George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Edward Hand, 2 November 1780

From Brigadier General Edward Hand

Infantry Camp1 2d Novr 1780.


when I did myself the honor to address your Excellency on the subject of your queries of the Sixth September last, it was my Opinion that the Southren States should be succoured by detachments from this Army during the course of the approaching Winter.2

I would be of the same Opinion now was it possible to bring the Auxiliary troops to Act in this quarter as I then expected,3 but as that seems to be out of the question, I am fully persuaded that the small number of men we can now count on will barely suffice for the defence of West Point & its dependencies, & for keeping open the communication between that important post and the Delaware which appears to me Absolutely necessary for the support of the Garrison.

Viewing matters in this light I think that the troops which remain after Garnishing West Point & the Posts depending on it, should winter in Jersey, and as their number will be very Small, the position should be as free from insult as Possible & covered by temporary redoubts thrown up for the purpose probably Black River, about Ten miles to the westward of the camp near Morristown, would Answer the purpose as well as any other, when I consider the Number that could be posted there, I look on Morristown too near the Enemy, besides the vicinity of the old Hutts is much exhausted of fuel.4

It appears to me that the inconveniencies that will naturally result from keeping men so scantily supplied with covering as ours are in the field untill the Severity of the Winter sets in, will out ballance the advantages to be expected from such a determination. I would therefore advise that our dispositions for the winter be made within the course of Eight or ten days, unless some movement of the Enemy within that time renders it impracticable—the miserable state of the draught horses of the Army is an Argument in favour of this Opinion.5 I have the honor to be with much respect your Excellencies most Obedt & Most Hble Servant

Edwd Hand

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

1Hand commanded a brigade of the Light Infantry division then camped near Cranetown, N.J. (see General Orders, 1 Aug., and Lafayette to GW, 28 Oct., source note).

3Hand refers to the French expeditionary army stationed at Newport.

4The main army had encamped the previous winter at Jockey Hollow near Morristown, N.J. (see GW to Nathanael Greene, 30 Nov. 1779, n.2).

5For the Continental army’s winter encampment, see GW to Samuel Huntington, 28 Nov., and n.12.

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