisoners.1 The action was chiefly with the troops from Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Lower Counties, and Maryland, and Colonel Huntington’s regiment. They suffered greatly, being attacked and overpowered by numbers of the enemy greatly superior to them. The enemy’s loss we have not been able to ascertain; but we have reason to believe it was considerable, as the engagement was warm, and conducted with great resolution and bravery on the part of our troops. During the engagement, a deep column of the enemy descended from the woods, and attempted an impression upon our Edition: current; Page: [390] lines, but retreated immediately on the discharge of a cannon and part of the musketry from the line nearest to them. As the main body of the enemy had encamped not far from our lines, and I had reason to believe, that they intended to force us from them by regular approaches, which the nature of the ground favored extremely, and at the same time meant, by the ships of war, to cut off the communication between the city and island, and by that means keep our men divided and unable to oppose them anywhere; by the advice of the general officers, on the night of the 29th, I withdrew our troops from thence, without any loss of men and but little baggage.1 I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 September, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Since I had the honor of addressing you on the 6th Inst. I have called a council of the general officers, in order to take a full and comprehensive view of our situation, and thereupon form such a plan of future defence as may be immediately pursued, and subject to no other alteration, than a change of operations on the enemy’s side may occasion. Before the landing of the enemy in Long Island, the point of attack could not be known, nor any satisfactory judgment formed of their intentions. It might be on Long Edition: current; Page: [391] Island, on Bergen, or directly on the city. This made it necessary to be prepared for each, and has occasioned an expense of labor, which now seems useless, and is regretted by those, who form a judgment from after-knowledge. But I trust, that men of discernment will think differently, and see that by such works and preparations we have not only delayed the operations of the campaign, till it is too late to effect any capital incursion into the country, but have drawn the enemy’s forces to one point, and obliged them to decline their plan, so as to enable us to form our defence on some certainty.

It is now extremely obvious from all intelligence from their movements, and every other circumstance, that, having landed their whole army on Long Island, except about four thousand on Staten Island, they mean to enclose us on the island of New York, by taking post in our rear while the shipping effectually protects the front; and thus, either by cutting off our communication with the country, oblige us to fight them on their own terms, or surrender at discretion, or by a brilliant stroke endeavor to cut this army in pieces, and secure the collection of arms and stores, which they well know we shall not be able soon to replace. Having therefore their system unfolded to us, it became an important consideration how it could be most successfully opposed. On every side there is a choice of difficulties; and every measure on our part, however painful the reflection is from experience, is to be formed with some apprehension, that all our troops will not do their duty. In deliberating Edition: current; Page: [392] on this great question, it was impossible to forget, that history, our own experience, the advice of our ablest friends in Europe, the fears of the enemy, and even the declarations of Congress, demonstrate, that on our side the war should be defensive (it has even been called a war of posts), that we should on all occasions avoid a general action, nor put any thing to risk, unless compelled by a necessity into which we ought never to be drawn.

The arguments on which such a system was founded were deemed unanswerable; and experience has given her sanction. With these views, and being fully persuaded, that it would be presumption to draw out our young troops into open ground against their superiors both in number and discipline, I have never spared the spade and pickaxe. I confess I have not found that readiness to defend even strong posts at all hazards, which is necessary to derive the greatest benefits from them. The honor of making a brave defence does not seem to be a sufficient stimulus, when success is very doubtful, and the falling into the enemy’s hands probable; but, I doubt not, this will be gradually attained. We are now in a strong post, but not an impregnable one, nay, acknowledged by every man of judgment to be untenable, unless the enemy will make the attack upon lines, when they can avoid it, and their movements indicate that they mean to do so.

To draw the whole army together in order to arrange the defence proportionate to the extent of lines and works, would leave the country open for an Edition: current; Page: [393] approach, and put the fate of this army and its stores on the hazard of making a successful defence in the city, or the issue of an engagement out of it. On the other hand, to abandon a city, which has been by some deemed defensible, and on whose works much labor has been bestowed, has a tendency to dispirit the troops, and enfeeble our cause. It has also been considered as the key to the northern country. But as to that, I am fully of opinion, that by the establishing of strong posts at Mount Washington on the upper part of this island, and on the Jersey side opposite to it, with the assistance of the obstructions already made, and which may be improved, in the water, that not only the navigation of Hudson’s River, but an easier and better communication may be more effectually secured between the northern and southern states. This, I believe, every one acquainted with the situation of the country will readily agree to; and it will appear evident to those who have an opportunity of recurring to good maps. These and many other consequences, which will be involved in the determination of our next measure, have given our minds full employ, and led every one to form a judgment as the various objects presented themselves to his view.

The post at Kingsbridge is naturally strong, and is pretty well fortified; the heights about it are commanding, and might soon be made more so. These are important objects, and I have attended to them accordingly. I have also removed from the city all the stores and ammunition, except what was absolutely Edition: current; Page: [394] necessary for its defence, and made every other disposition that did not essentially interfere with that object, carefully keeping in view, until it should be absolutely determined on full consideration, how far the city was to be defended at all events. In resolving points of such importance, many circumstances peculiar to our own army also occur. Being only provided for a summer’s campaign, their clothes, shoes, and blankets will soon be unfit for the change of weather, which we every day feel. At present we have not tents for more than two-thirds, many of them old and worn out; but, if we had a plentiful supply, the season will not admit of continuing in them long. The case of our sick is also worthy of much consideration, Their number, by the returns, forms at least one-fourth of the army. Policy and humanity require that they should be made as comfortable as possible.

With these and many other circumstances before them, the whole council of general officers met yesterday in order to adopt some general line of conduct to be pursued at this important crisis. I intended to have procured their separate opinions on each point, but time would not admit. I was therefore obliged to collect their sense more generally, than I could have wished. All agreed that the town would not be tenable, if the enemy resolved to bombard and cannonade it; but the difficulty attending a removal operated so strongly, that a course was taken between abandoning it totally and concentring our whole strength for its defence; nor were some a little Edition: current; Page: [395] influenced in their opinion, to whom the determination of Congress was known, against an evacuation totally, as they were led to suspect Congress wished it to be maintained at every hazard.1 It was concluded to arrange the army under three divisions; five thousand to remain for the defence of the city; nine thousand at Kingsbridge and its dependencies, as well to possess and secure those posts, as to be ready to attack the enemy, who are moving eastward on Long Island, if they should attempt to land on this side; the remainder to occupy the intermediate space, and support either; that the sick should be immediately removed to Orangetown, and barracks be prepared at Kingsbridge with all expedition to cover the troops.

There were some general officers, in whose judgment and opinion much confidence is to be reposed, that were for a total and immediate removal from the city, urging the great danger of one part of the army being cut off, before the other can support it, the extremities being at least sixteen miles apart; that our army, when collected, is inferior to the enemy; that they can move with their whole force to any point of attack, and consequently must succeed by weight of numbers, if they have only a part to oppose them; that, by removing from hence, we deprive the enemy of the advantage of their ships, which will make at least one half of the force to Edition: current; Page: [396] attack the town; that we should keep the enemy at bay, put nothing to hazard, but at all events keep the army together, which may be recruited another year; that the unspent stores will also be preserved; and, in this case, the heavy artillery can also be secured. But they were overruled by a majority, who thought for the present a part of our force might be kept here, and attempt to maintain the city a little longer.1

I am sensible a retreating army is encircled with difficulties; that declining an engagement subjects a general to reproach; and that the common cause may be affected by the discouragement it may throw over the minds of many. Nor am I insensible of the contrary effects, if a brilliant stroke could be made with any probability of success, especially after our loss upon Long Island. But, when the fate of America may be at stake on the issue, when the wisdom of cooler moments and experienced men have decided, that we should protract the war if possible, I cannot think it safe or wise to adopt a different system, when the season for action draws so near to a close. That the enemy mean to winter in New York, there can be no doubt; that, with such an armament, they can drive us out, is equally clear. Edition: current; Page: [397] The Congress having resolved, that it should not be destroyed, nothing seems to remain, but to determine the time of their taking possession. It is our interest and wish to prolong it as much as possible, provided the delay does not affect our future measures.

The militia of Connecticut is reduced from six thousand to less than two thousand, and in a few days will be merely nominal. The arrival of some Maryland troops from the Flying Camp has in a great degree supplied the loss of men; but the ammunition they have carried away will be a loss sensibly felt. The impulse for going home was so irresistible, that it answered no purpose to oppose it. Though I would not discharge them, I have been obliged to acquiesce; and it affords one more melancholy proof, how delusive such dependences are.

Inclosed I have the honor to transmit a general return, the first that I have been able to procure for some time. Also, a report of Captain Newell from our Works at Horn’s Hook or Hell Gate. Their situation is extremely low, and the Sound so very narrow, that the Enemy have ’em much within their command. I have, &c.

P. S. The inclosed information this minute came to hand. I am in hopes we shall henceforth get regular intelligence of the Enemies movements.1

Edition: current; Page: [398]
George Washington
Washington, George
9 September, 1776
New York
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

I have the honor of your favor of the 5th inst., and am sorry to say, that, from the best information we have been able to obtain, the people on Long Island have, since our evacuation, gone generally over to the enemy, and made such concessions as have been required; some through compulsion, I suppose, but more from inclination. As a diversion upon the Island has been impracticable under these circumstances, I think you have done well in assisting the removal of the persons and effects of our friends Edition: current; Page: [399] from thence. I observe with great pleasure, that you have ordered the remaining regiments of the militia, that can be spared from the immediate defence of the sea-coast, to march toward New York with all expedition. I cannot sufficiently express my thanks, not only for your constant and ready compliance with every request of mine, but for your own strenuous exertions and prudent forecast, in ordering matters so, that your force has generally been collected and put in motion as soon as it has been demanded.

With respect to the militia, both horse and foot, I am of opinion that they will render us more service by rendezvousing at different places along the Sound, in West Chester county and thereabouts, than by coming directly to this city. It will not only give the enemy, who are extending their encampments up the island, an idea of our force along the coast, but if they should attempt a landing above Kingsbridge, they will be in readiness to join our force about that place; the horse particularly, whose rapid motion enables them to be in a short time at any point of attack. Besides, the difficulty of procuring forage upon this island, for any number of horses, is an objection to their being stationed here. I fear, that the militia, by leaving their homes so suddenly, and in a manner unprepared for a long absence, have sustained some injury. To this cause I must impute, in a great measure, their impatience to return, and the diminution of their numbers at this time, to about two thousand. Their want of discipline, the indulgences they claim and have been allowed, their unwillingness, Edition: current; Page: [400] I may add, refusal to submit to that regularity and order essential to every army infecting the rest of our troops more or less, have been of pernicious tendency, and occasioned a good deal of confusion and disorder. But, Sir, these things are not peculiar to those from any one State; they are common to all militia, and what must be generally expected; for men, who have been free and never subject to restraint, or any kind of control, cannot be taught the necessity, nor be brought to see the expediency, of strict discipline in a day.

I highly approve of your plan and proposition for raising such a naval force, as will be sufficient to clear the Sound of the enemy’s ships of war. If Commodore Hopkins will join you, I should suppose it not only practicable, but a matter of certainty; and if it can be effected, many valuable and salutary consequences must result from it. As to drafting seamen from the Continental regiments, it cannot be done; as their numbers have been reduced so low already, by taking men from them for the galleys, boats, and other purposes, that some of them have hardly any thing left but the name; besides, I must depend chiefly upon them for a successful opposition to the enemy. If it can be done out of the militia, I shall not have the least objection, and heartily wish the enterprise, whenever attempted, may be attended with all possible success. Secrecy and despatch will be most likely to give it a happy issue. The enemy’s ships can receive no reinforcements, but such as go round Long Island. Our works at Hell Gate preventing their Edition: current; Page: [401] sending ships that way, they are sensible of their importance, and yesterday opened two three-gun batteries to effect their destruction, but as yet have not materially damaged them, and they must be maintained if possible. I have the honor to be, &c.

P. S. The more the militia and horse keep on the Sound, towards Kingsbridge, the better, as they will be ready to oppose any landing of the enemy, and also to receive orders for reinforcing any posts on this side in case of necessity.1

Edition: current; Page: [402]
George Washington
Washington, George
14 September, 1776
New York

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have been duly honored with your favor of the 10th, with the resolution of Congress, which accompanied it, and thank them for the confidence they repose in my judgment respecting the evacuation of the city. I could wish to maintain it, because I know it to be of importance; but I am fully convinced that it cannot be done, and that an attempt for that purpose, if persevered in, might and most certainly would be attended with consequences the most fatal and alarming in their nature. Sensible of this, several of the general officers, since the determination of the Edition: current; Page: [403] council mentioned in my last, petitioned that a second council might be called to reconsider the propositions, which had been before them upon the subject. Accordingly I called one on the 12th, when a large majority not only determined a removal of the army prudent, but absolutely necessary, declaring they were entirely convinced from a full and minute inquiry into our situation, that it was extremely perilous; and, from every movement of the enemy, and the intelligence received, their plan of operations was to get in our rear, and, by cutting off the communication with the main, oblige us to force a passage through them on the terms they wish, or to become prisoner in some short time for want of necessary supplies of provision.1

We are now taking every method in our power to remove the stores, in which we find almost insuperable Edition: current; Page: [404] difficulties.1 They are so great and so numerous, that I fear we shall not effect the whole before we meet with some interruption. I fully expected that an attack somewhere would have been made last night. In that I was disappointed; and happy shall I be, if my apprehensions of one to-night, or in a day or two, are not confirmed by the event. If it is deferred a little while longer, I flatter myself all will be got away, and our force be more concentred, and of course more likely to resist them with success. Yesterday afternoon four ships of war, two of forty and two of twenty-eight guns, went up the East River, passing between Governor’s and Long Island, and anchored about a mile above the city, opposite Mr. Stuyvesant’s, where the Rose man-of-war was lying before. The design of their going, not being certainly known, gives rise to various conjectures, some supposing they are to cover the landing of a party of the enemy above the city, others that they are to assist in destroying our battery at Horn’s Hook, that they may have a free and uninterrupted navigation in the Sound. It is an object of great importance to them, and what they are industriously trying to effect by a pretty constant cannonade and bombardment.

Before I conclude I would beg leave to mention to Edition: current; Page: [405] Congress, that the pay now allowed to nurses for their attendance on the sick is by no means adequate to their services; the consequence of which is, that they are extremely difficult to procure, indeed they are not to be got, and we are under the necessity of substituting in their place a number of men from the respective regiments whose service by that means is entirely lost in the proper line of their duty and but little benefit rendered to the sick.

The officers I have talked with upon the subject, all agree that they should be allowed a dollar per week, and that for less they cannot be had.

Our sick are extremely numerous, and we find their removal attended with the greatest difficulty. It is a matter that employs much of our time and care; and what makes it more distressing is the want of proper and convenient places for their reception. I fear their sufferings will be great and many. However, nothing on my part, that humanity or policy can require, shall be wanting to make them comfortable, so far as the state of things will admit. I have the honor to be, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [406]
Robert H. Harrison
Harrison, Robert H.
16 September, 1776.

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

On Saturday about sunset, six more of the enemy’s ships, one or two of which were men-of-war, passed between Governor’s Island and Red Hook, and went up the East River to the station taken by those mentioned in my last. In half an hour I received two expresses, one from Colonel Sargent at Horn’s Hook (Hell Gate), giving an account that the enemy, to the amount of three or four thousand, had marched to the river, and were embarked for Barn or Montresor’s Island, where numbers of them were then encamped; the other from General Mifflin, that uncommon and formidable movements were discovered among the enemy; which being confirmed by the scouts I had sent out, I proceeded to Haerlem, where it was supposed, or at Morrisania opposite to it, the principal attempt to land would be made. However, nothing remarkable happened that night; but in the morning they began their operations. Three ships of war came up the North River as high as Bloomingdale, which put a total stop to the removal, by water, of any more of our provision; and about eleven o’clock Edition: current; Page: [407] those in the East River began a most severe and heavy cannonade, to scour the grounds, and cover the landing of their troops between Turtle Bay and the city, where breastworks had been thrown up to oppose them.1

As soon as I heard the firing, I rode with all possible despatch towards the place of landing, when, to my great surprise and mortification, I found the troops that had been posted in the lines retreating with the utmost precipitation, and those ordered to support them (Parsons’s and Fellows’s brigades) flying in ever direction, and in the greatest confusion, notwithstanding the exertions of their generals to form them. I used every means in my power to rally and get them into some order; but my attempts were fruitless and ineffectual; and on an appearance of a small party of the enemy, not more than sixty or seventy, their disorder increased, and they ran away in the greatest confusion, without firing a single shot.2

Edition: current; Page: [408]

Finding that no confidence was to be placed in these brigades, and apprehending that another party of the enemy might pass over to Haerlem Plains and cut off the retreat to this place, I sent orders to secure the heights in the best manner with the troops that were stationed on and near them; which being done, the retreat was effected with but little or no loss of men, though of a considerable part of our baggage, occasioned by this disgraceful and dastardly conduct.1 Edition: current; Page: [409] Most of our heavy cannon, and a part of our stores and provisions, which we were about removing, were unavoidably left in the city, though every means, after it had been determined in council to evacuate the post, had been used to prevent it. We are now encamped with the main body of the army on the Heights of Haerlem, where I should hope the enemy would meet with a defeat in case of an attack, if the generality of our troops would behave with tolerable bravery. But experience, to my extreme affliction, has convinced me that this is rather to be wished for than expected. However, I trust that there are many who will act like men, and show themselves worthy of the blessings of freedom. I have sent out some reconnoitring parties to gain intelligence, if possible, of the disposition of the enemy, and shall inform Congress of every material event by the earliest opportunity. I have the honor to be, &c.

Robert H. Harrison
Harrison, Robert H.
Sir,

The above Letter is merely a copy of a rough one sketched out by his Excellency this morning, and who intended to sign it; but having rode out and his return or where to find him uncertain, I have sent it away without and have the honor, &c.,

Robert H. Harrison.1
Edition: current; Page: [410]
George Washington
Washington, George
17 September, 1776
Governor Cooke
Governor Cooke

TO GOVERNOR COOKE.

Sir,

I received the honor of your favor of the 6th inst. by Messrs. Collins, Babcock, and Stanton, and should have acknowledged it before now, had I not been prevented by the peculiar situation of our affairs. I communicated my sentiments to those gentlemen upon the subject of your letter, and the several propositions that were before us, who, I doubt not, will make a full and due report of the same to you and your honorable Assembly. However, I shall take the liberty of adding, that the divided state of our army, which, when collected in one body, is inferior to that of the enemy, and that their having landed almost the whole of their force on Long Island, and formed a plan of cutting off all communication between that and the city of New York, which we had but too good reason to believe practicable and easy to effect with their ships of war, made it necessary, and prudent to withdraw our troops from the former, that our chance of resistance and opposition might be more probable and likely to be attended with a happy issue.

I feel myself much concerned on account of your apprehensions for the town of Newport and the Island of Rhode Island, and should esteem myself peculiarly happy, were it in my power to afford means for their security and that of the State in general, Edition: current; Page: [411] or to point out such measures, as would be effectual for that purpose. But circumstanced as I am, it is not possible for me to grant any assistance; nor can I with propriety undertake to prescribe the mode, which will best promote their defence. This must depend on such a variety of circumstances, that I should suppose you and the Assembly, who are in the State, will be much more competent to the task, than I or any person out of it can be; and therefore I can only recommend, that you will pursue such steps as you, in your judgment, shall think most conducive to that end; observing that it appears to me a matter of extreme difficulty, if practicable, to prevent the enemy’s ships from doing damage to every island accessible to them, unless the passes between them and the main are so narrow, as to oblige them to come very near such batteries, as may be erected for their annoyance, on commanding ground.

I cannot sufficiently express my thanks for the readiness you and your Assembly manifested in ordering troops, &c., to Long Island, on hearing of my request to Governor Trumbull upon that subject. At the time that I made it, I conceived the plan of much importance, and that many valuable and salutary consequences might have resulted from it; but as things have undergone a material change since, it may not be improper to consider and be satisfied of some facts, which ought to be clearly known previous to any attempt to carry it into execution and on which success of it will greatly depend; such, as an Edition: current; Page: [412] intire conviction of the friendly disposition of the Island; the number that would join the troops that might be sent over; the length’s they would go; the support they would and can give, and whether a retreat from thence could be safely effected in case it should be necessary. These matters and others which a more minute consideration of the Plan will present to your view, should be well weighed and digested, and which I thought it my duty to mention; especially as the scheme had originated with me. My anxiety and concern for the inhabitants of the East end of Long Island, who have been represented always as friendly and well attached to the cause of the States, prompt me to wish them every assistance; but if the efforts you could make in conjunction with Governor Trumbull would not promise almost a certainty of success, perhaps they might tend to aggravate their misfortunes. The Committee stated sundry propositions respecting this Expedition, such as, if any thing was attempted, where a stand should be made? This must be left to the discretion of those who command, nor can I spare an officer for that purpose nor recommend one. What number of Men should be sent and what proportion from the Massachusetts?

