George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 15 December 1780

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters New Windsor Decr 15th 1780


I have been honored with your Excellencys favor of the 6th and two of the 9th Inst.1 The manner in which Congress have been pleased to express their approbation of the Conduct of Major Tallmadge, and the Officers and Soldiers under his command, cannot but be very flattering to them, and will I am certain have a happy effect in encouraging the spirit of enterprize in the Army.2

A Paragraph in the enclosed New York Paper confirms that part of the Letter of the 17th of October from Europe, which Your Excellency has been pleased to transmit to me, which mentions the intention of the British Administration to send further reinforcements to America.3 This is a matter which cannot, in my opinion, be too soon communicated to the several States, with a pressing sollicitation to take measures that will effectually fill up their Regiments in the course of the winter. From what I can learn, some are putting the matter upon the very precarious footing of voluntary inlistments—and others substituting fines where the men demanded are not produced in the several districts. I am very much mistaken if by the first mode, any considerable number of Men are to be raised at this time of day—and, from the latitude given in the last, money will, in many instances, be paid to excuse personal service—The last hope of the Enemy is built upon our inability to raise a new Army, and they are probably preparing to push us in our enfeebled state—The means of reestablishing ourselves, with proper and spirited exertions, are within our reach; and should they in the spring instead of only the remnants of our veteran Regiment⟨s⟩ meet Battalions filled with Men whose services ar⟨e⟩ permanent, they must either give up their object, of choice, or with the assistance of our Allies, we shall be in a condition to force them to it.4

The accession of Holland and Portugal to the Northern League of Neutrality will be undoubtedly very embarrassing to Great Britain—But this, I think, may be relied upon, that the more she is insulted and oppressed by the European Powers, the more she will endeavour to revenge herself upon us—She can make no impression upon them, and she will therefore bend her whole force against us, in hopes of possessing herself of such an extent of territory in America, as will enable her to insist upon terms, should a negociation take place, which may be highly derogatory to the honor and interests of these States.

I will take the liberty of mentioning the necessity5 of altering the Route of the Post, from Philadelphia to the Eastward, more especially, that part of the Way from the North River to Hartford. Two Mails have lately been taken on the lower road in Connecticut, and as the Post must always be at stated places at certain times, the Mail may be taken off weekly, by landing a small party fr⟨om⟩ Long Island.6 I am the more anxious to have the change made, as I have scarcely any other mode of forwarding my Dispatches: for such is the situation of the Quarter Master General, that he can seldom furnish the Expresses with the Means of travelling.7 The Route I would propose, is, from Philadelphia to Morris Town—Ringwood—New Windsor—Fish-Kill—Litchfield—Hartford &c.—This may perhaps occasion another rider to go to the sea port Towns in Connecticut, but this will be better than risquing the most important public Dispatches upon that Route.8 I have the honor to be With the most perfect respect, Your Excellencys Most Obedient Hble Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; copy (extract), Ct: Trumbull Papers; copy (extract), Vi: Continental Congress Papers; copy (extract), PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90; copy (extract), Nj; copy (extract), MdAA: Red Book, vol. 7; copy (extract), Nh-Ar: Weare Papers; copy (extract), De-Ar: Executive Papers. The extracts contain the second and third paragraphs of the LS.

Congress read GW’s letter on 22 Dec. and resolved that the paragraph “which points out the pressing necessity of effectual measures for recruiting the army to its full complement, be immediately communicated to the respective legislatures or executives; and they are earnestly required, by the most decided and vigorous exertions, not only to urge forward the levying their respective quotas of troops, without loss of time, but to furnish the supplies of provisions and money assigned to their support, with such punctuality as will put the Commander in Chief in a condition, with the co-operation of our ally, under the divine blessing, to compel the enemy to relinquish their object of subjugating these states, and secure to us an honorable and permanent peace” (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 , 18:1182; see also Huntington to the States, same date, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 16:477–78).

2See Huntington’s first letter to GW on 9 Dec., found at GW to Huntington, 28 Nov., n.16; see also General Orders, 14 December.

3GW probably enclosed The Royal Gazette (New York) for 6 Dec., which printed a paragraph under the heading “LONDON” after an explanation that the intelligence came from a packet that arrived from Falmouth, England, on 4 Dec. after a passage of six weeks and four days: “Besides the other reinforcements ordered for America, a late order has been given for two 44 gun ships and light frigates to be got ready for the same station with all possible expedition” (see also n.1 with the letter dated 9 Dec. referenced at n.1 above).

4See the source note above.

5Humphreys wrote “necessitity” on the LS.

6One mail seizure occurred at Stratford, Conn. (see Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 27 Oct., and notes 1 and 3 to that document; see also William Gordon to GW, 26 Oct., n.4). The other incident apparently occurred in later November near the same location (see the source note with John Sullivan to Meshech Weare, 15 Nov., in Smith, Letters to Delegates, 16:338–41; see also the entries for 13–15 Dec. in Smith’s Historical Memoirs [1971], 354).

8Huntington acknowledged this letter when he wrote GW on 21 Dec. (found at John Stark to GW, 30 Nov., source note).

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