George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Benedict Arnold, 29 August 1778

From Major General Benedict Arnold

Philada Augt 29th 1778

Dear General

I was honored with your Excellencys favour of the 9th Inst. on the 15th And immediately, inclosed it to the President and Council of this state, and requested three hundred Militia to Supply the Place of the Continental Troops, the Next day I received a Coppy of an Act of the Assembly of the State, which makes a requisition of Congress Necessary before the Presidt & Council can Order Out the Militia, this Act I laid before Congress & Inform’d them of Your Excellency’s wishes to have the Continental Troops Join the Army.1

Congress refer’d the Letter to the Board of Warr who have not made their report which, (& a dearth of News,) has prevented my writeing your Excellency before,2 We are Just inform’d to our great Surprise that the French Fleet have left Rhode Island and are Gone to Boston. Many are apprehensive For General Sullivan & his Army, I think there is little danger of his makeing good his retreat. If he does not Succeed. I have the honor to be with the Most perfect respect & estem—Dear General Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Hble Servt

B. Arnold


1See Arnold to Timothy Matlack, 18 Aug. ( Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 6:708), and Arnold to Henry Laurens, 19 Aug. (DNA:PCC, item 162). Arnold was referring to “An Act to regulate the Militia of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania,” 17 March 1777, which authorized the executive council to call up the militia “in case of invasion or rebellion within this State, or in case the assistance of the militia of this State shall be requested by Congress to assist the Continental Army in this or any of the adjoining States” (Pa. Laws, 25).

2Congress read Arnold’s letter on 20 Aug. and directed the Board of War “to report their opinion on the necessity of an additional number of troops to the corps of invalids, for the purpose of guards in the city of Philadelphia; and if an additional number is … necessary, how many and for what purposes.” The board’s report of 28 Aug. was considered on 3 Sept., and Congress resolved to request that the Pennsylvania council call up three hundred militia to serve as guards in Philadelphia ( 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 , 11:816, 12:865). The council responded on 4 Sept. by calling militia into service ( Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:568).

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