George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 8 April 1781

Head Quarters New Windsor 8th April 1781.


The inclosed Return, made up to the first of this month, will shew the number of Recruits which have joined this part of the Continental Army, since the formation of it upon the new establishment.

My requests to the Executives of the several States have been earnest, and my orders to the Officers in them have been pointed and positive to send forward the Recruits as fast as possible. What to expect or rather to apprehend from these delays, Congress can more easily conceive than I can describe?

Some States I am told, despairing of getting their Quotas for the War or three years, are resorting to the old expedient of temporary inlistments, while impediments of another kind withhold the Recruits from the Army, in others.

The bare relation of these facts, without combining other circumstances of equal magnitude and uncertainty, or adding to them the difficulties with which we are surrounded for want of Money, will convince Congress of the impracticability of my fixing at this time on any definitive plan of Campaign, and of my inability to carry into effect those which have heretofore been the objects of contemplation. They will readily see that our future operations must be the result of the moment—dependant upon circumstances.

Under this view of matters here—The progress of the Enemy under Lord Cornwallis—and in consideration of the reinforcement which has lately gone to him; I have judged it expedient to order the Marquis de la Fayette to proceed with his detachment to the southern Army, and put himself under the orders of Major General Greene. The greatest objection I had to the measure, circumstanced as things now are, was, that the detachment was not formed for the Campaign, or for so distant a service as that on which they are now ordered, consequently neither Officers nor Men were prepared for it: But the urgent calls for succour to the Southern States—the proximity of this Corps to them—the expedition with which it can join the southern Army—and the public expence that will be saved by its advance, have overcome all lesser considerations in deciding upon it.

I wish the march of the Pennsylvania troops could be facilitated, and that Moylans Cavalry could be recruited—equipped and marched without delay; for every judicious Officer I have conversed with from the southward, and all the representations I receive from thence confirm me in the opinion, that great advantages are to be derived from a superior Cavalry. Without Magazines and with an interrupted Communication, I do not see how Lord Cornwallis could have subsisted his Army had we outnumbered him in Horse.

I think it my duty to inform Congress that there is great dissatisfaction at this time in the [New] York Line for want of pay—near 16 Months I am told is due to it. If it were practicable to give these and the Jersey Troops, if they are in the same predicament, a small portion of their pay, it might stop desertions, which are frequent, and avert greater Evils, which are otherwise to be apprehended. The four Eastern States have given a temporary relief to their Troops, which make the case of the others, York particularly, more distressing and grievious to them. I have the honor to be with perfect Respect and Esteem Your Excellency’s Most obt and humble Servt

Go: Washington

DNA: Item 152, Letters from George Washington, PCC—Papers of the Continental Congress.

Index Entries