George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from John Sullivan, 2 May 1781

Philadelphia May the 2d 1781

Dear General

I Take the Liberty of inclosing your Excellency a motion which I intend making in Congress provided it meets with your approbation. I have reasons for this motion which were not proper in my Opinion to Lay before Congress but which I beg leave to lay before Your Excellency. I Suppose it at Least possible That our reinforcement from France may be followed by a Superiour Naval Armament which may arrive before any thing decisive can be Effected; should this event take place we shall find ourselves unable to regain a Single Post the Enemy now possess & consequently the Campaign must be lost unless by Some diversion we can reduce that force at Least to an Equality; & this in my Opinion cannot be so effectually done as by making a Diversion in Canada as they cannot reinforce but by water; & This will demand a Convoy of Capital Ships, but Should not this Event take place namely a naval Superiority on their Side no injury can Arise from making the necessary preparations as this will make a diversion in favor of our intended plans in this Quarter and Enable us in case of Disappointment to turn the feint into a real attack. I am clearly of opinion that our whole force should be employed to regain what we have already lost so Long as there remains a probability of Success: but when the possibility of that Success ceases to Exist we ought not to loose the Campaign & neglect to Conquer Posts Completely in our power because we are unable to gain those we prefer. In Short I am for doing something in case it should become impossible to do what I most ardently wish viz. regaining the Posts already lost, & I submit to your Excellency whether even this will be possible unless the necessary preparations are previously made. These in my opinion may be made without much Expence the Eastern States may be called upon to Embody some Battalions & make other necessary preparations which in case of a Naval Superiority may be employed against New York & Enable us to Detach from the main Army to the Southward. I beg your Excellency to Excuse the Length of this letter as it was only my intention when I began to give the hints without going into a Long train of reasoning upon the Subject but have been insensibly led into it by perhaps too warm an attachment to a Plan which your Excellency may convince me is not Eligible. I have the honor to be with the most respectful attachment Dear General your Excellencys most obedt Servant

Jno. Sullivan

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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