George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 28 July 1778

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Qrs White plains July 28th 177⟨8⟩

Dr Sir

I was this morning favoured with your Two Letters of the 24 & 26th Instant with the papers to which they referred.

I am exceedingly happy to find, that your efforts to prepare for the intended enterprize ag⟨ai⟩nst the Enemy, had succeeded so well—and that ⟨things in⟩ general were in so promising a train.

With respect to the Enemy’s force in y⟨our⟩ Quarter, I think your Estimate must be far too large. In your Letter of the 24th you say it amounts to 3717 before General Brown’s arriv⟨al.⟩ Supposing this to have been the case, which is ma⟨king⟩ it as great, as I conceive it could be, the only reinf⟨orce⟩ment, which I have been able to learn, has go⟨ne⟩ from New York did not exceed 14 or 1500 at the ⟨outside⟩, upon a very liberal allowance for the strength ⟨of⟩ the Corps. It is a good and a safe way to coun⟨t⟩ sufficiently upon the Enemy’s force, because, acc⟨ording⟩ to this we should always provide and act; howev⟨er,⟩ by fixing it too high, it may injure, by exciting ⟨in⟩ the Troops if it should come to their knowledge, a spirit of diffidence & distrust—the contrary of whic⟨h⟩, you know, is essential to success. By a Letter fr⟨om⟩ Govr Trumbull of the 25th he mentions, you had sta⟨ted⟩ it at 7000 & that in a day or two, it would be 11,000. This, perhaps, you might immagine would give your requisition for men a more vigorous & successful efficacy.

With regard to the plan of operation, whi⟨ch⟩ you submitted to the Admiral, my want of a more precise knowledge, than what I have, in a variety o⟨f⟩ facts and circu⟨ms⟩t⟨an⟩ces⟨,⟩ will not permit me to deci⟨de⟩ upon it; but it appears to me, there are many useful and interesting hints in it, and such as I hope and am persuaded, are founded in consideration and an investigation of the matter. The cutting off the three Regiments on Connanicut & preventing further Reinforcements are great and important Objects, if they can be effected. General Greene set ⟨out this⟩ morning in order to join you and will arrive, I expect, by the time this reaches you. The fleet sailed from the Road off Sandy Hook, on Tuesday morning,1 and I should suppose are now with you. I have only to repeat my warmest wishes for your success, and assurances that I am, with great esteem & regard Dr Sir Your Most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

⟨P.⟩S. From very good ⟨inf⟩ormation I have reason ⟨to⟩ believe that the late Re-in⟨forc⟩ement sent to Rhode Island ⟨does⟩ not exceed 1200 Men.

Go: W——n

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, NhHi: Sullivan Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The postscript of the LS is in GW’s writing, and the draft and transcript lack the postscript. Where the LS is damaged, the characters in angle brackets have been supplied after consulting the draft.

1The previous Tuesday was 21 July.

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