Washington, George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 4
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To THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS Cambridge, January 30, 1776.

    Sir: Your favours of the 6th. and 20th. Instant, I received Yesterday, with the several Resolves of Congress alluded to, for which I return you my thanks.

    Knowing the great Importance Canada will be of to us, in the present Interesting Contest, and the relief our Friends there stand in need of, I should be happy, were It in my Power, to detach a Battalion from this Camp, But It cannot be done. On the 19th. instant, I had the Honor to write and inclose you the Resolution of a Council of War, and the Sentiments of the General Officers here as to the propriety of sending Troops from these Lines (for the defence of which we have been and now are obliged to call in the Militia) to which I beg leave to refer you. You may rest assured, that my endeavours and exertions shall not be wanting to stimulate the Governments of Connecticut and New Hampshire, to raise and forward reinforcements, as fast as possible, nor in any other Instance that will promote the expedition.

    I shall in Obedience to the Order of Congress, tho' Interdicted by General Howe, propose an Exchange of Governor

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Skeene 57 for Mr. Lovell and family, and shall be happy to have an Opportunity of puting this deserving Man (who has distinguished his fidelity and regard to his Country to be too great for persecution and cruelty to overcome) in any post agreeable to his wishes and Inclination.

[Note:Philip Skene entered the British Army in 1736 and served in European wars until he came to America in 1756. He became a captain in the Twenty-seventh Regiment in 1757, major of brigade in 1759, and commanded at Crown Point in October of the same year. In 1762 he participated in the West Indian expedition and was one of the first to enter the breach at the storming of Habana. In 1763 he returned to New York, where, in 1765, he obtained a patent for the township of Skenesboro (now Whitehall), and resided there after 1770, running a line between Canada and the Colonies, and superintending the settlement of the then uninhabited border country. In 1773 he applied to Lord Dartmouth to recommend him to the King for the appointment of governor of that region. The appointment was given, and he was empowered to raise a regiment in America. Activities in this connection brought him to the attention of the Continental Congress and led to his arrest in Philadelphia in June, 1775. In October, 1776, he was exchanged, joined Burgoyne as commander of a loyal American regiment, and was again captured at Saratoga. His property was confiscated by New York in 1779. -- Ford. ]

    I do not know that there is any particular Rank annexed to the Office of Aid de Camp; Generally they are Captains and Rank as such. But higher Rank is often given on account of particular merit and in particular circumstances. Aids to the King have the Rank of Colonels.

    Whether any distinction should be made between those of your Commander in Chief and the other Generals, I really know not; [I think there ought].

    You may rely, that Connolly had Instructions concealed in his Saddle. Mr. Eustice who was one of Lord Dunmores family, and another Gentleman who wishes his name not to be mentioned, saw them cased in Tin, put in the Tree, and covered over; -- he probably has exchanged his Saddle, or with drew the papers when it was mended as you conjecture; those that have been discovered are sufficiently bad, but I doubt not of the others being worse and containing more diabolical and extensive plans.

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    I hope he will be taken proper care of and meet with rewards equal to his merits.

    I shall appoint officers in the place of those which are in Canada, as I am fully persuaded they will wish to continue there for making our conquest complete in that Quarter. I wish their bravery and valor may be attended with the smiles of Fortune.

    It gives me great Pleasure to hear of the measures Congress are taking for manufacturing of Powder; I hope their endeavours will be crowned with success; I too well know and regret the want of it. It is scarcely possible to describe the disadvantages an Army must labour under, when not provided with a sufficient supply of this necessary.