The number necessary will depend upon the force they will have to oppose and the assistance they would derive from the islanders; The proportion from the Massachusetts on the Will of the Legislature, or voluntary engagement of the people, in the service. What artillery they should have? I am of Edition: current; Page: [413] opinion the artillery would be subject to loss without any great advantage resulting from it. They also asked whether any frigates should be sent, &c.? As the Enemy have now the free and intire command of the Sound, and many Ships-of-War in it, they will be much more liable to be taken, than they would have been some time ago, and when it was proposed by Governor Trumbull to make an attempt upon the Ships above Hell-Gate. In this instance, however, I do not conceive myself at liberty to say any thing peremptory one way or the other, having no power over the frigates.

I am sensible of the force of your observation that the Common Cause might be benefitted by the several States receiving early and authentic intelligence of every material occurrence. Permit me at the same time to assure you, that I often regret my incapacity in this instance, and that the neglect does not arise from want of inclination, or thro’ inattention; but from the variety of important matters that are always pressing upon and which daily surround me. Before I conclude, I shall take this opportunity to inform you, that having received certain information that the Enemy’s plan was to pass from Long Island, and land in the country and for which they are making every possible disposition; a Council of General Officers determined last week, on a removal of the Army from the city, in order to prevent the fatal consequences which must inevitably ensue, if they could have executed their scheme, resolving at the same time, that every appearance of defence Edition: current; Page: [414] should be kept up, till our Sick, Ordnance and Stores could be removed. This was set about with the greatest industry and, as to the Sick, was compleatly effected. But on Sunday Morning (13th) before we had accomplished the removal of all our Cannon, provision and Baggage, they sent three Ships of War up the North River, whereby the Water carriage was totally stopped. * * *

I am now Encamped on the Heights above mentioned which are so well calculated for defence, that I should hope, if the Enemy make an attack and our men will behave with tolerable Resolution, they must meet with a repulse, if not a total defeat. They advanced in sight yesterday in several large bodies, but attempted nothing of a general nature; tho’ in the fore noon there were some smart skirmishes between some of their parties and detachments sent out by me; in which I have the pleasure to inform you our men behaved with bravery and intrepidity, putting them to flight when in open ground and forcing them from posts they had seized, two or three times. From some of wounded men which fell into our hands, the appearance of blood in every place where they made their stand and on the fences as they passed, we have reason to believe they had a good many killed and wounded; tho’ they did not leave many on the ground: In number, our loss was very inconsiderable, but in the fall of Lieut. Colo. Knowlton, I consider it as great, being a brave and good officer and it may be increased by the Death of Major Leitch, of the Virginia Regiment, who unfortunately Edition: current; Page: [415] received three balls thro’ his side.—Having given you a summary account of the Situation of our affairs, and in such manner as circumstances will admit of, I have only to add that I have the honor &c.

P. S. The Committee have expressed their apprehensions of being obliged to abandon the Island of Rhode Island and Newport, and requested my opinion. At present I can see no cause for it, and the propriety of the measure must depend upon circumstances; but I should suppose they ought to be very pressing and the necessity great, before they ought to be given up,—most certainly no imaginary ills or necessity should lead to such a measure. At this time the danger can only be Ideal, and if the Enemy persevere in their plans, and our men behave as they should do, I am persuaded they will not have an opportunity to employ their attention elsewhere this Campaign.1

Edition: current; Page: [416]
George Washington
Washington, George
18 September, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

As my letter of the 16th contained intelligence of an important nature, and such as might lead Congress to expect that the evacuation of New York and retreat to the Heights of Haerlem, in the manner they were made, would be succeeded by some other interesting event, I beg leave to inform them, that as yet nothing has been attempted upon a large and general plan of attack. About the time of the post’s departure with my letter, the enemy appeared in several large bodies upon the plains, about two and a half miles from hence. I rode down to our advanced posts, to put matters in a proper situation, if they should attempt to come on. When I arrived there I heard a firing, which, I was informed, was between a party of our rangers under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Knowlton, and an advanced party of the enemy. Our men came in and told me, that the body of the enemy, who kept themselves concealed, consisted of about three hundred, as near as they could guess. I immediately ordered three companies of Colonel Weedon’s regiment from Virginia, under the command of Major Leitch, and Colonel Knowlton with his rangers composed of volunteers from different New-England regiments, to try to get in their rear, Edition: current; Page: [417] while a disposition was making as if to attack them in front, and thereby draw their whole attention that way.

This took effect as I wished on the part of the enemy. On the appearance of our party in front, they immediately ran down the hill, took possession of some fences and bushes, and a smart firing began, but at too great a distance to do much execution on either side. The parties under Colonel Knowlton and Major Leitch unluckily began their attack too soon, as it was rather in flank than in rear. In a little time Major Leitch was brought off wounded, having received three balls through his side; and, in a short time after, Colonel Knowlton got a wound, which proved mortal. The men however persevered, and continued the engagement with the greatest resolution. Finding that they wanted a support, I advanced part of Colonel Griffith’s and Colonel Richardson’s Maryland regiments, with some detachments from the eastern regiments, who were nearest the place of action. These troops charged the enemy with great intrepidity, and drove them from the wood into the plain, and were pushing them from thence, having silenced their fire in a great measure, when I judged it prudent to order a retreat, fearing the enemy, as I have since found was really the case, were sending a large body to support their party.

Major Leitch I am in hopes will recover; but Colonel Knowlton’s fall is much to be regretted, as that of a brave and good officer. We had about forty wounded; the number of slain is not yet ascertained; Edition: current; Page: [418] but it is very inconsiderable. By a sergeant, who deserted from the enemy and came in this morning, I find that their party was greater than I imagined. It consisted of the second battalion of light infantry, a battalion of the Royal Highlanders, and three companies of Hessian riflemen, under the command of Brigadier-General Leslie. The deserter reports, that their loss in wounded and missing was eighty-nine, and eight killed. In the latter, his account is too small, as our people discovered and buried double that number. This affair I am in hopes will be attended with many salutary consequences, as it seems to have greatly inspirited the whole of our troops.1 The sergeant further adds, that a considerable body of men are now encamped from the East to the North Rivers, between the seventh and eighth mile stones, under the command of General Clinton. General Howe, he believes, has his quarters at Mr. Apthorp’s house. I have, &c.2

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P. S. I should have wrote Congress by Express before now had I not expected the post every minute which I flatter myself will be a sufficient apology, for my delaying it.

The late losses we have sustained in our Baggage and Camp necessaries have added much to our distress, which was very great before. I must therefore take the liberty of requesting Congress to have forwarded as soon as possible such a supply of Tents, Blankets, Kettles, and other articles as can be collected. We cannot be overstocked.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
20 September, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have been honored with your favor of the 16th with its inclosures to prevent the injury and abuses which would arise from the Militia and other troops carrying away Ammunition and Continental property. I have published the substance of the Resolves upon the subject in General Orders.

Since my letter of yesterday nothing of importance has cast up. The Enemy are forming a large and extensive Encampment in the plains mentioned in my last and are busily employed in transporting their cannon and Stores from Long Island. As they advance them this way, we may reasonably expect their operations will not long be deferred. * * * Genls. Howe1 and Erskine’s proclamations shew Edition: current; Page: [421] the measures that have been pursued to force & seduce the Inhabitants of Long Island from their allegiance to the States and to assist in their destruction.

As the period will soon arrive, when the troops composing the present army (a few excepted) will be disbanded according to the tenor of their enlistments, and the most fatal consequences may ensue, if a suitable and timely provision is not made in this instance, I take the liberty of suggesting to Congress not only the expediency, but the absolute necessity there is, that their earliest attention should be had to this subject. In respect to the time that troops should be engaged for, I have frequently given my sentiments; nor have I omitted to express my opinion of Edition: current; Page: [422] the difficulties that will attend raising them, nor of the impracticability of effecting it, without the allowance of a large and extraordinary bounty. It is a melancholy and painful consideration to those, who are concerned in the work, and have the command, to be forming armies constantly, and to be left by troops just when they begin to deserve the name, or perhaps at a moment when an important blow is expected. This, I am well informed, will be the case at Ticonderoga with part of the troops there, unless some system is immediately come into by which they can be induced to stay.

Genl. Schuyler tells me in a Letter received yesterday that De.Haas, Maxwell’s and Wines’ Regimts. stand engaged only till the beginning of next month, and that the men, he is fearfull, will not remain longer than the time of their inlistments.

I would also beg leave to mention to Congress, that the season is fast approaching when Cloaths of every kind will be wanted for the Army. Their distress is already great and will be encreased as the weather becomes more severe.

Our situation is now bad, but is much better than the militia that are coming to join us from the States of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut in consequence of the requisition of Congress. They, I am informed, have not a single Tent nor a necessary of any kind, nor can I conceive how it will be possible to support them. These circumstances are extremely alarming, and oblige me to wish Congress to have all the Tents, Cloathing of every kind, and Camp Edition: current; Page: [423] necessaries provided and forwarded, that are to be procured. These Eastern reinforcements have not a single necessary, not a pan or a kettle, in which we are now greatly deficient. It is with reluctance that I trouble Congress with these matters but to whom can I resort for relief unless to them? The necessity therefore, which urges the application, will excuse it, I am persuaded.

I have not been able to transmit Congress a General Return of the Army this week, owing to the peculiar situation of our affairs, and the great shifting and changing among the troops. As soon as I can procure one a copy shall be forwarded to Congress. I have &c.

P. S. Sept. 21st, 1776. Things with us remain in the situation they were yesterday.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
22 September, 1776
Kingsbridge

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I had flattered myself that the Congress would before this Time have forwarded the Amended Articles for the Government of the Army. But as they have not I think it my indispensable Duty to lay before Edition: current; Page: [425] them the Necessity, the absolute Necessity of forming an Article against plundering, marauding and burning of Houses. Such a Spirit has gone forth in our Army that neither publick or private Property is secure—Every Hour brings the most distressing complaints of the Ravages of our own Troops who are become infinitely more formidable to the poor Farmers and Inhabitants than the common Enemy. Horses are taken out off the Continental Teams; the Baggage of Officers and the Hospital Stores, even the Quarters of General Officers are not exempt from Rapine.

Some severe and exemplary Punishment to be inflicted in a summary Way must be immediately administered, or the Army will be totally ruined. I must beg the immediate Attention of Congress to this Matter as of the utmost Importance to our Existence as an Army. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 September, 1776
John Augustine Washington
Washington, John Augustine

TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.

Dear Brother,

My extream hurry for some time past has rendered it utterly impossible for me to pay that attention to the letters of my friends, which inclination and natural affection always inclines me to. I have no doubt, therefore, of meeting with their excuse, tho’ with respect to yourself I have had no Letter from you since the date of my last saving the one of Septr. the 1st. With respect to the attack and Retreat from Edition: current; Page: [426] Long Island, the public Papers would furnish you with accounts nearly true. I shall only add, that in the former we lost about eight hundred men, more than three fourths of which were taken prisoners. This misfortune happened in a great measure by Two detachments of our People, who were Posted in two Roads leading thro’ a wood, in order to intercept the Enemy in their march, suffering a Surprise, and making a precipitate Retreat, which enabled the Enemy to lead a great part of their force against the Troops commanded by Lord Stirling, who formed a third detachment, who behaved with great bravery and resolution.

As to the Retreat from the Island, under the circumstances we then were, it became absolutely necessary, and was effected without loss of men, and with but very little baggage. A few heavy cannon were left, not being movable on account of the Ground being soft and miry, Thro’ the heavy and incessant rains which had fallen. The Enemy’s loss in killed we could never ascertain, but have many reasons to believe, that it was pretty considerable, and exceeded ours a good deal. Our Retreat from thence, as I said before, was absolutely necessary, the Enemy having landed the main body of their army to attack us in Front, while their ships of war were to cut off all communication with the city, from whence resources of men and provisions were to be drawn.

Having made this Retreat, not long after we discovered, by the movements of the Enemy and the information we received from Deserters and others, that they declined attacking our Lines in the city, Edition: current; Page: [427] and were forming a plan to get in our Rear with their Land army, by crossing the Sound above us, and thereby to cut off all Intercourse with the country and every necessary supply. The ships of war were to coöperate, possess the North River, and prevent succours from the Jerseys, &c. This Plan appearing probable, and but too practicable in its execution, it became necessary to guard agt. the fatal consequences, that must follow, if the scheme were effected; for which purpose I caused a removal of a part of our troops and stores from the city; and a council of general officers determined, that it must be entirely abandoned, as we had, with an army weaker than theirs, a line of sixteen or eighteen miles to defend, to keep open our communication with the country, besides the defence of the city. We held up, however, every show of defence, till our Sick and all our stores could be brought away. The evacuation being resolved upon, every exertion in our power was made to baffle their designs and effect our own. The sick were numerous, amounting to more than the fourth part of our whole army, and an object of great Importance. Happily we got them away; but, before we could bring off all our stores, on Sunday morning six or seven ships of war, which had gone up the East River some few days before, began a most severe and heavy cannonade, to scour the grounds and effect a landing of their Troops. Three Ships of War also ran up the North River that morning above the city, to prevent our Boats and small craft from carrying away our Baggage, &c.

I had gone the Evening before to the main body of Edition: current; Page: [428] our army, which was Posted about these Heights and the Plains of Haerlem, where it seemed probable, from the movements and disposition of the Enemy, they meant to Land and make an attack the next morning. However the Event did not happen. Immediately on hearing the cannonade, I rode with all possible expedition towards the place of Landing, and where Breastworks had been thrown up to secure our men; and found the Troops, that had been posted there, to my great surprise and mortification, and those ordered to their support, (consisting of Eight Regiments) notwithstanding the exertions of their Generals to form them, running away in the most shameful and disgraceful manner. I used every possible effort to rally them, but to no purpose; and, on the appearance of a small part of the Enemy, (not more than sixty or seventy,) they ran off without firing a Single Gun. Many of our heavy cannon would inevitably have fallen into the Enemy’s hands, as they landed so soon; but this scandalous conduct occasioned a loss of many Tents, Baggage, and Camp-equipage, which would have been easily secured, had they made the least opposition.

The Retreat was made with the loss of a few men only. We Encamped, and still are, on the Heights of Haerlem, which are well suited for Defence against their approaches. On Monday morning, they advanced in sight in several large bodies, but attempted nothing of a general nature, tho’ there were smart skirmishes between their advanced parties and some Detachments from our lines, which I sent out. In Edition: current; Page: [429] these our Troops behaved well, putting the enemy to flight in open Ground, and forcing them from Posts they had seized two or three times. A sergeant, who deserted from them, says they had, as he was told, eighty-nine wounded and missing, besides slain; but other accounts make the wounded much greater. Our loss in killed and wounded was about sixty; but the greatest loss we sustained was in the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Knowlton, a brave and gallant officer. Major Leitch of Weedon’s Regiment had three balls though his side, and behaved exceedingly well. He is in a fair way of recovery. Nothing material has happened since this. The Enemy, it is said, are bringing up their heavy cannon, so that we are to expect another attack soon, both by Land and Water, as we are upon the Hudson, (or North River) at the place where we have attempted to stop the navigation by sinking obstructions in the river and erecting Batteries.

The Dependence, which the Congress have placed upon the militia, has already greatly injured, and I fear will totally ruin our cause. Being subject to no controul themselves, they introduce disorder among the troops, whom you have attempted to discipline, while the change in their living brings on sickness; this makes them Impatient to get home, which spreads universally, and introduces abominable desertions. In short, it is not in the power of words to describe the task I have to act. Fifty thousand pounds should not induce me again to undergo what I have done. Our numbers, by sickness, desertion, &c., are greatly Edition: current; Page: [430] reduced.1 I have been trying these four or five days to get a return, but have not yet succeeded. I am sure, however, we have not more than twelve or fourteen thousand men fit for duty, whilst the enemy, who, it is said, are very healthy, cannot have less than near twenty-five thousand. With sincere love to my sister and the family, and compliments to any inquiring friends, I am, &c.2

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George Washington
Washington, George
23 September, 1776
Lieutenant-General Howe
Lieutenant-General Howe

TO LIEUTENANT-GENERAL HOWE.

Sir,

I yesterday evening received the favor of your letter of the 21st, by your aid-de-camp Captain Montresor, in consequence of which, I this morning despatched an express to Elizabethtown, with orders that Major-General Prescott should be permitted to return in the boat, that carried General Sullivan over to that place. I most readily concur in the proposition, which you are pleased to make for the exchange of Brigadier-General Lord Stirling for Governor Montfort Brown, and have sent for him accordingly. I should hope, that Lord Stirling will be immediately set at liberty, on my promise that Governor Brown shall be sent to you as soon as he arrives. I had no Edition: current; Page: [432] doubt but Mr. McDonald’s title would have been acknowledged, having understood, that he received his commission from the hands of Governor Martin; nor can I consent to rank him as major, till I have proper authority from Congress, to whom I shall state the matter upon your representation.1

Agreeably to your request, I shall transmit to Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell a copy of the list of officers of the forty-second and seventy-first regiments, taken by us last spring, that it may be rectified in the instances in which it may be wrong, and will then place opposite to their names the officers I would wish in return for them. The exchange of privates I shall take the earliest opportunity in my power to carry into execution; but their being greatly dispersed through the New England governments, in order to their better accommodation, will prevent it for some time. Having the fullest confidence in your assurance, that Mr. Lovell will be released when he arrives from Halifax, I have written for Governor Skene to come to head-quarters, that he may proceed immediately to you.

As to the exchange of prisoners settled between Captain Foster and General Arnold, I beg leave to inform you, that it was a transaction in which I had not the smallest concern, nor have I authority to give directions in any degree respecting the matter. The information you have received concerning the ill-treatment Edition: current; Page: [433] of your officers, I would fain hope, is not generally well founded.1 The letters from them, which have passed through my hands, hold forth a different language. In particular instances, it is true, there are some, who have been restricted to a closer confinement and severer treatment than they otherwise would have been, for breaking or refusing to give their paroles; such, I am confident, will not be countenanced by your Excellency; and I am persuaded that by a closer investigation of the enquiry you will discover, that there have been no other persons whatever, who have experienced the smallest harshness from us. I shall, however, obtain all the information on the subject in my power, that every ground of complaint, if any exists, may be entirely removed; it being my most earnest wish, that, during this unhappy contest, there be every exercise of humanity which the nature of the case will possibly admit.2

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Your aid-de-camp delivered to me the ball you mention, which was the first of the kind I ever saw or heard of. You may depend the contrivance is highly abhorred by me, and every measure shall be taken to prevent so wicked and infamous a practice being adopted in this army. I have the honor to be, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
23 September, 1776
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

* * * * * *

I must beg your excuse, for not having wrote you of late upon the situation of our affairs, and such events as have occurred in the military line. I shall only add, that the important concerns, which have commanded my closest attention, have been the Edition: current; Page: [435] cause, and, I am fully persuaded, will furnish me with a sufficient apology. Of the evacuation of the city of New York on Sunday sen’night, and the retreat to this place, you will have heard before now, and of the manner in which it was conducted. I am certain, a minute relation of them would only increase the uneasiness, which would naturally arise upon hearing the events; and, therefore, as I have not time, I shall not enter upon it.

The Enemy by their movements having unfolded their plan of Operations and discovered that they declined making a direct attack upon the Town, and that their designs were to land in our rear and cut off all intercourse with the Country; at the same time to prevent any Communication with the Jersey and States South of the North River, by means of their Ships of War; it became necessary to adopt such Edition: current; Page: [436] measures, as seemed best calculated to baffle their schemes and promote the common Interests. To these ends, a Council of Officers determined the evacuation of the city absolutely necessary, and I have only to wish, that it had been made in a way more honorable and with less loss of Baggage; which might have been the case, had the Troops that remained there for the defence of the Lines, not betaken themselves to a most precipitate and disgraceful flight, contrary to the exertions of their General Officers and every effort in my Power to prevent and form them. Having gone from hence, as soon as the Ships began their Cannonade, and whither I had come the night before to the main Body of our Army, in expectation of an Attack that night or the next morning; as the parade of the Enemy, and the unusual stir amongst them strongly indicated one. The next morning, several large Columns of them appeared on the Plains, at the distance of about two miles and a half below us, and some smart skirmishes ensued between their advanced parties composed of the 2d Battalion of Infantry, a Regiment of Royal Highlanders, and three Companies of the Hessian Chasseurs or Rifle men, and the detachments which I sent out to oppose them. Upon this occasion, our men behaved with great spirit and Intrepidity, putting the Enemy to flight and forcing them from their Posts two or three times. Our people buried Sixteen or Eighteen of their dead, as they say; and a sergeant who has since deserted reports, they had Eighty nine missing and wounded. Our Loss in Edition: current; Page: [437] number is inconsiderable but must be considered as great, in the fall of Lieut. Colo. Knowlton of your State who commanded a party of Rangers, composed of Volunteers from the several New England Regiments, and who was a brave and good officer. Every honor was paid to his merit in his Interment, that the situation of things would admit of.

