George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General William Woodford, 24 December 1779

To Brigadier General William Woodford

Head qrs [Morristown] Decr 24. 1779

Dr sir

Yesterday your Obliging favor of the 20th came to hand.1 I am exceedingly sorry so many obstacles have occurred to impede the advance of the Troops—and that these in part, from the season, are likely to encrease the distance of your march more than was intended. I have the most implicit confidence that no efforts will be wanting on your part to overcome such as are practicable and to answer the expectations of Congress, however things may turn out in the event.2

I have written to the Cloathier General about the Wais[t]coats and he will put them in motion to day for Trenton, or Philadelphia, should circumstances require it.3

I consider the Virginia Troops now as entirely subject to the arrangements of Congress or the Honourable the Board of War; however I think the forming the Men that are to go with you—into three Battallions as you propose, an eligible plan—and I doubt not but you will do it in such a way with respect to the Officers—as will be most agreable.

As to the Officers & Men that do not proceed for the Southward, on account of the short duration of the Inlistments of the latter Congress and the Board will direct the conduct they are to pursue You were certainly right, in my opinion, in advising against their return to the Army, and for the reasons you have assigned, and in addition—their not returning will contribute in some degree to lessen our difficulties on the subject of supplies of provision, which are distressing almost in the extreme. If they become a little worse—they will be quite so—and if they continue even as they now are for any length of time—It will be difficult indeed to keep things going.4

I have transmitted regularly to Congress the intelligence I have received with respect to the embarkation of the Enemy5—of which you will have heard—and have only to repeat the assurances of sincere regard & esteem with which I am Dr sir Yr Obligd Hbl. st.


P.S. His Excellency Governor Jefferson’s orders to Mr Moss have not come to Hd qrs nor are they at the post office.6

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Woodford’s letter to GW of 20 Dec. has not been found.

2GW is referring to the movement of the Virginia line to the southern department (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 29 Nov., and the source note to that document).

3GW had written James Wilkinson, clothier general, from Morristown on 23 Dec.: “By the inclosed Extract you will find that the 750 Wa[i]stcoats due the Virginia line cannot be furnished at Philadelphia—You will therefore be pleased to take immediate measures to have them forwarded to Trenton—should the Troops have left that to proceed after them to Philadelphia” (Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). The enclosure has not been identified.

4For the provision shortage, see GW to Huntington, 15 Dec., and Circular to the States, 16 December.

5For GW’s eagerness to confirm reports of a major British detachment from New York, see his letter to Huntington, 29 Nov., and n.1 to that document; see also Henry Lee, Jr., to GW, 30 Nov., n.4. A British expedition departed New York for Charleston, S.C., on 26 Dec. (see Anthony Wayne to GW, that date, source note).

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