George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Paterson, 11 September 1780

From Brigadier General John Paterson

Camp [Bergen County] 11th Septr 1780


Our Circumstances are such that it requires a more able pen than mine to determine what is best to be done.1

Our numbers are so few & the Situation of the Enemy so advantageous to themselves, that it puts it out of our power to attack them with any probability of Success, or even effectualy to cover the Country.

To send a reinforcement to the Southward will weaken us too much in this quarter, & unless very large will answer no purpose at present. I am in hopes that the danger they are immediately in, will be a sufficient inducement for them to exert themselves for their Safety, which I am sensible they are competent to, at least to cover the Country from depredation until the approaching Winter, when the French Troops, with, what can be raised in those parts, and if necessary some from this Army, may probably make a successful Expedition against the Enemy at Charles town, if we gain a Naval Superiority in these Seas; this I think ought to be our Object.

Our Situation at present I think points out to us the necessity of keeping our little Army together, in such a position as to have it in our choice to fight or not, should they attempt any thing against us which I think their success will prompt them to; this position ought to be such as effectually to keep open a communication between the southern States and Kings ferry, where that is I am not to determine.

If we should not be superior at Sea this Winter, I must confess I see no Object present itself worthy our attention, that lies within our reach, should we attempt Canada or Hallifax, the severity of that cold inhospitable climate, I am sure will loose us more Men than the conquest will be worth, taking into Consideration that they cannot be held without a superior Fleet.

I am therefore of Opinion that we in the middle and eastern States ought this Winter to pay the strictest attention to the recruiting the Army, and making every preparation for a vigorous attempt on New York early in the Spring. I am with the greates[t] respect your Excellencys most obt humble servant

John Paterson

ALS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

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