The enemy have formed a large encampment in the plains, or rather heights, below us, extending across as it were from the East to the North River; but have attempted nothing as yet of a general nature. We are making every disposition in our power for defence, and I should hope, from the ground we are on, if they make an attack, and our men behave with tolerable resolution and firmness, that they will meet with a repulse, or at least, any advantage they gain will be attended with sorrow and a considerable loss. Major Leitch, who led on a detachment of the Virginia regiment in the affair of Monday, received three balls through one side; he still retains his spirits, and seems as if he would recover.1 On Friday night, about eleven or twelve o’clock, a fire broke out in the city of New York, which, burning rapidly till after sunrise next morning, destroyed a great number of houses. By what means it happened we do not know; but the gentleman, who brought the letter from General Howe last night, and who was one of his aide-de-camps informed Colonel Reed, that several of our countrymen had been punished with various deaths on account of it, some Edition: current; Page: [438] by hanging, others by burning &c; alleging, that they were apprehended when committing the fact. I am, &c.

P. S. I would choose that Governors Brown & Skene should be stopt when they come within Ten or twelve miles and detained until one of the escort can inform me of their coming and receive my directions respecting them.

George Washington
Washington, George
24 September, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.1

Sir,

From the hours allotted to sleep, I will borrow a few moments to convey my thoughts on sundry important matters to Congress. I shall offer them with Edition: current; Page: [439] the sincerity, which ought to characterize a man of candor, and with the freedom, which may be used in giving useful information without incurring the imputation of presumption.

We are now, as it were, upon the eve of another dissolution of our army.1 The remembrance of the difficulties, which happened upon that occasion last year, and the consequences, which might have followed the change if proper advantages had been taken by the enemy, added to a knowledge of the present temper and situation of the troops, reflect but a very gloomy prospect in the appearances of things now, and satisfy me beyond the possibility of doubt, that, unless some speedy and effectual measures are adopted by Congress, our cause will be lost. It is in vain to expect, that any more than a trifling part of this army will again engage in the service on the encouragement offered by Congress. When men find that their townsmen and companions are receiving twenty, thirty, and more dollars for a few months’ service, which is truly the case, it cannot be expected, without using compulsion; and to force them into the service would answer no valuable purpose. Edition: current; Page: [440] When men are irritated, and their passions inflamed, they fly hastily and cheerfully to arms; but, after the first emotions are over, to expect among such people as compose the bulk of an army, that they are influenced by any other principles than those of interest, is to look for what never did, and I fear never will happen; the Congress will deceive themselves, therefore, if they expect it. A soldier, reasoned with upon the goodness of the cause he is engaged in, and the inestimable rights he is contending for, hears you with patience, and acknowledges the truth of your observations, but adds that it is of no more importance to him than to others. The officer makes you the same reply, with this further remark, that his pay will not support him, and he cannot ruin himself and family to serve his country, when every member of the community is equally interested, and benefitted by his labors. The few, therefore, who act upon principles of disinterestedness, comparatively speaking, are no more than a drop in the ocean.

It becomes evident to me then, that, as this contest is not likely to be the work of a day, as the war must be carried on systematically, and to do it you must have good officers, there are in my judgment no other possible means to obtain them but by establishing your army upon a permanent footing, and giving your officers good pay. This will induce gentlemen and men of character to engage; and, till the bulk of your officers is composed of such persons as are actuated by principles of honor and a spirit of enterprise, you have little to expect from them. Edition: current; Page: [441] They ought to have such allowances, as will enable them to live like and support the character of gentlemen, and not be driven by a scanty pittance to the low and dirty arts, which many of them practise, to filch from the public more than the difference of pay would amount to, upon an ample allowance. Besides, something is due to the man, who puts his life in your hands, hazards his health, and forsakes the sweets of domestic enjoyment. Why a captain in the Continental service should receive no more than five shillings currency per day for performing the same duties, that an officer of the same rank in the British service receives ten shillings for, I never could conceive; especially when the latter is provided with every necessary he requires upon the best terms, and the former can scarce procure them at any rate. There is nothing that gives a man consequence and renders him fit for command, like a support that renders him independent of every body but the state he serves.1

With respect to the men, nothing but a good bounty can obtain them upon a permanent establishment; and for no shorter time, than the continuance of the war, ought they to be engaged; as facts incontestably Edition: current; Page: [442] prove, that the difficulty and cost of enlistments increase with time. When the army was first raised at Cambridge, I am persuaded the men might have been got, without a bounty, for the war. After this, they began to see that the contest was not likely to end so speedily as was imagined, and to feel their consequence by remarking, that, to get in their militia in the course of the last year, many towns were induced to give them a bounty. Foreseeing the evils resulting from this, and the destructive consequences, which unavoidably would follow short enlistments, I took the liberty in a long letter written by myself (date not now recollected as my Letter Book is not here1) to recommend the enlistments for and during the war, assigning such reasons for it as experience has since convinced me were well founded. At that time, twenty dollars would, I am persuaded, have engaged the men for this term. But it will not do to look back; and, if the present opportunity is slipped, I am persuaded that twelve months more will increase our difficulties fourfold. I shall therefore take the freedom of giving it as my opinion, that a good bounty should be immediately offered, aided by the proffer of at least a hundred or a hundred and fifty acres of land, and a suit of clothes and blanket to each non-comissioned officer and soldier; as I have good authority for saying, that, however high the men’s pay may appear, it is barely sufficient, in the present scarcity and dearness of all kinds of goods, to keep them in clothes, much less afford support to their families.

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If this encouragement then is given to the men, and such pay allowed the officers as will induce gentlemen of character and liberal sentiments to engage, and proper care and precaution are used in the nomination, (having more regard to the characters of persons, than to the number of men they can enlist,) we should in a little time have an army able to cope with any that can be opposed to it, as there are excellent materials to form one out of. But while the only merit an officer possesses is his ability to raise men, while those men consider and treat him as an equal, and, in the character of an officer, regard him no more than a broomstick, being mixed together as one common herd, no order nor discipline can prevail; nor will the officer ever meet with that respect, which is essentially necessary to due subordination.1

To place any dependence upon militia is assuredly resting upon a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender scenes of domestic life, unaccustomed to the din of arms, totally unacquainted with every kind of military skill, (which being followed by want of confidence in themselves, when opposed to troops regularly trained, disciplined, and appointed, superior in knowledge and superior in arms,) makes them timid and ready to fly from their own shadows. Besides the sudden change in their manner of living, Edition: current; Page: [444] (particularly in the lodging,) brings on sickness in many, impatience in all, and such an unconquerable desire of returning to their respective homes, that it not only produces shameful and scandalous desertions among themselves, but infuses the like spirit in others. Again, men accustomed to unbounded freedom and no control cannot brooke the restraint, which is indispensably necessary to the good order and government of an army; without which, licentiousness and every kind of disorder triumphantly reign. To bring men to a proper degree of subordination is not the work of a day, a month, or even a year; and, unhappily for us and the cause we are engaged in, the little discipline I have been laboring to establish in the army under my immediate command is in a manner done away, by having such a mixture of troops, as have been called together within these few months.

Relaxed and as unfit as our rules and regulations of war are for the government of an army, the militia (those properly so called, for of these we have two sorts, the six-months’ men, and those sent in as a temporary aid) do not think themselves subject to them, and therefore take liberties, which the soldier is punished for. This creates jealousy; jealousy begets dissatisfaction; and these by degrees ripen into mutiny, keeping the whole army in a confused and disordered state, rendering the time of those, who wish to see regularity and good order prevail, more unhappy than words can describe. Besides this, such repeated changes take place, that all Edition: current; Page: [445] arrangement is set at nought, and the constant fluctuation of things deranges every plan as fast as adopted.

These, Sir, Congress may be assured, are but a small part of the inconveniences, which might be enumerated, and attributed to militia; but there is one, that merits particular attention, and that is the expense. Certain I am, that it would be cheaper to keep fifty or a hundred thousand in constant pay, than to depend upon half the number and supply the other half occasionally by militia. The time the latter are in pay before and after they are in camp, assembling and marching, the waste of ammunition, the consumption of stores, which, in spite of every resolution or requisition of Congress, they must be furnished with, or sent home, added to other incidental expenses consequent upon their coming and conduct in camp, surpasses all idea, and destroys every kind of regularity and economy, which you could establish among fixed and settled troops, and will, in my opinion, prove, if the scheme is adhered to, the ruin of our cause.

The jealousy of a standing army, and the evils to be apprehended from one, are remote, and, in my judgment, situated and circumstanced as we are, not at all to be dreaded; but the consequence of wanting one, according to my ideas formed from the present view of things, is certain and inevitable ruin. For, if I was called upon to declare upon oath, whether the militia have been most serviceable or hurtful upon the whole, I should subscribe to the latter. I Edition: current; Page: [446] do not mean by this, however, to arraign the conduct of Congress; in so doing I should equally condemn my own measures, if I did not my judgment; but experience, which is the best criterion to work by, so fully, clearly, and decisively reprobates the practice of trusting to militia, that no man, who regards order, regularity, and economy, or who has any regard for his own honor, character, or peace of mind, will risk them upon this issue.1

No less attention should be paid to the choice of surgeons, than of other officers of the army. They should undergo a regular examination, and, if not appointed by the director-general and surgeons of the hospital, they ought to be subordiate to and governed by his directions. The regimental surgeons I Edition: current; Page: [447] am speaking of, many of whom are very great rascals, countenancing the men in sham complaints to exempt them from duty, and often receiving bribes to certify indispositions, with a view to procure discharges or furloughs; but, independent of these practices, while they are considered as unconnected with the general hospital, there will be nothing but continual complaints of each other; the director of the hospital charging them with enormity in their drafts for the sick, and they him with the same for denying such things as are necessary. In short, there is a constant bickering among them, which tends greatly to the injury of the sick, and will always subsist till the regimental surgeons are made to look up to the director-general of the hospital as a superior. Whether this is the case in regular armies or not, I cannot undertake to say; but certain I am, there is a necessity for it in this, or the sick will suffer. The regimental surgeons are aiming, I am persuaded, to break up the general hospital, and have, in numberless instances, drawn for medicines and stores in the most profuse and extravagant manner for private purposes.1

Another matter highly worthy of attention is, that other rules and regulations may be adopted for the government of the army, than those now in existence; Edition: current; Page: [448] otherwise the army, but for the name, might as well be disbanded. For the most atrocious offences, one or two instances only excepted, a man receives no more than thirty-nine lashes; and these, perhaps, through the collusion of the officer, who is to see it inflicted, are given in such a manner as to become rather a matter of sport than punishment; but, when inflicted as they ought, many hardened fellows, who have been the subjects, have declared that, for a bottle of rum, they would undergo a second operation. It is evident, therefore, that this punishment is inadequate to many crimes it is assigned to. As a proof of it, thirty or forty soldiers will desert at a time, and of late a practice prevails (as you will see by my letter of the 22d) of the most alarming nature and which will, if it cannot be checked, prove fatal both to the country and army; I mean the infamous practice of plundering. For, under the idea of Tory property, or property that may fall into the hands of the enemy, no man is secure in his effects, and scarcely in his person. In order to get at them, we have several instances of people being frightened out of their houses, under pretence of those houses being ordered to be burnt, and this is done with a view of seizing the goods; nay, in order that the villany may be more effectually concealed, some houses have actually been burnt, to cover the theft. I have, with some others, used my utmost endeavors to stop this horrid practice; but under the present lust after plunder, and want of laws to punish offenders, I might almost as well attempt to remove Mount Atlas. Edition: current; Page: [449] I have ordered instant corporal punishment upon every man, who passes our lines, or is seen with plunder, that the offenders might be punished for disobedience of orders; and enclose to you the proceedings of a court-martial held upon an officer [Ensign Matthew McCumber] who, with a party of men, had robbed a house a little beyond our lines of a number of valuable goods, among which (to show that nothing escapes) were four large pier looking-glasses, women’s clothes, and other articles, which, one would think, could be of no earthly use to him. He was met by a major of brigade, [Box] who ordered him to return the goods, as taken contrary to general orders, which he not only peremptorily refused to do, but drew up his party, and swore he would defend them at the hazard of his life; on which I ordered him to be arrested and tried for plundering, disobedience of orders, and mutiny. For the result, I refer to the proceedings of the court, whose judgment appeared so exceedingly extraordinary,1 that I ordered a reconsideration of the matter, upon which, and with the assistance of a fresh evidence, they made a shift to cashier him. I adduce this instance, to give some idea to Congress of the current sentiments and general run of the officers, which compose the present army; and to show how Edition: current; Page: [450] exceedingly necessary it is to be careful in the choice of the new set, even if it should take double the time to complete the levies.1

An army formed of good officers moves like clockwork; but there is no situation upon earth less enviable, nor more distressing, than that person’s, who is at the head of troops which are regardless of order and discipline, and who are unprovided with almost every necessary. In a word, the difficulties, which have for ever surrounded me since I have been in the service, and kept my mind constantly upon the stretch, the wounds, which my feelings as an officer have received by a thousand things, which have happened contrary to my expectation and wishes; the effect of my own conduct, and present appearance of things, so little pleasing to myself, as to render it a matter of no surprise to me if I should stand capitally censured by Congress; added to a consciousness of my inability to govern an army composed of such discordant parts, and under such a variety of intricate and perplexing circumstances;—induces not only a belief, but a thorough conviction in my mind, that it will be impossible, Edition: current; Page: [451] unless there is a thorough change in our military system, for me to conduct matters in such a manner as to give satisfaction to the public, which is all the recompense I aim at, or ever wished for.

Before I conclude, I must apologize for the liberties taken in this letter, and for the blots and scratchings therein, not having time to give it more correctly. With truth I can add, that, with every sentiment of respect and esteem, I am yours and the Congress’s most obedient, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
26 September, 1776
Brigadier-General Mercer
Brigadier-General Mercer

TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL MERCER.

Dear Sir,

If the troops at this post can be prevailed upon to defend it as they should do, it must cost General Howe a great many men to carry it, if he succeeds at all. If this should happen to be his opinion, there is scarce a doubt that he will turn his thoughts another way, as inactivity is not to be expected from him. Whither his operations may be directed is uncertain; perhaps an irruption into the Jerseys. Possibly he may bend his course towards Philadelphia, (for I conceive that two thousand men, with the assistance of their shipping, will effectually preserve New York against our whole strength,) or, what in my judgment is exceedingly probable, knowing that the troops are drawn Edition: current; Page: [453] off from the southern colonies, he may detach a part of the army to the southward for a winter’s campaign, as was recommended to him last fall by Lord Dunmore.

In either of these cases, it behoves us to keep the best look-out, and to obtain the earliest intelligence possible of the enemy’s motions; and, as it is now the current opinion, that the shipping are greatly thinned, I earnestly recommend to you the necessity of having sensible and judicious persons in different places to observe the movements of the shipping, among others at the Neversinks; for if they should send out a fleet without our giving notice of it to Congress, we shall be thought exceedingly remiss. In short, I entreat you to exert your best endeavors to obtain all the useful intelligence you possibly can of the enemy’s motions by sea and land. In doing Edition: current; Page: [454] this, money may be required, and do not spare it. Communicate every thing of importance to me with despatch; and be assured, that I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
28 September, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Being about to cross the North River this morning, in order to view the post opposite, and the grounds between that and Paulus Hook, I shall not add much more than that I have been honored with your favor of the 24th and its several enclosures, and that since my letter of yesterday, no important event has taken place.2

As Colonel Hugh Stephenson, of the rifle regiment lately ordered to be raised, is dead, according to the information I have received, I would beg leave to recommend to the particular notice of Congress Captain Daniel Morgan, just returned among the prisoners from Canada, as a fit and proper person to succeed to the vacancy occasioned by his death. The Edition: current; Page: [455] present field-officers of the regiment cannot claim any right in preference to him, because he ranked above them, and as a captain, when he first entered the service. His conduct as an officer, on the expedition with General Arnold last fall, his intrepid behavior in the assault upon Quebec, when the brave Montgomery fell, the inflexible attachment he professed to our cause during his imprisonment, and which he perseveres in, added to these, his residence in the place Colonel Stephenson came from, and his interest and influence in the same circle, and with such men as are to compose such a regiment,—all, in my opinion, entitle him to the favor of Congress, and lead me to believe, that in his promotion the States will gain a good valuable officer for the sort of troops he is particularly recommended to command. Should Congress be pleased to appoint Captain Morgan in the instance I have mentioned, I would still beg leave to suggest the propriety and necessity of keeping the matter close, and not suffering it to transpire, until he is exonerated from the parole he is under. His acceptance of a commission under his present circumstances might be construed a violation of his engagement; and if not, the difficulty attending his exchange might be increased. The enemy, perhaps, would consider him as a field-officer, of which we have but very few in our hands, and none, that I recollect, of that rank.1 I am, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [456]
George Washington
Washington, George
30 September, 1776
Lund Washington
Washington, Lund

TO LUND WASHINGTON.1

Dear Lund,

Your letter of the 18th, which is the only one received and unanswered, now lies before me. The amazement which you seem to be in at the unaccountable measures which have been adopted by —2 would be a good deal increased if I had time to unfold the whole system of their management since this time twelve months. I do not know how to account for the unfortunate steps which have been taken but from that fatal idea of conciliation which prevailed so long—fatal, I call it, because from my soul I wish it may prove so, though my fears lead me to think there is too much danger of it. This time last year I pointed out the evil consequences of short enlistments, the expenses of militia, and the little dependence Edition: current; Page: [457] that was to be placed in them. I assured [Congress] that the longer they delayed raising a standing army, the more difficult and chargeable would they find it to get one, and that, at the same time that the militia would answer no valuable purpose, the frequent calling them in would be attended with an expense, that they could have no conception of.1 Whether, as I have said before, the unfortunate hope of reconciliation was the cause, or the fear of a standing army prevailed, I will not undertake to say; but the policy was to engage men for twelve months only. The consequence of which, you have had great bodies of militia in pay that never were in camp; you have had immense quantities of provisions drawn by men that never rendered you one hour’s service (at least usefully), and this in the most profuse and wasteful way. Your stores have been expended, and every kind of military [discipline?] destroyed by them; your numbers fluctuating, uncertain, and forever far short of report—at no one time, I believe, equal to twenty thousand men fit for duty. At present our numbers fit for duty (by this day’s report) amount to 14,759, besides 3,427 on command, and the enemy within stone’s throw of us. It is true a body of militia are again ordered out, but they come without any conveniences and soon return. I Edition: current; Page: [458] discharged a regiment the other day that had in it fourteen rank and file fit for duty only, and several that had less than fifty. In short, such is my situation that if I were to wish the bitterest curse to an enemy on this side of the grave, I should put him in my stead with my feelings; and yet I do not know what plan of conduct to pursue. I see the impossibility of serving with reputation, or doing any essential service to the cause by continuing in command, and yet I am told that if I quit the command inevitable ruin will follow from the distraction that will ensue. In confidence I tell you that I never was in such an unhappy, divided state since I was born. To lose all comfort and happiness on the one hand, whilst I am fully persuaded that under such a system of management as has been adopted, I cannot have the least chance for reputation, nor those allowances made which the nature of the case requires; and to be told, on the other, that if I leave the service all will be lost, is, at the same time that I am bereft of every peaceful moment, distressing to a degree. But I will be done with the subject, with the precaution to you that it is not a fit one to be publicly known or discussed. If I fall, it may not be amiss that these circumstances be known, and declaration made in credit to the justice of my character. And if the men will stand by me (which by the by I despair of), I am resolved not to be forced from this ground while I have life; and a few days will determine the point, if the enemy should not change their plan of operations; for they certainly will not—I am Edition: current; Page: [459] sure they ought not—to waste the season that is now fast advancing, and must be precious to them. I thought to have given you a more explicit account of my situation, expectation, and feelings, but I have not time. I am wearied to death all day with a variety of perplexing circumstances—disturbed at the conduct of the militia, whose behavior and want of discipline has done great injury to the other troops, who never had officers, except in a few instances, worth the bread they eat. My time, in short, is so much engrossed that I have not leisure for corresponding, unless it is on mere matters of public business.

