George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Howe, 25 May 1780

Head Qrs May 25th 1780.

Dear Sir

I have received Your Two favours of the 22nd Instant. The distresses of the Troops under your command give me great pain and what adds to it, is, I have it not in my power to administer to their relief. Our situation here is equally melancholy, for the Troops on several days have been entirely without meat, and at best on half & quarter allowance for a considerable time. I very sincerely hope that you will derive support from Connecticut, in consequence of your letter & the representation which would be made by Colo. Hay. With respect to the Flour ordered to the North River—I find on inquiry it has been stopped at Springfield for want of the means of transportation. Colo. Stewart the Issuing Commissary set out yesterday to get it in motion again if possible. If this difficulty can be surmounted a further supply shall be attempted. On account of the deranged state of our Finance and the total want of money, every thing is almost at a stand.

If you can spare any Men for the purpose—I wish you to employ them in making fascines & Gabions. The nearer they can be made to the River the better. I fear we shall find but a bad account of those which were prepared on the Sound, but even if this Should not be the case, we ought to provide a considerable number.

I thank you for your intelligence: A variety of reports of the same nature with respect to Sir Henry Clinton’s raising the seige of Charles town, and returning, have been received through other Channels: How far they are to be depended on I cannot determine; but it seems beyond doubt that the Enemy are under great anxiety about something. I have had no official accounts from Charles Town myself since the 9th of April–but letters have been received by Gentlemen from their Friends in the Country, as low down as the 24th mentioning that the Enemy seemed to be turning the Siege into a Blockade.

I am pained to find that the spirit of resigning still prevails in the Massachusetts line. A day scarcely passes without one or more applications on this head. This conduct at this time is very disreputable to those who practice it, unless in cases of very pressing necessity and cannot but be injurious to the service. If the same disposition should continue when we come to act in the Field there will not be Officers to command the Men. I wish you to speak to the Brigadiers & the Field Officers on the subject, who I am persuaded will use their influence to prevent so disagreeable & pernicious a practice. I am,Dear Sirwith great regard Yr Most Obed sert

G. Washington

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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