George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Warren, 10 July 1775

To James Warren

Head Quarters Cambridge July [10] 1775.


After much Difficulty & Delay I have procurd such Returns of the State of the Army as will enable us to form a Judgment of its Strength. It is with great Concern I find it far inadequate to our general Expectations and the Duties which may be requird of it. The Number of Men fit for Duty in the Forces raisd in this Province including all the Out Posts and Artillery does not amount to Nine thousands. The Troops raisd in the other Colonies are more compleat; but yet fall short of their Establishment. So that upon the whole, I cannot estimate the present Army at more than Fourteen thousands five hundred Men capable of Duty.

I have the Satisfaction to find the Troops both in Camp & Quarters very healthy; so that the Deficiency must arise from the Regiments never having been filled up to the Establishment, and the Number of Men on Furlough. But the former is much most considerable.1 Under all these Circumstances I yesterday calld a Council of War; and, enclosed, I send you an Extract of our Determinations, so far as they respect the province of Massachusetts Bay.2

Your own Prudence will suggest the Necessity of Secrecy on this Subject as we have the utmost Reason to think the Enemy suppose our Numbers much greater than they are: an Error which is not our Interest to remove.

The great Extent of our Lines and the Uncertainty which may be the point of Attack added to the Necessity of immediate Support have induced me to order that Horses ready saddled should be kept at several Posts in Order to bring the most speedy Intelligence of any Movement of the Enemy.

For this Purpose I should be glad that Ten Horses might be provided as soon as possible.3 I have the Honor to be Sir Your most Obed. & very hbe Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. As I am informed the Congress proposes to rise immediately, I should be glad to know what Committees are left, or upon whom the executive Business devolves.4

G: W——n

LS, in Thomas Mifflin’s writing, M-Ar: Revolution Letters; LB, DLC:GW; copy, NHi: Joseph Reed Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The LS was erroneously dated 9 July 1775 by Mifflin. That the data should be 10 July is indicated by GW’s statement in the second paragraph: “I yesterday calld a Council of War,” a reference to the council of war held on 9 July. The letterbook copy and the copy at the New-York Historical Society, both in Joseph Reed’s writing, are correctly dated 10 July, as is the Varick transcript.

1The letter-book copy and the copy at the New-York Historical Society read “by much the most considerable.”

2The enclosed extract consists of the third and fourth decisions of the Council of War, 9 July 1775, which concern the need for immediate reinforcement of the American army (Mass. Prov. Congress Journals description begins William Lincoln, ed. The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety. Boston, 1838. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 482–83, n.1). The provincial congress this day referred GW’s letter to a committee of three members, Col. Elisha Porter, Dr. John Taylor, and Maj. Eleazer Brooks, who were “directed to confer with General Washington on the subject of his letter, and particularly inform him of the number of men we had generally estimated in the Massachusetts forces, from the returns of the general officers, from the money paid out of the treasury, for a month’s advance pay to the soldiers, and from the provision made for billeting the said forces” (ibid., 482). The next afternoon the provincial congress appointed two committees to deal with the matter of the reinforcements. One, consisting of Elbridge Gerry, Samuel Phillips, Jr., and Colonel Porter, was ordered “to repair immediately to General Washington, and know of him what number of men he would have this Congress raise, for a temporary reinforcement of the army; and to inform the General of the powers vested by this Congress, in the committee of safety, and to confer with the General, at large, on the state of the army, and in particular, with respect to some soldiers of the army who have enlisted twice.” The other committee, consisting of James Warren, Col. Joseph Palmer, Dummer or Abel Jewett, Capt. Josiah Stone, and Col. Michael Farley, was instructed “to devise some means of raising speedily a temporary reenforcement of the army, and to bring in an establishment.” The committee appointed to confer with GW about the reinforcements reported on the morning of 12 July with a letter from him (ibid., 486, 489). The letter was apparently the one of 12 July which Joseph Reed wrote to James Warren for GW: “Upon a Conference with the other Generals respecting the Militia, it has been concluded that 1000 Men to be stationed in & about Medford will be sufficient for the present Service. His Excelly has also directed me to request of the Congress in his Name that they would urge the Committees in the several Towns to forward & promote the new Levies as much as possible—and that they would exert themselves to send to the Camp such Soldiers as have staid beyond their Furlows, or have left the Service & may be returned to their former Homes” (M-Ar: Revolution Letters). The letter was promptly referred to the committee charged with devising a means of raising reinforcements, and Colonel Porter, Jonathan Glover, and Capt. Timothy Parker were added to that committee. The enlarged committee reported on the afternoon of 12 July, at which time the provincial congress resolved to recommend to various towns that they each immediately raise and send to Cambridge a specified number of “men, provided with a good fire-lock, ammunition, and blanket, each, who shall be detained not longer than one month, at farthest, from the beginning of their march, and shall be honorably paid for their service by the colony, all due regard being had to the present urgency of farming business, and the inconvenience of complying with such a requisition at this juncture.” GW, however, decided later this day, on the basis of new intelligence, that the temporary militia reinforcements were not needed, and on the morning of 13 July, the provincial congress canceled all plans for the militia mobilization (Mass. Prov. Congress Journals description begins William Lincoln, ed. The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety. Boston, 1838. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 491–93 Joseph Reed to James Warren, 9:00 p.m., 12 July 1775, DLC:GW, in GW to Hancock, 14 July 1775, n.1).

3The provincial congress on this date ordered the committee of supplies to furnish GW immediately “with ten good horses, with saddles and bridles, for the public use” (Mass. Prov. Congress Journals description begins William Lincoln, ed. The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety. Boston, 1838. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 481). On 18 July Joseph Reed wrote on behalf of GW to Brig. Gen. John Thomas: “As most of the Horses provided for Intelligence are disposed of you will please to direct some careful Person to call for one reserved to be Stationed on Sewall’s Point, a Place at which it is very probable there may be some Occasion for him—As these Horses are kept for very important & necessary Purposes, his Excellency requests particular Care may be taken that they are not misapplied or taken off from the Duty for which they are particularly Appropriated” (owned [1981] by Ronald von Klaussen).

4The provincial congress adjourned for a week beginning on 13 July 1775. When it reconvened on 19 July, it promptly dissolved itself to clear the way for the first meeting of the new house of representatives later that same day. See John Adams to GW, 19 or 20 June 1775, n.1. The committees of safety and of supplies conducted the business of the colony during the recess of the provincial congress.

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