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 25, 1776.

    Sir: Last Evening's post brought a Letter from Joshua Wentworth Esqr. of Portsmouth who I had appointed Agent for our little Fleet in that Province, it is dated the 15th inst, an extract from which I have the Honor of transcribing for your perusal.

    The 3d. Instant, Comr. Manly brought in the Brigantine Elizabeth, one of the 3d Division, which sailed from Nantasket, with a valuable cargo of English Goods, and a few hhds. of Rum & Sugar; A Mr. Jackson, who was Passenger and part freighter, and a very Tory, supposes the Cargo worth twenty Thousand pounds Sterling. Those Goods are the greater part owned by the late Inhabitants of Boston, and by some that were Inhabitants when the Troops left it; The residue by this Mr. Jackson and others of the same cast. The complicate state of this prize, required my immediate seting off for Boston, expecting I might find some directions for my Government there; when I waited on General Ward, who was obliging enough to give me his opinion (but not able to direct, having received no Instruction to the point) that the Vessel and Cargo must be libeled, and a dividend to the Captors would


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follow, of all such Goods as might be legally claimed by the friends to America, and those that were the property, of them inimical, might be deemed forfeited. Upon further enquiry I was informed a resolve passed in Congress; That all Vessels and Goods retaken, previous to a Condemnation by a British Court of Admiralty, were liable to a partial decree (by every Colony Judge) to the Captors, not more than one third, nor less than a Quarter; the present Prize falls under this resolve; and any other that may be property of our Internal Enemies, liable to a full confiscation, may be necessary for my Government; Therefore shall be much obliged by your full direction of this Capture, and a Copy of the Continental resolves thereon. This Brigantine is owned by a Mr. Richard Hart of this Town, taken on her return from the West Indies, last October and carried into Boston, not condemned. The Rum on Board is Seventeen Hhds. and some of Sugar, not removed out of her from the time of Capture. -- The other Cargo, was in General stolen, by virtue of General Howe's Proclamation (which undoubtedly you have seen) appointing one Crean Brush Superintendant, who by the way was taken in the prize, and is now confined in the Massachusetts Colony, with Mr. Jackson and sundry others, by order of the General Court, to whom General Ward delivered them.

    There were a Sergeant and twelve privates of the 4th or Kings own Regt. taken prisoners on board with the others, making Sixty three Souls, among whom are four Negroes (two men and two women) which I have confined in Gaol here, concluding they may be Esteemed a part of the prize. There appeared from the Pillage of this Cargo, (by many of the Passengers) the Property was in him that could secret the most, for when examining the chests and beding of the Prisoners, I found great Quantities of Goods that they had collected while on board, which were taken out of Ware houses without packing, and have promiscously on board the Vessel, even the Sailors had provided for their disposal at pleasure; In fact the destruction of Property, under cover of General Howe's Proclamation, is unparralled. I thought it my Duty to be critical in examining for cash which rendered it necessary to insist on a close scrutiny, and found about one hundred pounds Lawful money. (Viz) £36.18.7d. on Mr. Jackson, and £62.16/ on a Mr. Keighley, likewise one hundred and fifty nine pounds 1/9d. of Mr. Jackson in five sets of Exchange, which I now have in Possession, considering, that a man


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so inimical to his Country, ought to be dispossessed of any Interest, whereby he could be benefited, added to which they are Navy Bills, except £60 which was the draft of Governor Wentworth; On this point should be obliged by your opinion and direction.

    I am now discharging the Cargo as it is in a perishing situation, and when selected, and the regular course, pursued through the Admiralty, shall advertise, agreeable to His Excellencys Instruction to General Ward, who was obliging enough to give me an Abstract. The General Court of this Province finding a dificulty in making a Code of Laws for the Admiralty Court, did not complete that Institution their last Session, when they adjourned to June; which elapse of time will not admit my facilitating the disposal of the prizes under my care, so early as I could wish for the safety of part of the Interest of the Susanna, viz. the Porter, which I fear may be spoiled by laying, it not having equal Body, to that commonly imported for sale, which induces me to desire your direction for a disposal of that Article either at Private or Public Sale. 52

[Note:The original of the Wentworth letter is in the Washington Papers. ]

    That Sir is an exact Copy of part of Mr. Wentworth's Letter to Mr. Moylan. I now request you will please to direct me, in what manner I shall instruct the Agent respecting this complicated cargo, and whether he may be empowered to dispose of the porter, or any other articles on board the prizes in his care, which the delay of establishing the Court of Admiralty, may make liable to perish.

    I have not yet heard that there has been any Trial of the prizes carried into Massachusetts Bay, this procrastination is attended with very bad consequences, some of the Vessels I had fitted out, are now laid up, Crews being dissatisfied that they cannot get their prize Money.

