George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 14 December 1775

To John Hancock

Cambridge 14th December 1775


I received your favour of the 2d instant with the Severall resolves of Congress therein inclosed—The resolves relative to Captures made by Continental armed vessells only want a Court establishd for trial, to Make them Complete, this I hope will be Soon done, as I have taken the Liberty, to urge it often, to the Congress.1

I am Somwhat at a Loss to Know whether I am to raise the two Battalions of Marines here or not, as the delay Can be attended with but Little inconvenience, I will wait a further explanation from Congress, before I take any Steps thereon.2

I am much pleased that the money will be forwarded with all possible expedition, as it is much wanting, allso that Connolly & his Associates are taken, it has been a very fortunate discovery—I make no doubt but that the Congress will take every necessary Measure, to disposses Lord Dunmore of his hold in Virginia, the Sooner Steps are taken for that purpose, the more probability there will be, of their being effectual.3

Mr William Aspenwell & Mr Lemuel Hayward were appointed Surgeons at Roxbury in the first formation of the Army, they were Confirmed by Doctor Church, who promisd them to write to the Congress in their behalf, they Applied to me dureing his Confinement here, at a time that I had notice, of Doctor Morgans Appointment, I refferd them to his arrivall, & inclosed you have his Sentiments relative to them, allso of Doctor Rand Surgeon to the Small pox Hospital & his mate,4 I have to remark to you that when we had Some time past got the better of the Smallpox, Doctor Rand applied to me for a Continuance of him in that department which from a principle of not multiplying offices I declined—he is at present wanting,5 & Says that by only attending Occasionally he Looses his Country practice—of Course his Livelyhood—you will please to Lay these matters before Congress for their Consideration.

I was happy enough to anticipate the desire of Congress, respecting Mr Croft & Mr Trot they both declined, the Later did not Chuse to Serve, the formers Ambition was not fully gratifyed by the Offer Made to him of a Majority; & higher Rank must have turn’d out Colo. Burbeck or Major Mason, who had servd in those Characters in that Regiment to acceptation6—I hope Colonel Knox will Soon finish the business he is upon, and appear here to take the Honourable Command Conferd on him by the Congress.

I will Make application to Genl How, & propose an exchange for Mr Ethan Allen7 I am Much affraid I Shall have a Like proposal to Make for Captain Martindale, of the Armed Brigantine Washington, & his men, who it is reported was taken a few days past, by a Man of War & Carried into Boston—We Cannot expect to be allways Successfull.8

You will doubtless hear of the barbarity of Captain Wallace on Conanicut Island ’ere this reaches your hands.9

About 150 More of the poor Inhabitants are Come out of Boston, the small pox rages all over the Town, Such of the Military as had it not before are now under innoculation—this I apprehend is a weapon of Defence they Are useing against us, what Confirms me in this Opinion is, that I have information that they are tearing up the pavement, to be provided Against a bombardment.

I wrote you this day by Messieurs Pennit & de PLiarné, who will Lay before the Congress or a Comittee thereof, proposals for furnishing the Continent with Arms & Amunition,10 I refer you to themselves for further particulars. I have the Honour to be Sir Your most Humbe and Obedt Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Stephen Moylan’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC item 169; copy, NjMoHP; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 26 Dec. (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 3:457).

1Congress left the creation of prize courts to the colonies. See Hancock to GW, 22 Dec. 1775, and 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 3:373–74.

2The further explanation was provided by Hancock’s letter to GW of 8 December. See GW to Hancock, 18 Dec. 1775.

3On 4 Dec. Congress resolved to send troops to Virginia, called on the inhabitants of the colony to resist Dunmore, and urged the Virginia convention to establish a new government (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 3:403–4).

5The letter-book copy and the Varick transcript read “wanted.”

6GW added the latter part of this sentence beginning with the words “of a Majority” to the LS in his writing. Robert Hanson Harrison wrote to Thomas Crafts on 11 Dec.: “I have it in command from his Excellency to inform you that the majority in the Regiment of Artillery is now vacant, and that he would wish you to fill It in preference to any other person—You will please to signify to him whether you incline to Accept It, as soon as you conveniently can” (DLC:GW). Crafts wrote John Adams on 16 Dec. that “on the 13th Instant [I] was sent for by General Washington and offered the Majority in the Train,” but Crafts was “shocked” to learn that he would be outranked by men who had been his subordinates before the war in Capt. Adino Paddock’s artillery company. “You certainly will not blame me for not excepting under such humiliating Curcumstances,” Crafts told Adams. Crafts wanted to be either a colonel in the artillery or barrack master general (Taylor, Papers of John Adams description begins Robert J. Taylor et al., eds. Papers of John Adams. 17 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1977—. description ends , 3:366–67).

8The British frigate Fowey captured the Washington on 4 December.

9Capt. James Wallace of the warship Rose raided Conanicut Island on 10 Dec. and burned several houses. See the Newport Mercury, 11 Dec. 1775.

10See GW to Hancock, this date (second letter).

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