    It may seem strange, that after having received about [11] Tons added to about [five] Tons which I found here and no General Action has happened, that we should be deficient in this Article and require more. But you will be pleased to consider, besides its being of a Wasteful nature and whilst the Men lay in bad Tents, was unavoidably damaged by severe and heavy rains (which could not have been prevented, unless it had been entirely withdrawn from them and an Attack hazarded against us without ammunition in their hands); That the Armed Vessels; our own occasional fireings, and some small supplies I have been Obliged to afford the Sea ports Towns threatned with immediate destruction, to which may be added the Supply to the Militia, and going off of the old Troops, have occasioned and ever will, a large consumption of it, [and waste, in spite of all the care in the World.] The Kings Troops never have less than 60 rounds a Man in their possession [Independant of their Stores.] To supply an Army of 20,000 in this manner, would take near 400 Barrels, allowing nothing for Stores Artillery &ca. I have been always afraid to place more than 12 or 15 Rounds at a time in the Hands of our Men, least any Accident happening

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to it; we should be left destitute and be undone. I have been thus particular, not only to shew our Poverty, but to exculpate myself from even a suspicion of unnecessary Waste.

    I shall inform the Pay Master General of the Resolution of Congress, respecting his Drafts, and the mode and amount of them.

    The companies at Chelsea and Malden are and always have been Regimented. It was not my intention to replace with Continental Troops, the Independent Companies at Hingham, Weymouth and Braintree; These places are exposed but not more so than Cape Ann, Beverly, Salem, Marblehead, &ca. &ca. &ca.

    Is it the Intention of Congress, that the Officers of the Army should pay postage? they are not exempted by the Resolve of the 9n Instant. 58

[Note:The resolve of January 9 permitted the private soldiers in active service to send their letters free of postage, provided they were franked by some one in authority. The officers were not mentioned in the resolve. ]

    The Congress will be pleased, I have no doubt to recollect, that the 500,000 Dollars which are now coming, are but little more than enough to bring us up to the beginning of this month, that to morrow is the last day of it, and by their own resolves the Troops are to be paid monthly.

    I wish it was in my power to furnish Congress with such a General, as they desire to send to Canada; since the unhappy reverse of our Affairs in that Quarter, General Schuyler has Informed me, that tho' he had thought of declining the service before, he would now Act. My letter of the 11th. will inform them of General Lee's being at New York; -- he will be ready to obey their Orders should they incline to send him; But, If I am not greatly deceived, he or some other spirited able Officer will be wanted there in the Spring, if not sooner, as we have undoubted Intelligence that General Clinton has sailed with some Troops: the Reports of their Number are various, from

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between 4 and 500 to nineteen companies [of Grenadiers and light Infantry.] It is also Imagined, that the Regiments which were to sail the 1st. of December, are intended for that place or Virginia. General Putnam is a most valuable man and a fine executive Officer, but I do not know how he would conduct in a seperate department; he is a younger Major General than Mr. Schuyler, who as I have observed, having determined to continue in service, will I expect repair into Canada. A copy of my Letter to him, on this and other Subjects, I inclose you, as it will explain my motives for stoping the Regiments from these Governments.

    When Captain Cockran arrives, I will give him every Assistance in my power; but I fear It will be the means of laying up our own Vessels, as these people will not bear the distinction. 59 Should this be the consequence, It will be highly prejudicial to us, as we some times pick up their Provision Vessels, and may continue to destroy them in this way. Last Week Captain Manly took a Ship and Brig from Whitehaven bound to Boston, with coals chiefly and some potatoes for the Army. I have for his great Vigilance and Industry appointed him Commodore of our little Squadron, and he now hoists his Flagg on board the Schooner Hancock.

[Note:Capt. Robert Cochran had come to Philadelphia from South Carolina to recruit seamen for that colony. Congress, by its resolve (January 19), referred him to Washington. ]

    I congratulate you on the recovery of Smith, 60 and am exceedingly glad to hear of the measures Congress are taking for the general Defence of the Continent. The Clouds gather fast, where they will burst, I know not, but we should be armed at all points.

[Note:Smith was one of Dr. John Connolly's companions; he had escaped and been recaptured. ]

    I have not succeeded in my applications to these Governments for Arms; they have returned for Answer that they can

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not furnish any. Whether I shall be more lucky in the last resource left me in this Quarter, I cannot determine, having not received returns from the Officers sent out to purchase of the People. I greatly fear, that but very few will be procured in this way, as they are exceedingly scarce and but a small part of what there are fit for service; -- when they make their report, you shall be informed.

