Head Quarters Newburgh 26 Feby 1783
I am sorry to have to acquaint your Excellency, for the information of Congress, that a project which I had formed for attacking The Enemys Post at Oswego, so soon as the Sleighing should be good, and the Ice of the Oneida Lake should have acquired sufficient thickness to admit the passage of the Detachment, has miscarried. The report of Colol Willet, to whom I had intrusted the Command of the Party (consisting of a part of the Rhode Island Regiment and the State Troops of New York, in all about 500 Men) will assign reasons for the disappointment.
Altho the Expedition has not been attended with success, the Officers and Soldiers employed on it, are entitled to great credit, for the Spirit, Activity & patience exhibited by them in the course of the attempt—and I am certain nothing that depended upon Colonel Willett to give efficacy to it, was wanting.
Major Talmadge, whom I had placed on the Sound, with the Infantry of Sheldons Legion, for the purpose of interrupting as much as possible on that side, the Trade with New York, has been more successfull, as will appear by his report, a Copy of which is likewise inclosed. The Zeal & activity of Major Talmadge & the promptness and bravery of the party acting under his orders on this occasion, have merited and received my thanks—The Detachment also belonging to the command of Brigr General Hazen, which are occasionally advanced to Bergen, New Ark, Elizabeth Town &c. to intercept the illicit commerce in that quarter, appear to have been very alert, and they have succeeded in several instances.
I flatter myself Congress will be persuaded, nothing on my part has been omitted to carry fully into execution their Resolution of the 30th of October last, but at the same time I am under the necessity to declare in my own vindication, that unless the Civil Powers of the different States will adopt the most energetic measures & make the greatest exertions to carry them into effect it will be impossible to put a stop to an evil which has encreased to an alarming height & which (notwithstanding all our efforts) is still increasing & I am informed prevails no where in such an uncontrouled manner as on the Sea Coast of Connecticut. I have the honor to be, with the highest respect Sir Your Excellencys Most Obedient & most humble Servant
DNA: Item 152, Letters from George Washington, PCC—Papers of the Continental Congress.