I therefore in answer to your last Letter of the 18th shall say

With respect to the chimney, I would not have you for the sake of a little work spoil the look of the fireplaces, tho’ that in the parlor must, I should think, stand as it does; not so much on account of the wainscotting, which I think must be altered (on account of the door leading into the new building,) as on account of the chimney piece and the manner of its fronting into the room. The chimney in the room above ought, if it could be so contrived, to be an angle chimney as the others are: but I would not have this attempted at the expence of pulling down the partition.—The chimney in the new room should be exactly in the middle of it—the doors and every thing else to be exactly answerable and uniform—in short I would have the whole executed in a masterly manner.

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You ought surely to have a window in the gable end of the new cellar (either under the Venitian window, or one on each side of it).

Let Mr. Herbert know that I shall be very happy in getting his brother exchanged as soon as possible, but as the enemy have more of our officers than we of theirs, and some of ours have been long confined (and claim ye right of being first exchanged,) I do not know how far it may be in my power at this time, to comply with his desires.

Remember me to all our neighbors and friends, particularly to Colo. Mason, to whom I would write if I had time to do it fully and satisfactorily. Without this, I think the correspondence on my part would be unavailing—

I am with truth and sincerity,
Dr Lund yr affect’e friend.1
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George Washington
Washington, George
2 October, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I do myself the honor of transmitting to you the enclosed letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Livingston, with sundry copies of General Delancey’s orders, which discover the measures the enemy are pursuing on Long Island for raising recruits and obtaining supplies of provisions. In consequence of the intelligence they contain, and authentic advices through other channels respecting these matters, I have sent Brigadier-General George Clinton to meet General Edition: current; Page: [462] Lincoln, who has got as far as Fairfield with part of the troops lately ordered by the Massachusetts Assembly, to concert with him and others an expedition across the Sound with these troops, three companies under Colonel Livingston,1 and such further aid as Governor Trumbull can afford, in order to prevent if possible their effecting these important objects, and to assist the inhabitants in the removal of their stock, grain, &c., or in destroying them, that the enemy may not derive any advantage or benefit from them.2

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The recruiting scheme they are prosecuting with uncommon industry; nor is it confined to Long Island alone. Having just now received a letter from the Committee of Westchester county, advising that there are several companies of men in that and Duchess county preparing to go off and join the King’s army, I have given directions to our guard-boats and the sentries at our works at Mount Washington to keep a strict lookout, in case they attempt to come down the North River; also to General Heath at Kings-bridge, that the utmost vigilance may be observed by the regiments and troops stationed above there and down towards the East River, that they may intercept them, should they take that route with a view of crossing to Long Island. I will use every precaution in my power to prevent these parricides from accomplishing their designs; but I have but little hope of success, as it will be no difficult matter for them to procure a passage over some part or other of the Sound.

I have been applied to lately by Colo. Weedon of Virginia for permission to recruit the deficiency of men in his Regiments out of the troops composing Edition: current; Page: [464] the flying Camp, informing me at the same time that some of those from Maryland had offered to engage; Colo. Hand of the Rifle Batallion made a similar application to-day. If the inlistments could be made, they would have this good consequence, the securing of so many in the service; However as the measure might occasion some uneasiness in their own Corps, and be considered as a Hardship by the States to which they belong, and the means of their furnishing more than the quota exacted from them in the general arrangement, and would make it more difficult for ’em to compleat their own Levies, I did not consider myself at liberty to authorize it without submitting the propriety of it to the consideration of Congress and obtaining their opinion whether It should be allowed or not. * * *

By a Letter just received from the Committee of Safety of the State of New Hampshire, I find a Thousand of their Militia were about to march on the 24th Ulto. to reinforce this army in consequence of the requisition of Congress. Previous to their march Genl. Ward writes me, he was obliged to furnish them with 500 lbs of powder and 1000 lbs of musket Ball, and I have little reason to expect that they are better provided with other Articles, than they were with ammunition; in such case they will only add to our present distress which is already far too great & become disgusted with the service tho’ the time they are engaged for is only till the first of Decemr.—This will injure their inlisting for a longer Term, if not wholly prevent it.

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From three Deserters who came from the Galatea Man of War about five days ago, we are informed, that several Transports had sailed before they left her for England as it was generally reported, in order to return with a supply of provisions of which they say there is a want. Genl Mercer in a letter informed me, that Genl Thompson said he had heard they were going to dismiss about a Hundred of the Ships from the service.—I am also advised by a Letter, from Mr. Derby at Boston of the 26th Ulto. that the day before, a Transport had been taken and sent into Piscatawa by a privateer in her passage from N. York to the West Indies—she sailed with five more under the convoy of a Man of War in order to bring from thence the Troops that are there to join Genl Howe—they were all victualled for four months. From this intelligence it would seem, as if they did not apprehend anything to be meditating against them by the Court of France.

Octr. the 3d. I have nothing in particular to communicate respecting our situation, it being much the same as when I wrote last. We had an alarm this morning a little before Four o’Clock from some of our Out Sentries, who reported that a large body of the Enemy was advancing towards our Lines.—This put us in motion. However it turned out entirely premature—or at least we saw nothing of them.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
4 October, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Before I knew of the late resolutions of Congress, which you did me the honor to enclose in your letter of the 24th, and before I was favored with the visit of your Committee, I took the liberty of giving you my sentiments on several points, which seemed to be of importance. I have no doubt, that the Committee will make such a report of the state and condition of the army, as will induce Congress to believe, that nothing but the most vigorous exertions can put matters upon such a footing, as to give this continent a fair prospect of success. Give me leave to say, Sir, (I say it with due deference and respect, and my knowledge of the facts, added to the importance of the cause, and the stake I hold in it, must justify the freedom,) that your affairs are in a more unpromising way than you seem to apprehend.

Your army, as I mentioned in my last, is upon the eve of its political dissolution. True it is, you have voted a larger one in lieu of it; but the season is late; and there is a material difference between voting of battalions and raising of men. In the latter, there are more difficulties than Congress are aware of; which makes it my duty, as I have been informed of the prevailing sentiment of this army, to inform them, that, unless the pay of the officers, especially that of the field-officers, is raised, the chief part of those that are worth retaining will leave the service at the expiration of the present term, as the soldiers Edition: current; Page: [467] will also, if some greater encouragement is not offered them, than twenty dollars and one hundred acres of land. Nothing less, in my opinion, than a suit of clothes annually given to each non-commissioned officer and soldier, in addition to the pay and bounty, will avail; and I question whether that will do, as the enemy, from the information of one John Marsh, who, with six others, was taken by our guards, are giving ten pounds bounty for recruits, and have got a battalion under Major Rogers nearly completed upon Long Island.

Nor will less pay, according to my judgment, than I have taken the liberty of mentioning in the enclosed estimate, retain such officers as we could wish to have continued. The difference per month in each battalion will amount to better than a hundred pounds. To this may be added the pay of the staff-officers; for it is presumable they will also require an augmentation; but being few in number, the sum will not be greatly increased by them, and consequently is a matter of no great moment. But it is a matter of no small importance to make the several offices desirable. When the pay and establishment of an officer once become objects of interested attention, the sloth, negligence, and even disobedience of orders, which at this time but too generally prevail, will be purged off. But while the service is viewed with indifference, while the officer conceives that he is rather conferring than receiving an obligation, there will be a total relaxation of all order and discipline, and every thing will move heavily on, to the great Edition: current; Page: [468] detriment of the service, and inexpressible trouble and vexation of the general. The critical situation of our affairs at this time will justify my saying, that no time is to be lost in making fruitless experiments. An unavailing trial of a month to get an army upon the terms proposed may render it impracticable to do it at all, and prove fatal to our cause; as I am not sure whether any rubs in the way of our enlistments, or unfavorable turn in our affairs, may not prove the means of the enemy’s recruiting men faster than we do. To this may be added the inextricable difficulty of forming one corps out of another, and arranging matters with any degree of order, in the face of an enemy, who are watching for advantages.

At Cambridge, last year, where the officers, and more than a sufficiency of them, were all upon the spot, we found it a work of such extreme difficulty to know their sentiments, each having some terms to propose, that I once despaired of getting the arrangements completed; and I do suppose, that at least a hundred alterations took place before matters were finally adjusted. What must it be then, under the present regulation, where the officers are to negotiate this matter with the State he comes from, distant perhaps two or three hundred miles, some of whom, without leave or license from me, set out to make personal application, the moment the resolve got to their hands? What kind of officers these are, I leave Congress to judge. If an officer of reputation, for none other should be applied to, is asked to stay, what answer can he give, but, in the first place, that Edition: current; Page: [469] he does not know whether it is at his option to do so, no provision being made in the resolution of Congress, even commendatory of this measure; consequently, that it rests with the State he comes from, surrounded perhaps with a variety of applications, and influenced probably by local attachments, to determine whether he can be provided for or not. In the next place, if he is an officer of merit, and knows that the State he comes from is to furnish more battalions than it at present has in the service, he will scarcely, after two years’ faithful services, think of continuing in the rank he now bears, when new creations are to be made, and men appointed to office (no ways superior in merit, and ignorant perhaps of service,) over his head. A Committee sent to the army from each State may upon the spot fix things, with a degree of propriety and certainty; and it is the only method I can see of bringing matters to a decision, with respect to the officers of the army. But what can be done in the mean while towards the arrangement in the country, I know not. In the one case you run the hazard of losing your officers; in the other, of encountering delay, unless some method could be devised of forwarding both at the same instant.

Upon the present plan, I plainly foresee an intervention of time between the old and the new armies, which must be filled up with militia, if to be had, with whom no man, who has any regard for his own reputation, can undertake to be answerable for consequences. I shall also be mistaken in my conjectures, Edition: current; Page: [470] if we do not lose the most valuable officers in this army, under the present mode of appointing them; consequently, if we have an army at all, it will be composed of materials not only entirely raw, but, if uncommon pains are not taken, entirely unfit; and I see such a distrust and jealousy of military power, that the Commander-in-chief has not an opportunity, even by recommendation, to give the least assurances of reward for the most essential services. In a word, such a cloud of perplexing circumstances appears before me, without one flattering hope, that I am thoroughly convinced, that unless the most vigorous and decisive exertions are immediately adopted to remedy these evils, the certain and absolute loss of our liberties will be the inevitable consequence; as one unhappy stroke will throw a powerful weight into the scale against us, enabling General Howe to recruit his army as fast as we shall ours; numbers being disposed, and many actually doing so already. Some of the most probable remedies, and such as experience has brought to my more intimate knowledge, I have taken the liberty to point out; the rest I beg leave to submit to the consideration of Congress.

I ask pardon for taking up so much of their time with my opinions. But I should betray the trust, which they and my country have reposed in me, were I to be silent upon a matter so extremely interesting.

With the most perfect esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
5 October, 1776
Patrick Henry
Henry, Patrick

TO PATRICK HENRY, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.

Dear Sir,

Your obliging favor of the 20th ultimo came duly to hand, and demands my best acknowledgments. I congratulate you, Sir, most cordially, upon your appointment to the government, and, with no less sincerity, on your late recovery. Your correspondence will confer honor and satisfaction; and, whenever it is in my power, I shall write to you with pleasure. Our retreat from Long Island, under our peculiar circumstances, became an act of prudence and necessity, and the evacuation of New York was a consequence resulting from the other. Indeed, after we discovered that the enemy, instead of making an attack upon the city, were endeavouring, by means of their ships and superior land force, either to intercept our retreat, by getting in our rear, or else by landing their forces between our divisions at Kingsbridge and those in the town, to separate the one from the other, it became a matter of the last importance to alter the disposition of the army.

These measures, however, although of the most evident utility, have been productive of some inconveniences, the troops having become in some measure dispirited by these successive retreats, which, I presume, has also been the case among several of our friends in the country. In order to recover that military ardor, which is of the utmost moment to an army, almost immediately on my arrival at this place I formed a design of cutting off some of the enemy’s Edition: current; Page: [472] light troops, who, encouraged by their successes, had advanced to the extremity of the high ground opposite to our present encampment. To effect this salutary purpose, Colonel Knowlton and Major Leitch were detached with parties of riflemen and rangers to get in their rear, while a disposition was made as if to attack them in front. By some unhappy mistake, the fire was commenced from that quarter, rather on their flank than in their rear; by which means, though the enemy were defeated and pushed off the ground, yet they had an opportunity of retreating to their main body. This piece of success, though it tended greatly to inspire our troops with confidence, has been in some measure embittered by the loss of those two brave officers, who are dead of the wounds they received in the action. Since this skirmish, excepting the affair at Montresor’s Island, where Major Henly, another of our best officers, was slain, there has been nothing of any material consequence.1 Indeed, the advantage obtained Edition: current; Page: [473] over the enemy’s light troops might have been improved perhaps to a considerable extent, had we been in a proper situation to make use of this favorable crisis; but a want of confidence in the generality of the troops has prevented me from availing myself of that, and almost every other opportunity, which has presented itself.

I own my fears, that this must ever be the case, when our dependence is placed on men, enlisted for a few months, commanded by such officers as party or accident may have furnished; and on militia, who, as soon as they are fairly fixed in the camp, are impatient to return to their own homes; and who, from an utter disregard of all discipline and restraint among themselves, are but too apt to infuse the like spirit into others. The evils of short enlistments and of employing militia to oppose regular and well appointed troops, I strongly urged to Congress before the last army was engaged. Indeed, my own situation at Cambridge, about the close of the last campaign, furnished the most striking example of the fatal tendency of such measures. I then clearly foresaw, that such an armament, as we had good reason to expect would be sent against us, could be opposed only by troops enlisted during the war, and where every action would add to their experience and improvement, and of whom, if they were unsuccessful in the beginning, a reasonable hope might be entertained, that in time they would become as well acquainted with their business as their enemies. This method, I am convinced, would have been attended Edition: current; Page: [474] with every good consequence; for, besides the militia being altogether unfit for the service, when called into the field, they are much more expensive than any other kind of troops; and the war could have been conducted on more moderate terms, by establishing a permanent body of forces, who were equal to every contingency, than by calling in the militia on imminent and pressing occasions.

I would not wish to influence your judgment with respect to militia, in the management of Indian affairs, as I am fully persuaded that the inhabitants of the frontier counties in your colony are, from inclination as well as ability, peculiarly adapted to that kind of warfare. At the same time, I should think it would be highly advisable, in case you should conceive yourselves to be in danger from any detachment of the British army, or from their marines, not to depend on any troops, but such as are well officered and enlisted during the war.

I make no doubt, but your State have turned their views towards forming some obstacles against the enemy’s ships and tenders, who may go up your rivers in quest of provisions, or for the purpose of destroying your towns. If they have depended on batteries to prevent them, without any other obstructions, a trial of the matter has taught us to believe, that it will be altogether ineffectual; as, when under sail, with wind and tide in their favor, any damage they may receive from a battery will be of very little consequence. At the same time, I must observe, that this kind of opposition is exceedingly proper for the defence of a Edition: current; Page: [475] town, or in any case, where it is necessary that the ships should come to anchor before the batteries, for the purpose of silencing them. In the first instance, I would strongly recommend row-galleys, which, if officered with brave and determined men, and conducted with prudence, would, in my opinion, be productive of the greatest advantage, and be the most likely means, in your situation, of securing your towns and houses, on the navigable waters, from any impression from the shipping.

I imagine, before this, Congress have made you acquainted with their resolutions for raising the new army, and that your colony is to furnish fifteen battalions to be enlisted during the war. As this will occasion the choosing a number of new officers, I would, in the most urgent manner, recommend the utmost care and circumspection in your appointments. I do not suppose that there are many experienced gentlemen now left with you, as, from what I have understood, those who have served in the last war are chiefly promoted. However, I am satisfied that the military spirit runs so high in your colony, and the number of applicants will be so considerable, that a very proper choice may be made. Indeed, the army’s being put upon such a permanent footing will be a strong inducement for them to step forth on the present interesting occasion. One circumstance, in this important business, ought to be cautiously guarded against, and that is, the soldiers and officers being too nearly on a level. Discipline and subordination add life and vigor to military movements. Edition: current; Page: [476] The person commanded yields but a reluctant obedience to those, who he conceives are undeservedly made his superiors. The degrees of rank are frequently transferred from civil life into the departments of the army. The true criterion to judge by, when past services do not enter into the competition, is, to consider whether the candidate for office has a just pretension to the character of a gentleman, a proper sense of honor, and some reputation to lose.

Perhaps, Sir, you may be surprised at my pressing this advice so strongly as I have done in this letter; but I have felt the inconveniences resulting from a contrary principle in so sensible a manner, and this army has been so greatly enfeebled by a different line of conduct, that I hope you will readily excuse me. I am, Sir, with sincere regard, your affectionate humble servant.

George Washington
Washington, George
5 October, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I was last night honored with your favor of the 2d with sundry Resolutions of Congress. The officers that concurred in the Acquittal of Ensign Macumber shall be called upon, to assign their reasons for their first judgment which shall be sent as soon as they are collected.

In respect to the exchange of prisoners, I fear it will be a work of great difficulty, owing to their dispersed and scattered situation throughout the States. In order to effect it, I have written to the eastern Edition: current; Page: [477] governments to have them collected, and to transmit me an account of their number, distinguishing the names and ranks of the field and commissioned officers, and the corps they belong to. I have also written to Governor Livingston of the Jerseys upon the subject, and must take the liberty of requesting Congress to give directions, that a similar return may be made of those in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and for their being brought to Brunswick, that they may be ready to be exchanged for an equal number of those of the same rank. I observe, by the resolve of the 26th ultimo, that the exchange is particularly directed to be made of the officers and soldiers taken on Long Island. But should not that follow the exchange of those officers and men, who have lately returned from Quebec, whose imprisonment has been much longer, whose service has not been less severe, and who, in many instances, conducted with great intrepidity? I have had many applications since their arrival, by which they claim a kind of preference as far as their number and the circumstances of their rank will allow, and which I thought it my duty to mention, that I may obtain some direction upon the subject.1

You will observe by a paragraph of a letter received yesterday from General Howe, a copy of which you have at length, that the non-performance of the agreement between Captain Forster and General Arnold, by which the latter stipulated for the Edition: current; Page: [478] return of an equal number of officers and prisoners in our hands for those delivered to him, is considered in an unfavorable light and entirely imputed to me, as having the chief command of the armies of the States, and a controlling power over General Arnold.1 The pointed manner in which General Howe is pleased to express himself could not personally affect me, supposing there had been no good grounds for the treaty not being ratified, having been nothing more than an instrument of conveying to him the resolutions formed upon the subject; yet, as there were but too just reasons, his censure could have no weight, was it not directed against me. However, I would beg leave to observe, that, from the letters from the hostages; from what has been reported by others respecting Captain Forster’s having used his endeavors to restrain the savages from exercising their wonted barbarities, though in some instances they did; his purchasing some of the prisoners for a considerable premium; but, above all, from the delicate nature of such treaties, and because the non-observance of them must damp the spirits of the officers who make them, and add affliction to the misfortunes of those, whom necessity and the nature of the case force into captivity to give them a sanction by a long and irksome confinement,—for these reasons and many more that Edition: current; Page: [479] will readily occur, that I could wish Congress to reconsider the matter, and to carry it into execution. I am sensible the wrong was originally in their employing savages, and that whatever cruelties were committed by them should be esteemed their own acts; yet, perhaps, in point of policy, it may not be improper to overlook these infractions on their part, and to pursue that mode, which will be the most likely to render the hardships incident to war most tolerable, and the greatest benefits to the State. I have ventured to say thus much upon the subject from a regard to the service, and because such gentlemen of the army as I have heard mention it seem to wish the treaty had been ratified rather than disallowed.1

Enclosed is a List of Vacancies in the Third Regiment of Virginia Troops, in part occasioned by the death of Major Leitch, who died of his wounds on Edition: current; Page: [480] Tuesday morning and of the Gentlemen who stand next in Regimental order and who are recommended to succeed to ’em;—you will observe that Captn. John Fitzgerald is said to be appointed to the duty of Major; this I have done in Orders, being the eldest Captain in the Regiment, and I believe an officer of unexceptionable merit and as it was highly necessary at this time to have the Corps as well and fully officered as possible; There, is also a vacancy in the 12th Continental Battallion by the promotion of Lieut. Clark to a majority in the Flying Camp, to which Colo. Hand has recommended William Patten, to succeed as you will perceive by his Letter enclosed.

