To Major General Stirling
[Middlebrook, N.J., 21 Dec. 1778]
Congress having been pleased to require my attendance at Philadelphia for a few days the immediate command of the Troops at this place will devolve upon your Lordship.
The hutting the Troops in the most speedy and commodious manner, and the preservation of order and discipline, I doubt not will receive your Lordships particular attention—I must request that you will as much as possible avoid granting furloughs to officers, except in the manner and proportion heretofore specified in General Orders, and will not deviate but where the circumstances of the case are of a very peculiar and pressing nature. The frequency of applications on this head induces me to particularise the caution.
Your Lordship will give me the earliest intelligence of any thing of consequence that may happen.1 Given at Head Quarters this the 21st Day of Decr 1778.
LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, NHi; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS.
1. On 18 Dec., in response to a report from a committee that had been appointed to consider GW’s third letter of 13 Dec. to John Jay, respecting a possible expedition against Canada, Congress resolved “That General Washington be directed to attend Congress immediately after he shall have put the army in such order as to admit his absence from it for a few days” (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 , 12:1230).
The visit would last for more than “a few days.” GW left Middlebrook on this date, arriving in Philadelphia on the evening of the following day. Congress officially received him on 24 Dec., and he remained in the city until 3 Feb. 1779, conferring with a committee of conference that consisted of James Duane, Jesse Root, Meriwether Smith, Gouverneur Morris, and Henry Laurens about plans for the campaign of 1779 (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 , 12:1250). Martha Washington had already been in Philadelphia for some time when her husband arrived (see GW to John Mitchell, 11 Nov., n.1), and together they stayed at the home of Henry Laurens on Chestnut Street near the State House, enduring a seemingly endless round of ceremonies, dinners, balls, and visitors. GW arrived back in Middlebrook on 5 Feb. 1779.
In preparing for his trip to Philadelphia, GW also wrote on this date to assistant paymaster general John Pierce, Jr.: “As I am under the necessity of going to Philada for a few days, you are during my Absence to pay off the Regimental Abstracts for the Month of October and those for any Months previous thereto. I will sign the Warrants upon my Return. In the mean time this shall be your Authority” (DLC:GW).