George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nathanael Greene, 16 October 1780

West Point October 16th 1780


Your Excellency’s letter of the 14th appointing me to the command of the Southern Army, was delivered me last evening.

I beg your Excellency to be perswaded that I am fully sensible of the honor you do me and will indeavour to manifest my gratitude by a conduct that will not disgrace the appointment.

I only lament that my abilities are not more competent to the duties that will be required of me; and that it will not be in my power, on that account, to be as extensively useful as my inclination leads me to wish—But as far as zeal and attention can supply the defect, I flatter my-self my Country will have little cause to complain.

I foresee the command will be accompanyed with innumerable embarassments. But the generous support which I expect from the partiality of the Southern gentlemen, as well as the aid and assistance I hope to derive from your Excellency’s advice and extensive influence, affords me some consolation in contemplating the difficulties.

I will prepare my self for the command as soon as I can. But as I have been five years and upwards in service, during all which time, I have paid no attention to the settlement of my domestic concerns; and many division of interests and partition of landed property between me and my brothers taken place in the time, and now lye unfinished; if it was possible I should be glad to spend a few days at home before I set out to the Southward; especially as it is altogether uncertain how long my command may continue, or what deaths or accidents may happen during my absence, to defeat the business—I beg your Excellency’s opinion upon the matter, by which I will regulate my conduct; however it will not be possible for me to leave this place for several days if I put my baggage in the least order or my business in a proper train for such along journey. Nor is my health in a condition to set out immediately, having had a considerable fever upon me for several days.

General Heath arrivd last Evening and will take the command this morning. I shall make him fully acquainted with all the dispositions I have made, and steps taken which concern the post and its dependancies; and will give him my opinion what further is necessary to be done, to carry into execution your Excellencys instructions for putting the garrison in a proper state of defence, and prepare it for the approaching winter.

General McDougall is also here; and I have the pleasure to inform you that he and I perfectly agree in sentiment in what concerns the garrison and its dependancies. I am with great respect, esteem & regard Your Excellencys Most Obedient humble Sert

Nath. Greene M.G.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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