George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 7 July 1778

To Henry Laurens

Camp near Brunswic [N.J.] July 7th 1778


I have the Honor to inform you, that on sunday morning1 the left wing of the Army moved towards the North river—The right followed yesterday; and the second line which forms the rear division, is also now in motion. I shall advance, as fast as I can, consistently with the circumstances of the weather and the health of the Troops.

The Enemy, from the advices of our parties of observation, were nearly, if not all embarked yesterday. They have continued to desert upon all occasions.

I should be extremely happy if the Committee, appointed to arrange the Army, would repair to it, as soon as possible.2 Congress can form no adequate idea of3 the discontents prevailing, on account of the unsettled state of rank, and the uncertainty in which Officers are, as to their future situation. The variety of hands, in which the power of granting of Commissions and filling up vacancies is lodged, and other circumstances have occasioned frequent instances of younger Officers commanding their seniors, from the former having received their Commissions and the latter not; and these not only in the line of the Army at large—but in their own Brigades and even in their own Regiments. This it will be readily conceived is necessarily productive of much confusion, altercation and complaint and requires the speediest remedy. I have the Honor to be with great respect & esteem Sir yr Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

P.S. By accounts from Monmouth more of the Enemy’s dead have been found; It is said the number buried by us & the Inhabitants exceeds three Hundred.

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover, which was docketed in part, “Read 9” (see 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 , 11:676).

1The previous Sunday was 5 July.

2Congress, by a resolution of 4 June, had empowered GW, “with the advice and assistance of the honble. Joseph Reed and Francis Dana, Esqs. or either of them,” to implement the new army arrangement (ibid., 11:570). Reed had gone to camp immediately, but the work of arrangement had been interrupted by the departure of the army from Valley Forge. Congress responded to this request by resolving on 9 July that the committee should go to GW’s headquarters and commence work “without delay” (ibid., 11:676).

3On the draft, which is otherwise in Harrison’s writing, Alexander Hamilton completed the paragraph from this point. However, Harrison subsequently wrote for insertion the words that follow “the latter not” and complete that sentence.

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