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 New York, April 19, 1776.
Sir: I have this Moment received a Letter from General Schuyler, containing inclosures of a very important nature. 25 Copies of which I imagine are contained in the inclosed Letter to you, and which I thought it my duty immediately to forward
[Note:This was Schuyler's letter of April 12, containing Hazen's letter of April 1. (See Washington's letter to Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, Apr. 19, 1776, post. ) ]
by Express, that they may be laid before the Honorable Congress and proper measures pursued, to prevent the fatal Effects which are therein apprehended. For my own part, I have done my utmost to forward the four Regiments ordered by Congress, but a variety of incidents have hitherto conspired to prevent their embarkation. The Men had scarcely recovered themselves from the fatigues of their March from Boston, and are quite unprovided with necessaries. The Colonels of the Regiments, though repeatedly call'd upon for that purpose, had neglected making out the abstracts for their pay. All obstacles however are now removed, and I hope to begin the embarkation this day. Indeed it would have been best in my Opinion, to have sent the Regiments raised in this Province and New Jersey upon that service, had not the peculiar circumstances under which they were raised, prevented it, by the Terms of their Inlistments they are to serve during the War, and at five Dollars pr month on condition (as I am informed) that they shall not be sent out of those Provinces. Besides they are very ill provided with Arms, some companies not having any. It must be a great Burthen upon the Continent to keep such a number of useless men in pay, and yet if they should be dismissed, and an unexpected Supply of Arms should arrive, it may be found very difficult to replace them.
The Officers of the several Corps that have arrived here, have been so busily employed in fixing their Men in Quarters, that I have not yet been able to procure an exact return of their Numbers; some are yet behind, as soon as the whole are collected, I shall order the proper returns and transmit them to Congress.
You will please to notice what Colonel Hazen says of the disposition of the Indians; In my opinion it will be impossible to keep them in a state of Neutrality, they must, and no doubt
soon will take an active part either for, or against us, and I submit it to the consideration of Congress, whether it would not be best immediately to engage them on our side, and to use our utmost endeavours to prevent their minds being poisoned by Ministerial Emmissaries, which will ever be the case while a Kings Garrison is suffered to remain in their Country. Would it not therefore, be advisable to send a sufficient force from the back Counties of Pennsylvania, to take possession of the Garrisons of Niagara and Detroit?
This I think might easily be affected and would answer the most salutary purposes. The Seneca Indians, who have hitherto appeared friendly to us, might be usefully employed in this business.
I am in hopes most of the difficulties mentioned in Col. Hazen's Letter will be obviated by the appearance of the respectable Committee of Congress in Canada, and the Forces that have been and will be sent there. The security of that Country is of the utmost importance to us. This cannot be done so effectually by Conquest, as by taking strong hold of the affections & confidence of the Inhabitants. It is to be lamented, that any conduct of the continental Troops should tend to alienate their Affections from us.
The Honorable Congress will best judge, from the Papers sent them by General Schuyler, and the information they may receive of the designs of the Enemy, whether it is expedient to send a further reinforcement to Canada. If such should be their determination, I stand ready to execute their orders, and am with respect, Sir, etc.
P.S. Inclosed is a return of the four Regiments ordered to Canada, besides which there will be one Rifle Company, a Company of Artificers and two Engineers, the whole to be commanded by Brigadier General Thompson. 26
[Note:The draft is in the writing of William Palfrey. ]