To a Continental Congress Camp Committee
Valley-forge Mar. 6th 1778
However inconvenient, & distressing to the Service in this quarter it may be to part with another Majr General, yet, in obedience to a resolve of Congress1 I must do it, if neither Genl Putnam nor Heath, in the judgment of the Comee, will answer the purposes of the Command at Rhode Island.
The Comee best know the designs of Congress in assembling a body of Troops in that State; consequently, what kind of an Officer (under our present circumstances) may be made to answer—They also know with more certainty than I do, what will be the determination of Congress respecting Genl Putnam, and of course whether the appointing of him to such a command as that at Rhode Island would fall within their views;2 it being incumbant on me to observe, that with such materials as I am furnished the work must go on, whether well, or ill, is another matter: if therefore he, and others, are not laid aside they must be placed where they can least injure the Service.
Generals Arnold & Lincoln will not, by Doctr Browns acct just from Albany,3 be able to take the Field till June—with great respect I am Gentn Yr Most Obedt Servt
ALS, DNA:PCC, item 33; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. For the resolve of 21 Feb., see GW to a Continental Congress Camp Committee, 1 Mar. (second letter), n.4.
2. On 28 Nov. 1777 Congress had resolved that GW should cause an inquiry to be made “into the loss of Forts Montgomery and Clinton . . . and into the conduct of the principal officers commanding those forts” (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 , 9:975–76). Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam’s conduct would be a chief subject of the inquiry, which had not as yet taken place.
3. Dr. James Browne had come from Albany carrying Lafayette’s letter to GW of 23 Feb. (see Lafayette to GW, 27 Feb., and note 1 to that document).