I have taken the liberty to transmit a plan for establishing a Corps of Engineers, artificers, &c., sketched out by Col. Putnam, and which is proposed for the consideration of Congress. How far they may incline to adopt it or whether they may chuse to proceed upon such an extensive scale they will be pleased to determine. However I conceive it, a matter well worthy of their consideration, being convinced from exterience and from the reason suggested by Colo. Putnam, who has acted with great diligence and reputation in this business, that some establishment of the sort is highly necessary and will be productive of the most beneficial consequences.—If the proposition is approved by Congress, I am informed by good authority, that there is a Gentleman in Virginia in the Colony service, John Stadler, Esq., a native of Germany, whose abilities in this way are by no means inconsiderable—I am told he Edition: current; Page: [481] was an Engineer in the Army under Genl. Stanwix and is reported to be of skill and ingenuity in the profession.—In this capacity I do not know him myself, but I am intimately acquainted with him in his private character as a man of understanding and of good behaviour. I would submit his merits to the enquiry of Congress, and if he shall answer the report I have had of him, I make no doubt but he will be suitably provided for.

The Convention of this State, have lately seized and had appraised Two new ships valued at 6229£ 2s curry which they have sent down for the purpose of sinking and obstructing the Channel opposite Mount Washington. The price being high and opinions various as to the necessity of the measure, some conceiving the obstruction nearly sufficient already, and others that they would render it secure, I would wish to have the direction of Congress upon the subject by the earliest Opportunity, thinking myself that if the Enemy should attempt to come up that they should be used sooner than to hazard their passing. I must be governed by circumstances, yet hope for their sentiments before any thing is necessary to be done.

Sundry disputes having arisen of late between Officers of different Regiments and of the same Rank respecting the right of succession to such vacancies as happen from death or other causes, some suggesting that it should be in a Colonial line and governed by the priority of their Commissions, others that it should be Regimentally, and there being an Instance Edition: current; Page: [482] now before me between the Officers of the Virginia Regiments, occasioned by the death of Major Leitch, it has become absolutely necessary that Congress should determine the mode by which promotions are to be regulated, whether Colonially & by priority of Commissions, or Regimentally, reserving a right out of the General rule they adopt, to reward for particular merit, or of withholding from office such as may not be worthy to succeed. I have only proposed Two modes for their consideration, being satisfied that promotions thro’ the line as they are called can never take place without producing discord, jealousy, distrust and the most fatal consequences. In some of my Letters upon the subject of promotions and one which I had the Honor of addressing the Board of War on the 30th Ult., I advised that the mode should be rather practised than resolved on, but I am fully convinced now of the necessity there is of settling it in one of the two ways I have taken the liberty to point out and under the restrictions I have mentioned, or the disputes and applications will be endless and attended with great inconvenience. I have &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 October, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I do myself the honor of transmitting to you a copy of a letter from the Comte d’Emery, governor-general of the French part of St. Domingo, which I received yesterday, and also my answer, which I have Edition: current; Page: [483] enclosed and left open for the consideration of Congress, wishing that it may be sealed, if they approve of the Sieur Dechambault’s releasement, which I think may be attended with many valuable consequences. If Congress concur in sentiment with me, they will be pleased to give direction for his passage by the first opportunity to the French islands; if they do not, I shall be obliged by your returning my letter.1

I have also the pleasure of enclosing a copy of a letter from Monsieur Penet, which came to hand last night, and which contains intelligence of an agreeable and interesting nature, for which I beg leave to refer you to the copy. The polite manner in which Monsieur Penet has requested to be one of my aids-decamp demands my acknowledgments. As the appointment will not be attended with any expense, and will show a proper regard for his complaisance and the attachment he is pleased to express for the service of the American States, I shall take the liberty of complying with his requisition, and transmit to him a brevet commission, provided the same shall be agreeable Edition: current; Page: [484] to Congress. Their sentiments upon this subject you will be kind enough to favor me with by the first opportunity. The enclosed letter for the Sieur Dechambault, you will please to forward to him (if he is to be enlarged) after closing it.

Before I conclude I must take the liberty to observe, that I am under no small difficulties on account of the French gentlemen that are here, in consequence of the commissions they have received, having no means to employ them, or to afford them an opportunity of rendering that service they themselves wish to give, or which perhaps is expected by the public. Their want of our language is an objection to their being joined to any of the regiments here at this time, were there vacancies, and not other obstacles. These considerations induce me to wish, that Congress would adopt and point out some particular mode to be observed respecting them. What it should be, they will be best able to determine. But to me it appears, that their being here now can be attended with no valuable consequences, and that, as the power of appointing officers for the new army is vested in the several States, it will be necessary for Congress to direct them to be provided for in the regiments to be raised, according to the ranks they would wish them to bear, for I am convinced they will never be taken in, let their merit be what it may; or to form them into a distinct corps, which may be increased in time. They seem to be genteel, sensible men; and I have no doubt of their making good officers, as soon as they can learn so much of our Edition: current; Page: [485] language as to make themselves well understood; but, unless Congress interfere with their particular direction to the States, they will never be incorporated into any of the regiments to be raised; and, unless they are, they will be entirely at a loss, and in the most irksome situation, for something to do, as they now are.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 October, 1776

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

1Since I had the honor of writing you yesterday I have been favored with a Letter from the Honble Council of Massachusetts bay, covering one from Richard Derby, Esq., a copy of which is herewith transmitted, as it contains intelligence of an important and interesting character. As an exchange of prisoners is about to take place, I am induced, from a question stated in a letter I received from Governor Trumbull this morning, to ask the opinion of Congress, in what manner the States that have had the care of them are to be reimbursed the expenses incurred on their account. My want of information in this instance, or whether any account is to be sent in with the prisoners, would not allow me to give him an answer, as nothing that I recollect has ever been said upon the subject. He also mentions another matter, namely, whether such privates as are mechanics, and others who may desire to remain with us, Edition: current; Page: [486] should be obliged to return.1 In respect to the latter, I conceive there can be no doubt of our being under a necessity of returning the whole, a proposition having been made on our part for a general exchange, and that agreed to; besides, the balance of prisoners is greatly against us; and I am informed it was particularly stipulated by General Montgomery, that all those that were taken in Canada should be exchanged whenever a cartel was settled for the purpose. Under these circumstances, I should suppose the several committees having the care of them should be instructed to make the most exact returns of the whole, however willing a part should be to continue with us. At the same time I should think it not improper to inform them of the reasons leading to the measure, and that they should be invited to escape afterwards, which, in all probability, they may effect without much difficulty if they are attached to us, extending their influence to many more, and bringing them away also.

The situation of our Affairs and the present establishment of the Army, requiring our most vigorous exertions to engage a New One, I presume it will be possible with money to pay the bounty lately resolved on to such men as will inlist. Prompt pay perhaps may have a happy effect and induce the continuance of some who are here, but without it I am certain that nothing can be done, nor have we time to lose in making the Experiment. But then it may be asked, Edition: current; Page: [487] who is to recruit or who can consider themselves as Officers for that purpose till the Conventions of the different States have made the appointments.

Yesterday afternoon the exchange between Lord Stirling and Governor Brown was carried into execution, and his Lordship is now here. He confirms the intelligence mentioned by Captain Souther, about the transports he met, by the arrival of the Daphne man-of-war (a twenty-gun ship) a few days ago, with twelve ships under her convoy, having light-horse on board. They sailed with about twenty in each, and lost about eighty in their passage, besides those in the vessel taken by Captain Souther. He further adds, that he had heard it acknowledged more than once, that, in the action of the 16th ultimo, the enemy had a hundred men killed, about sixty Highlanders, of the forty-second regiment, and forty of the light infantry. This confession, coming from themselves, we may reasonably conclude, did not exaggerate the number.

In pursuance of the Resolve which you were pleased to transmit me, I called upon the Members who concurred in the acquittal of McCumber to assign their reasons. Inclosed you have their answer, by which you will perceive the direction has given them great uneasiness, and from the information I have received, it has become a matter of much more general concern than could have been expected, in so much that I will take the liberty to advise that it may rest where it is, having heard that most of the Officers have become party to it, and consider that the Resolve materially affects the whole.

October 9th.—About eight o’clock this morning, Edition: current; Page: [488] two ships, of forty-four guns each, supposed to be the Roebuck and Phœnix, and a frigate of twenty guns, with three or four tenders, got under way from about Bloomingdale where they had been lying some time, and stood with an easy southerly breeze towards our chevaux-de-frise, which we hoped would have intercepted their passage while our batteries played upon them; but, to our surprise and mortification, they ran through without the least difficulty, and without receiving any apparent damage from our forts, though they kept up a heavy fire from both sides of the river. Their destination or views cannot be known with certainty; but most probably they are sent to stop the navigation, and cut off the supplies of boards, &c., which we should have received, and of which we are in great need. They are standing up, and I have despatched an express to the Convention of this State, that notice may be immediately communicated to General Clinton at the Highland fortifications, to put him on his guard in case they should have any designs against them, and that precautions may be taken to prevent the craft belonging to the river from falling into their hands.

I have the honor to be, &c.1
Edition: current; Page: [489]
George Washington
Washington, George
9 October, 1776
Kingsbridge,
Major-General Heath
Major-General Heath

TO MAJOR-GENERAL HEATH.

Dear Sir,

You letter of yesterday is before me, with the list enclosed; but this is doing the matter by halves only, and the delay must inevitably defeat the end, as it is impossible, from the nature of things that the different governments can withold the nomination of officers much longer. I therefore entreat you to delay not a moment’s time in summoning the officers (under sanction from me) to consider of this matter, that the lists may be forwarded. The Committee of Congress directed this. General Lincoln earnestly recommended it. Governor Trumbull has requested it in precise terms. In short, the good of the service and our duty, render it necessary let it be received in never so unfavorable a light, (which, by the by I do not conceive to be the case) by the States they are sent to. I think you would do well to consult the field officers with respect to the Captains, &c. I beseech you once more to delay no time. And I beseech you to exhort the officers you consult to lay aside all local prejudices and attachments in their choice. The Salvation of their country, and all we are contending for, depends (under Providence) Edition: current; Page: [490] upon a good choice of officers to make this army formidable to the enemy and serviceable to the cause we are endeavoring to support. Men who have endeavored to support the character of officers, and who have not placed themselves upon a level with the common soldiery, are fit to be preferred. Officers of the latter class will never—in short, they cannot—conduct matters with propriety; but I need not point out the qualifications necessary to constitute a good officer: Your own observations and good judgment will readily point out who are, and who are not fit for the new appointment. I would have you confine yourself to the Massachusetts Bay officers. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
9 October, 1776
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

Agreeable to your request, and the promise contained in my letter of yesterday, I beg leave to transmit you the enclosed list, comprehending the names of such gentlemen as are recommended by the general officers from your State as proper persons to be promoted in the regiments you are about to raise, with the ranks which they conceive they ought to bear. Sensible that the very existence, that the welldoing of every army, depends upon good officers, I urged, I pressed, the gentlemen to whom the business was confided, and whose situation has given them an opportunity of being better acquainted through the different ranks than I am, to pay their Edition: current; Page: [491] most serious attention to the matter, and to return such, and only such, as will, in their estimation, by their fidelity, attachment, and good conduct, promote the great end we have in view—the establishment of our rights and the happiness of our country, by that mode which sad necessity has compelled us to pursue. This, I hope they have done; they have taken no notice of any officer in the Northern army, or of those of the Seventeenth Regiment (Huntington’s) who were taken on Long Island, whose imprisonment I should suppose, if they have merit, should be no objection to their having promotion; nor do they mean by the list they have given in, to preclude others of greater merit than those they have mentioned, if they are to be found.

Congress, by a late resolution, have allowed a paymaster to each regiment; in the appointment of which I would recommend that particular care be had to the choosing men intimately acquainted with, and well versed in accounts, and who will be able to keep them in a fair and distinct manner; as they will have not only to receive the regiment’s pay, but to keep accounts of every transaction incident to them—such as respect their clothes, &c. In some appointments lately made by the field officers, to whom I submitted the matter, they nominated men who could not write their names legibly.

As our present army is upon the eve of their dissolution, it behooves us to exert every nerve to enlist immediately for the new one. Without, I am convinced, we shall have none to oppose the enemy; and Edition: current; Page: [492] who will have it in their power to spread havoc and devastation wheresoever they will. I would therefore submit it to your consideration, whether it may not be proper, as soon as you have made choice of your officers, and which I think should be effected as early as possible, to appoint a committee, with power to repair to this place and make such arrangements as may be necessary with respect to those who are now in the service, in order that they may begin to recruit out of the present corps without any loss of time.

I perceive the Generals in the list they have made, have set down the Commissary for a regiment. In this I think they have done exceedingly right, and that it is nothing more than a reward justly due his merits, in case he should quit his present department. However, I hope the apprehensions which have given rise to this step will never become realities, and that he will continue in his office, and upon such terms as may be agreeable to him; but lest he should decline, the provision they have made is extremely proper.

I this minute saw General Spencer, who informed me that they had never taken the officers prisoners on Long Island into consideration, in making out their arrangements, not knowing whether they could be noticed in their present situation. I have made out a list of them; and as I have before observed, if they are men of merit, their imprisonment most certainly should not operate to their prejudice, if it can be avoided. If a principle of that sort was adopted, it would give the greatest discouragement, and have Edition: current; Page: [493] a direct tendency to suppress every brave and manly enterprise which might be attended with captivity.

* * * * * *

On yesterday morning, three ships of war (two of forty-four and the other of twenty guns), with two or three tenders, passed up the North River, without meeting any interruption from the chevaux-de-frise, or receiving any material damage from our batteries, tho they kept a heavy fire at them from both sides of the river. Their views most probably are, to cut off all supplies of boards, &c., which might come down the river, and of which we shall have great need.

I have given directions to proceed as fast as possible in carrying on the obstructions, and I would fain hope, if they allow us a little more time, that they will be so far completed as to render the passage dangerous, if not altogether insecure. I have the honor, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [494]

P. S. In respect to the appointment of officers, I would beg leave to add, that the merit of the officers who went through the Canada expedition with General Arnold, should, in my opinion, be particularly Edition: current; Page: [495] noticed. They are now upon their parole, and cannot act; but should not suitable provision be made for them against their releasement, which I should suppose ought to be among the first?

Edition: current; Page: [496]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 October, 1776
Governor Trumbull
Governor Trumbull

TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.

Sir,

I was last night favored with your Letter of the 6th Inst. with the return of Prisoners in your state for which I thank you. It is properly made out. Every day’s intelligence from the Convention of this State mentions plots and conspiracies, which are in agitation Edition: current; Page: [497] among the disaffected.1 The enclosed copy of a letter, which I received yesterday from Robert R. Livingston, one of the members, and who is also of the Continental Congress, will show you his ideas of the situation of affairs in this government, and their apprehensions of insurrections. The observations he has been pleased to favor me with, through the whole of his letter, seem to me to be too well founded.2 The movements of the enemy, their having Edition: current; Page: [498] sent up some of their ships in the North River, their landing a large proportion if not the main body of their army on Frog’s Point, (or rather Island as it is surrounded by water every Flood tide,) nine miles above this on the sound—1 added to these the information Edition: current; Page: [499] of deserters,—all afford a strong presumption, nay, almost a certainty, that they are pursuing their original plan of getting in our rear and cutting off all our supplies. Our situation here is not exactly the same as it was at New York. It is rather better. However, as we are obliged to divide our force and guard every probable place of attack as well as we can, as most of our stores are here and about Kings-bridge, and the preservation of the communication with the States on the other side of Hudson’s River, is a matter of great importance, it will not be possible for me to detach any more assistance, than what I have already done, for the purpose of securing the passes in the Highlands. I have sent Colonel Tash, lately from New Hampshire, with his regiment upon the business; and as it is of the utmost consequence to possess those passes, and to hold them free and open, I would beg leave to submit to your consideration, whether you can spare any aid upon this interesting occasion. I know your exertions already are great; I know you have a large number of men engaged in the service, in this and the northern army; and nothing could have induced me to mention this matter to you, were it not for the alarming and melancholy consequences, which would result from the enemy’s possessing themselves of those communications. The regiment I have ordered up is to receive directions from the Convention, as to the posts they are to occupy, supposing them to be much better acquainted with the places, where they should be stationed, than I am. If it is in your Edition: current; Page: [500] power to afford any assistance, in this Instance you will be pleased to give such instructions to those, you send, as you shall judge necessary. I am just despatching an engineer to the Convention to throw up some small works. I have sent two regiments of the Massachusetts militia up the river, to watch the motions of the ships, and to oppose any landing of men, that they may attempt. I am also extending every part of my force, that I possibly can, towards East and West Chester, to oppose the enemy and prevent their effecting their plan, if it shall be practicable, but our numbers being far inferior to the demands for men I cannot answer for what may happen, the most in my power shall be done. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [501]
George Washington
Washington, George
22 October, 1776
Mrs. Philips
Mrs. Philips

TO MRS.PHILIPS OF PHILIPSBORO.

Madam,

The misfortunes of War, and the unhappy circumstances frequently attendant thereon to Individuals are more to be lamented than avoided, but it is the duty of every one, to alleviate these as much as possible; Far be it from me then, to add to the distresses of a Lady, who I am but too sensible, must already have suffered much uneasiness, if not inconvenience on account of Colonel Philip’s absence.

No special order has gone forth from me, for removal of the stock of the Inhabitants; but from the nature of the case, and in consequence of some resolutions, of the Convention of this State, the measure has been adopted: However, as I am satisfied it is Edition: current; Page: [502] not meant to deprive Families of their necessary support, I shall not withhold my consent to your retaining such parts of your stock as may be essential to this purpose; relying on your assurances and promise that no more will be detained; With great Respect, I am, Madam, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 October, 1776
Major-General Schuyler
Major-General Schuyler

TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.

Dear Sir,

From my remote situation, and my ignorance of the country in which the army under your command to the northward is to act, it is impossible for me to give my peremptory orders, or scarcely my opinion, as to the direction of matters in your quarter. I am confident your own good sense, zeal and activity will suggest to you the most probable means of making amends for the heavy loss we have sustained by the destruction of General Arnold’s fleet upon Lake Champlain; but my experience of the many evils attending the calling in of a body of raw militia obliges me to give you my sentiments upon that head, and to tell you, that I fear they will render you more disservice than any real good. From their want of every camp necessary, when they join a regular army, they commit an intolerable waste of stores, which once put into their hands can scarcely be regained, and are so much dead loss to the public; and for want of regularity in their drafts of ammunition, provision, and other necessaries, they consume much Edition: current; Page: [503] more than it is convenient to spare from a garrison even near a source of supplies, much less from one at such a distance, that it requires every exertion to keep up the magazines in the best of times.

I have been informed, that Ticonderoga, properly garrisoned and supplied with provision and ammunition, is almost impregnable, even at a season of the year when an army can lie before it with the greatest conveniency. If so, instead of calling up a number of useless hands and mouths, for such I deem the militia generally, I would advise the collecting of as much provision as can possibly be got together, which, if sufficient for nine thousand effective men, of which number your army consisted by General Arnold’s letter, I should imagine you could keep Burgoyne and Carleton at bay, till the rigor of the season would oblige them to raise the siege, not only from want of conveniences to keep the field, but from the fear that the freezing of the Lake would make their return impracticable in case of accident. I would recommend the removal of carriages and draft-cattle of all kinds from the country adjacent, that, if they should attempt to slip by Ticonderoga, by any other route, and come down upon the settlements, the plan should be rendered abortive for want of the means of conveyance for their baggage and stores. I am unacquainted with the extent of your works, and consequently ignorant of the number of men necessary to man them. If your present numbers should be insufficient for that purpose, I would then by all means advise your making up the deficiency out of Edition: current; Page: [504] the best regulated militia that can be got. Some might likewise be useful in bringing up supplies, and fill the places of men, who would render more service with arms in their hands. You will always be kind enough to bear in mind, that I am giving my opinion, not issuing my orders. The vexation I have experienced from the humors and intolerable caprice of militia, at a critical time, makes me feel sensibly for the officer who is to depend on them in the day of trial.1 Upon the whole, I beg you may not be influenced Edition: current; Page: [505] by any thing I have thrown out. You have had experience of the temper of the people, who will probably march to your assistance, and therefore know whether they differ in character from those, who have reinforced the army under my command. In full confidence that you will do what seems best to your judgment, I submit the matter entirely to you, esteeming myself happy if any hints of mine should be serviceable to you. I am, &c.

end of vol. iv.
1

“Thomas, I presume you know, is made a Major General, and ordered to Canada, where old Wooster was throwing every thing into confusion, and a superior officer was necessary to keep the peace. I do not much like their thus taking away the men in whom you can most trust; but your camp is considered a school, and I fear the service will require all their separated attention and ability.”—Reed to Washington, 15 March, 1776.

