George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Nathanael Greene, 13 December 1780

To Major General Nathanael Greene

Head Quarters New Windsor 13th Decemr 1780

Dear Sir

I have received your favors of the 13th & 19th of last month from Mount Vernon and Richmond. I wish your Business had permitted you to have staid longer at the former.

It is happy for you, that you went to the Southward prepared to meet difficulties, which I fear will increase as you go forward. I know of nothing which can releive us in respect to Cloathing but the arrival of the quantity long expected from France.1 There is an ample supply upon the Continent, but the miserable state of our finance keeps it out of our reach.

I foresee that the arrangement of the Virginia line, upon the new establishment, will be attended with very great difficulty, on account of the number of Officers who are prisoners.2 The reform will fall upon the Feild Officers and Captain⟨s,⟩ principally upon the former, and you must therefore endeavour to know the sentiments of those in captivity in Charlestown, by writing to Genl Scott or the eldest Officer, and desiring him to enquire, who are willing to remain in service and who wish to retire. If they cannot come to an agreement among themselves, the Resolve of Congress points out the mode of settling it finally.3

The States, by a Resolve of the 4th of Novemr, are called upon for specific supplies of Fresh and Salt Meat—Salt—Flour and Rum; and I am directed to point out the most convenient places of deposit in each State. The supplies of Virginia and North Carolina being totally allotted to the use of the southern Army, I have desired the Governors to consult with you upon the proper places—Two thirds of those of Maryland being also intended for the southward. I have directed that proportion to be lodged at Baltimore and Georgetown.4

I have just received information from a person who was employed by the Marquis, and who speaks confidently and from his own knowledge, that an embarkation, under the command of Gens. Knyphausen and Phillips, had began at New York, upon the 8th instant—consisting of 1 Battn Grenadiers, 1 Battn Lt Infantry—1 Battn Hessian Grenadiers, 42d Regt—Knyphausens Regt 2 troops Lt Dragoons and 5 Men from a Company of the remaining part of the Army. This would make about 2500 Men. The destination, my informant says, is kept a secret, but suspected to be to the southward. He adds, that an account had been received at New York that Leslie had relanded at Cape Fear.5

Upon your arrival at the southern Army, you will be able to give me a more perfect account, of the situation of Affairs in that quarter. I hope they may be better than you expect, and that you will, in the end, meet with every success which you desire, and which your merit intitles you to.6 I am with very great Regard Dear Sir Your most obt and humble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MiU-C: Greene Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft, which GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman also wrote, includes a struck-out postscript: “I shall forward your letter to Mrs Greene by the first good opportunity” (see GW’s second letter to Greene, this date, and Greene’s second letter to GW, 19 Nov., and n.2 to that document).

1For the delayed arrival of this clothing, see GW’s circular to state executives, 10 Nov., n.1.

2Virtually the entire Virginia line had been taken prisoner upon the surrender of Charleston on 12 May. For the arrival of the Virginia troops, see William Woodford to GW, 9 April.

3Seniority settled disputes among officers as the Continental army took shape under the new establishment (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 , 18:960; see also General Orders, 1 Nov., and Greene to Charles Scott, 13 Jan. 1781, in Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 7:109).

4See Circular to State Executives, 10 Dec., and the source note to that document; see also Samuel Huntington to GW, 12 Nov., and n.1 to that document.

5For this intelligence, see Anthony Wayne to GW, 10 Dec., and n.2 to that document; see also GW to Jefferson, 27 Dec., found at GW to Thomas Jefferson, 9 Dec., n.9.

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