George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Arthur St. Clair, 6 April 1781

Philadelphia April 6th 1781


My last to your Excellency was of the Second of March since which an excrutiating fit of the Gout, which still deprives me of my right hand, has rendered me almost totally incapable of business. as soon however as I was able to bear any motion, I had myself brought down here to be at hand to forward the preparations for marching the detachment, and to keep the Assembly in mind of the necessity of recruiting the Line; but I cannot boast of my Success in the last instance, as there is nothing yet done in it, and the Session has already been drawn out to so great a length that I am very apprehensive the House will rise without taking the matter up. The detachment which will consist of nine hundred & sixty rank & file properly Officered to form three Battalions, will march I think in about ten days, as I have reason to hope that money will be provided for them by that time, and a sufficient quantity of Cloathing for that number setts off tomorrow for the different cantonments. The Arms and Camp equipage will arrive at York Town, where the Troops are ordered to Assemble, in the course of the succeeding week—I have ordered the four pieces of Artillery that are with Colo. Proct[ors] regiment with a proper detachment from it, to join this Body, as it is probable from the circumstances of the 16th Ultimo that Genl Greene may be in want of them; and the route I intend the whole shall pursue is from York Town by the Head of Patapsicoe and Alexandria to Fredericksburgh in Virginia from whence General Wayne will be best able to judge of the route he must follow to join General Greene—After this detachment marches we may possibly collect three or four hundred more of the old Soldiers, and that I think the extent we have any reason to reckon on—so that unless the Assembly takes some very decisive steps, the recruiting business will very soon be closed in this State—Whatever may be determined upon I shall take the earliest opportunity to acquaint your Excellency with it, and prepare to pay you a visit as soon as I am able to ride.

Colo. Moylan’s regiment is in such a situation that it must be a considerable time before they can possibly move, having but eighty men [&] fifty Horses fit for service—in want of every equipment, and no money in any of the departments to procure them—An express arrived last evening from General Greene who informs that after laying three days at the Iron Works in expectation of Lord Cornwallis’s advancing, and preparing himself for his reception, he received accounts of his having suddenly retreated towards Cross Creek, leaving behind him all the Wounded Prisoners taken at Guilford, and his own Hospital—Colo. Stewart of the Guards was killed in the action of Guilford—General OHara Colo’s. Tarlton & Webster wounded and from every circumstance they have suffered very severely. Your Excellency must have heard of the Arrival of the reinforcement in Chesapeak we have no accounts of any operations except that they are plundering the Inhabitants on both sides the Bay, some of the Party have been up as far as the Head of Elk—The inclosed is a return of Colo. Proctor’s Regiment, the Cantonements are at such a distance and the conveyance so uncertain that the returns come to hand very irregularly, but I shall endeavour to have them sent on by the time and in the manner desired by the Adjutant General. I have the Honour to be with great respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedient and very Humble servant

Ar. St. Clair

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

Index Entries