George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 25 December 1775

To John Hancock

Cambridge 25th December 1775


I had the honour to address myself to you the 19th instant, Since which I have received undoubted information—that the genuine instructions given to Connolly have not reached your hands—that they Are very artfully Concealed in the tree of his Saddle & coverd with Canvas So nicely, that they are Scarcely discernable—that those which were found upon him are intended to deceive—if he was caught—you will most Certainly have his Saddle taken to pieces in order to discover this deep Laid plot.1

Inclosed is a Copy of General Howes Letter in answer to the one I wrote him the 18th instant the Conduct I am to observe towards Brigadier Prescott in Consequence of these letters—the Congress will oblige me by determining for me.2

The Gentlemen by whom you Sent the money are arrived3—the Sum they brought—tho Large is not Sufficient to answer the demands of the Army—which at this time are remarkably heavy—there is three months pay due—one months advance—two dollars for each blankett—the Arms which are Left by those who are dismissed, to be paid for—besides the demands which are on the Commissary and Quarter Master Generals—you will therefore see the necessity of another remittence—which I beg may be as Soon as you Conveniently Can.

I will take the oppertunity of the return of these Gentlemen—to Send Colonel Kirkland to you for examination—& that you may dispose of him, as to you may Seem proper.4

A Committee from the General Court of this Province calld on me the other day—informing me that they were in great want of Ordance for defence of the Colony—that if what belongd to them, now in use here—was Kept for the Continent, they will be under the necessity of provideing themselves with others—of Course what is Kept must be paid for5—there are many of the Cannon of very Little use, Such of them as are good I cannot at present part with perhaps when I receive the Supply from Newyork and Canada, it may be in my power to Spare them Mr Wadsworth has Sent in his report, respecting Cape Cod harbour Copy of which you will receive herewith, allso a Letter from a Mr Jacob Bayley, put into my hands by Colonel Little—it Contains Some things that may not be unworthy the Consideration of Congress.6

We have made good progress in the works on Leechmores point they woud have been finishd’ere this—but for the Severity of the weather, which prevents our people from working.

I received a Letter from Governor Cooke which expresses the fears of the people of Rhode Island—Lest the Ships, which we had information were Saild with Some troops on board—were destin’d for Newport7—I Sent Major General Lee there—to point out to them Such defence as he may think the place Capable of—I Sincerely wish he may be able to do it with effect—as that place in its present State, is an asylum for Such as are disaffected to American Liberty.

Our returns of Inlistments to this day Amount to 8500 men. I have the honor to be Sir Your most Ob. H. St

Go: Washington

P.S. inclosed is an estimate of the demands of the Army.8

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 3 Jan. (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 4:23).

1John Atkinson, captain of the sloop Betsey, provided this information. See GW to Richard Henry Lee, 26 Dec. 1775. For the attempt to find these instructions, see Hancock to GW, 6–21 Jan., and GW to Hancock, 30 Jan. 1776.

2See Howe to GW, 21 Dec. 1775. For Congress’s directions regarding Gen. Richard Prescott, see Hancock to GW, 6–21 and 29 Jan. 1776, 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 4:16, 22–23.

3For the sending of these funds, see Hancock to GW, 2 and 8 Dec. 1775.

4For Kirkland’s escort to Philadelphia, see GW to Hancock, 31 Dec. 1775.

5On 8 Dec. the Massachusetts house of representatives ordered Speaker James Warren to wait on GW “and be informed whether his Excellency chuses to take into his Care the Ordnance Stores received from this Colony, and if it is agreeable to give Receipts for the same, as Vouchers for a Charge to the Continent.” That same day the house appointed Dr. Asaph Fletcher, Col. Abner Perry, and Col. Samuel Thompson to a committee “to enquire what Number of Cannon belonging to the several Towns, and what Sizes, are now in the Continental Army under the Care of General Washington.” On 19 Dec. that committee “reported a Schedule containing as exact an Account... as can at present be obtained,” and Warren, Samuel Thacher, and Joseph Hawley were appointed a committee to lay that schedule before GW (Mass. House of Rep. Journal description begins A Journal of the Honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Watertown, Mass., 1775. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , Nov. 1775–Feb. 1776 sess., 25, 57).

6GW enclosed copies of Peleg Wadsworth’s letter of 16 Dec. and Jacob Bayley’s letter to Moses Little of 24 Nov. 1775. Writing from Newbury, Vt., Bayley urged the building of a road from there to Canada for the transportation of troops and supplies, and he argued the importance of New York and Canada to the American cause. “I have always wondred,” Bayley wrote, “that the wise heads against Us, (If any there Be) had not struck on New York and Quebeck, which would have Cut of the Communication Between the North and south Colonies, Harrissed our Frontiers, Which are of a Great Extent. The Indians would have Been In their Favour, We Could not have stood out till now, therefore let us make By the advantage they have Given us, I Don’t know the situation of the Entrance Into York. But I should think If Possable that harbour ought to be Secur’d for Divers reasons, York is of more Consequence to us, than all the harbours to the East” (DNA:PCC, item 152).

8See enclosure.

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