George Washington Papers

To George Washington from New England Delegates, 12 December 1776

From New England Delegates

Philadelphia Decr 12 1776


We are this Moment informd by a Gentleman who is Brother of Collo. Griffen and has lately been at New York, that a Body of ten thousand of the Enemies Troops are actually arrivd at Rhode Island.

As Congress is now adjournd to Baltimore in Maryland, and the President and the Board of War are not in Town, we think it our Duty to send you this Intelligence; and as there is no General Officer in that Department, we refer it to your Consideration whether the Service does not absolutely require that one be immediately sent, to take the Command of Troops to be raisd there, to repel the Progress of the Enemy.

If Major General Green or Gates, who are greatly belovd in that Part of America, with a suitable Number of Brigadiers, could be spared for this Service, it might be attended with another Advantage, that of facilitating the new Inlistments.

We intreat your Attention to this important Matter and are with very great Respect your Excellcys very humble Servants

Samuel Adams

Elbridge Gerry

William Ellery

Wm Whipple

LS, in Samuel Adams’s writing, MH: Jared Sparks Collection.

William Ellery, who was a Rhode Island delgate, wrote Gov. Nicholas Cooke on 24 Dec. 1776: “We have an Account that a Fleet with Eight or Ten Thousand Men have gone to Newport. . . . I think that this Division of the Enemy’s Army affords Us a fine Opportunity to make an efficacious Stroke on them. As soon as I had Notice, that I thought I could depend upon I immediately proposed to the New England Delegates to write to Genl. Washington informing him that a Fleet with a large Body of Troops under Clinton had sailed for Rhode-Island, and desiring him to send Genls Gates or Green with such Brigr. Genls as could be spared to take the Command and Direction of the Troops that might be raised in New England to repell the Enemy from the Island; or oppose their making any Inroads into the Country. It was agreed to, and a Letter wrote. The Genl. told Us in Answer that he had received previous Notice, and had sent Orders to Genls Arnold and Spencer who were then at Albany to repair to New-England and take the Command of the yeomanry that should muster on that Occasion” (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 5:653–56). No letter from GW to the New England delegates replying to this letter has been found, but see GW’s letter to Hancock of 20 Dec., which was read in Congress on 26 December.

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