George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, 16 January 1777

From the Pennsylvania Council of Safety

In Council of Safety
Philadelphia Jan: 16th 1777


The Council received your Letter of the 12th Instant and are determined to give the Commissary every Assistance in their Power to secure a sufficient Quantity of Flour for the use of the Army, as we join your Excellency in Opinion, that any Scarcity of that Article at present in Pennsylvania must be artificial.

The Westmoreland Battalion consisting of 620 is on its way the first Division is arrived at Lancaster, the Council will forward them to Camp with all possible Expedition.1

By the enclosed Letters from Westmoreland & Easton by Express we have received Information, that the Chiefs of five Nations of Indians are on their way to treat with Congress. They propose holding the Treaty at the last mentioned place. The Letters were immediately sent to the Committee of Congress, and a Conference is to be held tomorrow morning between a Committee of the House of Assembly, the Committee of Congress and this Council on the Subject.2

Five continental Battalions and about 300 Militia amounting to 1000 men have this Day set forward to Camp; but thro some misapprehension of General Orders a considerable Number of Militia have returned home. The matter did not come to the Knowlege of the Council in Time to prevent it; but we hope the measures we have since taken will prevail on them to return.3 Your Excellency may rest assured that nothing in the Power of the Council will be omitted to induce the remaining part of the Militia to turn out and supply the Place of those who cannot be prevailed upon to continue longer in the Service. I have the Honor to be Your Excellencys Obedient Servant

Tho. Wharton junr Prest

LS, DLC:GW; Df, PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90.

1The council of safety is referring to the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment, which was partly raised in Westmoreland County, Pa., in December 1776 (see the Pennsylvania Council of Safety to GW, 29 Jan. 1777).

2The council of safety enclosed two letters introducing representatives of the Six Nations who were on their way to Philadelphia to arrange a meeting between the chiefs of the Six Nations and the Continental Congress. The first letter, written on 9 Jan. at Westmoreland, the Connecticut town that comprised much of what is now northeastern Pennsylvania, is signed by Nathan Denison, William Judd, and Christopher Avery, and the second letter, written on 15 Jan. at Easton, Pa., is signed by Abram Berlin, chairman of the Easton committee of safety. Both letters are in DLC:GW.

3On 14 Jan. the council of safety wrote a letter to Lancaster County officials informing them that “a precipitate Order from Gen. Stirling” respecting the distribution of supplies to the Pennsylvania militia had caused great dissatisfaction among the troops and led to several hundred returning home. “The disgust was so general,” wrote the council of safety, “that the Officers who commanded the Men could not with all their influence & exertions prevail with the Men to stay. It is therefore requested of You to forward those who We have send for before and exert Your influence to return those who have gone home and Assure them in the Name of the Council that they will interest themselves in Behalf of the Militia of this State and furnish them with every Necessary equipment, and by no means consent to their being compelled to join the Continental Army untill they are so suppli⟨ed⟩” (PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90). The draft of the letter is accompanied by copies of an order that the council of safety issued to the officers of the 1st Regiment of Lancaster County militia on 14 Jan. to reassemble their men and march to Philadelphia.

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