George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 27 June 1779

To Major General Horatio Gates

Head Quarters New Windsor 27th June 1779


Two days since I received your favour of the 21st.

Two General Orders of the 7th & 12th of Feby 1779. founded upon a resolve of Congress therein mentioned1 designate the rules which are to govern the reinlistments during the war. This order was transmitted at the time by the Adjutant General to his assistant at Providence, and he tells me he had heard of its being received—Indeed it is a standing direction to him which I do not know that he has diviated from, to transmit copies of all Orders which establish regulations that are to have a general operation to every part of the Army; and I make it a constant practice to announce substantially all the Resolves of Congress which are necessary for its information and government. Where a prescribed rule is wanting, I shall certainly be always happy to give the most favourable construction to the conduct of Officers who act with honor and integrity according to the best of their judgment. Inclosed is a second copy of the abovementioned Orders.2

We have still further accounts of the success to the southward; but no official confirmation. The enemy have others of a different complexion which you will probably see by way of Newport. These wear to me an appearance that renders them suspicious. I am strongly inclined to beleive that they have met with a defeat.3 I am Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. I have intelligence through different channels that the enemy intend drawing a part or the whole of their force from Rhode Island4—The former is certainly not improbable—If it should happen, you will immediately detach a proportionable part of your force to this Army—If the whole should be withdrawn, you will be pleased to march yourself with all the force you can.5 I assure you the comparitive strength of the two Armies in this quarter will make it very dangerous if the enemy should receive a reinforcement, and we do not get an equal one; and if they materially diminish their present force at Rhode Island, an offensive operation on their part will be then an event hardly to be supposed.

Go: Washington

LS, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy, signed by GW, DNA:PCC, item 154; copy, DNA:PCC, item 171; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See 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 13:107–9.

2Following this paragraph on the draft manuscript, which is in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, there are two struck-out sentences that read: “The veniences of partial exchanges by State Commissaries have been represented to Congress and the expediency of letting the whole business of exchange pass through The Commissary General. That Honorable body have not yet taken any measures in the affair.”

A letter from Adj. Gen. Alexander Scammell to Gates, written at New Windsor on this date, covered the enclosed copies of general orders, which have not been identified. Scammell’s letter reads: “I have the honor to transmit you several copies of General Orders: Some of which have heretofore been sent to Colonel Peck, Adjutant General in the State of Rhode Island: But as I am apprehensive they may have miscarried thro’ the carelessness of Expresses, I have sent other Copies.

“Colonel [William] Peck will be able to inform how many of them have been published to the Troops in your Department” (Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers).

3At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton wrote and struck out a sentence that reads: “I send you the last intelligence we have had.”

For a recent account of an American success in the South, see Nathanael Greene to GW, 24 June. For enemy reports of their military success, see GW to John Jay, 14 June, and n.5 to that document, and 23 June, and n.3 to that document. Favorable American reports ultimately proved erroneous (see Jay to GW, 4 and 7 June, and GW to James Clinton, 13 June; see also GW to John Augustine Washington, 20 June, and n.7 to that document).

4See GW to Benjamin Tallmadge, this date (first letter), n.2.

5Upon learning that the British had embarked only three regiments from Rhode Island, GW ordered Gates to detach Brig. Gen. John Glover’s brigade (see Gates to GW, 25 June, and GW to Gates, 30 June).

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