George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 17 December 1780

To Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Head Quarters New Windsor Decr 17th 1780


I submitted to the interference of the State of Connecticut last Year with respect to the Cantonment of the Horse, without any animadversion or remark, because I was hopeful that the impropriety of it would appear to them, and prevent the like in future.1 I shall, (as it is the request of the State, and because it is my wish to harmonize, as much as possible, with the Civil Authority, in the prosecution of a cause, in which we are all equally interested) send Sheldon’s Regiment, this Winter to the State of Massachusetts2—but I cannot help remonstrating very pointedly against a repetition of the practice in future. for the following reasons.

Four things have always influenced me in the distribution of the Troops In their Winter Cantonments. Security of our Capital Posts, which, makes it necessary that they should have such a relative situation to each other as to afford the necessary succour. Cover to the Country—Their own convenience. And the convenience of the Inhabitants; where the two last, were not incompatable with the two first.

It is unnecessary, I am persuaded, for me to remark, that if any one State can, or will undertake to point out a Cantonment for one part of the Army, another may with equal propriety, do it for another part—and that upon the same principle, and by the same parity of reasoning, that Connecticut undertakes to advice or direct Sheldon’s Horse, to Massachusetts—Massachusetts may Order them to New Hampshire—and New Hampshire to some other State. In a word, it is striking at the most essential previledge of the Commander in Cheif, and is pregnant with every Mischeif that can be conceived.3 I have the honor to be With great respect & esteem Your Excellencys Most Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, Ct: Trumbull Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The LS is docketed: “recd 28th inst.” Humphreys mistakenly wrote “His Excellency Govr Clinton” at the bottom of the LS.

1For difficulties encountered during the previous year while wintering the cavalry in Connecticut, see Nathanael Greene to GW, 24 Dec. 1779; GW to Stephen Moylan, 25 Dec. 1779; and Trumbull to GW, 27 Dec. 1779.

2See Trumbull to GW, 13 Dec. 1780, found at Elisha Sheldon to GW, same date, n.4.

3For reactions to GW’s letter among Connecticut legislators, see Sheldon to GW, 27 December.

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