George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Israel Evans, 13 March 1778

To Israel Evans

Head Qrs Valley-forge Mar. 13th 1778.

Revd Sir

Your favor of the 17th Ulto inclosing the discourse which you delivered on the 18th of December—the day set apart for a general thanksgiving—to Genl Poors Brigade, never came to my hands till yesterday.1

I have read this performance with equal attention & pleasure, and at the sametime that I admire, & feel the force of the reasoning which you have displayed through the whole, it is more especially incumbent upon me to thank you for the honorable, but partial mention you have made of my character;2 & to assure you, that it will ever be the first wish of my heart to aid your pious endeavours to inculcate a due sense of the dependance we ought to place in that allwise & powerful Being on whom alone our success depends; and moreover, to assure you, that with respect & regard I am Revd Sir, Yr Most Obedt Sert

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Copy, Nh-Ar: Weare Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Israel Evans (1747–1807), a Princeton graduate who had been licensed to preach in 1775 and ordained in 1776 by the First Presbytery of Philadelphia, was appointed chaplain to the 1st New York Regiment in August 1775, chaplain of Col. John Nicolson’s New York Regiment in March 1776, and chaplain of the 2d New York Regiment in November 1776. He was named chaplain for Brig. Gen. Enoch Poor’s brigade in January 1777 and probably about the same time became chaplain of the 3d New Hampshire Regiment. Evans served until the end of the war, and after the war he was the Presbyterian minister for Concord, N.H., 1789–97.

1Evans’s letter of 17 Feb. has not been found. The enclosure was A Discourse, Delivered, on the 18th Day of December, 1777, the Day of Public Thanksgiving, Appointed by the Honourable Continental Congress, by the Reverend Israel Evans, A.M., Chaplain to General Poor’s Brigade. And Now Published at the Request of the General and Officers of the Said Brigade, to Be Distributed among the Soldiers, Gratis (Lancaster, Pa., 1778).

2In the Discourse Evans urged his listeners: “Oh give thanks unto the Lord our God, for a brave general, the commander in chief of all our armies. A general possessed of such unparalleled fortitude and patience, and not more patient, than meek, virtuous and humane. And if I am permitted to say anything of a character, which so much outshines the brightest encomiums the writer can offer: I will venture to say, that if you search for faults, in the conduct of that true patriot, and most excellent hero, you will find none, unless you call it a fault to exercise compassion and lenity towards those negligent and guilty offenders, who by their sloth and inattention to the best orders, counteract the wisest plans, and frustrate the best schemes of military discipline and policy. . . . Oh America, give glory to God for such a faithful hero! Then you saw him greatest when most without your aid. Collected in himself, he greatly resolved, with his few faithful followers, to be the barrier of liberty, or fall in its defence” (pp. 8–9; see also p. 17).

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