George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Augustine Washington, 29 April 1776

To John Augustine Washington

⟨New York 29th of April 1776.⟩

Dear Brother,

Since my arrival at this place I have been favour’d with two or three of your Letters, and thank you for your kind and frequent remembrance of me1—If I shd not write to you, as often as you do to me, you must attribute it to its true cause, and that is the hurry, and multiplicity of business in which I am constantly engaged from the time I rise out of my Bed till I go into it again.

I wrote you a pretty full Acct just before I left Cambridge of the movemts of the two Armies, and now refer to it2—since that, I have brought the whole Army which I had in the New England Governments (five Regiments excepted, & left behind for the defence of Boston and the Stores we have there) to this place; and Eight days ago, Detached four Regiments for Canada; and am now Imbarking Six more for the same place, as there are reasons to believe that a push will be made there this Campaign, and things in that Country not in a very promising way, either with respect to the Canadians or Indian’s—These Detachments have weaken’d us very considerably in ⟨this important post,⟩ where I am sorry to ⟨add,⟩ there are too many inimical persons;3 but as our Affairs in Canada can derive no support but what is sent to them, and the Militia may be called in here, it was thought best to strengthen that Quarter at the expence of this; but I am affraid we are rather too late in doing of it—from the Eastern Army (under my immediate Command) it was impossible to do it sooner.

We have already gone great lengths in fortifying this City & the Hudsons River—a fortnight more will put us in a very respectable posture of Defence. The Works we have already constructed, and which they found we were about to erect, have put the King’s Ships to flight; for instead of laying within Pistol shot of the Wharves, & their Centrys conversing with ours (whilst they received every necessary that the Country afforded) they have now gone down to the Hook, near 30 Miles from this place—the last Harbour they can get to—and I have prevaild upon the Comee of safety to forbid every kind of Intercourse between the Inhabitants of this Colony and the Enemy; this I was resolved upon effecting; but thought it best to bring it about through that Channel, as I can now pursue my own measures in support of their resolves.4

Mrs Washington is still here, and talks of taking the Small Pox, but I doubt her resolution—Mr & Mrs Custis will set out in a few days for Maryland—I did not write to you by the Squire, because his departure in the first place was sudden; in the next, I had but little to say—I am very sorry to hear that my Sister was Indisposed with a sore Breast when you last wrote—I hope she is now recoverd of it, and that all your Family are well—that they may continue so5—& that our once happy Country may escape the depredations & Calamities attending on War, is the fervent prayer of, Dr Sir ⟨Yr Most Affecte Brother,⟩

⟨Go: Washington⟩

Mrs Washington Mr & Mrs Custis join in love to my Sister ⟨&⟩ the rest of the Family with y[o]u

G. W—n

ALS, DLC:GW. The closing, signature, and dateline at the end of the main body of this letter were cut off and are now at NIC. They are supplied within angle brackets from that source.

1These letters have not been identified.

3The mutilated words in angle brackets are taken from Fitzpatrick, Writings, 4:529–31.

4See GW to the New York Committee of Safety, 17 April, the New York Committee of Safety to GW, 18 April, and Proclamation on Intercourse with British Warships, this date.

5Martha Washington, who had shown considerable anxiety on the occasion of her son’s inoculation in 1771, surprised her husband with her resolution. In late May and early June she successfully underwent inoculation for smallpox in Philadelphia (see GW to Jonathan Boucher, 20 April 1771, Hancock to GW, 16, 21 May, 10 June 1776, GW to John Augustine Washington, 31 May 1776, GW to Burwell Bassett, 4 June 1776, and John Parke Custis to GW, 10 June 1776). The Custises were going to Maryland to visit Nelly’s parents at Mount Airy in Prince Georges County, a trip that they were undoubtedly prompted to make at this time by the fact that Nelly, whose first child had died soon after birth the previous summer, was several months pregnant. Their daughter Elizabeth Parke Custis was born at Mount Airy on 21 Aug. 1776. The “Squire” is Richard Lee (1726–1795) who lived at Lee Hall in Westmoreland County, Va., a few miles from Bushfield, the home of John Augustine Washington and his wife Hannah Bushrod Washington.

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