George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 18 January 1780

To Samuel Huntington

Head qrs Morris Town January 18 1780


Major General Baron de Steuben, who goes to philadelphia on business, will do me the honor of presenting this Letter to your Excellency. From this Gentleman’s perfect knowledge of service in general and of the state of our Army in particular, he has it entirely in his power to satisfy Congress in any inquiries they may think proper to make, with respect to it’s situation necessities and wants. The Baron, if it should be their pleasure to honor him with a personal conference, will fully explain to them the numerous evils and unavoidable embarrassments that must attend our opening the Campaign before we are prepared and properly arranged for it; and how very far we are from being in this situation at present.1 Having taken the liberty in my Letter of the 18th of November to lay before Congress a General state of the Army—and in a subsequent one of the 10th & 11th of December a more precise one of the Virginia line, by which they could form a more accurate judgement of those of the Other States, with my sentiments, both as to the necessity and the manner of placing it on a more respectable footing—I shall not trouble them farther than to observe, that I have seen no cause to alter my opinion with respect to either. I do not know what the opinion of Congress may be on the subjects; but I beg leave to add, whatever their views or plans are, it appears to me, that there is not a moment to lose in carrying them into execution.2 I have the Honor to be with the highest respect Yr Excellency’s Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:Gw; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. A note in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing on the docket of the draft reads: “By Baron Steuben.” Congress read this letter on 24 Jan. and referred it to the Board of War, directing that the board confer with Major General Steuben and report to Congress (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 16:80).

1For Steuben’s meetings with the Board of War, see Steuben to GW, 26–30 Jan.; see also GW to Steuben, 8 February.

2After extensive deliberations on GW’s letter of 18 Nov. 1779, Congress passed resolutions on 9 Feb. setting out the quotas of men expected from each state for service in the Continental army for the ensuing campaign (see Huntington to GW, 10 Feb.).

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