George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 2 November 1775

To John Hancock

Cambridge 2d Novr 1775


I could not suffer Mr Randolph to quit this Camp with out bearing some testimony of my duty to the Congress, although his sudden departure (occasioned by the death of his worthy relative, whose loss as a good Citizen, and valuable member of Society is much to be regretted) does not allow me time to be particular.1

The Inclosed return shews at one view what reliance we have upon the Officers of this Army, and how difficient we are like to be in Subaltern Officers2—a few days more will enable me to inform the Congress what they have to expect from the Soldiery, as I shall Issue recruiting Orders for this purpose so soon as the Officers are appointed, which will be done this day, having sent for the Genl Officers to consult them in the choice.3

I must beg leave to recall the attention of the Congress to the Appointment of a Brigadier General—an Officer as necessary to a Brigade as a Colonel is to a Regiment, and will be exceedingly wanted in the new Arrangement.4

The Proclamation’s, and Association herewith Inclosed, came to my hands on Monday last5—I thought it my duty to send them to you—nothing of moment has happened since my last6—With respectful Compliments to the Members of Congress I have the honour to be Sir Yr Most Obedt & Most Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC item 169; copy, NjMoHP; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 13 Nov. (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 3:352).

1For the death of Edmund Randolph’s uncle, Peyton Randolph, on 22 Oct., see Richard Henry Lee to GW, 22–23 Oct. 1775. Edmund Randolph did not return to the army. He became attorney general of Virginia in the spring of 1776 and was elected to Congress in 1779.

2GW enclosed four returns, each dated 1 Nov. and signed by Horatio Gates, giving regiment by regiment and rank by rank the number of officers declining to serve the ensuing year (totaling 406), the number of those willing to serve again (totaling 751), the number of absent officers (totaling 210), and the number of vacancies in the officer’s corps (totaling 98) for a grand total of 1,465 officers (DNA: RG 93: Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775–1783). GW also enclosed the letters that he had received from Samuel Holden Parsons, Experience Storrs, and Charles Webb, all dated 23 Oct., concerning the continuance of the Connecticut troops in the army until the end of 1775.

3See Council of War, this date, and General Orders, 12 Nov. 1775.

4For GW’s original request for this appointment, see GW to Hancock, 31 Aug. 1775.

5GW enclosed a printed copy of the king’s proclamation for suppressing rebellion and sedition, dated 23 Aug. 1775 (DNA:PCC, item 152). The previous Monday was 30 October.

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