2

Martin had represented that a force of three or four thousand loyal men could be raised in the Carolinas, and sent his agent Alexander Maclean into the back country authorizing some of the inhabitants, chiefly Scotch, to form an “army” to be under the command of Donald Macdonald. At the appointed time in February, a force far inferior in numbers to what had been promised, assembled at Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), and marching towards Wilmington was met and defeated with great loss on the 27th of February at Moore’s Creek, by a body of Carolinians under Richard Caswell. See Correspondence of George III. with Lord North, i., 276.

1

Robert Temple. See Jones, History of New York during the Revolutionary War, i., 85.

1

Colonel Reed had written, March 3d:—“Notwithstanding the act of Parliament for seizing our property, and a thousand other proofs of a bitter and irreconcilable spirit, there is a strange reluctance in the minds of many to cut the knot, which ties us to Great Britain, particularly in this colony and to the southward. Though no man of understanding expects any good from the commissioners, yet they are for waiting to hear their proposals, before they declare off. However, yesterday I was informed, that letters had been sent to France, to know what encouragement we might expect from that quarter. Our coast is yet clear; it is a golden opportunity to make provision for the war, which I hope will not be lost.” Again, March 15th:—“We every moment expect to hear of these gentry’s arrival; they are, if possible, to treat with the Assemblies, but if that cannot be obtained, then with Congress. A little time will show what we are to expect from this new project. For my part I can see nothing to be hoped from it; but it has laid fast hold of some here, and made its impressions on the Congress. It is said the Virginians are so alarmed with the idea of independence, that they have sent Mr. Braxton on purpose to turn the vote of that colony, if any question on that subject should come before Congress. To tell you the truth, my dear Sir, I am infinitely more afraid of these commissioners, than of their generals and armies. If their propositions are plausible, and behavior artful, I am apprehensive they will divide us. There is so much suspicion in Congress, and so much party on this subject, that very little more fuel is required to kindle the flame. It is high time for the colonies to begin a gradual change of delegates. Private pique, prejudice, and suspicion will make their way into the breasts of even good men sitting long in such a council as ours; and whenever that is the case, their deliberations will be distrubed, and the public interest of course will suffer.”

1

The corporation of Harvard College conferred honorary degrees on Washington, the diploma reading as follows:

Senatus Academiæ Cantabrigiensis in Novanglia omnibus in Christo Fidelibus ad quos literæ presentes pervenerint, Salutem in Domino sempiternam.

* * * gradus academiæ * * *

tuti fuerint, ut viri Scientia, sapientia, et virtute insignes qui de re literaria et de Republica optime meruerunt, Honoribus hisce laureatis remunerarentur. Maxime decet ut honore tali afficiatur vir illustrissimus GEORGIUS WASHINGTON, Armiger, Imperator præclarus, cujus Scientia et Amor Patria undique patent; qui propter eximias Virtutes, tam civiles quam militares, primum, a Civibus suis legatus electus, in Congressu celeberrimo Americano de Libertate ad extrem periclitata et de salute publico fideliter ex peritissimi consuluit; deinde postulante Patria, sedem in Virginia amoenissimam et Res proprias perlubenter reliquit, ut per omnes Castrorum Labores et Pericula, nulla mercede accepta, Nov. Angliam ab Armis Britannorum iniquis et crudelibus liberaret, et Colonias cæteras tueretur; et qui, sub auspiciis Divinis maxime spectandis, ab urbe Bosttonia per undecim menses clausa munita, et plusquam septem millium militum Præsidio formata, naves et Copias Hostium in fugam precipitem et probosam deturbavit; adeo ut Cives, plurimis duritiis et Sævitiis oppressi, tandem salvi lætentur, villæ vicinæ quiescunt, atque sedibus suis Academia nostra restituatur.

Sciatis igitur quod nos Præses et Socii Collegii Harvadini in Cantabrigia Nov. Anglorum (consentientibus honorandis admodum et reverendis Academiæ nostræ inspectoribus,) Dominum supradictum, sommo honore dignum, GEORGIUM WASHINGTON, Doctorem utriusque Juris, tum naturæ et Gentium, tum civilis, statuimus et creavimus, eique simul dedimus et concessimus, omnia Jura Privilegia et Honores ad istum Gradum Pertinentia.

In cujus Rei Testimonium nos communi Sigillo Universitatis hisce Literis affixo Chrographia opposuimus, Die Tertio Aprilis, Anno salutis millesimo Septuigentesimo Septuagesimo sexto.

1

“General Greene will march with his brigade this day for Providence, and if I find that the enemy are at Rhode Island, I will soon join him. Governor Cooke will forward this to you, and will inform you whether this alarm is well founded or not; if it is, you must repair to Providence with the troops under your command; if it is not, you will proceed on your march to New York.” Washington to General Sullivan, 1 April, 1776. “An express arrived here this morning with a letter from Governor Cooke. . . . In consequence of this important intelligence I immediately despatched an express after General Sullivan, who is on his march to Norwich with six regiments and ordered him to file off to Providence if it should be so desired by Governor Cooke to whom I have wrote on the subject. General Greene was to have marched this morning with five more regiments by way of Providence. I have ordered him to hasten his march and hope to collect a force there sufficient to prevent the enemy from effecting their purpose. Washington to the President of Congress, 1 April, 1776.

1

The regiments sent to Canada from New York had never been included in the army under the immediate command of Washington, and for this reason they were not taken into the new arrangement. The officers complained of this neglect, particularly as Colonel Enos, and those with him, who deserted the expedition to Canada and returned home, had been promoted.

1

“I have no hopes of procuring the hard money I gave you expectations of; the possessors of it are not of late accustomed to a paper currency, and keep their gold and silver close.” Washington to General Schuyler, 3 April, 1776. The Continental bills would not, of course, circulate in Canada.

1

The following is an extract from the proclamation:—“As linen and woollen goods are articles much wanted by the rebels, and would aid and assist them in their rebellion, the Commander-in-chief expects, that all good subjects will use their utmost endeavours to have all such articles conveyed from this place Provision was likewise made for receiving them on board a vessel.

1

Colonel Warren resigned the office of paymaster-general; and Colonel Palfrey was appointed as his successor on the 27th of April.

1

Resolved, That the pay of the officers and soldiers of the militia, lately called to Cambridge, commence on the day of their march, and cease on that of their return.”—Journals of Congress, 4 May, 1776.

2

Read in Congress April 15th. Referred to Wythe, Harrison, and S. Adams.

1

“I received yours of the 9th instant, and could wish that it was in my power, consistently with the duty I owe my country, to grant you the relief you desire. I have made repeated applications to General Howe for an exchange of prisoners, but he has not thought proper to return me any answer. It has been in his power to set you at liberty; and if you are still continued a prisoner, the blame must lie entirely upon him.

“The situation of your family is indeed distressing; but such is the event of war; it is far from being singular. The brave Colonel Allen, an officer of rank, has been torn from his dearest connexions, sent to England in irons, and is now confined to the most servile drudgery on board one of the King’s ships. Your treatment, Sir, and that of the other officers taken in arms against the liberties of America, has been very different; for the truth of this I appeal to your own feelings. Whenever it is in my power to release you by a mutual exchange, I shall do it with the greatest pleasure.”—Washington to Capt. Samuel McKay, New Haven, 11 April, 1776. McKay was a prisoner in Hartford.

2

Commodore Hopkins arrived in New London from a cruise on the 8th of April. He had made a descent upon New Providence Island, and brought away Montfort Brown, governor of the island, Thomas Erwin, a member of the council, and Mr. Bavage, secretary, and a half-pay officer, and also seventy prisoners; besides a quantity of ordnance and military stores taken from Fort Nassau and Fort Montague. Among them were eighty-eight cannon, from nine to thirty-six pounders, fifteen mortars, more than five thousand shells, eleven thousand round shot, twenty-four casks of powder, and other articles of less importance.

The conduct of Commodore Hopkins in this cruise was disapproved by Congress. His orders were to annoy the enemy’s ships on the coast of the southern states, and he was called before Congress to give his reasons for not complying with them after his descent upon New Providence Island, instead of returning with his fleet to New London.

The President of Congress wrote to Washington on the 1[Editor: illegible number]th of June:—“The shameful inactivity of our fleet for some time past; the frequent neglect or disobedience of orders in Commodore Hopkins; the numberless complaints exhibited to the marine committee against him, and also against Captains Saltonstall and Whipple, have induced the Congress, in consequence of a representation from the marine committee, to order them to repair immediately to this city to answer for their conduct. I have accordingly written to them to set out, on the receipt of my letters, and to repair hither by land as fast as possible. I hope soon to have our ships on a more respectable footing. No efforts of mine shall be wanting to accomplish so desirable an event.”

After due inquiry, deliberation, and debate, Congress voted, that the reasons offered by the Commodore were not satisfactory, and that he deserved the censure of that house, which censure was accordingly inflicted. Journals, August, 15th, 16th, 1776. His achievement in taking the governor of a small island prisoner, and dismantling two forts feebly defended, did not comport with the dignity, which Congress had attached to the enterprise, nor the expectations they had formed in fitting out the first Continental fleet, at much expense, and in the face of many difficulties. Sparks.

1

On the 25th, Washington wrote to Admiral Hopkins that the apprehension of a blockade was groundless, as the vessels had returned. “I find that they make a practice of stretching off from and soon returning to this port. This convinces me that they are in expectation of a fleet, and I am preparing for their reception.”

2

“The General compliments the Officers who have successively commanded at this Post, and returns his Thanks to them, and to all the officers, and soldiers, under their Command for the many Works of Defence, which have been so expeditiously erected, and doubts not but the same Spirit of Zeal for the service, will continue to animate their future conduct.

“All persons infected with the Small-Pox are to be immediately removed to a secure place, to be provided by the Qr. Mr. General, who will consult the Magistrates of the City thereupon. A proper guard, to be composed of men, who have had that Disorder, to be fixed at this hospital, to prevent any intercourse but such as the manager shall license.

“As the General is unacquainted at present, with the various Orders, for the good Government of the Troops here, or the reasons which induced the giving of them; He directs, that those, and all General Orders be duly attended to and obeyed until countermanded by himself.

“The General flatters himself, that he shall hear no Complaints from the Citizens, of abuse, or ill-treatment, in any respect whatsoever, but that every Officer and Soldier of every Rank and Denomination, will pride themselves (as Men contending in the glorious Cause of Liberty ought to do) in an orderly, decent and regular deportment.”—Orderly Book, 14 April, 1776.

“As the Army at this place is lately strongly reinforced, and more of the Continental establish’d Regiments hourly expected, it is no longer necessary to detain any of the Militia; therefore Col. Martin, with 4 Companies of Militia from Sussex County, in New Jersey, are dismissed with the General’s thanks for the spirit with which they stepp’d forward in the service of their Country on this occasion, and for their good Behaviour and Service since they joined the Army.”—Orderly Book, 15 April, 1776.

1

“I cannot but express my concern at the great deficiency of the regiments destined for Canada, but as I am sensible of the necessity of having a respectable body of troops in that country, I am now preparing to send you four of the strongest regiments in the service, and you may rely upon it, no time shall be lost in getting them forward as fast as possible. They will amount to about 2000 rank and file, and will go to Albany by water.” Washington to Major General Thomas, 15 April, 1776. On March 25th, the Continental Congress ordered Washington to detach four battalions into Canada, from the army under his command, “as soon as he shall be of opinion that the safety of New York and the eastern service will permit.” Journals.

1

Journals of Congress, 19 April, 1776.

2

Read in Congress, April 18th. Referred to Read, Clinton, and Braxton.

1

A proposition to reform the provincial government had been introduced in the Convention of South Carolina on the 10th of February, and Gadsden in submitting it had spoken for the independence of America. The contest was long and bitter, as the faction opposed to independence was numerous and ably led; and it was not until the end of March that opposition was overcome, and a constitution adopted. To this result the act of Parliament authorizing the capture of American vessels largely contributed. The first legislature chosen under the new constitution leaned towards measures of reconciliation.

“I have ever thought, and am still of opinion, that no terms of accommodation will be offered by the British ministry, but such as cannot be accepted by America. We have nothing, my dear Sir, to depend upon but the protection of a kind Providence, and unanimity among ourselves. I am impressed with the deepest gratitude for the high honor intended me by Congress. Whatever device may be determined upon by the respectable committee they have chosen for that purpose will be highly agreeable to me.” Washington to John Adams, 15 April, 1776. The last sentence alludes to a medal proposed to be struck by Congress to commemorate the evacuation of Boston. See p. 26.

1

“If the British Troops which evacuated Boston, or any part of them, are destined for this place, their arrival may be very soon expected.—The Engineers and Overseers of the works are therefore to use every possible dispatch in compleating them—To this end the Engineers are to apply to the Adjutant General, for as many Men as can usefully be employed, and he will give orders accordingly.

“Col. Prescot’s Regiment is to encamp on Governor’s Island, as soon as the weather clears, they are to give every Assistance in their power, to facilitate the works erecting thereon. The Qr. Mr. General will furnish Straw for the Tents and Firewood.

“As some inconveniences have to the Citizens of this place, by having the Countersign demanded of them, so early as Nine o’clock—The General orders that Taptoo-beating be delayed for the future ’til Ten, flattering himself (as there is no distinguishing Citizens from Soldiers, nor no other possible method of keeping the latter to their quarters, and of consequence, from rioting and disorderly behaviour) that it will be found less Inconvenient to the Inhabitants (to say nothing of the security which is to be derived from it) to give the Countersign at that hour, than submit to the greater Inconveniences which may arise out of the neglect of it. After this Hour, it is strictly enjoined upon the officers to see that their Rolls are called and that the Men are in quarters.”—Orderly Book, 16 April, 1776.

“The General being informed that many of the Houses taken up for barracks, are much abused by the Soldiers, which is a Grievance that might be prevented, by the Officers paying a proper attention to their duty, and more carefully observing the Conduct, and Behavior of their men—The Barrack Master is therefore order’d to place a proper proportion of Officers in the same Houses with the Soldiers, who are to be answerable for any mischief done, to prevent any wood being cut upon the Floors, or any Water, or Filth thrown out of the Windows; as all Damages wantonly committed must be paid for, out of the pay of the Men quartered in the House where such Damage is done.—The Offenders must also expect to suffer a severe corporal punishment for any breach of these orders. The Officers are moreover expressly order’d to see, that the Men’s Barracks are kept clean and the General again urges the necessity of the same Cleanliness being observed in the persons of the soldiers.”—Orderly Book, 17 April, 1776.

1

In August when a collision threatened between the provincials and the loyalists and British, Governor Tryon met the provincial Congress and urged them not to carry matters to extremities, proposing that no further attempts on the king’s stores should be made, that the guns taken from the battery should remain on the Common, and that fresh provisions should be supplied to the vessels. “I was heard with temper and attention. The city has remained quiet since, and fresh provisions are to be delivered on the governor’s Island for the Asia.” Still he admitted the “determined spirit of resistance” that pervaded the Colonies, and that “the Americans from politicians are now becoming soldiers.” Governor Tryon to the Earl of Dartmouth, 5 September, 1775. This arrangement so far as provisioning the king’s vessels appears to have continued, “some very short capricious intervals excepted,” until Washington’s arrival at New York.

The Committee acceded fully to his requisition, and the day following passed a resolution prohibiting all persons from holding any intercourse with the King’s vessels in the harbor, on penalty of being dealt with in the severest manner as enemies to the rights and liberties of the United Colonies.

“Whereas, an intercourse and correspondence with the ships of war, and other vessels belonging to, and in the service of the king of Great Britain, is highly detrimental to the rights and liberties of the said colonies. And whereas, the Committee of Safety of the Colony of New York, taking the same under their consideration, on the 18th inst. did resolve and order, ‘That no inhabitant of said Colony on any pretence, or for any purpose whatsoever, either in person or in writing, should directly or indirectly presume to have, or maintain any intercourse whatsoever, with any ship belonging to, or employed in the service of the said king, or with any of his officers or ministers, or with any person or persons on board the same, on pain of being dealt with in the severest manner.’ Notwithstanding which, there is reason to believe that sundry base and wicked persons, preferring their own present private emolument to their country’s weal, have continued to carry on the same, particularly some who under pretence of coming to the market of this city by water, have put themselves, their vessels and effects in the way of the said ships of war, for the purposes of giving intelligence and furnishing them with supplies of provision, and have been taken. To the end that such evil and pernicious practices may be remedied and prevented in future, I hereby publish and declare, that if any person or persons shall hereafter presume to have, hold, or to continue to carry on such intercourse, or any kind of correspondence whatsoever, or furnish and supply the said ships of war, and other vessels in such service with provisions and necessaries of any kind, that he or they, so offending, will be deemed and considered as an enemy or enemies to the rights of the said colonies, and if apprehended will be treated accordingly.

“And I do hereby will and require all officers and soldiers in the army under my command, and most earnestly entreat all persons well attached to the interest of the said colonies, to use their utmost care and diligence for preventing the same, and apprehending and securing all persons who shall be guilty thereof.” General Washington’s Proclamation, 29 April, 1776.

1

When the Congress received intelligence of the evacuation of Boston, they resolved, “That the thanks of this Congress, in their own name, and in the name of the thirteen United Colonies, whom they represent, be presented to his Excellency General Washington, and the officers and soldiers under his command, for their wise and spirited conduct at the siege and acquisition of Boston; and that a medal be struck in commemoration of this great event, and presented to his Excellency; and that a committee of three be appointed to prepare a letter of thanks, and a proper device for the medal.” The committee were John Adams, John Jay, and Stephen Hopkins.

“It gives me the most sensible pleasure to convey to you, by order of Congress, the only tribute which a free people will ever consent to pay, the tribute of thanks and gratitude to their friends and benefactors. The disinterested and patriotic principles, which led you to the field, have also led you to glory; and it affords no little consolation to your countrymen to reflect, that, as a peculiar greatness of mind induced you to decline any compensation for serving them, except the pleasure of promoting their happiness, they may without your permission bestow upon you the largest share of their affections and esteem.

“Those pages in the annals of America will record your title to a conspicuous place in the temple of fame, which shall inform posterity, that, under your direction, an undisciplined band of husbandmen in the course of a few months became soldiers; and that the desolation meditated against the country by a brave army of veterans, commanded by the most experienced generals, but employed by bad men in the worst of causes, was, by the fortitude of your troops, and the address of their officers, next to the kind interposition of Providence, confined for near a year within such narrow limits, as scarcely to admit more room than was necessary for the encampments and fortifications they lately abandoned. Accept, therefore, Sir, the thanks of the United Colonies, unanimously declared by their delegates to be due to you, and the brave officers and troops under your command; and be pleased to communicate to them this distinguished mark of the approbation of their country. The Congress have ordered a golden medal, adapted to the occasion, to be struck, and when finished to be presented to you.

“I have the honor to be, with every sentiment of esteem, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant.” Hancock to Washington, 2 April, 1776.

A private letter from Mr. Adams, written at the same time, will show the lively interest and the agency, which he took in the affair:—

“I congratulate you, as well as all the friends of mankind, on the reduction of Boston; an event, which appeared to me of so great and decisive importance, that, the next morning after the arrival of the news, I did myself the honor to move for the thanks of Congress to your Excellency, and that a medal of gold should be struck in commemoration of it. Congress have been pleased to appoint me, with two other gentlemen, to prepare a device. I should be very happy to have your Excellency’s sentiments concerning a proper one.”

The medal, which was struck in Paris, contains on the obverse a head of Washington in profile, exhibiting an excellent likeness, and around it the inscription:

GEORGIO WASHINGTON SVPREMO DVCI EXERCITVVM ADSERTORI LIBERTATIS COMITIA AMERICANA.

On the reverse is the town of Boston in the distance, with a fleet in view under sail. Washington and his officers are on horseback in the foreground, and he is pointing to the ships as they depart from the harbor. The inscription is

HOSTIBVS PRIMO FVGATIS BOSTONIVM RECVPERATVM XVII MARTII MDCCLXXVI.

This gold medal became the property of George Steptoe Washington, a son of Samuel Washington, who was the elder brother of the General. From him it passed to his eldest son, Dr. Samuel Walter Washington, and on his death to his widow, who gave it to her only son George Lafayette Washington. During the civil war it was buried in the cellar of a house at Harper’s Ferry, where Mr. Washington resided, and in 1876 was purchased from his widow by a few citizens of Boston and presented to the city, to be preserved in the Boston Public Library.

