George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Read, 22 February 1778

To George Read

Head Quarters [Valley Forge] 22d feby 1778.


Your favor of the 5th inst., inclosing a copy of a Letter from you to General Smallwood dated the 26th Ulto and the substance of his answer, did not reach me ’till the day before yesterday1—it gives me great concern to find that the Legislature of your State has not taken timely and effectual means for completing the Battalion belonging to it—however desirable the mode of voluntary enlistments might be, if it offered any adequate prospect of success, our circumstances evidently demand measures of more prompt and certain execution—it is incumbent therefore upon your legislative body as a duty which they owe both to ⟨the⟩ir own State and the Continent at large, ⟨to⟩ pursue with energy the method of ⟨drau⟩ghting which has been successfully ⟨prac⟩ticed in other States—indeed I ⟨exp⟩ect that you will shortly be called ⟨up⟩on by Congress for this purpose.2

The property of the Clothing taken in the prize Sloop will I presume, be determined by certain resolutions of Congress, copies of which were sent to General Smallwood, in order to settle a dispute of a similar nature3—but however this matter be decided, you ought undoubtedly to secure a sufficient quantity of this necessary article to supply the wants of the Delaware Battalion.

I am totally ignorant of any interruption having been given by the Military, to the election of Representatives in your State; it is much to be lamented that at a season when our affairs demand ⟨the⟩ most perfect harmony and greatest vig⟨our in⟩ all public proceedings, there should ⟨be any⟩ languor occasioned by divisions—y⟨our efforts⟩ cannot be better employed than in ⟨conciliating⟩ the discordant parties and restoring ⟨Union.⟩ The Complaints against the Comm⟨issaries⟩ of purchases I fear are too well ⟨founded—⟩such orders shall be given to the ⟨principal⟩ of the department for this distr⟨ict as will⟩ I hope in some degree remedy ⟨the evils⟩ complained of—I have the hono⟨r to be⟩ with great respect Sir Your most ⟨obedient servant⟩

Go: Wash⟨ington⟩

LS, in John Laurens’s writing, DeHi; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The mutilated text is supplied in angle brackets from the draft, except for the closing and signature, which are taken from a printed copy in Life and Correspondence of George Read (Philadelphia, 1870), 300.

1John Laurens docketed Read’s letter of 5 Feb. as “Recd 19th Answd 22d.” The draft and Varick transcript of this letter from GW to Read are dated 21 February.

2On 27 Mar., Henry Laurens belatedly sent Read a copy of the congressional resolution of 26 Feb. requiring Delaware and the other states “forthwith to fill up by drafts from their militia, or in any other way that shall be effectual, their respective batallions of continental troops” and another resolution of 19 Mar. “That it be earnestly recommended to the several states, to take the most speedy and effectual measures for raising their quotas of men, agreeably to the resolutions of the 26 February” (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 , 10:200, 270; Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 9:344).

3For an account of the British schooner beached by the ice, see William Smallwood to GW, 10 Jan., n.3. For the “dispute of a similar nature” concerning the British transport brig Symmetry, see Smallwood to GW, 30 Dec. 1777, n.3.

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