George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, 14 June 1779

To the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council

Head Quarters Smiths Clove [N.Y.]
June 14th 1779


I was duly honored with your favour of the 29th of May,1 which the moving state of the army and other circumstances have prevented my acknowledging sooner.

Inclosed you will be pleased to receive a state of the Battalions of Pensylvania formed agreeable to the last returns—It is some time since any have been received from the three regiments that are detached; but the present state will be sufficiently accurate to answer the purpose for which you intend it.2

I am happy to hear we begin to be awakened to a sense of our situation—I hope we shall be thoroughly roused & that our exertions to extricate ourselves may be attended with correspondent success.

The movements of the enemy obliged us to defer General Arnolds trial—So soon as our affairs are in a train to admit of it, no time shall be lost in resuming it.3

You will no doubt have been informed of the operations of the enemy on the North river—They have taken post in two divisions on the opposite sides of the River at Verplanks and stoney points where the nature of the ground renders them inaccessible. This puts a stop to our lower communication and will greatly add to the difficulty of transportation between the States—while it will enable them to draw additional supplies from the country and to increase the distress & disaffection of the inhabitants residing along the River—It is hard to say what may be their future progress; but under the present appearances, we have thought it adviseable to provide for the security of the forts, by taking post with the main army in their vicinity.4 With great respect & esteem I have the honor to be Gentn Yr Most Obet servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, PHi: Dreer Collection; Df, DLC:GW; copy, NHi: Reed Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council received and read GW’s letter on 25 June (Pa. Col. Records, description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends 12:32).

1This reference is to a letter from Joseph Reed to GW of 29 May that reported on efforts to locate deserters, recruit troops, manage clothing, and further a growing “spirit of Reformation, Attention to finance, and Restoration of lost credit.” Reed was president of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council.

2The enclosed return has not been identified, but it was a compilation, over Adj. Gen. Alexander Scammell’s signature, that delineated all eleven Pennsylvania regiments, including categories for commissioned field officers (colonels, lieutenant colonels, majors, captains, captain lieutenants, lieutenants, ensigns), staff officers (chaplains, adjutants, paymasters, quartermasters, surgeons, mates), and non-commissioned officers (sergeant majors, quartermaster sergeants, drum majors, fife majors, sergeants, drums and fifes). The “RANK AND FILE” in each regiment are counted as present fit for duty, sick present, sick absent, on command, or on furlough, and then totaled (Pa. Archives, description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends 1st ser., 7:494). The printed return, which is misdated 18 June, identifies the detached units as the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment at Schoharie, N.Y., the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment at Fort Pitt, Pa., and the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment on the Susquehanna River. State officials desired this information to guide recruiting efforts to fill deficiencies in the regiments.

3Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s court-martial, organized on 29 May and suspended on 2 June, arose from differences with Pennsylvania officials while he was military commander in Philadelphia. For the resumption of proceedings on 20 Dec., see Arnold to GW, 13 July; GW to Arnold, 20 July, and 4 Dec.(DLC: GW); and General Orders, 19 December.

4For the British operations up the Hudson River that threatened the forts at West Point, and the American response, see William De Hart to GW, 30 May, n.1, and General Orders, 1 June, n.1.

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