    I have tired the Congress upon this Subject, but the importance of it makes me again mention, that if a summary way of proceeding is not resolved on, it will be impossible to get our Vessels maned. I must also mention to you Sir, that Capt: Manly and his Crew, are desirous to know when they may


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expect their part of the value of the Ordinance Stores taken last fall, they are anxious to know what the amount may be; as the Inventory of that Cargo is in the Hands of Congress, I would humbly submit it to them, whether a valuation thereof should not be made, and the Captor's dividend be remitted them, as soon as possible, it will give them Spirit and encourage them to be alert in looking out for other prizes. Several officers belonging to the Regiments raised in these Middle Colonies, inform me, that their Men (notwithstanding their agreement) begin to murmur at the distinction of pay made between them and the Regiments from the Eastward. I would be glad that the Congress would attend to this in time, least it may get to such a pitch as will make it difficult to suppress, they argue that they perform the same duty, undergo the same fatigue, -- and receive five Dollars, when the Eastern Regiments receive 6⅔d: Dollars per Month. 53 -- for my own part I wish they were all upon the same footing, for if the British Army will not face this way it will be necessary to detach a great part of our Troops; in that case I would for many reasons, be sorry there should be any distinction of Regiments that are all in pay of the United Colonies, the Deficiency of Arms (in the New York Regiments especially) is very great, if I am rightly informed, there are scarce as many in Colonel Ritzema's Regiment as will arm one Company. Can the Congress remedy this evil? if they can, there should not a Moment be lost in effecting it as our strength at present is in reality on paper only; should we think of discharging those men who are without Arms, the remedy would be worse than the desease, for by vigorous exertions, I hope Arms may be procured, and I well know that the raising Men
[Note:On April 23 Congress had considered the report of a committee on letters from Generals Washington and Schuyler regarding Canada and had resolved: "That if any of the troops from New Jersey or Pennsylvania, which were raised at five dollars a month, be sent to Canada, they shall be allowed at the rate of six dollars and two thirds of a dollar per month, from the time they begin their march." ]

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is exceeding difficult; especially to be engaged during the continuance of the War, which is the footing on which Col. Ritzema's Regiment is engaged.

    April 26.

    I had wrote thus far, before I was honored with your favor of the 23d Instant; in obedience to the order therein contained, I have directed six Regiments more, for Canada, 54 which will embark as soon as Vessels and other necessaries can be provided; these Regiments will be Commanded by General Sullivan; I will give him instructions to join the Forces, in that Country under General Thomas as soon as possible.

[Note:President Hancock's letter inclosed the resolves of Congress of April 23. ]

    With respect to sending more Troops to that Country I am really at a Loss, what to advise, as it is impossible at present, to know the designs of the Enemy. 55 Should they send the whole force under General Howe up the River St. Lawrence to relieve Quebec and recover Canada, the Troops gone and now going will be insufficient to stop their progress, and should they think proper to send that or an equal force this way from Great Britain, for the purpose of possessing this City and securing the navigation of Hudson River, the Troops left here will not be sufficient to oppose them, and yet for any thing we know, I think it not improbable they may attempt both, both being of the greatest importance to them if they have men.

[Note:Congress in its resolves of April 23 had requested the opinion of General Washington whether it was necessary to send more troops to Canada and whether he could with safety spare them from the army at New York. ]

    I should wish indeed that the Army in Canada, should be more powerfully reinforced; at the same time, I am conscious that the trusting this important post (which is now become the Grand Magazine of America to the handful of men remaining here, is tuning too great a risque: The securing this post and Hudsons River is to us also, of so great importance that I can


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not at present advise the sending any more Troops from hence; on the Contrary the General Officers now here, whom I thought it my Duty to consult, think it absolutely necessary to encrease the Army at this place, with at least 10,000 men, especially when it is considered that from this place only the Army in Canada must draw its supplies of Ammunition, Provisions and most probably of men; That all reinforcements can be sent from hence much easier than from any other place. By the inclosed return you will see the state of the Army here, and that the number of effective men, is far short of what the Congress must have expected. 56

[Note:A general return of the Continental Army, dated Apr. 23, 1776, is copied in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 169. ]

    I have found it necessary to order Colonel Dayton's Regiment from New Jersey to march as one of the Six to Canada. Wherefore I must recommend it to Congress, to order two Companies of one of the Regiments still in Pennsylvania to March to Cape May, which can be done much sooner, 57 for had this destination of that Regiment not taken place, it would have been very inconvenient to have detached two Companies from it to that place, as the march would (according to Lord Sterling's and other Accounts) have been at least 200 miles from Amboy, and they must have passed within 20 miles of Philadelphia, there being no practicable road along the Sea Coasts of New Jersey for their Baggage to have passed.

[Note:On April 17 Congress had ordered two companies of Col. Elias Dayton's regiment to proceed to Cape May, N. J., and remain there till further orders. ]

    Doctor Potts 58 who is bearer hereof, was I understood appointed director of the Hospital for these Middle Colonies, but the army being removed with the General Hospital from the Eastward, does in course supersede him, he is inclined to go to Canada, where he may be very useful, if a person is not already

[Note:Dr. Jonathan Potts. He was appointed director general of the hospital of the Northern Department. ]

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appointed for that Department, I humbly beg leave to ask the Congress, Whether in all those Appointments, it would not be best, to have but one chief, to whom all the others should be subordinate? I have the Honor etc. 59

[Note:In the writing of Stephen Moylan. ]