George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Mordecai Gist, 29 March 1780

29 March 1780

from a view of the operating force of our Army here, I am Induc’d to believe it wou’d be inconsistent with the public good to detach any part of it to the Southward at this present time, and altho the Situation of General Lincoln and the safety of those States require Immediate Assistance, Yet a reinforcement from this pla[ce] wou’d arrive too late for the Defence of Charles Town and enable the Enemy at N. York in the mean time to act Offensively.

upon the reduction of Charles Town, General Clinton should be Instructed to Garrison the post, to leave shipping for the Security of the Harbour, and return with the remg force to carry on the operations of the Company here. the present peculiar situation of our Garrison at W. Point and his superiority of Numbers wou’d add the Chance in his favor, for a double conquest it appears that 2800 Men must be discharged from the Army by the last of May, and that the respective states have adopted no other Measures than voluntary enlistments to compleat their several quotas from whence we may Judge that not more than 1/3 of the number voted for, will, be sent to the Field this Campaign; this will produce a reinforcement of about 3000 men exclusive of Virginia, & add only 200 to our present force; Our Army will then consist of about 10800, from which the Staff department must in some measure be supplied, and provided a detachment of 2000 shoud be sent to the Southward, and the Recruits as mentiond not arrive before the 1st July, our whole effective force would not exceed 5800 for the month of June. while that of the Enemy, (allowing 3000 to Garrison Charles Town) woud be upwards of 14,000 strong. and if at this juncture, a diversion should be made by Butler and his savages on our Western Frontiers, our force with the Militia might be found inadequate, to counteract their designs.

if the State of Virginia raises 1/3 of her deficiency it will amount to 1300 Men, which added to the Regular Troops already in that State will make a reinforcement, equal to any that cou’d prudently be sent from this place, and save a Number of Men, that are generally left on long and tedious Marches.

until the Number of the Enemys intended embarkation can be Assertain’d I think no offensive operations on our part can be effected.

M. Gist B. G.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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