“The Honorable the Continental Congress have been pleased to direct the Thanks of the United Colonies to be presented to the Officers, and Soldiers of their Army; who with unremitted Courage, and Perseverance, surmounted every Effort of the enemy, and every Obstacle of that severe Climate, in persisting for eleven Months, in the Blockade, and Siege of Boston, and finally forcing their enemies to make a shameful and precipitate Retreat, from that once devoted town.

“This honorable Mark of the approbation of the Congress, would have been inserted sooner in the General-Orders had not their Express gone to the Eastward, while the Army was upon the march and arriv’d only last evening from Boston.” Orderly Book, 18 April, 1776.

1

When General Wooster left Montreal for Quebec, March 27th, the command of the former place devolved on Colonel Hazen, who wrote to General Schuyler, on the 1st of April, as follows:—

“You are not unacquainted with the friendly disposition of the Canadians, when General Montgomery first penetrated into the country; the ready assistance which they gave on all occasions, by men, carriages, or provisions, was most remarkable. Even when he was before Quebec, many parishes offered their services in the reduction of that fortress, which were at that time thought unnecessary. But his most unfortunate fate, added to other incidents, has caused such a change in their disposition, that we no longer look upon them as friends, but on the contrary waiting an opportunity to join our enemies. That no observations of my own may remain obscure, I beg leave to observe, that I think the clergy, or guardians of the souls and conductors of the bodies of these enthusiasts, have been neglected, perhaps in some instances ill-used. Be that as it will, they are unanimous, though privately, against our cause, and I have too much reason to fear many of them, with other people of some consequence, have carried on a correspondence the whole winter with General Carleton in Quebec, and are now plotting our destruction. The peasantry in general have been ill-used. They have, in some instances, been dragooned with the point of the bayonet to supply wood for the garrison at a lower rate than the current price. For carriages and many other articles furnished, certificates have been given not legible, without signature, the one half of consequence rejected by the quartermaster-general. It is true, payment has been promised from time to time; yet they look upon such promises as vague, their labor and property lost, and the Congress or United Colonies bankrupt. And in a more material point, they have not seen sufficient force in the country to protect them. These matters furnish very strong arguments to be made use of by our enemies. With respect to the better sort of people, both French and English, seven eighths are Tories, who would wish to see our throats cut, and perhaps would readily assist in doing it.

“You may remember, Sir, in a conversation with you at Albany, I urged the necessity of sending immediately to Canada able generals, a respectable army, a Committee of Congress, a suitable supply of hard cash, and a printer. Indeed, I had before represented those measures in person to Congress, at least to the Committee of Congress, and we have since been flattered from time to time that we should have one or all of these essentials.”—MS. Letter.

“All Persons serving in the Continental Army without Commissions from Congress, are desired to give in their names and Employments in writing, that the propriety of their appointments, and the nature of their duty may be judged of.”—Orderly Book, 19 April, 1776.

1

“For my own part I have done my utmost to forward the four regiments ordered by Congress, but a variety of incidents have hitherto conspired to prevent their embarkation. The men had scarcely recovered themselves from the fatigues of their march from Boston, and are quite unprovided with necessaries. The colonels of the regiments though repeatedly called upon for that purpose had neglected making out the abstracts for their pay. All obstacles, however, are now removed, and I hope to begin the embarkation this day. Indeed it would have been best in my opinion to have sent the regiments raised in this Province and New Jersey upon the service, had not the peculiar circumstances under which they were raised prevented it. By the terms of their enlistment they are to serve during the war and at five dollars per month, on condition (as I am informed) that they shall not be sent out of these provinces. Besides they are very ill provided with arms, some companies not having any. It must be a great burthen upon the Continent to keep such a number of useless men in pay, and yet if they should be dismissed and an unexpected supply of arms should arrive, it may be found very difficult to replace them.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 19 April, 1776.

1

Colonel Hazen had written from Montreal to General Schuyler:—“The savages hereabouts are cool; they keep aloof from us; we are to expect little or no friendship from them, and indeed little or no precaution has been taken for that purpose. It is expected by some, that numbers will come from the interior country, and fall on our frontiers early in the spring. The Canadians taking up arms so early against us is of the most important consequence. We have ourselves brought about by mismanagement, what Governor Carleton himself could never effect.”

“You will please to notice what Colonel Hazen says of the disposition of the Indians. In my opinion, it will be impossible to keep them in a state of neutrality. They must, and, no doubt, soon will take an active part either for or against us; and I submit it to the consideration of Congress, whether it would not be best immediately to engage them on our side, and to use our utmost endeavors to prevent their minds being poisoned by ministerial emissaries, which will ever be the case, while a King’s garrison is suffered to remain in their country. Would it not therefore be advisable to send a sufficient force from the back counties of Pennsylvania, to take possession of the garrisons of Niagara and Detroit? This, I think, might easily be effected, and would answer the most salutary purposes. The Seneca Indians, who have hitherto appeared friendly to us, might be usefully employed in this business.

“I am in hopes most of the difficulties mentioned in Colonel Hazen’s letter will be obviated by the appearance of the respectable committee of Congress in Canada, and the forces that have been and will be sent there. The security of that country is of the utmost importance to us. This cannot be done so effectually by conquest, as by taking strong hold of the affections and confidence of the inhabitants. It is to be lamented, that any conduct of the Continental troops should tend to alienate their affections from us. The honorable Congress will be able to judge from the papers sent them by General Schuyler, and the information they may receive of the designs of the enemy, whether it is expedient to send a further reinforcement to Canada. If such should be their determination, I stand ready to execute their orders.”—Washington to the President of Congress. 19 April, 1776. See Journals of Congress, 23 and 29 April, 1776.

1

Congress resolved, that no troops should be disbanded for want of arms. Journals, 26 April, 1776.

2

This recommendation was successful, and Mr. Baldwin was allowed the pay and rank of lieutenant-colonel on the Continental establishment.

1

The companies of riflemen, raised in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, by order of Congress, were, by the terms of their enlistment, to serve one year, unless sooner discharged. Congress authorized and directed the officers of these companies, and of independent rifle companies, to re-enlist the men, and enlist recruits, for two years’ service, liable to be sooner discharged upon receiving a month’s pay in advance.

2

“The Nautilus, Capt. Collins, came in here the 11th inst., and brings an account from Captain Wallace’s squadron at Rhode Island, that on the 6th. inst. an engagement happened between the Glasgow and the five ships of the Continental fleet.” Governor Tryon to Lord George Germaine, 15 April, 1776. The engagement occurred off Block Island, and the Americans were repulsed.

3

Lee had asked Congress for a company of artillery, and Congress referred his request to Washington.

4

At the request of the Governor of Rhode Island, Colonel Knox had gone to Newport for the purpose of giving advice respecting the erection of works of defence at that place.

1

Read in Congress, April 25th. Referred to R. H. Lee, J. Adams, and Hewes.

1

The pay of an aid-de-camp to the Commander-in-chief was at first fixed at thirty-three dollars a month. In consequence of this letter, it was raised to forty dollars. The rank was that of lieutenant-colonel. The aids-de-camp of major-generals ranked as majors.

2

Read April 25th. Referred to R. H. Lee, J. Adams, and Henry.

1

The letter was addressed to Mr. Tucker as “President of the Congress of New Jersey or the Chairman of the Committee of Safety of that Province.”

1

“A clean, well-dress’d orderly Sergeant, from each Brigade, to attend in the General’s Guard Room, near Head Quarters, from six in the morning until they are dismissed in the evening; they are to bring their Provisions with them, and to be relieved every morning.”—Orderly Book, 24 April, 1776.

“Complaints having been made to the General of Injuries done to the Farmers in their Crops and Fields, by the Soldiers passing over, and trampling upon the young Growth, in a wanton and disorderly manner—he expressly orders the officers commanding either upon duty, or in quarters in the Country, to take especial Care to put a stop to such practices, and endeavour to convince their Men that we come to protect; not to injure the property of any man.”—Orderly Book, 25 April, 1776.

1

Congress had directed that if any of the troops of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, raised at five dollars a month, should be sent to Canada, their pay should be six and two thirds dollars a month, from the time they begin their march. Journals of Congress, 23 April, 1776.

1

Journals of Congress, 23 April, 1776.

1

Congress had requested the opinion of General Washington, whether it was necessary to send more troops to Canada, and whether he could with safety spare them from the army at New York.

1

By the adjutant-general’s return on the 28th of April, the number of troops present and fit for duty under General Washington’s command was 8,101. Including those who were sick, absent on furlough, and oncomm and, the whole army at New York amounted to 10,235.

2

On April 17th, Congress had ordered two companies of Colonel Dayton’s regiment to proceed to Cape May and remain there till further orders.

1

Read in Congress, April 29th. Referred to Harrison, Rutledge, Goldsborough, Paine, and Rodney.

2

“This detachment will be under the command of General Sullivan, and consists of two of the Eastern regiments, Reed’s and Stark’s, and of four of these Provinces. The two first will embark to-day, the others will be pushed forward as fast as possible.” Washington to General Schuyler, 29 April, 1776.

1

“The riotous Behavior of some Soldiers of the Continental Army, yesterday, and the Evening before, has filled the General with much regret, and concern; and lays him under the disagreeable necessity of declaring that if the like behavior should be practiced again, the Authors will be brought to the severest punishment if taken; or treated as a common Enemy if they dare to resist; Men are not to carve out Remedies for themselves—If they are injured in any respect, there are legal Modes to obtain relief; and just Complaints will always be attended to, and redressed. It should be the pride of a Soldier, to conduct himself, in such a manner as to obtain the Applause, and not the reproach of a people, he is sent to defend; and it should be the business, as it is the duty of an Officer to inculcate and enforce this doctrine.”—Orderly Book, 27 April, 1776.

“The Commanding Officers of Regiments, and Corps, are to be careful, that the Men, are made perfectly well acquainted with all Orders, that issue for the Government of the Army, and are not to be less diligent, in enforcing Obedience thereto. Yesterday a number of Colonel Irvine’s Regiment, were found in different places, firing their Pieces, and wasting their Ammunition, under pretence of not knowing they were acting contrary to orders.

“The Articles of war are to be read, at least once a week, to every Company in the Army, that neither Men, nor Officers may plead Ignorance against any of the Rules, and Regulations therein contained.—Orderly Book, 28 April, 1776.

1

“I perceive by the tenor of your favor of yesterday, that my letter of the 27th has given umbrage, which I am sorry for, as it was not most distantly in my ideas to give any.

“Three things led me to suspect, that the New York battalions were not upon the same establishment of the other Continental troops; current report, an implied exception in the order for detaching six more battalions to Canada, and that part of your letter signifying that four of these battalions were to be raised under your immediate direction; which intimation, coming in corroboration of the two first reasons, (for I never had any information of this matter from Congress,) led me to believe, that you intended it as a gentle hint, that I was not to consider them in the same light as I did the others. It was not to be wondered at, therefore, that I should wish to know the extent of my authority over them, that my conduct might be regulated thereby, or that I should not be so solicitous in arming regiments, raised for local purposes, as those for the general service, when the latter are also greatly deficient in this essential point. These were the ideas, that filled my mind at the time of writing. If the extreme hurry, occasioned by a variety of business, which is continually pressing upon me, clouded the meaning I wished to convey, I can only add, that it never was, and I hope never will be, my intention to give unprovoked offence. Of this your Committee may be once for all assured, that it is my earnest wish to cooperate with them in every measure, which can conduce to the general good, and that if I should at any time differ from them in the means, I shall feel my share of the concern; being with respect.”—Washington to New York Committee of Safety, 30 April, 1776.

The Committee replied:—“We are sorry to find there was a possibility of misunderstanding the passage in our letter respecting the four battalions raising in this colony. Be assured, Sir, that we never considered them as under our direction, except so far as concerned the forming and equipping of them; and if you will be pleased to refer yourself to our last letter, the distinction taken therein between the four battalions and Van Schaick’s regiment will convince you, that we meant nothing more than in obedience to Congress to have the completing of them for the command of the Continental General, nor do we esteem them so pointedly under our direction in this respect, as to exclude your solicitude as Commander-in-chief to have them speedily completed and armed; a solicitude highly becoming your station, and which, instead of affording the least ground for umbrage, serves to heighten the opinion, which your former conduct has invariably taught us to entertain of your vigilant attention to the important duties of your office, and of your zeal for the defence and security of the rights of this much injured country.”

1

From collection of Alfred P. Dix of N. Y.

“It gives me much Concern, to hear from every one that comes from Boston, that those works that were laid out for its defence, are in little more forwardness, than they were when I left that town. Who am I to blame for this shameful neglect, but you Sir, who was to have them executed. It is not an agreeable task to be under the necessity of putting any Gentleman in mind of his duty, but it is what I owe to the public. I expect and desire Sir, that you will exert yourself in Completing the works, with all posible dispatch, and do not lay me under the disagreeable necessity of writing to you again upon this subject.”—Washington to Colonel Gridley, 28 April, 1776.

“As Captain Van Dyck, commanding the Grenadier Company of the City of New York, has, by Letter, acquainted Lord Stirling, that the Circular Battery to the North West of this City, is now compleat; and the General being informed that the said Grenadier Company, did on the first Alarm of danger from the Enemy, voluntarily undertake to erect the said Battery, and have themselves, in a most masterly, and neat manner, finished the same; The General, justly admiring such an Example of Spirit, and Perseverance, and highly esteeming a Body of Men possessed of the noblest Virtues of good citizens, desires his Thanks to be thus publicly given to the Company of Grenadiers, for this Instance of their ready Compliance with his wishes.”—Orderly Book, 29 April, 1776.

1

“All Officers, non-commissioned Officers, and Soldiers, are strictly commanded upon no pretence whatever, to carry any thing out of their Barracks, or the Houses they at present occupy, that belongs to such Barracks, or Houses; neither are they to injure the Buildings within, or without. All Damages wantonly done to the Houses, where the Troops are quartered, to be paid for by the Troops quarter’d in them. The Commanding Officers of Companies to deliver to Col. Brewer, Barrack Master, a List of the Names of those quartered in each House; His own Name at the head of the List; and the Regiment to which he belongs. Immediately upon the Troops encamping, the Qr. Mr. General, and Barrack Master, to examine the condition the Houses are left in, and secure them in the best manner, and make their report to the General.”—Orderly Book, 30 April, 1776.

1

Congress assented to this request, and resolved on the 11th of May, that the two battalions, directed to be raised by the Rhode Island Assembly, should be taken into Continental pay.

2

Read May 2nd. Referred to the Committee on the Eastern Department.

3

He was directed to hand in his vouchers and papers to the Superintendents of the Treasury.

1

Congress referred him to its resolutions of 1 April, 1776, instituting treasury officers.

2

Journals of Congress, 17 January, and 6 February, 1776.

3

Congress decided that the resolution of 17 January, 1776, was general in its operation, and directed the General to make that allowance for all the troops inlisted since that date. Journals of Congress, 10 May, 1776.

4

Vol. III., p. 297.

1

Congress approved, and directed Washington to prosecute the plan. Journals, 10 May, 1776.

1

Congress passed a resolution to this effect, 10 May, 1776.

1

See note on p. 75.

2

Resolved, That this Congress has hitherto exercised, and ought to retain the power of promoting the officers in the continental service according to their merit; and that no promotion or succession shall take place upon any vacancy without the authority of a continental commission.” Journals, 16 May, 1776.

3

Read May 7th. Referred to J. Adams, Braxton, and Duane.

1

The conclusion of Congress was very inadequate, for it merely desired Washington to employ an agent, and said nothing of the reported stores in Philadelphia. The secret committee was ordered to send to camp the muskets that were at Newport. Journals of Congress, 14 May, 1776.

1

Read May 8th. Referred to S. Adams, Wythe, Rodney, R. H. Lee, and Whipple.

“The Officers commanding the Guards, in and near the encampment, are to be particularly attentive to prevent any waste, or depredation, being committed upon the Fields, Fences, Trees, or Buildings about the camp. Turf is not to be permitted to be cut, unless by the express orders of the Chief Engineer, and any non-commissioned Officer, or Soldier, who is detected cutting any of the Trees, or Shrubs, or destroying any of the Fences near the camp, will be confined and tried for disobedience of orders. The Quarter Master General will supply a certain Quanity of boards for flooring for the tents of every Regiment, which are upon no account to be converted to any other use.”—Orderly Book, 5th May 1776.

“The Colonels, and commanding officers of Regiments are again reminded of the propriety of immediately providing their men with cloathing and necessaries, that they may be ready to march, or embark, upon the shortest notice. The General wishes to impress this strongly upon the minds of the Colonels; because no excuse will be taken to delay their departure the moment that it becomes necessary. It is recommended to those Corps which are not already supplied with Uniforms, to provide hunting shirts for their men.”—Orderly Book, 6th May, 1776.

“At a Quarter after Seven this Eveg I received by Express a letter from Thos. Cushing, Esq., Chairman of a Committee of the Honb. Genl. Court covering one from the Committee of Salem. Copies of which I do myself ye honor to transmit to Congress, that they may Judge of the Intelligence contained therein, and direct such measures to be taken upon the occasion as they may think proper and necessary. I wou’d observe that supposing Capn Lee’s account to be true in part, there must be a mistake either as to the number of Troops, or the Ships. If there are no more ships than what are mentioned, It is certain there cannot be so many Troops—of this however Congress can judge as well as myself and I submit it to them whether upon the whole circumstances and the uncertainty of their destination, if they were met with at all, they choose that any forces shall be detached from hence, as they will see from the returns transmitted yesterday, the number of men here is but very small and inconsiderable, and which is much to be regretted, no small part of them without arms. Perhaps by dividing and subdividing our Force too much, we shall have no one post sufficiently guarded. I shall wait their direction, and whatever their order is, will comply with it as soon as possible.

“P. S.—I had by the Express a Letter from Genl. Ward, containg an Acct similar to that from the Salem Committee & by way of Captn Lee. Should the Commissioners arrive, How are they to be received and treated? I wish the direction of Congress upon the subject by return of the Bearer.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 7 May, 1776.

“The account having come thro different hands I hope is exaggerated; it appears inconsistent and impossible in part. Certainly there is a mistake either as to the number of troops or the ships; there must be more of the latter or fewer of the former. 60 Vessels could not bring 12,000 men, unless they are much larger than usual, besides provisions and stores. And should such a fleet and Armament be coming, do I think it altogether probable, that an account of their destination and views would be so distinctly and accurately given to the Master who informed Captain Lee; I should rather suppose, that they would wish to take us by surprize. For these reasons, and as their destination may be elsewhere, and as the Army here is greatly weakened and reduced by ten of the strongest Regiments being ordered to Quebec, I could not think myself authorized to detach any reinforcement from hence without the direction of Congress, lest by dividing the Army into small parties we should have no place secure and guarded;—Assuring you at the same time, I shall be always ready and happy to give you every assistance in my power against our common Enemies when it can be done consistently with the public good.”—Washington to Thomas Cushing, 9 May, 1776.

1

“The uncertainty of my return, and the justice of surrendering to Mr. Custis the bonds, which I have taken for the moneys raised from his estate, and lent out upon interest, as also his moiety of his deceased sister’s fortune, (consisting altogether of bonds, &c.) oblige me to have recourse to a friend to see this matter done, and a proper memorandum of the transaction made. I could think of no one, in whose friendship, care, and abilities I could so much confide, to do Mr. Custis and me this favor, as yourself; and, therefore, I take the liberty of soliciting your aid.

“In order that you may be enabled to do this with ease and propriety, I have written to the clerk of the Secretary’s office for attested copies of my last settled accounts with the General Court in behalf of Mr. Custis, and the estate of his deceased sister; with which and the bonds, I have desired him and Mr. Washington to wait upon you for the purpose above mentioned.

“The amount of the balance due, upon my last settled accounts, to Mr. Custis, I would also have assigned him out of my moiety of his sister’s bonds; and, if there is no weight in what I have said in my letter to Mr. Lund Washington, concerning the rise of exchange, and which, to avoid repetition, as I am a good deal hurried, I have desired him to show you, I desire it may meet with no notice, as I want nothing but what is consistent with the strictest justice, honor, and even generosity; although I have never charged him or his sister, from the day of my connexion with them to this hour, one farthing for all the trouble I have had in managing their estates, nor for any expense they have been to me, notwithstanding some hundreds of pounds would not reimburse the moneys I have actually paid in attending the public meetings in Williamsburg to collect their debts, and transact these several matters appertaining to the respective estates.

“A variety of occurrences, and my anxiety to put this place as speedily as possible into a posture of defence, will not, at this time, admit of my adding more, than that I am, with unfeigned regard, &c.”—Washington to George Mason, 10 May 1776.

