George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Nathanael Greene, 3 June 1779

To Major General Nathanael Greene

Hd Qrs Middlebrook 3 June 1779.


I wish you to dispatch a messinger to Philadelphia with orders to bring up to Trenton fifteen or twenty boats, with as much expedition as the nature of the business will admit. At Trenton you will have them put in a state of the greatest readiness to be transported by land1 at the shortest notice.

Head Quarters will move to day if possible.2 I am Sr &.

G. W——

Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Also on this date, GW had drafted a letter to Greene that apparently was not sent. That letter reads: “I have received your letter of the 30th Ultimo. On a closer inspection of the law of the state and a fuller consideration—of the representations made by the Commissary of forage and yourself—I am the more convinced that the mode pointed out by the law for procuring forage for the use of the army, will in most cases under our present circumstances prove insufficient, and that it will be necessary to have recourse to a military impress wherever the army at large, or any considerable detachments of it, are, whether in camp or on a march. Compelled by the necessity of the public service, I now authorise The Commissary of forage, personally or by warrants under his hand, to make the impress accordingly. But this is not to extend in common cases to small detachments or to the supply of teams travelling to or from the army—The legal mode is to be persued in respect to these, except on extraordinary emergencies.

“You will be pleased to give the most positive and particular instructions to prevent the abuse of this power, and to take effectual measures to bring every delinquent to the severest punishment—The necessity that occasions the exercise of it is painful and that exercise ought to be made as little distressing to the inhabitants as possible” (Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). Hamilton wrote at the bottom of the draft manuscript, “intended to have been written,” and it is docketed: “intended to have gone.” Greene may have spoken with GW about the contents of this draft letter.

1At this place on the draft, McHenry first wrote “moved across to Amboy.” He then struck out those words and wrote “transported by land” above the line.

2At this place on the draft, McHenry first wrote “should the affairs of your department admit of it.” He then struck out those words and wrote “if possible” above the line.

GW departed Middlebrook on this date and reached Morristown, N.J., by 9:00 P.M. (see GW to John Jay, this date [third letter]).

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