George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, 7 March 1777

To the Pennsylvania Council of Safety

Head Quarters Morris Town 7: March 1777


I am honoured with yours of the 5th with Genl Gates’s estimate of the force of the Enemy at Brunswic, which agrees with what I have collected from Deserters and other Channels: And Colo. Gurneys intelligence of the Enemy’s intended Rout to Philada by the way of South Amboy, which I have ever thought very practicable and probable.1 These Informations alone ought to suggest to you the necessity that there is, of having as many of your Militia as possible,2 immediately embodied and held ready to act as occasion may require. The City Militia should be particularly attended to, as they are a fine Body of Men, and laying so much together, they are able to throw in a very considerable Force upon an emergency, but they are so usefully employed at home, that they ought not to be drawn out but at the last extremity.

I must beg you will afford every Assistance to the recruiting and forwarding the Continental Troops of your State. There appears to me to be something extraordinary in the returns of your Regiments, from accounts I recd some time ago, I expected several of them were nearly full, but upon being furnished with actual Returns, I find they have only from Fifty to one hundred Men each. I fear this is owing, to the Officers having pocketted the Bounty Money, and returned the Men deserted who were never inlisted.

I have desired Genl Gates to scrutinize this Matter and I beg you will assist him, if wanted.3

Colo. proctor has shewn me a letter from your Board, in which you require his attendance at Philada. He is so essentially necessary here at the head of the Artillery, in the absence of Genl Knox, now on his way from Boston, that I am obliged to detain him till his return, which will be in a few days.4

As nothing but the good of the Service would have induced me to countermand your orders, I hope you will excuse the liberty taken by Gentlemen Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, PHi: Gratz Collection; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The Pennsylvania council of safety read this letter on 11 Mar. (see Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:178).

1The council of safety’s letter of 5 Mar. has not been found, and its enclosures have not been identified. GW sent a copy of Lt. Col. Francis Gurney’s intelligence report to New Jersey governor William Livingston on 9 March.

2On the draft the remainder of this paragraph initially read: “immediately embodied and marched to join the Army under my Command ready to fall upon the Rear or Flank of the Enemy should they move from Brunswick; for you may depend upon it, that nothing will check or retard them so much as hanging upon them in either of the above Situations which it will be absolutely out of my power to do without a considerable Reenforcement. No Continental Troops of any Consequence have yet come in and by the 15th of this month I shall scarce have any Militia left.”

4The committee of safety’s letter to Col. Thomas Proctor of the 4th Continental Artillery Regiment has not been identified. At this point on the draft the following paragraph was stricken out: “If any of your Militia march this way, pray stipulate with them to stay a certain time after they actually join the Army; let it be six Weeks if possible.”

Index Entries