George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 5 November 1780

Head Quarters Prekaness 5th Novemr 1780

Dr Sir

I have recd your several favors of the 18th 30th and 31st ulto. I congratulate you upon your safe return from your late excursion, and upon the success which attended Genl Ransalaers attack upon the enemy in their retreat—It is to be regretted that your Excellency was not near enough with the reinforcement to take advantage of their situation. The damage, which has been done, will, I fear, be severely felt by the public as well as by individuals. We had the most pleasing prospects of forming considerable Magazines of Bread from the Country which has been laid waste, and which from your Excellency’s letter is so extensive, that I am apprehensive we shall be obliged to bring Flour from the southward to support the troops at and near West point. You will be pleased to give me your opinion upon the quantity of Flour that may be yet, with probability, be procured above, in the course of the Winter, that I may form some calculation of the quantity which it will be necessary to draw from Jersey, Penna and Maryland.

I am very sorry that the troops of your State should look upon it as a hardship to do the Garrison duty of Fort schuyler. I had always allotted it to them, as thinking it would be agreeable to both Officers and Men to guard their own Frontier, especially when they were not continued an unreasonable time upon the tour. The Frontier posts of Penna and Virginia have been constantly garrisoned by their own Regs which have not been relieved these two years. The troops of the line in general are, in point of Cloathing, upon a footing with the rest of the Army, which is very bare, and which has a poor prospect of being well supplied. But as Colo. Weissenfelds Regt is going to a distance and where he will not have an opportunity of drawing those temporary supplies which the troops with the main Army sometimes do, I have given orders to have it as well furnished as our scanty Magazines will admit.

I have appointed Brigr Genl Clinton to take the command in the Northern department and have ordered him to repair to Albany for that purpose. I am convinced he will second every measure which may be thought expedient for the security of the Frontier. I am much obliged to your Excellency for the attention which you promise to pay to the provisioning Fort schuyler. I daily expect four or five hundred Barrels of Salt Beef from Connecticut, as soon as they arrive upon the North River, part of them shall be sent up to Albany for the Garrison of Fort schuyler. I desired Governor Trumbull to hurry them on, that they might be got up all in this month.

I am very happy to find that the Legislature have vested your Excellency with the power of complying with the requisitions of Congress for compleating the new Army. I find that the Resolve of the 3d of October had only reached you, and that your calculation of the deficiency of 313 Men had been founded upon that—Congress, by a subsequent Act of the 21st, have made some very material and salutary amendments, the principal of which are, giving half pay for life to the Officers——confining the term of service expressly to the War—and augmenting the number of Men in each Regt to 612 Rank and File. I therefore state your exact deficiency at 449 Men, upon the following principles

2 Regiments of Infantry. Rank & F. 1224
1 Regt Artillery non Commd & private 650
Rank and File for the War by Return transmitted 1124
Already in Lambs Regt which is the one
which will be apportioned to the State 304
deficiency 449

This your Excellency will be pleased to observe is the deficiency in figures—but when we come to take into the computation the casualties that will happen between this time and the junction of the Recruits, the number of Men sick in Hospitals and upon extra service, many of the first incurables, and of the last so detached that we shall never find them—the deficiency which there ever will be in the number of Recruits voted—and other unforeseen deductions, it will appear plainly that if the assessment is laid at 449 only, the Regiments will want very considerably of that Strength which is absolutely necessary to make our combined Continental force any ways adequate to the probable services of the next Campaign. I would therefore beg leave to recommend to your Excellency to lay your assessment at 100 Men more than the apparent deficiency. I am convinced it will be found cheaper and in every respect more eligible to compleat the matter at one stroke, than to have a second tax to lay.

Our affairs to the southward put on a more pleasing aspect since the defeat of Colo. Ferguson. Lord Cornwallis was retreating precipitately from Charlotte and giving up a fine district of Country which he had in possession. But the diversion which Genl Leslie will occasion by taking post in Virginia will I fear operate against the formation of the southern Army and will embarrass us on the score of supplies. Another embarkation is preparing at New York, which I have no doubt is also intended for the southward, as without considerable reinforcements, they must abandon their late conquests in that quarter. I have the honor &c.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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