George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 28 January 1777

To Major General John Sullivan

Morris Town. Jany 28th 1777

Dear Sir,

As the Information which gave rise to your Remove to the Scotch plains seems to have been void of foundation, and as no great good can result from yr laying in an exposed situation, but much Evil flow from a Surprize (which by the bye I hope never will happen) I can not help expressing my doubts of the propriety of yr removing where the Troops now are (if at the Scotch plains)—Our Affairs at present are in a prosperous way, the Country seems to entertain an Idea of our Superiority—Recruiting goes on well—& a Beleif prevails that the Enemy are afraid of Us. If then you should be drove, which nothing but the Enemy’s want of Spirit can prevent—the Tables will be turned, the Country get dispirited, & We shall again relapse into our former discredit—I therefore give it to you as my Opinion, that you had better give yr Remove to the Scotch Plains the best Colouring you can (either by a March round, some how or other, as you can devise) & return to yr former Station, or to Springfd, for fear of Consequences which may be extremely injurious to Us.1

This is clearly my Opinion; perhaps it may arise from Ignorance of the Situation of Ground—but it is next to impossible that the Enemy can suffer a Number greatly inferior to theirs to be within three hours march of them without laying some Scheme to entrap or drive them. I shall write Genl Warner (at Bound brook) orders simular to these.2 I am Dear Sir Yr most Obt

Go: Washington

Df, in George Johnston’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. On this date GW’s aide-de-camp John Fitzgerald wrote a reply to Sullivan’s letter to GW of 27 Jan.: “Your Favour of Yesterday came to hand about 12 last Night—I have it in command from his Excelly to Inform you that he never intended to Stop any of the little Family Mills, nor those which we can have in our power, but that any Flour made at them which was not immediately necessary should be remov’d—Also to request that you will expedite things as much as possible for the Court Martial, as his Excelly wishes it not to be any longer delay’d—Colo Weedon begs he may have Notice when things are nearly ready—It will be necessary for you & the other Genls on out Posts to keep an Accurate List of those who bring in their Protections. PS You’ll please to let Genls Maxwell & Stephens know the Necessity of Keeping a List” (Hammond, Sullivan Papers description begins Otis G. Hammond, ed. Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, 1930-39. In Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, vols. 13–15. description ends , 1:315).

1Scotch Plains is in the western part of Westfield township in Essex (now Union) County, N.J., midway between Morristown and Perth Amboy. British troops were camped in the vicinity of Perth Amboy, about seven or eight miles from Sullivan’s troops. GW considered encamping the Continental army at Scotch Plains for the winter in 1779 (see GW to William Maxwell, 1 Nov. 1779, GW to Horatio Gates, 17 Nov. 1779, and GW to Samuel Huntington, 24 Nov., 4 Dec. 1779).

2GW’s orders to Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Warner have not been found.

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