George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 27 November 1780

To Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

[Preakness, 27 Nov. 1780]


You will march with the division under your command to the ground in the neighbourhood of Morris Town, which Colo. Craig has pitched upon for the Winter Cantonment of the Line, and on which he has been preparing Huts—You will as soon as possible get both Officers and Men compleatly and comfortably covered1—As soon as the timber necessary for building is drawn together, you will deliver over to the Deputy Qr Mr General all the Waggons and Horses but such as are absolutely necessary for the transportation of Forage and Fuel—and all the saddle Horses but such as belong to Officers who are intitled from their Rank and Office to keep them. I have directed the Quarter Master General, if it be in his power, to procure Ox teams for the service of the Winter—They are not only subsisted much easier than Horses, but the soldiers and Waggoners cannot abuse them by riding and other uses. It is recommended to the Officers who are intitled to keep more Horses than one, to divest themselves of as many as they can, and the Quarter Master General will be directed to put them out and support them at public expence—The scantiness of Forage requires every exertion to avoid the consumption of it in and near the Army.2

The state of our Magazines of provision requires o⟨ur⟩ every attention to frugality and œconomy, for which purpose it will be necessary to inspect the issues eve⟨ry⟩ now and then and compare them with the Returns ⟨of⟩ the Men—The same may be observed by public sto⟨res⟩ of every kind—of which our Magazines are almost intirely exhausted.

I would recommend in the strongest manner the preservation of the persons and properties of the inhabitants from wanton or unnecessary violation—They have, from their situation, borne much of the burthen of the War and have never failed to relieve the distresses of the Army, when properly called upon.

You will pay particular attention to drawing the public Arms and Accoutrements from the Levies at the time of their dismission.3

It is to be hoped that you will recieve a number of Recruits in the course of the Winter. Should you do so, you will put them in training, that they may, by imbibing the Rudiments of a Soldier in detail, be fit to join the line in performing their maneuveres in the Spring—which you will direct to commence as soon as the season will admit.

You will not suffer the established mode of discipline and Maneuvre to be in the least degree deviated from, as it is my wish to see the whole Army take the Feild next Campaign, with more than a common uniformity in the performance of all its duties, as we shall probably open it in conjunction with the Army of our Allies, composed of some of the first Corps of France—for which reason it will be doubly incumbent upon the Officers, who remain in service, to perfect themselves in the duties of their respective stations.4

You will on no account suffer a Regiment to be without a Feild Officer or a Company without at least one Commissioned Officer—except some uncommon circumstance should require it.

The security of your Camp will require light patrolling parties to be advanced towards the sound5—The Officers commanding them may be directed to cut off as effectually as possible the pernicious intercourse between New York and New Jersey—The most probable way of doing which is by the total destruction of all the Craft of every kind found between Amboy and second River, which I would recommend not only upon that account but to prevent the passage of Deserters—The state I am informed have this session passed severe laws agt the practice, and it would therefore be well to make yourself acquainted with them.6

Should you at any time between this and your junction with the Main Body of the Army have occasion to retire from your command for a while, you will deliver over these orders to your successor—who is to do the same should there be a further change.

The Jersey Brigade will be stationed at Pumpton and at Sydmans in the Clove, and will be subject to your general direction.7 Given at Head Quarters at Prekaness this 27th day of Novembr 1780.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For the movement of GW’s army to winter quarters, see his letter to Samuel Huntington, 28 Nov., and n.12; see also Wayne to GW, 10 December.

Wayne expounded on the difficult circumstances in his command’s winter encampment when he wrote Joseph Reed, president of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, from Mount Kemble at Jockey Hollow, N.J., on 16 Dec., beginning with their being “reduced to dry bread and beef for our food, and to cold water for our drink. Neither officers or soldiers have received a single drop of spirituous liquors from the public magazines since the 10th of October last, except one gill per man some time in November; this, together with the old worn out coats and tattered linen overalls, and what was once a poor substitute for a blanket, (now divided among three soldiers,) is but very wretched living and shelter against the winter’s piercing cold, drifting snows, and chilling sleets.

“Our soldiery are not devoid of reasoning faculties, nor are they callous to the first feelings of nature; they have now served their country with fidelity for near five years, poorly clothed, badly fed, and worse paid; of the last article, trifling as it is, they have not seen a paper dollar in the way of pay for near twelve months.” In order “to restore harmony and content, and to defeat every machination of the public foe, and the more dangerous lurking incendiary,” Wayne asked for “a timely supply of stores and clothing. But what will insure success, is the immediate passing of the act for making good the depreciation. Give your soldiery a landed property, make their interest and the interest of America reciprocal, and I will answer for their bleeding to death, drop by drop, to establish the independency of this country. On the contrary, should we neglect rewarding their past services, and not do justice to their more than Roman virtue, have we nothing to apprehend from their defection? Believe me, my dear sir, that if something is not immediately done to give them a local attachment to this country, and to quiet their minds, we have not yet seen the worst side of the picture.

“The officers in general, as well as myself, find it necessary to stand for hours every day, exposed to wind and weather, among the poor naked fellows, while they are working at their huts and redoubts, often assisting with our own hands, in order to produce a conviction to their minds that we share and more than share every vicissitude in common with them, sometimes asking to participate of their bread or water. The good effect this conduct has is very conspicuous, and prevents them murmuring in public; but the delicate mind and eye of humanity are hurt, very much hurt, at their visible distress and private complainings” (Reed, Joseph Reed description begins William B. Reed. Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, Military Secretary of Washington, at Cambridge; Adjutant-General of the Continental Army; Member of the Congress of the United States; and President of the Executive Council of the State of Pennsylvania. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1847. description ends , 2:315–17, quotes on 316–17; see also n.3 below).

2Congress had directed efforts to save forage expenses and to replace horses with oxen (see Huntington to GW, 12 Nov., and n.5 to that document).

3These levies had been raised for the current campaign (see also GW to William Heath, 28 Nov., n.1).

4The new arrangement of the Continental army that went into effect on 1 Jan. 1781 caused departures among officers (see General Orders, 1 Nov.).

5GW refers to Staten Island Sound, known more commonly as Arthur Kill.

6See “An ACT more effectually to prevent the Inhabitants of this State from trading with the Enemy, or going within their Lines, and for other Purposes therein mentioned,” which passed on 22 Dec. 1780 (N.J. Acts, 15 Nov. 1780–9 Jan. 1781 description begins Acts of the Fifth General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey, At a Session begun at Trenton on the 24th Day of October, 1780, and continued by Adjournments. Trenton, 1781. description ends , pp. 11–19).

7GW refers to Sidman’s tavern along the Clove Road in New York just beyond the New Jersey border (see also General Orders, 26 Nov., and n.3 to that document).

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