George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nathanael Greene, 16 March 1783

Head Quarters Charles Town March 16th 1783.per


I have been honor’d with your Excellencys despatches of the 18th of December, and 29th of January.

I am made happy by your full approbation of my conduct and the Army under my command, during the Southern operations. The evacuation of Charles Town, & the proposals of Peace, are matters highly interesting to this Country, whose finances, and political arrangements, are in the most deplorable situation. Charles Town remains without a platform, or a single cannon, for its defence. The subsistence of the Troops for sometime after the evacuation of this place, depended on Military collections, but happily we have made a contract for their future subsistence. On this subject I should feel easy, but for the critical situation, the Financeer writes me his Department is circumstanced. The States have rejected the 5 per Cent duty Act generally, and few pay any thing into the Continental Treasury any other way. I wrote a letter to this State, on the Subject, a few days past; stating some facts, respecting the discontents prevailing in the Northern Army respecting pay, and what might be expected in this, to the Southward. I thought it my duty to warn the State of what I apprehended; The impost Act, was rejected notwithstanding, and the Assembly offended. I will ever speak my sentiments, and act with Candor. I wish to know the Nature and extent of the discontents prevailing in the Northern Troops. Matters are represented here in dark Colours. The report spreads among our Troops, & threatens a convulsion. I shall give you the best information on the subject in my power; but these things often come to a crisis from accident, & indiscretion, before one expects it. I could wish to be fully inform’d respecting the temper of the Northern Army it would enable me to counteract many aggravations here.

I have communicated to the Assembly your orders for marching the Troops to the Northward; but I am much at a loss how to act in the matter, Your Excellency seems to leave a latitude of descretion, respecting the tranquility of these States; but your comment upon a desultory, and predatory war, appears to be intended to limit my discretionary powers to matters of serious invasion. We have none at present and yet there are parties, continually making inroads upon different sides of both Georgia and South Carolina from St Augustine. If I put the Troops in motion, you mention, it leaves the Southern States a prey to every invader. A small force in their present destracted state would overrun the Country, and Charles Town may be repossessed at any time, by a few frigates, with a Regiment or two of Infantry. I would wish to follow your intention. If I could conceive, you had a clear idea of the weakness, & distress of this Country, the Troops should march immediately, but the prospects of peace, & the possibility of New York’s being evacuated if the war should continue, induces me to wait untill the arrival of the next despatches. In the mean time I shall have every preparation made for their marching as soon as may be. The Men are well clothed & pretty well disciplined. Some few days before the arrival of your last letter, from an appearance of an invasion upon Georgia. I put the Virginia Troops in motion for the protection of that quarter; and as their numbers are small, and will be of little consequence in the siege, I shall not march them untill your further orders.

The People of this State, are much prejudiced against Congress & the Financeer. Those who came from the Northward, think they have been amazingly neglected by both in their distresses. Their general disposition leads more to an independance of Congressional connection than I could wish, or is for their peace or welfare. This State has contributed, more than any other State, it is true, towards the Continental expense, but necessity obliged them. I wish all the States could see how much the tranquility of each depended upon, giving effectual support to Congress. I have the honor to be with great respect Your Excellency’s most obdt humble Servt

Nath. Green

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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