“Joseph Child of the New York Train of Artillery tried at a late General Court Martial whereof Col. Huntington was President—‘for defrauding Christopher Stetson of a dollar, also for drinking Damnation to all Whigs and Sons of Liberty, and for profane cursing and swearing’—The Court finding the prisoner guilty of profane cursing and swearing, and speaking contemptuously of the American Army, do sentence him to be drum’d out of the Army.”—Orderly Book, 10 May, 1776.

1

“Lieut. Grover, of the 2d Regiment (commanded by Col. James Reed,) having been tried by a General Court Martial, for ‘insulting Capt. Wilkinson, disobeying his orders and abusive language’ was found guilty of the charge, and yet mulct’d of half a month’s pay only—a punishment so exceedingly disproportioned to the offence, that the General resolved to lay the whole proceeding before the Congress, and know whether they inclined to continue an officer in their service who had mis behaved in so capital a point; but Lieut. Grover appearing to be thoroughly convinced of the error of his conduct, and having promised strict obedience to the orders of his Captain, and other superior officers, for the time to come, the General (before any determination of Congress could be had upon the matter) ordered him to be released, and to join his regiment; but has it now in command from Congress, to signify to the Army, that no promotion upon vacancies, shall take place merely by succession, without their authority, insomuch as they have reserved and will exercise the power, of giving Commissions to persons of merit, regardless of any claim by succession. Of this all officers are desired to take notice, as it may serve on the one hand to prevent the dissatisfaction which have but too frequently arisen, from an idea, that all promotions should be confined to regiments, and go in regular succession, and because on the other hand, it opens a large field for the rewarding of merit, which ought, and is hoped will be, a powerful excitement to the brave and active, to signalize themselves in the noble cause they are engaged in.

“This determination of Congress, the Adjutant General is to communicate to the officers commanding in different departments, that it may be published to the different Regiments and Corps, under their respective commands.”—Orderly Book, 18 May, 1776.

1

Resolved, that lieutenant-colonel Burbeck be dismissed from the Continental Service.”—Journals of Congress, 25 May, 1776.

1

See Journals of Congress, 21 May, 1776.

2

German troops said to be coming from Europe to reinforce the British army in America. Intelligence to this effect had been communicated by Mr. Cushing.

1

Congress resolved, in compliance with the above request, on the 14th of May, that General Washington should order a major-general to take command in the eastern department, and also send a brigadier on that service.

2

Read May 14th. Referred to Livingston, Jefferson, and J. Adams.

1

“The letter from the Commissioners, which you were kind enough to leave open for my perusal, describes matters and the situation of our affairs in Canada in so striking a light, that nothing less than the most wise and vigorous exertions of Congress and the army there, can promise success to our schemes and plans in that quarter. What might have been effected last year without much difficulty, has become an arduous and important work. However, I hope all things will yet goe well. I am exceedingly glad that so large a number of Indians was present at the review of General Sullivan’s brigade; They probably, from the appearance of so many armed men, somewhat Instructed in discipline, may have received favorable some impressions of our Strength sufficient to counter-operate all the Ingenious and Insidious arts of Toryism.—When those arrive, which you mention, I shall take proper notice of them, and have necessary provisions made for their entertainment.”—Washington to General Schuyler, 16 May, 1776.

1

Read May 16th. Referred to Wm. Livingston, Jefferson, and J. Adams.

Three Commissioners, Franklin, Chase, and Carroll, were appointed by Congress, February 15th, to repair to Canada. By their instructions they were to use all suitable means to induce the Canadians to join the other colonies in the contest against England; to promise them the same privileges of an independent government, and the same protection, that were enjoyed by each of the other colonies; to convince them, that they were equally interested in the common cause, and would profit equally by the advantages of success; and to assure them that free toleration should be allowed in religion, that the terms of union should be similar to those binding together the other colonies, and that, in case they should join the union, these colonies would protect them against all enemies. The Commissioners were also empowered to establish a printing-press, to settle differences between the inhabitants and the troops, to reform abuses in the army, to establish regulations for preserving peace and good order, and, in effecting these objects, to suspend any civil or military officer, till the pleasure of the Congress should be known. Armed with these extensive powers, the Commissioners arrived at Montreal on the 29th of April. They were accompanied by the Reverend John Carroll, a Catholic clergyman, afterwards archbishop of Baltimore, whose influence with the people it was thought would be useful, on account of his religious principles and character. But they found the state of affairs in Canada by no means such, as to encourage any just hope of success to their mission. Negligence, mismanagement, and a combination of unlucky incidents, had produced a confusion and disorder, that it was now too late to remedy. The Commissioners used every effort in their power, but to little effect. Ill health caused Dr. Franklin to return in a few days. His two associates remained till after the American forces had retreated to Sorel, and were preparing to evacuate Canada.

“The Continental Congress having ordered Friday the 17th instant to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America upon a solid and lasting foundation; the General commands all officers and soldiers to pay strict obedience to the orders of the Continental Congress; that, by their unfeigned and pious observance of their religious duties, they may incline the Lord and giver of victory to prosper our arms.”—Orderly Book, 15 May, 1776.

“Your favor of the 14th, with an account of the apprehending of Sundry Tories by order of your Committee, and the taking of others by Capt. Harden, is now before me. Your Zeal and activity upon this occasion is truly commendable, and with great pleasure I will lend any aid in my power, that shall be thought within the line of my department, to root out or Secure such abominable pests of Society. But as you have neither pointed out the names or places of abode of the persons alluded to by your Informants on Long Island, I must beg the favor of a more explicit description from you; and, in the mean while, will set on foot a proper inquiry into this matter, of some gentlemen here acquainted with the Island, & concert some Plan for defeating the designs, which you think are in agitation. I shall add no more at present, than that I am, &c.—Washington to the Committee of Suffolk, 16 May, 1776.

“Robert Hanson Harrison, Esq., is appointed Secretary to the Commander in Chief, in the room of Joseph Reed Esq., whose private concerns will not permit him to continue in that office.

“For the future, there is to be no expence of ammunition at the Interment of any officer, or soldier, of the Continental Army, unless expressly ordered by the Commander in Chief.”—Orderly Book, 16 May, 1776.

1

Giving an account of a reinforcement of the enemy at Quebec, and the retreat of the American forces from that place with great precipitation, and loss of cannon, firearms, and powder; and intimating the probability that they would be obliged to abandon Canada.

1

“I have this moment received by express from General Schuyler an account of the melancholy prospect and reverse of our affairs in Canada; and presuming, that the letters which accompany this will give Congress full information upon the subject, I shall only add, that General Schuyler, in pursuance of orders from the honorable Commissioners, has directed Brigadier-General Sullivan to halt his brigade, as a further reinforcement, on account of the scarcity of provisions, would not relieve, but contribute greatly to distress our troops already in Canada. Before he received these orders, all the brigade except Dayton’s and Wayne’s regiments had left Albany; but I suppose he will be able to stop their march.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 17 May, 1776.

“As I have no doubt of the Willingness of the militia of this City to join in its defence against the attempts of the Enemies of America, it is highly necessary in order to avoid Confusion in the time of any alarm that the Posts of the Several Regiments of Militia be fixed on in conjunction with those of the Continental Army, and that they be allotted to the Brigades most convenient to their several Situations. And as I am now arranging that part of the Business of the army, it will, I presume, be proper that directions be given to the Commanding Officers of the Several Corps to take the Stations that I shall Assign, by the orders they may in time of Danger receive from me or the Brigadier Generals of the Continental Army. The like measure will be equally necessary with regard to the Militia of Kings County and part of Queens County, on Long Island, and also the Militia of Staten Island; and I am persuaded that the mention of a Matter so obviously Necessary will be sufficient to induce the Congress of this province to give such directions as are proper on this Occasion.”—Washington to the Convention of New York, 17 May, 1776.

1

George Merchant, one of Arnold’s men captured at Quebec and sent a prisoner to England, had made his escape and returned to America with letters “concealed in the waistband of his breeches.” The letters were from Arthur Lee and were addressed to “Lieutenant Governor Colden,” as a blind. They are printed in a garbled state in Sparks, Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, i., 380 et seq.

“I do myself the honor to transmit to you the enclosed letters and papers, I received this morning in the state they now are, and which contain sundry matters of intelligence of the most interesting nature. As the consideration of them may lead to important consequences, and the adoption of several measures in the military line, I have thought it advisable for General Gates to attend Congress, he will follow to-morrow, and satisfy & explain to them some points they may wish to be informed in the course of their deliberations, not having an opportunity at this time to submit my thoughts to them upon these interesting accounts.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 18 May, 1776.

“The General has the pleasure to inform the recruiting officers of the regiments that came from the eastward (no allowance having been heretofore made them) that upon a representation of their case, Congress have been pleased to allow a Dollar and one third of a Dollar, for each good, and able bodied man, that shall be recruited, for the purpose of completing the several regiments, as a compensation for their trouble, and expence; and that the same allowance will be made those officers, who have heretofore inlisted men, upon the new establishment, excluding all Boys, and such men as were inlisted in Camp out of the old regiments.

“The several Officers, which have been employed in this service, are to settle this matter, under these exceptions, with their several Colonels, or commanding officers; and to give in rolls of the men’s names, by them respectively inlisted.

“The utmost care and exactness is recommended to the Officers claiming this allowance, as proof will be required, agreeable to the above directions.”—Orderly Book, 18 May, 1776.

“The Brigadier Generals are desired to make their respective Brigades, perfectly acquainted with the alarm posts, which have been reported to the Commander in Chief: But in case of an Alarm, the respective regiments are to draw up, opposite to their encampments, or quarters, until they receive orders to repair to the alarm posts above referred to. The following Signals are to give the alarm, to all the Troops (as well regulars as Militia) and the Inhabitants of the city; (viz). In the day time two Cannon to be fired from the rampart at Fort George, and a Flag hoisted from the Top of General Washington’s Headquarters: In the night time, two Cannon fired as above from Fort George, and two lighted Lantherns hoisted from the top of Head Quarters aforesaid.

“The Colonels and officers commanding Corps, are immediately to have their men compleated with twenty-four rounds of powder and ball properly, and compleatly, made up into Cartridges, six rounds of which each man is to have in his pouch, or cartridge box, for ordinary duty; the remaining eighteen are to be wrapped up tight, in a Cloth, or coarse Paper, and mark’d with the name of the soldier to whom they belong, and carefully packed into an empty powder barrel. The Captain’s or Officers commanding Companies, are to see that this is done, and to take into his own possession, the barrel with the cartridges so packed, and to have them delivered to the men, as occasion may require; And whatsoever Soldier shall be found wasting or embezzling his ammunition, shall not only be made to pay for it, but be punished for so base and shameful a neglect, and disobedience of Orders.

“Notwithstanding the care and pains that has been taken to provide good arms for the troops, on examination they are found to be in the most shocking situation. The Colonels or commanding Officers of the regiments, are requested to get the arms belonging to their regiments, put in good order as soon as possible, the work to be executed at the Continental Armoury, or elsewhere, so as to have them repaired in the most expeditious manner—Every man to be furnished with a good Bayonet. But all that have had Bayonets heretofore, and have lost them to pay for the new ones. Wherever a Soldier is known to have injured his gun, on purpose, or suffered it to be injured by negligence, to be chargeable with repairs. An account to be rendered of the expence of those repairs, after deducting what each Individual ought to pay. A warrant will be given the commanding Officer of the regiments for the discharge of the same.

“All repairs that are done to the arms hereafter, except unavoidable accidents, to be paid by the men, and stopt out of their wages by the commanding officer of the regiment. An Account to be rendered to him, by the Captains, or commanding Officers of companies.”—Orderly Book, 19 May, 1776.

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“This will be delivered you by General Gates, who sets out to-day for Congress agreeable to my letter of yesterday. I have committed to him the heads of sundry matters to lay before Congress for their consideration, which, from the interesting intelligence contained in my last, appear to me of the utmost importance, and to demand their most early and serious attention. Sensible that I have omitted to set down many things necessary, and which probably, when deliberating, they will wish to be acquainted with; and not conceiving myself at liberty to depart my post, though to attend them, without their previous approbation; I have requested General Gates to subjoin such hints of his own, as he may apprehend material. His military experience, and intimate acquaintance with the situation of our affairs, will enable him to give Congress the fullest satisfaction about the measures necessary to be adopted at this alarming crisis, and, with his zeal and attachment to the cause of America, have a claim to their notice and favors. When Congress shall have come to a determination on the subject of this letter, and such parts of my former letters as have not been determined on, you will be pleased to honor me with the result.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 19 May, 1776. Gates had been appointed a Major General on May 16. He arrived in Philadelphia on the 21st.

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After urging General Washington’s speedy attendance on Congress, to consult upon such measures as were necessary for carrying on the ensuing campaign, President Hancock added: “I request the favor, that you will please to honor me with your and your lady’s company at my house, where I have a bed at your service, and where every endeavor on my part and Mrs. Hancock’s will be exerted to make your abode agreeable. I reside in an airy, open part of the city, in Arch Street, corner of Fourth Street. If this should be agreeable to you, it will afford me much pleasure.” Upon receiving Washington’s reply of the 20th, Hancock again wrote on the 21st: “Your favor of the 20th instant I received this morning, and cannot help expressing the very great pleasure it would afford both Mrs. Hancock and myself to have the happiness of accommodating you during your stay in this city. As the house I live in is large and roomy, it will be entirely in your power to live in that manner you should wish. Mrs. Washington may be as retired as she pleases while under the inoculation, and Mrs. Hancock will esteem it an honor to have Mrs. Washington inoculated in her house: and as I am informed Mr. Randolph has not any lady about his house to take the necessary care of Mrs. Washington, I flatter myself she will be as well attended in my family. In short, sir, I must take the freedom to repeat my wish that you would be pleased to condescend to dwell under my roof.” The invitation was not accepted.

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Read May 21st.

“The Sentries at all the Batteries, where Cannon are placed, are to be increased to the number the Brigadier finds necessary; and they are all to be doubled at night; They are not to suffer any person whatever (excepting the rounds, or Officer of the Guard) to go into the Batteries at night; nor is any person whatever, but the Generals or Field Officers of the Army, and officers and men of the Artillery, who have real business there, to be permitted even in the day time, to go on the platforms in the batteries; or to approach the Cannon, or to meddle with the Rammers, Spunges or any of the Artillery Stores placed there. The Officers of every Guard, are to see that their men are particularly alert in executing this order.

“No person whatever, belonging to the Army is to be innoculated for the Small pox—those who have already undergone that operation, or who may be seized with the Symptoms of that disorder, are immediately to be removed to the Hospital provided for that purpose on Montresor’s Island. Any disobedience to this order, will be most severely punished; as it is at present of the utmost importance that the spreading of that distemper, in the Army and City, should be prevented.”—Orderly Book, 20 May, 1776.

“Doctor Foster appearing before the Committee says, that information was given to General Putnam, that several persons had been inoculated, at the house of one Fisher, in Stone Street, contrary to a resolve of the Provincial Congress of this Colony, he the examinant (agreeable to Genl Putnam’s order) immediately went to the house of the above mentioned Fisher, where he discovered Lt. Colonel Moulton, Capt. Parks, Doctor Hart, and Lieut. Brown had been inoculated by Doctor Azor Betts.

“Doctor Azor Betts being sent for, appeared before the Committee, allowed the charge against him, and offer’d in his vindication—that he had been repeatedly applied to by the officers of the Continental Army to inoculate them, that he refused, but being overpersuaded he at last inoculated the persons above mentioned.”—Orderly Book, 26th May, 1776.

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When the army retreated from Canada, and left all the upper parts of the Lake open to the ravages of the enemy, the inhabitants were greatly alarmed for their own safety, and, in the midst of their murmurs of despair, they were ready to throw all the blame upon the commander of the northern department. Committees of towns and districts assembled, and passed resolves, expressing distrust of General Schuyler, and insinuating weighty charges against his motives and conduct. Resolves of this kind were forwarded to Washington, and to the New York Provincial Congress. To a committee of the Provincial Congress, who had been the organ for communicating these charges to him, Schuyler wrote:—

“I am much obliged to you for having taken prudent measures to prevent the evils, that might be occasioned by the scandalous and false reports propagated to prejudice your respectable body and myself with the public. We must bear with the caprice, jealousy, and envy of our misguided friends, and pity them. Our Tory enemies we must watch with care and circumspection, and convince our countrymen by our actions, that we are true sons of liberty. I have some reason to apprehend, that the Tories are not the only ones, that have been assiduous in propagating this story. In the district you mention are some persons, who applied for offices, which neither the Committee nor I could confer. This disappointment chagrins them, and I believe they have occasioned the report. I am much obliged to Mr. Trumbull for the step he has taken. It is something singular, that at the very time I was sending troops to apprehend Tories, to whom I am so obnoxious that they would not hesitate to assassinate me, the country below should be arming against me as a Tory.”

On the very day that Washington sent to General Schuyler the papers containing the charges against him. Schuyler wrote from Fort George: “Bennet informs me that a report prevails in the western parts of Connecticut that I was to head some of the regiments raised in this Colony, join the Tories, and fall upon the country; that the people were ordered to collect on the occasion; and that affidavits to support this report had been taken and sent to your Excellency. I hope the scoundrels may be secured and held up to public contempt. Ungrateful villains [Editor: illegible character] to attempt to destroy a man’s reputation who, having lighted the candle at both ends, is rapidly bringing on old age, by fatigues that nothing but a wish to be instrumental in procuring liberty to my country would make me undergo.” And again on the 28th of May:—

“Your Excellency’s letter of the 21st instant, enclosing a copy of the infamous libel transmitted to you by the Committee of King’s district, I received last night. Whilst this was only report, I treated it with contempt, without taking any notice of it; but it is now a duty, which I owe myself and my country, to detect the scoundrels; and the only means of doing this is by requesting, that an immediate inquiry may be made into the matter, when I trust it will appear, that it was more a scheme calculated to ruin me, than to disunite and create jealousies in the friends to America. Your Excellency will therefore please to order a court of inquiry the soonest possible; for I cannot sit easy under such an infamous imputation, since, on this extensive continent, numbers of the most respectable characters may not know what your Excellency and Congress do of my principles and exertions in the common cause. It is peculiarly hard, that at the very time that assassins and incendiaries are employed to take away my life and destroy my property, as being an active friend to my country; at the very time when I had taken measures and given orders, some of which are actually executed, to secure the Tories and to send them down to your Excellency, a set of pretended Whigs (for such they are that have propagated these diabolical tales) should proclaim me through all America a traitor to my country.”

May 31st.—I am informed by persons of good credit, that about one hundred persons, living on what are commonly called the New Hampshire Grants, have had a design to seize me as a Tory, and perhaps still have. There never was a man so infamously scandalized and ill-treated as I am, and I hope Congress will publicly do me that justice, which I thank your Excellency for having done me in your letter of the 21st, if that respectable body is convinced (of which I make no doubt) of my zeal and attachment to the cause of my injured country. I am, dear Sir, ever most sincerely, your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant.”

The following communication is interesting chiefly as it exhibits in a condensed form the charges of the people against General Schuyler:

“Address of the Committees of Safety and Inspection for several Towns in the County of Berkshire, Massachusetts Bay, bordering on the Colony of New York, and with the Approbation of King’s District in said Colony “May it please your Excellency,

“We beg leave to lay before your Excellency the distresses of our minds with all humility. Fear of injuring our common cause by writing as well as speaking, on the one hand, or by silence on the other, has filled us with peculiar concern. The purport of this epistle is so delicate, that we write with fear and trembling, lest, when we mean to serve our country, we do it an irreparable injury. Purity of intention will not always secure us against wrong steps. We beg leave to assure your Excellency, that it is our hearty intention to support you in the defence of America against the tyranny and usurpation of Great Britain to the last extremity, and, if that is the pleasure of the Continental Congress, to the building up of a distinct republic or American empire. But what has filled our minds with a peculiar sense of danger to the common cause are the following things, which we take to be facts, though we may be deceived as to some of them.

“That General Schuyler has had the superintending oversight of our Canadian army; that, after the defeat of December 31st, 1775, at Quebec, in an attempt to take it by storm, recruits were forwarded in the slowest and most dilatory manner; that our army before the walls of Quebec, during a long and tedious winter, underwent every kind of hardship, and their spirits were broken by being neglected; that about the 4th of May so inconsiderable was the army, so miserably provided with provisions and ammunition, in a word, so greatly neglected, that it was obliged precipitately to raise the siege, and disgracefully to retreat, so as not only to leave those five hundred valiant sons of America taken within the walls of Quebec to the mercy of our enemies, but an additional number of sick to be disposed of at their pleasure; that General Schuyler some