George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 30 October 1775

To John Hancock

Camp at Cambridge Oct. 30th 1775


The Information which the Gentlemen who have lately gone from hence1 can give the Congress of the State & Situation of the Army would have made a Letter unnecessary if I did not suppose there would be some Anxiety to know the Intentions of the Army on the Subject of their Re-inlistment.

Agreeable to the Advice of those Gentlemen & my own Opinion, I immediately began by directing all such Officers as proposed to continue to signify their Intentions as soon as possible a great Number of the Returns are come in, from which I find that a very great Proportion of the Officers of the Rank of Captains & under will retire—from present Appearances I may say half, but at least one third—It is with some Concern also that I observe that many of the Officers, who retire, discourage the Continuance of the Men & I fear will communicate the Infection to them. Some have advised that those Officers who decline the Service should be immediately dismiss’d but this would be very dangerous & inconvenient. I confess I have great Anxieties upon the Subject, tho’ I still hope the Pay & Terms are so advantageous that Interest & I hope also a Regard to their Country will retain a greater Proportion of the Privates than their Officers—In so important a Matter I shall esteem it my indispensable Duty not only to act with all possible Prudence but to give the most early & constant Advice of my Progress.

A Supply of Cloathing equal to our Necessities would greatly contribute to the Encouragement & Satisfaction of the Men: in every Point of View it is so important that I beg Leave to call the Attention of the Congress to it in a particular Manner.

A Sergeant has just come in from Bunker’s Hill, but brings no important News. I have the Honour to be with all possible Respect Sir Your most Obedt Hbble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Joseph Reed’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC item 169; copy, NjMoHP; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 7 Nov. (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 3:330).

1The committee of conference.

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