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, January 4, 1776.

    Sir: Since my last of the 31st. ulto. I have been Honored with your favor of the 22d., inclosing sundry resolves, which shall in matters they respect, be made the rule of my conduct.

    The Resolution relative to the Troops in Boston, I beg the favor of you Sir to assure Congress, shall be attempted to be put in execution, the first moment I see a probability of success, and in such a way as a Council of Officers shall think most likely to produce it, but if this should not happen as soon as you may expect or my wishes prompt to, I request that Congress will be pleased to advert to my situation, and do me the justice to believe, that circumstances and not want of Inclination are the cause of delay. 99 It is not in the pages of History perhaps to furnish a case like ours. To maintain a post within musket shot of the Enemy for six months together [without powder] 1 and at the same time to disband one Army and recruit another within that distance of twenty odd British regiments, is more than probably ever was attempted: But if we succeed as well in the latter, as we have hitherto in the former, I shall think it the most fortunate event of my whole Life.

[Note:As far back as October Congress bad been considering the idea of an attack on Boston. 'The committee of conference that visited Washington at his camp had submitted a report on the matter, and on Dec. 22, 1775, Congress debated the question in the Committee of the Whole. The resolve adopted that day was: "That if General Washington and his council of war should be of opinion, that a successful attack may be made on the troops in Boston, he may do it in any manner he may think expedient, notwithstanding the town and the property in it may thereby be destroyed." ]
[Note:Left blank in the original to guard against the danger of miscarriage. ]

    By a very Intelligent Gentleman a Mr. Hutchinson from Boston, I learn, that it was Admiral Shuldham, that came into the Harbour on Saturday last; That two of the five regiments from Cork are arrived at Halifax. Two others have sailed for Quebec (but what was become of them could not be told) and

Page 209

the other, the 55th had just got into Boston. certain It is also, that the greatest part of the 17th. regiment is arrived there, whether we are to conclude from hence, that more than five Regiments have been sent out, or that the Companies of the 17th arrived at Boston are part of the regiments destined for Halifax, and Quebec, I know not.

    We also learn from this Gentleman and others that the Troops embarked for Halifax as mentioned in my Letter of the 16th. were really designed for that place, but recalled from Nantasker road upon advice being received of the arrival of the above Regiments there. I am informed of a Fleet now getting ready, under convoy of the Scarborough and Fowey Men of War, consisting of 5 Transports and 2 Bomb Vessels, with about 300 marines and several flatt Bottom'd Boats. It is whispered that they are designed for Newport, but generally thought in Boston, that they are ment for Long Island; and that it is probable they will be followed by more Troops, as the other Transports are taking in Water and lay, as others say in Nantasker road, to be out of the Ice.

    A large Quantity of Biscuit is also baking.

    As their real design cannot with certainty be known, I submit it with all due deference to the Superior Judgment of Congress, whether it would not be consistent with prudence to have some of the Jersey Troops, thrown into New York, to prevent an evil, which may be almost irremediable, if it should happen. I mean the landing of Troops at that place or upon long Island near it.

    As it is possible you may not yet have received his Majesty's most gracious Speech, I do myself the Honor to enclose one of many, sent out of Boston Yesterday. 2 It is full of rancour and

[Note:No copy of the King's speech of October 27 has been found in either the Papers of the Continental Congress or the Washington Papers. A contemporary text, apparently a clipping, is among the Great Britain broadsides in the Library of Congress. ]

Page 210

resentment against us, and explicitly holds forth his Royal Will to be, that vigorous measures are to be pursued for depriving us of our Constitutional Rights and Liberties. These Measures however Vigorous, I hope will be opposed by more vigorous ones, and rendered fruitless and unavailing, tho' Authorized and sanctified by the Name of Majesty, which ought to promote the happiness of his People and not their Oppression. I am &ca. 3

[Note:In the writing of Robert Hanson Harrison, Through inadvertence it was not signed. ]