    The Quarter Master General has just received from General Schuyler, about 1700£ (York currency) worth of Clothing, for the Soldiery, It has come very seasonably as they are in great want, and will contribute a little to their relief.

    Since writing the above I saw Mr. Eustice 61 and mentioning that nothing had been found in the Tree of Connolly's Saddle, he told me that there had been a mistake in the matter: That the Instructions were artfully concealled in the two pieces of Wood which are on the mail pelion of his portmanteau Saddle; That by order of Lord Dunmore he saw them contrived for the purpose, the papers put in, and first covered with Tin and over that with a waxed canvass Cloth. He is so exceedingly pointed and clear in his Information, that I have no doubt of its being true. 62 I could wish 'em to be discovered, as I think they contain some curious and extraordinary plans.

[Note:John Eustace. Dunmore wrote to Sir William Howe concerning him (Dec. 2, 1775): "The only fault I know in him (if fault it can be called in a boy) is that he is a little too volatile." ]
[Note:Ford quotes from Connolly's Narrative : "My instructions and commission were concealed in the sticks of my servant's mail pillion, artfully contrived for the purpose…My servant, who was a man of great fidelity and adroitness, was not confined; and as he had gathered some slight intimation that matters of importance were in the pillion sticks. and observing the saddle and its appendages suspended in an adjoining shed, after having undergone a severe but fruitless scrutiny by the committee, he seized a favorable moment in the dead of night, opened the sticks, examined their contents by the light of a fire, and finding of what importance they were, destroyed them all, except my commission. This he sealed up, and conveyed to me, with a note informing me of what he had done, by means of a negro girl. that had before been proved to be faithful."

   Smith's published Tour gives practically the same account and mentions that Samuel Chase, of Maryland, "one of the most illiberal, inveterate and violent Rebels," presided over their examination. ]

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    In my Letter of the 24th. Instant, I mentioned the arrival of thirteen of our Caghnawaga Friends; They honored me with a Talk to-day as did three of the Tribes of St. Johns and Pasmiquoddi Indians; Copies of which I beg leave to inclose you. I shall write General Schuyler respecting the Tender of Service made by the former, and not to call for their Assistance, unless he shall at any time want it, or be under the necessity of doing it to prevent their taking the side of our Enemies.

    I had the Honor of writing you on the 19th of November and then Informed you of having engaged two persons to go to Nova Scotia on the business recommended in your Letter of the 10th. and also that the State of the Army would not then admit of a sufficient force being sent for carrying into Execution the Views of Congress respecting the Dock Yards &ca.

    I would now beg leave to mention, that if the persons sent for Information should report favourably of the expediency and practicability of the Measure, that it will not be in my Power to detach any Men from these lines, the situation of our Affairs will not allow on it. I think it would be advisable to raise them in the Eastern parts of this Government.

    If it is attempted, It must be by people from the country. A Col: Thompson a Member of the General Court, from the Province of Main, and who is well spoken of by the Court, and a Captain Obrien have been with me. They think the Men necessary, may be easily engaged there and the measure practicable; provided there are not more than 200 British Troops at Halifax. They are willing and ready to embark in the matter, upon the Terms mentioned in their plan, which I enclose you. I would wish you to advert to the considerations inducing them to the Expedition as I am not without apprehension, should it be undertaking on their plan, that the Innocent and Guilty will be involved in one common Ruin. I presume they do not

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expect to receive more from the Continent, than the 5 or 10,000£ mentioned in their Scheme, and to be at every expence. If we had men to spare It might be undertaken for less than either, I conceive. Perhaps If Congress do not adopt their proposition, they will undertake to raise men for that particular purpose, which may be disbanded, as soon as it is effected and upon the same Terms allowed the Continental Troops in general. Whatever may be the determination of Congress upon the Subject, you will please to communicate to me immediately, for the Season most favorable for the Enterprize is advancing fast and we may expect in the Spring, that there will be more Troops there and the measure be more difficult to execute. I am etc. 63

[Note:In the writing of Robert Hanson Harrison. The words in brackets were inserted by Washington in the letter sent to Congress. This letter is now in the Papers of the Continental Congress. ]