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From George Washington to William Heath, 15 April 1782

Newburgh 15th April 1782

The Commander in Chief States to the General Officers—

That—From the best Information he has been able to obtain, the regular force of the Enemy in N. York, at this Time, including their established provincial Corps, amounts at least to 9,000 Men.

That—The City Militia, volunteer Companies, Rangers and some other small Corps in the Town, amounted by a Report made to the Secretary of State in the Winter of 1780 (when the Enemy apprehended an Attack on N. York & were preparing for Defence) to 3,390 Men, exclusive of Sailors & Marines—and that this is the best Criterion, by which he can form a Judgment of their present Strength.

That—The Enemy’s force in Charleston, by the last Information & Estimation of it, consisted of 3,300 Men.

That—The Garrison of Savanna in Georgia, he conceives, cannot be less than 700 Men.

That—Even among Men of political knowledge & Judgment, a diversity of Sentiment prevails respecting the Evacuation of the Southern States—that if this Event should take place, & the whole force of the Enemy should be concentered at N. York, it will stand thus—

Regular Troops now at N.York— 9,000
from Charles Town— 3,300
Savanna— 700
Regulars— 13,000
Militia &ca—at N. York— 3,390
Total 16,390

Under this state of the Enemys force, the Commander in Chief requests the Opinion of the Genl Officers, separately, & in writing, upon the followg hypothetical Questions.

1st—Supposing the Enemys force at N. York to be as above—that they retain possession of the Harbour of N. York—and that they have a naval Superiority upon this Coast.

2d—Supposing the same force—that they keep possession of the harbour—but loose their Superiority at Sea.

3d—That they shall have the same force in the City—but shall loose the Command of the Water both in the harbour & at Sea.

Is there, it is asked, a probability in all or either of these cases, that we shall be able to obtain Men, & Means sufficient to undertake the Seige of N. York? What efficient force will be necessary for the Enterprize, in the Cases which may be deemed practicable? And what Number of Militia ought to be demanded to secure this force?

If the Enemy should not reinforce N. York with their Southern Troops—and none should arrive from Europe, their force at that place will then be—

Regulars— 9,000
Militia &ca— 3,390
Total— 12,390

The Commandr in Chief propounds the same Questions, identically, on this Number, as he does on the larger one (of 16,390)—and requests that they may be answered accordingly—Numbers only making the difference of the Cases.

That every Information may be received, which is in the power of the General to give, to form a judgment on these Questions, he adds—

That—The Northern Army (as at present) will be composed of the Regiments from New Hampshire to New Jersey inclusive—also of Hazens, Lambs & Cranes Regiments of Artillery, & Sheldons legionary Corps.

That—The total Number of Rank & file in the above Regiments of Infantry, by the last Genl Return in his possession, amounts to 8,005—but from this, the Deductions incident to all Services, & peculiar to ours, are to be made, to obtain the efficient force.

That—It is not in his power to inform what Strength those Regiments will be brot to in Season for an operation against N. York—he can only say, that every Argument he was master of has been urged to the respective States, to have them Compleated to their full Establishment.

That—In Case the Enemy should evacuate the Southern States, the Continental Troops in that Quarter, as far at least as North Carolina, will be ordered to rejoin the Main Army—but their Numbers being small, and the March great, the Support from them cannot be much—2500 Men is the most that can be expected.

That—In the Month of March last, he apprised the States from Delaware Eastward, that the plans and Operations of the Campaign might require a considerable aid of Militia; and entreated that the Executive of each might, to prevent delay, be vested with sufficient powers to order them out for three Months Service, to commence on their joing the Army—And

That—The french force on the Continent at this Time does not, he believes, exceed 4,000 effective Men—whether any, or what further Succours, are to be expected from our Allies, is as yet unknown to him.

The Commander in Chief concludes the above State of Matters with the followg Observations—that offensive Operations, of whatever kind they may be (being generally the result of choice) ought to be undertaken with due Consideration of all Circumstances, & a moral certainty of succeeding—for besides involving the public in a heavy Expence, which the Situation of our Affairs can illy afford, Disgrace & Censure scarce ever fail to attend unsuccessful plans, while the Enemy acquire Spirits by, & triumph at our Misfortune.

Go: Washington

MHi: Heath Papers.

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