To the Massachusetts General Court
Cambridge 17th Jany 1776.
Your several Resolves in consequence of my Letters of the 10th and 15th Instt have been presented to me by a Committee of your Honble Body1—I thank you for the assurances of being zealously disposed to do every thing in your power to facilitate the Recruiting of the American Army; and at the sametime that I assure you, I do not entertain a doubt of the truth of it; I must beg leave to add, that I conceive you have mistaken the meaning of my Letter of the 10th if you suppose, it ever was in my Idea that you should offer a bounty at the seperate expence of this Colony.
It was not clear to me, but that some coercive measure might be us’d on this, as on former occasions, to draft Men, to compleat the Regiments upon the Continental Establishment; but, as this is thought unadvisable, I shall rely on your recommending to the Select Men, & Committees of Corrispondence &ca to exert themselves in their several Towns, to promote the Inlistments for the American Army.
In the meanwhile, as there is an appearance of this Service going on but slowly, and it is necessary to have a respectable body of Troops here as soon as possible, to act as Circumstances shall require, I must beg that you will order in, with as much expedition as the nature of the case will admit of, Seven Regiments agreeable to the Establishmt of this Army, to continue in Service till the First of April, if required. you will be pleased to direct that the Men come provided with good Arms, Blankets, Kettles (for Cooking) and, if possible, with Twenty Rounds of Powder and Ball.2
With respect to your other Resolve, relative to Arms, I am quite ready to make an absolute purchase of such as shall be furnished, either by the Colony or Individuals—I am moreover ready, to engage payment for all the Arms which shall be furnished by the Recruits, if lost in the Publick Service, but I do not know how far I could be justified in allowing for the use of them, when I know it to be the opinion of Congress that every Man shall furnish his own Arms, or pay for the use of them if put in his hands—to do otherwise, is an indirect way of raising the Pay.3 I again wish, that the Honble Court could devise some method of purchasing.
I beg leave to return my thanks for the kind offer of Fifty thousand pds for the Continental use. I will accept of a loan upon the terms mentioned, of half that Sum, to secure payment of the Militia, whose time of Service will be up the last of this Month; till when, I shall not have occasion to make use of the Money.4 I am with great Respect Gentn Yr Most Obedt H. Ser.
ALS, M-Ar: Revolution Letters; LB, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The letter-book copy and the Varick transcript are dated 16 January.
1. GW is referring to his letter to the council of 10 Jan. concerning recruiting and his letter to the General Court of 13 Jan. regarding arms. For the General Court’s resolutions of 15–16 Jan., see the notes to those letters. The committee consisting of John Adams, James Warren, and Joseph Hawley, apparently presented the resolutions to GW on 16 Jan. (see GW to Adams, 15 Jan., and Council of War, 16 Jan. 1776).
2. These seven Massachusetts militia regiments were part of the reinforcement approved by the council of war on 16 January. GW’s letter was read in the house of representatives on 17 Jan. and was referred to a committee. On 19 Jan. the house of representatives resolved to raise 4,368 militiamen to serve in the Continental army until 1 April, and the following day the council concurred in that resolution. To expedite matters the General Court on 21 Jan. appointed a committee in each affected county to assist in raising the men and forming them into companies (Mass. House of Rep. Journal, Nov. 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins A Journal of the Honourable House of Representatives. At a Great and General Court or Assembly for the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Boston, 1776. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 159–60, 169–73, 178, 180–81, 187, 192–94; “Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 478–82, 484–85, 493–95).
4. GW apparently made known his desire to borrow money through one of the committees of the General Court that visited him at Cambridge. The house of representatives approved the loan on 15 Jan., and the council assented the next day. GW was required to promise in his capacity as commander in chief to return the money to the colony’s treasurer when demanded (Mass. House of Rep. Journal, Nov. 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins A Journal of the Honourable House of Representatives. At a Great and General Court or Assembly for the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Boston, 1776. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 151, 153, 202–3; “Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 459, 502). About 24 Jan. Stephen Moylan wrote to James Warren inquiring “what mode” GW was “to make use of, previous to his drawing for the money this Province has been Pleased to Offer to advance him for the use of the United Colonies, your pointing out the same to him will be Complied with” (DLC:GW).