Washington, George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 4
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To GOVERNOR JONATHAN TRUMBULL Cambridge, February 19, 1776.

    Sir: I am grieved to find, that instead of Six or eight thousand weight of Powder, which I fondly expected to receive from Providence (agreeable to your Letter), that I am likely to get only 4217 lb, Including the 3000 Weight belonging to this Province (If to be had). My situation in respect to this Article, is really distressing, and while common prudence obliges me to keep my want of it concealed, to avoid a discovery thereof to the Enemy; I feel the bad effect of that concealment from our friends, For not believing our distress equal to what it really is they withhold such small supplies as are in their power to give; I am so restrained in all my Military movements, for want of these necessary supplies, that it is impossible to undertake anything effectual; and whilst I am fretting, at my own disagreeable situation, the World I suppose is not behind hand in censuring my inactivity. A Golden Opportunity has been


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lost, perhaps not to be acquired again, this year. The late freezing weather had formed some pretty strong Ice from Dorchester to Boston Neck, and from Roxbury to the Common; which would have afforded a less dangerous approach to the Town, than through the Lines, or by water. The advantage of this, added to a thorough conviction of the Importance of destroying the Ministerial Troops in Boston, before they can be reinforced, and to a belief that a bold and resolute Assault, aided in some small degree by Artillery and Mortars, might be crowned with Success; I proposed the Attempt a day or two ago to the General Officers, but they thought, and perhaps rightly, that' such an Enterprize in our present weak State of Men (for the Militia are not yet all arrived) and deficiency of Powder, would be attended with too much hazard, and therefore that we had better wait the arrival of the last, and then to begin a Bombardment in earnest.

    This matter is mentioned to you in confidence; -- your zeal, activity and Attachment to the cause, renders it unnecessary to conceal it from you, or our real stock of Powder; which after furnishing the Militia (unfortunately coming in without, and will require upwards of 50 Barrels and compleating our other Troops to 24 Rounds a Man; which are less by one half than the Regulars have, and having a few Rounds of Cannon Cartridges fitted for immediate use, will leave us not more than 100 Barrels in store, for the greatest emergency, Inclusive of the 4217 lb from Providence, If we get it.

    This my Dear Sir, is Melancholy! But it is a truth, and at the same time, that it may serve to convey, some Idea of my disagreeable feelings under a knowledge of It, will evince the necessity of Vigorous exertions, to throw without delay, every ounce that can be procured, into this Camp; otherwise the great expence of sending in the Militia will be intirely sunk,


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without any possible good resulting from it, but much evil, as they will contribute not a little to the consumption of our Amunition &c &c.

    For want perhaps of better Information, I cannot help giving it as my opinion, that at a time when our Military Operations are intirely at a stand, for want of Powder principally and Arms; It is inconsistent with good policy, to hoard up Town Stocks of either; better it is, to fight an Enemy at a distance, than at one's door. Prudence indeed points out the expediency of providing for private as well as Public Exigencies; But if both are not to be done, I should think there can be no hesitation in the Choice; as the Army now raised and supported at a Considerable expence, can be of little use, if it is not sufficient to prevent an Enemy from disturbing the quiet of the interior Towns of these Governments. I am &c.