George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Champion, Sr., 4 June 1779

To Henry Champion, Sr.

Head Quarters Morris Town [N.J.] June 4th 1779


Our affairs are now at a most interesting crisis—The enemy appear to be bending their whole force in a vigorous operation against the Highland posts.1 We must take such positions as will render it impracticable to subsist the army, unless the most strenuous exertions are at once used to throw a very considerable quantity of Cattle on this side the river. You will instantly take every possible step to collect and forward at least five hundred head of Cattle across the North River into Orange County. Let them be the best you can get, nor must we on an emergency like this, be very scrupulous. And after you have sent on this number, you will continue your best endeavours to keep up a constant and full supply for the army—Our whole dependence will be on this2—We can expect no supplies of Salt provision as our whole transportation must go to the article of flour. If the means in your own power should not be sufficient to answer the exigency, you will communicate this letter to His Excellency3 the Governor and solicit the aid of the State—This is an extraordinary occasion and may demand extraordinary expedients.

There is not a moment to be lost—and I rely upon your known zeal that it will correspond with the necessity of the times—and am with regard Sir Yr most Obedt serv.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. For the forwarding by express of the letter sent to Champion, which has not been found, see Udny Hay to GW, 5 June.

1For these British operations, see William De Hart to GW, 30 May, n.1, and General Orders, 1 June, n.1.

2To meet the need for beef, GW also wrote Azariah Dunham, assistant commissary for purchases for eastern New Jersey, on 5 June: “The situation of Affairs at this juncture requires that every thing in our power should be done to make our supplies as extensive as possible. You will therefore exert yourself to purchase, throughout this state as many cattle as can be procured. If they are but fit for use, though not quite so fat as might be wished, they must not be rejected on this account” (Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). For the apparent success of the efforts to secure cattle, see General Orders, 10 June.

3GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison wrote the previous two words above the line on the draft manuscript.

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