George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Joseph Reed, 2 December 1777

To Joseph Reed

White Marsh [Pa.] Decr 2d 1777.

Dear Sir,

If you can with any convenience let me see you to day I shall be thankful for it—I am abt fixing the Winter cantonments of this army, and find so many, & such capitol objections to each mode proposed, that I am exceedingly embarrassed, not only by the advice given me, but in my own judgment, and should be very glad of your sentiments on the matter without loss of time. In hopes of seeing you, I shall only add that from Reading to Lancaster Inclusively, is the general Sentiment, whilst Wilmington and its vicinity, has powerful advocates.1 this however is mentiond under the rose2—for I am convinc’d in my own opinion, that if the enemy believed we had this place in contemplation they would possess themselves of it immediately. I am very sincerely Dr Sir Yr Affecte

Go: Washington


1GW had asked his officers for their opinions on winter cantonment at a council on 30 Nov. (see the source note to General Orders, that date). The officers’ preferences were listed by GW’s aide-de-camp Robert Hanson Harrison in an undated memorandum docketed “Opinions summed up” and located in DLC:GW. Generals Greene, Lafayette, Armstrong, Smallwood, Wayne, Scott, and apparently Duportail are listed as favoring Wilmington. Generals Sullivan, Kalb, Maxwell, Knox, Poor, Muhlenberg, Varnum, Weedon, and Woodford are listed under “Lancaster—Reading &c.,” with notations for Muhlenberg, “for those on chain from Reading to Easton,” and for Varnum, “from Reading to Easton.” Lord Stirling is the only general listed as favoring the “Great Valley or Trydruffin.” Harrison notes that General Irvine was “for hutting in a strong position” and General Pulaski was “for a Winter’s Campaign.”

2This phrase, which originated in the mythological story that Cupid bought Harpocrates’ silence regarding Venus’s amours through the gift of a rose, means “in strictest confidence.”

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