George Washington Papers

Circular to the General Officers of the Continental Army, 3 December 1777

Circular to the General Officers of the Continental Army

[Whitemarsh, Pa.] Decr 3d 1777


I wish to recall your attention to the important matter recommended to your Consideration sometime ago—namely—the Advisieability of a Winters Campaign, & practicability of an attempt upon Philada with the Aid of a considerable body of Militia to be assembled at an appointed time & place.1 Particular reasons urge me to request your sentiments on this matter by the Morning, & I shall expect to receive them accordingly in writing by that time.2 I am Sir your mo. Obedt Servant

Go: Washington

LS, addressed to Anthony Wayne, in John Fitzgerald’s writing, PHi: Wayne Papers; LS, addressed to George Weedon, PPAmP: George Weedon Papers; ADfS, DLC:GW; copy, addressed to James Irvine, MiU-C: Strachey Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

A Continental Congress camp committee, which Congress had appointed on 28 Nov. to confer with GW on the subjects raised in this circular, arrived at Whitemarsh, Pa., at about noon on this date. The committee, consisting of Robert Morris, Elbridge Gerry, and Joseph Jones, met with GW in the evening, when GW presented the committee with the answers of his general officers arising from the councils of 24 and 30 Nov. (see Cadwalader’s Plan for Attacking Philadelphia, c.24 Nov., and General Orders, 30 Nov.). On 4 Dec. before the deliberations were interrupted by Howe’s advance out of Philadelphia, GW submitted to the committee the officers’ replies to this circular (see the committee to Henry Laurens, 6 Dec., in 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 , 8:380–81; Laurens to GW, 1 Dec., and note 3, and the committee to GW, 10 Dec.).

2Surviving responses to this circular include letters from generals Cadwalader, Duportail, Greene, Kalb, Knox, Lafayette, Stirling, and Varnum of 3 Dec. and from generals Armstrong, Irvine, Maxwell, Muhlenberg, Paterson, Poor, Potter, Scott, Smallwood, Sullivan, Wayne, Weedon, and Woodford of 4 December. Joseph Reed also presented an opinion to GW on 4 December.

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