To Samuel Washington
Camp at Cambridge 30th Sepr 1775.
Your favour of the 6th Instt by Mr Hite came safe to hand, and gave me the pleasure of hearing that you, my Sister, & Family were well1—I find also that one of my Letters had reached you, which is more than I expected (notwithstanding I have wrote you several) as I learn by my last Letters from home, that neither Mrs Washington, nor Lund, had received a Line from me since the 27th of July, although I have never missed writing by any Week’s Post since I came to this place, to both of them—such is the infernal curiosity of some of the Scoundrel Postmasters that I am distressed exceedingly in my business, not being able to get any directions home in respect to matters that are referred to me from thence.2
So little hath happend of consequence since my last, that I should hardly have given you the trouble of a Letter at this time, but from an unwillingness of suffering Mr Hite to depart without—The Enemy keep themselves close shut up within their own Lines on Boston & Charles Town Necks, & are to all intents & purposes as much besieged as ever Troops were that had an opening to the Sea—They are constantly Cannonading & Bombarding of us without any damage to our Works & almost as little hurt to the Men; but take care never to advance beyond their own Works.
Their Men of War & Transports are constantly employed in getting Wood, & Provisions from Canada, Nova-Scotia, & such Islands as they can pillage along the Sea Coast—they now take all Vessells indiscriminately which fall in their way. In short they seem to have commenced a Piratical War & threaten us with an Importation of Russians, Hanoverian’s &ca in the Spring—alas! how is the dignity of great Britain fallen! & what inconsistency is this! But the other day we were told both in the House of Lords, & in the House of Commons (by a Man, Grant, now in Boston) that the American’s were such paltroons & Cowards that they would not fight3—now we find that 22 Regiments of the Kings Troops are shut up, & suffering (for near four Months) all the hardships & Inconveniencies of a Siege, & talk of calling in Thirty or 40,000 Foreigners to their aid! why this agt People who have not spirit to resist?
Having compleated our own Lines of defence—finding that the Enemy had discovered no Inclination to pay us a visit—& that their Situation is such as to render our approaches almost impossible without great Slaughter, if then, I detached about 14 days ago 1000 Men under the Command of Colo. Arnold into Canada, by the way of Kennebec—the design of this expedition is to take possession of Quebec if possible, but at all Events to create a diversion in favour of General Schuyler who is upon his March to Montreal by the way of Lake Champlain & St Johns—If these Expeditions succeed the Ministry will make a glorious figure with their Canada Bill,4 & the Regiments which they proposed to raise in that Government for the purpose of Deluging our Frontier Settlements in Blood. they seem to be almost as much defeated in their attempts upon the Indians, who in this part of the World have offered to join us, some of them I mean, whilst the Six Nations are resolved to observe a Neutrality.
The Riflemen have had very little oppertunity of shewing their skill, or their ignorance, for some of them, especially from Pensylvania, know no more of a Rifle than my horse, being new Imported Irish many of whom have deserted to the Enemy. Captn Hugh Stevenson is at a Camp (Roxborough) Six Miles from hence, so that I seldom see him but when I go there—I believe him to be a good man & should be glad to shew him every Civility in my power but cannot be particular, otherwise I should Incur the censure of partiality which I want to avoid.
If you should have occasion for my marquee you are welcome to send for it when wanted—but as I expect to have frequent calls for it myself, I must beg the favour of you to have particular care taken of it, as they are not to be got to the northward for the supply of the Army much less for other purposes. I shall be very glad to hear of a visit from you and my Sister at Mount Vernon; I could wish that my friends would endeavour to make the heavy, and lonesome hours of my Wife pass of as smoothly as possible for her Situation gives me many a painful moment.
I am now to thank you, which I do most sincerely, & cordially, for your Affectionate wishes & prayers—the goodness of the cause bids me hope for protection, & I have a perfect reliance upon that Providence which heretofore has befriended & Smiled upon me—my Affectionate regards for my Sister and the Family concludes me with great truth Yr loving Brother
ALS, NjP:De Coppet Collection.
1. Letter not found.
2. Joseph Reed wrote to Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin on 25 Sept.: “I beg Leave to mention to you that by some Accident or Misconduct in the Officers the Generals Letters for these 2 Months past to his Family & Friends in Virginia have miscarried. Some very important Business as well respecting his own Estate, as another committed to his Care has suffered in Consequence so much that he is exceedingly uneasy, and would take it as a particular Favour if such Regulations were immediately made as would prevent the like in future. He apprehends the Failure is between Philad. & Alexandria. Besides the Vexation & Disappointment attending this Circumstance—there may be Danger of their being made an ill Use of, at such a Time as this” (DLC:GW). The letter that Samuel Washington received from GW was probably the one of 20 July 1775.
3. James Grant (1720–1806), like GW a veteran of the Forbes expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1758, said in the House of Commons on 2 Feb. 1775 that “he had served in America, knew the Americans very well, was certain they would not fight; they would never dare to face an English army, and that they did not possess any of the qualifications necessary to make a good soldier” (Parliamentary Register description begins J. Almon. The Parliamentary Register; or, History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons . . . Fourteenth Parliament of Great Britain. 17 vols. London, 1775–80. description ends , 1:135). Grant became colonel of the 55th Regiment of Foot on 12 Nov. 1775, and on 1 Jan. 1776 he was made a major general in America. He subsequently served in the Long Island, New Jersey, and Philadelphia campaigns, and in December 1778 he commanded a large detachment that captured St. Lucia in the West Indies.
4. The Quebec Act of 20 May 1774 established a permanent civil government for Canada which the American colonists thought was repressive. It also offended Americans by extending Canada’s boundaries to the Ohio River.