From George Clinton
Poughkeepsie [New York] 5th March 1778.
I have received your Favour of the 13th Feb’y last. Your other Letter has not reached me. I am so Circumstanced at present so much to do & no Body to assist me that I can hardly steal a Moment to write to my Friends tho their Letters always afford me the greatest Pleasure. May I then hope Sir that you will continue to write me frequently tho I shoud not prove a very punctual Correspondent. When I shall have more Leisure I hereby promise to pay the Debt with Interest. I wish the Defects of a certain great Body were less apparent. Even their Want of Wisdom but too Evident in most of their Measures woud in that Case be less Injurious. A New Mode of doing Business by Proxy is very Fashionable whenever any alarming Difficulties arise they are referred to the New B of W1 & by them to the Executive Powers of the different States; this alone is a glaring Evidence of Weakness & Incapacity. Coud our Soldiery subsist on Resolves, they woud never want Food or Cloathing. Resolves are most Powerful Expedients. They are to fill to Cloath to Feed & pay our Armies at least this is the Language which the late Conduct of our Masters speak.
I need not ask you who contrived & planned the Northern Expedition, I have seen the Marquis’s Instructions.2 They are a Curiosity indeed. They suppose the Enemy are to be pannic Struck & fly on the Approach of our Army. Our Army you may be assured were to take the advantage of this pursue them & take Possession of Montreal with all the public Stores & Cloathing therein &ca. &ca. What a Pitty we had not Men sufficient to have carried all this into Execution that those we had were not cloathed or paid that Provissions & Forrage had not been provided in Season.
I wish Jay or Livingston3 or both in Congress tho they coud be illy spared from here, but this cant be at present. I am D’r Sir &c.
I take for granted that Military Men burn Confidential Letters for fear of accidents as soon as they are read.
Public Papers of George Clinton description begins Public Papers of George Clinton (New York and Albany, 1900). description ends , II, 865–66.
1. A new Board of War, with Major General Horatio Gates as president, had been established by Congress in November, 1777.
2. This is a reference to a plan considered by the Board of War for the invasion of Canada. The Marquis de Lafayette was to be in titular command of this expedition, but Major General Thomas Conway, Washington’s principal critic and opponent, also hoped to become the leader of the expedition. Clinton’s remark on “who contrived & planned the Northern Expedition” is presumably a reference to Gates.
3. Robert R. Livingston.