George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Fitzhugh, 8 November 1780

To William Fitzhugh

Hd Qrs Passaic Falls 8th Novr 1780.

Dear Sir,

I have now the pleasure to congratulate you, Mrs Fitzhugh and the Cornet, on his exchange. It was compleated a few days ago, and the Commissary of Prisoners will forward the certificate or promulgation of it.1

The favourable prospect which at one stage of the campaign was held up to view, has vanished like the morning dew; leaving scarce a trace behind it but the recollection of past distresses on the score of Provision, the want of wch continues to threaten us.

Our accts from the Southward are vague & uncertain, but agreeable. If it be true, that a body of French or Spanish Troops have Landed in South Carolina it may end in the total destruction of Cornwallis’s Army—Another Embarkation is talked of at New York—but this also is a matter of suggestion—not certainty as to Numbrs.

It is devoutly to be wished that the late resolves of Congress for regulating the Army, & compleating the Regiments for the War, may receive all the energetic force of the respective States. Certain I am, that if this measure had been adopted four, or even three years ago, that we might, at this time have been sitting under our v⟨ines⟩ & fig trees in the full enjoyment of Peace & Independence. To attain which, tho’ the delay of the measure is unfortunate, it does not make it too late, but more necessary to enter upon it vigorously at this late hour.

An Army for the War—proper Magazines—and sufficient powers in Congress for all the purposes of War, will soon put an end to it—but the expensive, and ruinous system we were pursuing, was more than the funds of any Nation upon Earth could bear, and served to increase the hopes of the enemy in proportion as the minds of our own people were depressed, by a boundless prospect of expence, which was encreasing, as it rolled on, like a snowball.2

My best respects attend Mrs Fitzhugh—& Compliments to your Son—With much esteem and Affection I am—Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, NHi: George and Martha Washington Papers. GW addressed his letter to Fitzhugh in Maryland.

1For the recent prisoner exchange, see GW to Abraham Skinner, this date. Lt. Peregrine Fitzhugh’s status as prisoner had vexed GW since his capture while a cornet in September 1778 (see GW to William Fitzhugh, 25 Nov. 1778 and 26 Feb. 1780, and William Fitzhugh to GW, 2 Jan. 1779 and 30 June 1780; see also GW to Arthur St. Clair, 2 April 1780, and notes 4 and 7).

2GW made similar observations when he wrote Edmund Randolph on 7 November.

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