George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Armstrong, Sr., 25 October 1777

From Major General John Armstrong, Sr.

Lancaster [Pa.] 25th Octobr 1777

Dear General

At this place I found about three hundred of the militia of this County Collected & other smaller partys coming in, the former employed to very little purpose waiting for Acoutrements whereof they are almost totally destitute a great part not even bringing Blankets which Article they undoubtedly cou’d have found—But march they shall this afternoon having prompted the Council to make another effort for Blankets in this Burrow, and to be Sent after them, as keeping them here is every way ruinous. I depend on Spare Arms for them from the Brigadiers Potter & Irwin.

The Council Say they have furnished a number of Arms to the Virginia Militia on their way to Camp, when these militia are discharged it will be proper those Arms be delivered in my Division & kept near the Army.

I have prevailed on the Council somewhat to alter the mode of calling forth their troops, which they have now done afresh and have my Self wrote a number of letters to Militia Colonels thro’ various parts of the State (a Copy is inclosed)1 from these measures some Small advantage at least may be hoped—This evening I intend Setting out for Camp, making on the way a Circuit among Some Whigs in Chester County, which is all in my power to do in any reasonable time.

Wou’d you immagin that here are about four hundred Continental Soldiers—A Captain and One hundred will march Suddenly, and the Others I have Order’d to follow in Smaller partys but alwais with an officer as fast as Shoes can be had for them, or the Doctor will pronounce them fit to march of which there is something to be said hereafter. The Watry Conflagration yields matter of farther thanks—Americas redemption appears to draw nigh—May Heaven direct you, that in the Sequel of this very important Campaign your Steps may neither be too fast nor too Slow. I have the honor to be your Excellencys devoted Servt

John Armstrong


1Armstrong’s letter to the Pennsylvania militia colonels, dated 23 Oct. at Lancaster, reads: “By order of General Washington I am now here for a day or two, to lay before the President and Council, the Generals earnest desire that more assistance may Suddenly be sent him from this state—and also to write and entreat my Countrymen and fellow soldiers of the Militia—to view and Consider the opportunity that God has now given them in Conjunction with the Continental Troops of being the happy instrumints of delivering themselves their Country and offspring from the worst of Temporal evils.

“The Enemy are now in our principal Town—the Eyes of america are therefore now upon Pennsylvania as are the Eyes of the Deity too. The Militia of New England have bravely advanced and enabled General Gates to gain the most signal and Glorious victory over our Enemies to the Northward—that for some Centuries past has been granted to man—is not the divine hand Evident in this victory—hath god in very deed thus plainly begun to work deliverance for america—and will he when the Cause is the same—deny us in the Center Colonies the like blessing? Certainly he will not—if we are not most shamefully wanting to ourselves—but the people must go up before they can expect the Enemy delivered into their hands—The winter is at hand—a few weeks or perhaps days may do the business—be not deceived with wrong notions of General Washingtons numbers. Be asured he wants your aid—let hasty strides then carry to Camp—the Nervous—the willing and the strong—that these may share the honor and blessing which Heaven appears at this time ready to bestow on the defenders of this much destressed and bleeding Country—Im sensible that various seeming objections and Difficulties may present themselves to obstruct your march—but remember that motives of virtue and the forcible law of Necessity will overtop them all—wait not at present to debate with these impediments—lest they weaken the impulse of your minds—Let the brave step forth—their Example will animate many—you may come in Classes agreeable to the Call of Council—or otherwise as you please—only march through your Country in an Orderly way and with great dispatch—be not encumber’d with bagage—as we hope you will not need it—as far as is possible—every man his arms—a Blanket & knapsack[.] Blankets at Camp you cannot get any—and of arms but few—please to take particular notice of this.

“Justice Constrains me to add one argument farther drawn from the Established merit of our Commander in Chief—You all speak well of him at a distance—dont you now want to see and pay him one Generous—one martial visit—when kindly invited to his Camp near the end of a long Campaign—There youl see for yourselves the Unremitting Zeal and toils of all the day and half the night multiplied into years—without seeing House or home of his own—without murmur or Complaint—but believes and calls this Arduous Task the service of his Country and of his God—who then in Pennsylvania can well refuse one visit to the devouted man the servant of all—In some such manner as the above I doubt not Gentlemen you will adress the persons who can be spared—and are proper for this Important service—some Good men unfit to march themselves may assist you in Rideing to notifie and excite others who can—I am obliged to direct the same letter to various persons and hope it or a Copy will be suddenly sent from hand to hand for want of time to write as many as I could wish—being immediately to return to Camp” (DLC:GW).

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