From Henry Laurens
York Town [Pa.] 18th April 1778
I beg leave to refer Your Excellency to my Letter of yesterday by McClosky.
This will cover Copy of a Petition by several Officers Civil & Military of New Jersey to His Excellency the Governor of that State.1 Also Copy of a Representation by the Legislative Council & General Assembly of the same State to Congress; together with an Act of Congress of the 17th Inst. Resolved upon the Report of a Committee to whose consideration the Papers above-mentioned had been referred.2 I have the honour to be With the highest Esteem & Respect Sir Your Excellency’s Most Obedient & most humble servant
Henry Laurens, President of Congress.
P.S. Your Excellency will also find inclosed an Act of Congress of this day for forming a plan for the general operations of the Campaign.3
ALS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 13. A notation on the letter-book copy indicates that the letter was carried “By Govr Livingston’s Messenger.”
1. Laurens is referring to the petition of 28 Mar., a copy of which William Livingston had enclosed to GW on 9 April (see note 2 to that document for the text). On the same date Livingston enclosed a copy to Congress, where it was read and referred to committee on 15 April (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 , 10:355).
2. This representation, dated 3 April, recited the difficulties in recruiting New Jersey’s four Continental regiments caused by the British invasion of New Jersey in November 1776 and the continued presence of the Continental army in the state and complained “That the resolution of Congress of the twenty sixth of February last to recruit the regiments up to the complete numbers by detachments from the militia to serve for the term of nine months, has reduced us to extreme difficulty being ever desirous of paying the strictest regard to the recommendations pointed to us, and yet, pressed on every side, we are unable to provide even for our own preservation.
“That the situation of this State, exposed as it is to the enemy, is peculiarly distressing, on either hand a formidable hostile force, three fourths of our boundary a frontier, daily open to invasion and frequently invaded; no regular troops stationed for the defence of any part of it, and the militia, greatly diminished by long and severe service, and by the several means above noted, at present inadequate to the purpose.
“That under such circumstances, we think it our duty to represent our case to Congress, and to assure them that nothing is farther from our inclination than to withdraw in the least tittle from a share of the public exertions proportioned to our strength, but at the same time we are unwilling that expectations should be formed of us, which we are not able, in the present condition of the State, to answer.
“We therefore pray That Congress in consideration of the premisses will accept of such reinforcement to our regiments as can at present be made consistent with the safety and protection of the frontiers.
“That they will direct such defence to be thrown into our aid as will avail in some measure to the relief of the militia when we shall have any opportunity of prosecuting the completion of our regiments with some advantage for success, as well as be allowed some respite for application to agriculture without which the State itself must be reduced to extremity and the army as far as it has any dependence on it for supplies, be left to suffer.
“That should a reduction of the sixteen additional regiments take place, Congress will incorporate those raised in this State into the established regiments thereof, or in such other way place them to the credit of our quota, as they in their wisdom shall think meet” (DLC:GW; see also DNA:PCC, item 68).
The New Jersey representation was read in Congress on 8 April and referred to a committee of Joseph Reed, Francis Dana, and Nathaniel Scudder (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 , 10:322). Gouverneur Morris was added to the committee on 15 April, when it was also given the petition of 28 Mar. (see note 1) for consideration (ibid., 356). The committee reported on 17 April, and Congress resolved, “That so much of the representation as relates to the supporting that State with a body of continental troops be submitted to general Washington, commander in chief:
“That the State of New Jersey be requested to complete only three regiments of infantry in the manner recommended by the resolutions of the twenty sixth day of Feby last, and that the committee of Congress lately at camp do arrange the officers of the said State accordingly” (DLC:GW; see also 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 , 10:361).
3. Congress had “Resolved, That general Washington be authorised and directed forthwith to convene a council to consist of the major generals in the State of Pensylvania and the general officer commanding the corps of engineers, and with the advice of the said council to form such a plan for the general operations of the campaign, as he shall deem consistent with the general welfare of these States:
“That major generals Gates & Mifflin, members of the board of war, have leave to attend the said council” (DLC:GW; see also 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 , 10:364). The council was held on 8 May (see Council of War, that date).