Washington, George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 4
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library

| Table of Contents for this work |
| All on-line databases | Etext Center Homepage |

To THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS Cambridge, November 11, 1775.

    Sir: I had the Honor to address my self to you the 8th. instant by Captain Macpherson, since which I have an Account of a Schooner laden chiefly with firewood, being brought into Marblehead, by the Armed Schooner Lee, Capt. Manly. 94

[Note:Capt. John Manley. ]

    She had on board the Master, a Midshipman, two Marines and four Sailors from the Cerberus Man of War, who had made prize of this Schooner a few Days before and was sending her into Boston.

    Inclosed you have a copy of an Act passed this Session by the Honr. Council and House of Representatives this Province. 95

[Note:Sparks states that this act was the first passed by any of the Colonies for fitting out letters of marque and reprisal and for establishing a court to try and condemn prizes. He refers to Austin's Life of Elbridge Gerry (vol. 1, pp. 92, 505), also to the Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts (vol. 5, PP. 436, 515). ]

Page 82

It respects such captures as may be made by vessels fitted out by the Province or by Individuals thereof. As the Armed Vessels fitted at the Continental expence, do not come under this Law, I would have it submitted to the consideration of Congress, to point out a more summary way of proceeding, to determine the property and mode of condemnation of such prizes as have been or hereafter may be made, than is specified in this Act. Should not a Court be established by Authority of Congress, to take cognizance of the Prizes made by the Continental Vessels? Whatever the mode is which they are pleased to adopt, there is an absolute necessity of its being speedily determined on, for I cannot spare Time from Military Affairs, to give proper attention to these matters. The Inhabitants of Plymouth have taken a Sloop laden with Provision &ca. from Hallifax bound to Boston, and the Inhabitants of Beverly have under cover of one of the Armed Schooners taken a Vessel from Ireland laden with Beef, Pork, Butter &ca for the same place. The latter brings Papers and Letters of a very Interesting nature, which are into the Hands of the Honr. Council who informed me, they will transmit them to you by this Conveyance, to the Contents of these Papers and Letters I must beg leave to refer you and the Honr. Congress, who will now see the absolute necessity there is, of exerting all their Wisdom to withstand the mighty efforts of our Enemies. The trouble in the Arrangement of the Army, is really Inconceivable, many of the Officers sent in their names to serve in expectation of Promotion, others stood aloof to see what advantage they could make for themselves, whilst a number who had declined, have again sent in their names to serve, so great has the confusion arising from these and many other perplexing circumstances been, that I found it impossible to fix this very interesting Business exactly on the Plan resolved on in Conference, tho I have kept up to the Spirit, as near as the nature
Page 83

and the necessity of the case would admit of. The Difficulty with the Soldiers is as great, indeed more so if possible, than with the Officers. They will not inlist until they know their Colonel, Lt. Colonel, Major, Captain &ca, so that it was necessary to fix the Officers the first thing, which at last is in some manner done, and I have given out inlisting Orders; You Sir, can easier judge than I can express the anxiety of mind, I labour under on this Occasion, especially at this time when we may expect the Enemy will begin to Act, on the arrival of their Reinforcement, part of which is already come and the remainder daily dropping in. 96 I have other distresses of a very alarming nature,
[Note:Ford prints the following notes at this point:

   "These N. England men are a strange composition. Their commonalty is undoubtedly good, but they are so defective in materials for officers that it must require time to make a real good army out of 'em. Enclosed I send you the address of the generals to the soldiers. You must know that some officers who are discarded from the service are suspected of exerting themselves to dissuade the soldiers from reenlisting. To counteract their machinations was the design of this paper." -- Charles Lee to Robert Morris, Nov. 22, 1775.

   "We were some time apprehensive of losing every thing from the backwardness of the men in enlisting. It is supposed that the discarded officers labored to render the soldiers disaffected; but the men really have public spirits and recruiting goes on most swimmingly." -- Charles Lee to Robert Morris, Dec. 9, 1775.

   "The zeal and alacrity of the militia who were summon'd on the supposition that our lines would be degarnished, prognosticate well, and do much honor to these Provinces. There is certainly much public spirit in the bulk of the people and I think they merit public eulogium. The N. England delegates I am told have lately received so many rubs that they want a cordial. I beg therefore that you will administer one to those who are of your acquaintance in my name. I never saw a finer body than this militia." -- Charles Lee to Benjamin Rush, Dec. 12, 1775.

   "The task [of disbanding army and forming new] was rendered very difficult by the reduction of eleven regiments and the discharge of such a number of officers who have done every thing to obstruct and retard the filling of the new army in hopes to ruin the establishment and bring themselves into place again." -- General Greene to Governor Ward.

   "By letters from camp I find there is infinite difficulty in reinlisting the army. The idea of making it wholly Continental has induced so many alterations disgusting to both officers and men, that very little success has attended our recruiting orders. I have often told the Congress, that, under the idea of new modelling, I was afraid we should destroy our army. Southern gentlemen wish to remove that attachment, which the officers and men have to their respective colonies, and make them look up to the continent at large for their support or promotion. I never thought that attachment injurious to the common cause, but the strongest inducement to people to risk every thing in defence of the whole, upon the preservation of which must depend the safety of each colony. I wish, therefore, not to eradicate, but to regulate it in such a manner, as may most conduce to the protection of the whole." -- Governor Ward to his brother, Nov. 21, 1775. ]


Page 84

the Arms of our Soldiery are so exceeding bad, that I assure you Sir, I cannot place a proper confidence in them. Our Powder is wasting fast, notwithstanding the strictest care, oeconomy and attention is paid to it; the long season of wet weather, we have had, renders the greater part of what has been served out to the men of no use. Yesterday I had a proof of it, as a party of the Enemy, about four or five hundred taking the advantage of the High Tide, landed at Leechmore's point, which at that time was in effect an Island, we were alarmed, and of course ordered every man to examine his cartouch Box, when the Melancholy Truth appeared, and we were Obliged to furnish the greater part of them with fresh ammunition. The Damage done at the point was the taking of a Man, who watched a few Horses and Cows, Ten of the latter they carried of. Colonel Thompson marched down with his Regiment of Riflemen and was joined by Colonel Woodbridge with a part of his and a part of Patterson's regiment, who gallantly waded through the water and soon obliged the Enemy to embark under cover of a Man of War, a Floating Battery and the Fire of a Battery on Charles Town Neck. We have two of our Men dangerously Wounded by grape shot from the Man of War and by a Flag out this day we are informed the Enemy lost two of their Men. I have the Honor to be etc.