George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Nathaniel Woodhull, 17 May 1776

To Nathaniel Woodhull

New York May 17. 1776⟩


As I have no dou⟨bt of the Willingness of the⟩ Militia of this City to Join ⟨in Its defence against the⟩ Attempts of the Enemies of America; It is ⟨highly necessary⟩ in order to avoid confusion in the time of any ⟨alarm⟩ that the Posts of the Several Regiments of Mi⟨litia be⟩ fixed on in Conjunction with those of the Conti⟨nental⟩ Army, and that they be allotted to the Brigades ⟨most⟩ convenient to their several situations; and as ⟨I am⟩ now arranging that part of the Business of the ⟨army,⟩ It will I presume be proper that directions be giv⟨en⟩ to the Commanding Officers of the Several Corps ⟨to⟩ take the Stations I shall assign, and to obey the Orde⟨rs⟩ they may in time of danger receive from me or th⟨e⟩ Brigadier Generals of the Continental Army. the li⟨ke⟩ measure will be equally necessary with regard to ⟨the⟩ Militia of Kings County & part of Queens County on Long Island, and also the Militia of Staten Island, and I am persuaded that the mention of a matter so Obviou⟨s⟩ly necessary will be sufficient to Induce the Congress of this province to give such directions as are proper on this Occasion.1 I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, N: New York Provincial Congress Revolutionary Papers; LB, in Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The LS was partially damaged in the New York State Library fire of 1911. The missing portions are supplied within angle brackets from the letter-book copy.

1The provincial congress read this letter on 18 May and subsequently referred it to a committee, which reported on 25 May. The committee made several recommendations for regulating the colony’s militia in its report, including a proposal that militia of New York, Richmond, and Kings counties “be required to hold themselves completely provided, . . . to be at the command of his Excellency [GW], or the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental forces, on the spot for the time being, at a minute’s warning.” The provincial congress did not specifically adopt that recommendation when it considered the committee’s report on 5 June, but four days later, in response to a request from the Continental Congress, the provincial congress approved the raising 3,000 militiamen to be incorporated into the Continental army at New York and appointed a brigadier general to command them subject to GW’s orders (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:452, 460–61, 478–79, 482, 486–88).

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