George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to George Clinton, 30 April 1778

To George Clinton

Valley Forge April 30th 1778

Dr Sir.

On monday1 I received your favor of the 22d Inst.

I should be extremely sorry if the incursions you apprehend, should take place. From the defeats and disappointments the Indians met with the last campaign, when pushed on and supported by a formidable regular Army, we had reason to hope, that they would remain peaceable, at least for some time. However there is no reasoning with precision from the past to the future conduct of these people. Their own disposition to ravage, with the artifices of the Enemy, may possibly induce them to commit some outrages in order to alarm and divert a part of our force, from the points at which it will be materially wanted. I have not seen the Resolution which you mention, but I imagine Genl Gates, who is to command immediately the whole northern department, will dispose of the Troops acting there, in such way, as the exigency of affairs may seem most to require. Securing the north river is an object of the first magnitude & appears to be a principal one in the opinion of Congress, yet his instructions extend to the protection of the northern & Western frontiers of the State against any ravages that may be attempted.2 I expect him here in a Day or two, when I shall communicate to him your apprehensions. This proceeding may be placed to the account of our generosity but it certainly cannot to that of policy or our true interest. It appears to me, that no period in this contest had demanded our exertions equal to the present one. Upon every rational principle we should have, if possible, more than a respectable Army on foot. Britain is setting every engine to work against us. She means to try us by force & by fraud,3 and in proportion to our abilities in the field will be our success in resisting both. I am Dr Sir With great regard & esteem Your most Obet Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, NHi: George and Martha Washington Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The LS is docketed in part, “answered”; see Clinton to GW, 8 May.

1The previous Monday was 27 April.

2For Congress’s instructions to Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, see Henry Laurens to GW, 24–25 April, n.4.

3In writing “fraud” GW apparently is referring to the bills offered in Parliament to pledge restraint of taxation and create a peace commission (see GW to Laurens, 18 April, and note 6, and 20 April, and note 2 to that document).

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