Washington, George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 4
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To JOSEPH REED Camp at Cambridge, November 20, 1775.
Dear Sir: Your letters of the 4th from New York, 7th and from Philadelphia (the last by express), are all before me, and gave me the pleasure to hear of your happy meeting with Mrs. Reed, without any other accident than that of leaving a horse by the way.
The hint contained in the last of your letters, respecting your continuance in my family, in other words, your wish that I
could dispense with it, gives me pain. You already, my dear Sir, knew my sentiments on this matter; you cannot but be sensible of your importance to me; at the same time I shall again repeat, what I have observed to you before, that I can never think of promoting my convenience at the expense of your interest and inclination. That I feel the want of you, yourself can judge, when I inform you, that the peculiar situation of Mr. Randolph's affairs obliged him to leave this soon after you did; that Mr. Baylor, 12 contrary to my expectation, is not in the slightest degree a penman, though spirited and willing; and that Mr. Harrison, though sensible, clever, and perfectly confidential, has never yet moved upon so large a scale, as to comprehend at one view the diversity of matter, which comes before me, so as to afford that ready assistance, which every man in my situation must stand more or less in need of. Mr. Moylan, 13 it is true, is very obliging; he gives me what assistance he can; but other business must necessarily deprive me of his aid in a very short time. This is my situation; judge you, therefore, how much I wish for your return, especially as the armed vessels, and the capital change (in the state of this army) about to take place, have added an additional weight to a burthen, before too great for me to stand under with the smallest degree of comfort to my own feelings. My mind is now fully disclosed to you, with this assurance sincerely and affectionately of accompanying it, that whilst you are disposed to continue with me, I shall think myself too fortunate and happy to wish for a change.
[Note:George Baylor served as an aide until January, 1777, when he was appointed colonel of the Third Continental Dragoons. ]
[Note:Stephen Moylan, who signed himself secretary pro tem., and whose duties as Mustermaster General of the Continental Army would soon be increased with the establishment of the new army. ]
Dr. Morgan, (as director of the hospital,) is exceedingly wanted at this place, and ought not to delay his departure for
the camp a moment, many regulations being delayed, and accounts postponed, till his arrival. I have given G. S. and Col. P. a hint of the prevailing reports in Connecticut, without intimating from what quarter they came (for indeed I received them through different channels) in order to put them upon their guard; they both deny the charge roundly, and wish for an opportunity of vindication. I thought as this information had come to my ears in different ways, it was best to speak to these gentlemen in terms expressive of my abhorrence of such conduct, and of the consequences that might flow from it, and think it will have a good effect. The method you have suggested, of the advanced pay, I very much approve of, and would adopt, but for the unfortunate cramped state of our treasury, which keeps us for ever under the hatches. Pray urge the necessity of this measure to such members as you may converse with, and the want of cash to pay the troops for the months of October and November; as also to answer the demands of the commissary, quartermaster, and for contingencies. To do all this, a considerable sum will be necessary. Do not neglect to put that wheel in motion, which is to bring us the shirts, medicines, &c. from New York; they are much wanting here, and cannot be had, I should think, upon better terms than on a loan from the best of Kings, so anxiously disposed to promote the welfare of his American subjects.
Dr. Church is gone to Governor Trumbull, to be disposed of in a Connecticut gaol, without the use of pen, ink, or paper, to be conversed with in the presence of a magistrate only, and in the English language. So much for indiscretion, the Doctor will say. Your accounts of our dependence upon the people of Great Britain, I religiously believe. It has long been my political creed, that the ministry durst not have gone on as they did, but under the firmest persuasion that the people were with
them. The weather has been unfavorable, however, for the arrival of their transports; only four companies of the seventeenth regiment and two of the artillery are yet arrived, by our last advices from Boston.
Our rascally privateersmen go on at the old rate, mutinying if they cannot do as they please. 14 Those at Plymouth, Beverly, and Portsmouth, have done nothing worth mentioning in the prize way, and no accounts are yet received from those farther eastward.
[Note:"The people on board the Brigantine Washington are, in general, discontented, and have agreed to do no Duty on board said Vessel; and say that they Inlisted to serve in the Army, and not as Marines.…[These] people really appear to me to be a sett of the most unprincipled, abandoned fellows I ever saw.…I am very apprehensive that little is to be expected from Fellows drawn promiscuously from the army for this Business; but that if people were Inlisted for the purpose of privateering, much might be expected from them." -- William Watson to Washington, Nov. 29, 1775. This letter is in the Washington Papers. ]
Arnold, by a letter which left him the 27th ultimo, had then only got to the Chaudière Pond, and was scarce of provisions. His rear division, under the command of the noble Colonel Enos, had, without his privity or consent, left him with three companies; and his expedition, (inasmuch as it is to be apprehended, that Carleton, with the remains of such force as he had been able to raise, would get into Quebec before him,) I fear, in a bad way. For further particulars I refer you to Mr. Hancock who has enclosed to him copies of Arnold's and Enos's letters. The last-named person is not yet arrived at this camp.
I thank you for your frequent mention of Mrs. Washington. I expect she will be in Philadelphia about the time this letter may reach you, on her way hither. As she and her conductor, (who I expect will be Mr. Custis, her son,) are perfect strangers to the road, the stages, and the proper place to cross Hudson's River, (by all means avoiding New York,) I shall be much
obliged in your particular instructions and advice to her. I do imagine, as the roads are bad and the weather cold, her stages must be short, especially as I expect her horses will be pretty much fatigued; as they will, by the time she gets to Philadelphia, have performed a journey of at least four hundred and fifty miles, my express finding of her among her friends near Williamsburg, one hundred and fifty miles below my own house.
As you have mentioned nothing in your letters of the cannon, &c., to be had from New York, Ticonderoga, &c., I have, in order to reduce the matter to a certainty, employed Mr. Knox to go to those places, complete our wants, and to provide such military stores as St. John's can spare.
My respectful compliments to Mrs. Reed, and be assured that I am, dear Sir, with affectionate regard, &c.
Flints are greatly wanted here. 15
[Note:The text is from Reed's Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed. Sparks prints the letter with a minor omission, but no copy or draft is in the Washington Papers. ]