George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 2 September 1778

From Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

Camp at White Plains 2nd Sepr 1778.


In Obedience to your Excellencies Desire I have Maturely Considered the Questions which you were pleased to put to the Board of General Officers yesterday, the purport of which was

  • 1st Whether it will be Advisable to make a Movement with the Whole or any part of this Army to the Eastward.
  • 2nd If such a move should be thought proper how is this Army to be Supplied—& what force will be necessary for the Defence of the passes at the High Land & north River.
  • 3rd Whether an Attempt can be made with any probability of Success on New York In the Absence of so great a part of the Enemies forces.

As to the first, I can’t Conceive what Advantage we should Derive from any Movement to the Eastward at this time—on the Contrary would we not by a Movement that way give an Opening to the Enemy to cut off all our Supplies of Bread & flower by possessing themselves of the passes of the North River, and leave us the more Distressed for want of Provision by the Additional Consumption of the French Fleet & Army—and when they found us far Advanced Eastward they might with great facility Return up the Sound to New York & thus Harrass us at pleasure.

In my Opinion the Enemy have but two moves to make i.e. the Withdrawing their troops from Rhode Island & Seeking this Army in force—Otherwise to leave the Continent; for by three years Experience they find that the possession of a State, tends little to the Subjugation of America, whilst we have an Army in the field.

But should Boston & De Estang’s fleet be their Object (as some Gentlemen Suppose) then our possition is the most favourable that we could wish for making a Capital push at New York—without the Danger of loosing the passes of the north River, or of being Enclosed in our Rear.

I am therefore clearly of Opinion that we should Remain in this Camp & take the first Opening to Strike the Enemy in the Vicinity of Kings Bridge, the mode & manner of this Attempt your Excellency will best Determine.

In the Interim every possible Exertion should be used to Collect a large Quantity of flower & Bread on this side the north River—as well as Materials for Barracks in case the Enemy Continue on the Continent. I am with every Sentiment of Esteem your Excellencies most Obt & very Hume Sevt

Anty Wayne B.G.

ALS, DLC:GW; ADfS, PHi: Wayne Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The arrangement of the words of the draft varies from that of the ALS, but the content is essentially the same. This letter answers the questions posed by GW at a council of war on the evening of 1 September.

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