George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Patrick Henry, 28 March 1778

To Patrick Henry

Camp [Valley Forge] March 28: 1778

Dr Sir

Just as I was about to close my Letter of Yesterday, your favor of the 5 Instant came to hand.

I can only thank you again, in the language of the most undissembled gratitude, for your friendship; and assure you, the indulgent disposition, which Virginia in particular and the States in general entertain towards me, gives me the most sensible pleasure. The approbation of my Country is what I wish, and as far as my abilities and opportunity will permit, I hope I shall endeavour to deserve it. It is the highest reward to a feeling mind, and happy are they, who so conduct themselves, as to merit it.

The Anonymous Letter, with which you were pleased to favor me, was written by Doctor Rush, so far as I can judge from a similitude of hands.1 This Man has been elaborate & studied in his professions of regard for me; and long since the Letter to you.

My caution to avoid anything that could injure the service, prevented me from communicating, but to very few of my friends, the intrigues of a faction, which I know was formed against me, since it might serve to publish our internal dissentions; but their own restless zeal to advance their views, has too clearly betrayed them, and made concealment on my part fruitless. I cannot precisely mark the extent of their views, but it appeared in general, that General Gates was to be exalted, on the ruin of my reputation and influence. This I am authorised to say from undeniable facts, in my own possession, from publications, the evident scope of which, could not be mistaken, and from private detractions industriously circulated. Genl Mifflin it is commonly supposed, bore the second part in the Cabal; and General Conway, I know, was a very active, and malignant partizan2 but I have good reasons to believe that their machinations have recoiled most sensibly upon themselves.3

I am happy to hear, the Assembly have authorized the Executive power to provide their Troops with cloathing & other necessaries.4 If the several States attend to this important business, I am persuaded, we shall not experience the same wants—not to say miseries that we heretofore have. The Commissary’s department too, I trust, will be under better regulations, than what it has been.5 Our difficulties & distresses, in this instance, have not arisen from a scarcity of provision, but from improper persons, or rather none at all, being employed.

The arrival of the French ship is an agreable circumstance, as, I presume, she brought goods; and as it is a proof of the friendly disposition of the Nation.6 If she was in commission of the King, it would be still better. With sentiments of great esteem & regard I am Dr Sir Yr Affect. Hbl. servant

Go: Washington

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW added text to the draft (see note 2).

1For the anonymous letter, see Henry to GW, 20 Feb., and note 1.

2GW added the remainder of this paragraph to the draft, writing much of the text in the margin.

3For discussion of the so-called Conway Cabal, see GW to Horatio Gates, 4 Jan., n.3.

5Congress had approved revised regulations for the commissary department on 13 Mar. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:248–53), and further revisions were agreed to on 14 April (ibid., 344–48).

6For the French ship, see Henry to GW, 5 Mar., and note 4 to that document.

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