George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Robert Howe, 14 May 1777

From Brigadier General Robert Howe

Charleston [S.C.] 14 May 1777. “I had the Honor of receiving your Letter a few days since, and have consulted the President of this State upon the Subject of it;1 He acknowledges the Propriety and Importance of an Expedition against Augustine, but seems to think it ought not immediately to be undertaken. For my part Sir, convinced as I am that the Enemy should be dispossessed of that Post and proud as I should be of the Honor of conducting an Attack against it, I feel it my duty to mention those Reasons which I fear may with too much foundation, be urged against the present undertaking of it.”2

LS, DLC:GW. Howe enclosed copies of his letters to the president of Georgia, Archibald Bulloch, 20 Sept. 1776, the president of South Carolina, John Rutledge, September 1776, and the speaker of the Georgia convention, 7 and 11 Dec. 1776, all of which are in DLC:GW. GW received this letter and its enclosures in late June or early July (see GW to Howe, 4 July 1777).

1Howe is referring to GW’s letter to him of 17 Mar. 1777.

2These reasons, which Howe discusses at length in the letter, are the inadequate number of Continental soldiers in South Carolina and Georgia at this time, the undependability of militia, the approach of the summer “sick Season,” and the need to wait for the next meeting of the South Carolina general assembly in order to obtain approval to take the necessary cannon and military stores out of the state. Howe proposes making a winter expedition against St. Augustine with four to five thousand Continental soldiers and an adequate artillery train, and he conveys intelligence about the defenses of St. Augustine to support his opinion that the town could be attacked successfully by such a force during the cooler, less sickly time of the year.

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