George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 28 August 1780

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters Liberty Pole [N.J.] 28th Augt 1780


The day before yesterday we compleated the Forage of which I had the honor to advise Congress the 24th instant, the product of which has been, as was apprehended, very inconsiderable.1 The Army is now reassembled at this place and will remain here a day or two to consume the forage remaining in the neighbourhood, after which we shall probably return to our former position.2

The intelligence brought by the Alliance of the second Division being blocked up in Brest by thirty two British ships of the line has made a material change in the prospects of the Campaign. This, and the extreme distress of our Magazines have determined me to dismiss all the Militia in service except such part as was wanted for immediate purposes. The probability of our being able to act in this quarter is become too precarious and remote to justify our keeping a large body of Militia in the feild, as it would be attended with much expence, and an additional consumption of provision and Stores—neither of which are we in any condition to afford. This would have been the less eligible, as in all probability the periods for which they were called out would have expired before they could be made use of, if at all.3 Indeed I have little hope of any thing decisive in this quarter this Campaign. The inclosed Copy of a circular letter to the States respectively will inform Congress of the extremity of our present necessities, and the shocking consequences that are resulting from them.4

The Army being in motion at the time Mr Matthews left Head Quarters in order to return to Philada I could not then do myself the honor to testify to Congress the grateful sense I have of the chearful and vigorous exertions of the Committee during their residence with the Army. This I now beg leave to do, and to assure Congress that I feel myself under the greatest obligations to them for having done all in their power to accomplish the objects of their appointment and forward the measures which the good of the service and the exigency of the conjuncture demanded.5 I have the honor to be with perfect Respect and Esteem Sir Your Excellency’s Most obt and humble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress referred this letter on 4 Sept. to the same committee considering GW to Huntington, 20 Aug. (see 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 , 17:802–3; see also Ephraim Blaine to GW, 12 Sept., n.2).

2GW’s army previously camped at Tappan. For its new position, see GW to Rochambeau, 3 Sept., n.2.

4For the enclosure, see Circular to the States, 27 August.

5South Carolina delegate John Mathews wrote his fellow Committee at Headquarters member New York delegate Philip Schuyler from camp at Tappan on 23 Aug. that he “last evening received an Order of Congress for dissolving our Committee” and wanted to see him before leaving “for Philadelphia” (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 15:618). For that committee’s dissolution on 11 Aug., see GW to Huntington, 3 April, source note.

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