George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Howe, 30 June 1780

Highlands 30 June 1780

Dear Sir

As soon as General Huntingtons Command Arrived, I Wrote to Governor Trumbull a letter of which the inclos’d is a Copy and soon after the Express set out I was so happy as to receive Your Excellencys favour by which I found I had Acted with propriety.

Your letters to both Governors and to General Fellows were in a moment Forwarded.

I made an Instant demand of the Returns Sir you requested, they are not yet come in, but will I hope be in to day—They shall be forwarded either in Detail or Aggregate as they come to Hand—My Emissarys have inform’d me that they really believe Sir Henry’s real designs, are Eastward—that he has been lately himself in West and East Chester, that his Troops are posted from Philips’s to New Rochelle.

That a smart Body of men were Advancing to Horse Neck—and last Night it was reported that a great many Transports were collected in the sound—Should this even be true, it would not in my Opinion fix with any Certainty what he intended to do—he might imagine that to amuse us with the Appearence of Enterprize in that Quarter, would induce us to Weaken our selves in this—What pity it is that the States by one Glorious Exertion will not put it in our power to reduce his Operations to a Certainty, by making the Governing Movements Ours—None of our out works have less than Thirty Days Provisions, and some of them at least twice that Quantity more at present we cannot Endow them with, for several reasons, some of them are and all in a moment can be properly furnish’d with Ammunition, to lodge a Quantity too Early would be attended with inconvenience, as we are not as Yet Magazine’d—The Capital Stores not wanted here, have long since been remov’d from Fish-Kills and Embark’d in good substantial Vessels, and lay Afloat ready for movement when necessary, to the place requisite.

In short Sir I flatter my self Every preparation has been made and every measure pursued that our numbers would admit of.

I have taken General Arnold Round our Works. [he] has my Opinion of them, and of many other matters I have long wish’d to give it you, but wou’d not Convey it by letter. I am Dear Sir with the Warmest Sentiments of Esteem and respect Your Excellencys most Obd. H. Sert

Robert Howe

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Highlands June 28th 1780

Dear Sir.

The great Delays of the Enemy in their Approaches, with the various Movements they have made, & many other Circumstances impress upon me the Opinion that they principally mean to perplex, harrass & amuse us—It was with Reluctance I troubled your Excellency to call for the Aid of your State, & my Anxiety at taking the Honest, industrious & spirited Part of my Fellow Citizens from their Avocations & Families, when even compelled to it by Necessity, is more than I can express—The Aspect however which Matters wore at the Time it was done, were such as would have rendered the Conduct of any Officer commandg a Post of such Consequence as this is, entirely inexcusable had He omitted it—The Retiring of the Enemy from the Jerseys has put it in the Power of his Excellency to reenforce me with a Body of Continental Troops, which I flatter myself will enable me to maintain this Post until collateral Aids can arrive—These Troops join’d me last Night; & it is with Pleasure I embrace the Opportunity of requesting your Excellency to return to the Bosom of their Families & Country, those worthy Citizens who have with so much Readiness & Spirit turn’d out to aid us, at a Point of Time which appear’d so instantly to require their Exertions.

I do not mean by any Thing I have said, to have it thought I conclude the Enemy have certainly given up their Intentions against West Point—Their Fleet in great Force is still in the River, & a good Part of it between Fort Washington & Phillips’s—endowed (as I inform’d you) with every military Requisite for a Siege—& Report says, that they only wait for Sir Harry Clinton to come from New York, to which Place he went a few Days since, & was momentarily & anxiously expected—For this Reason Sir, tho’ I wish the Militia to return I think it will be necessary for them to hold themselves in constant Readiness to turn out on the shortest Notice—that their immediate Aid may be had whenever it becomes requisite.

I am now Dear Sir to thank you, as I most sincerely do, for your spirited & Patriotic Exertions in our Favor, & in Support of the common Cause, & to assure you that the substantial Aid your Country was so ready to lend us, shall ever be remembered by me with those Feelings it merits—& upon all Occasions shall be reported & spoken of in Terms as respectable & Honorary as my Capacity can dictate.

We have it Sir much to lament, that by some mistaken & fatal Policy, America has ever been relying upon Expedients inadequate to the great End she had in View—Lull’d (upon every trifling Success) into an Apathy, by the vain Hope that all was over, & when brought by the Mistake to the very Brink of Ruin, necessitated into Measures which exhausted her Risources without obtaining her any capital Advantages—Content with merely saving herself from Destruction she has procrastinated a War which is preying upon her very Vitals, & which by a proper Exertion of her Powers might have long since had a Period—Not distinguishing between the Preservation of a Constitution already established; & the Act of Contention for the Right of establishing one—She has been jealous of, & neglected her Army at a Time when all she held dear depended upon military Exertions, & when the Enemy is thundering at her Gates, expends Millions to raise a temporary Force, when Rounds applied in Time would have obtain’d her a permanent one—Seemingly desirous when her Affairs are in prosperous Train, that her Army should moulder away—as if happy to get rid of it, & then when the Enemy are catching at the Opportunity to crush her, compelled to turn from their domestic Happiness & Employments her best Citizens, & by that Means taxing Community in the Manner most wounding to its Finances—These Sir, are some of the Evils which as a Soldier I know, as a citizen I feel, & as a Patriot I mourn for.

Permit me Sir, at a Point of Time (in my Opinion) as critical as America ever knew, when a mere defensive, dilatory War can no longer be continued—when extraordinary coercive Measures are absolutely necessary to retrieve our Credit abroad, & repair our Losses at Home—Permit me Sir, to entreat that your respectable State would by filling her Battalions immediately, set a Laudable example to the rest, that we may be prepared to act with that Vigor requisite to obtain the noble Objects we aim at, without which the worst Consequences are to apprehended.

Excuse Sir the Freedom I have taken in expressing myself thus forcibly—they are the Sentiments of an Honest Heart, truly devoted to the Service of my Country, & once they have exploded from me, I am happy they are address’d to your Excellency—from whose Cha[rac]ter I have to expect every Indulgence & Assistance. I am Dear Sir with great Respect & Regard Your Excellency’s most obedient Servant

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