George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 19 December 1780

To Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Head Quarters New Windsor 19th Decr 1780

Dear Sir

I have this morning received Your Excellency’s favor of the 15th. I have likewise had information from New York, that the enemy were preparing to make a move of some kind, but all my intelligences suppose that it will be a further detachment to the southward1—Indeed, the situation of their affairs in that quarter seem to require a reinforcement. Should they however turn their views towards the Western parts of your State, I shall throw in as much Continental force2 as can be spared, consistent with the safety of these posts, to aid the Militia.

The scarcity of provisions, (especially of Flour of which we were sometimes without and frequently upon half and quarter allowance)3 and the miserable condition which most of the Levies were in for want of Cloathing, have obliged me already to discharge the greater part4 of them, and your Excellency must know that the terms of service of the whole will expire the last of this month.5 We shall then be reduced to the bare Garrison of West point and its dependencies, and the number of Men requisite to cover our communication, from the Southward, thro’ Jersey. Thus Your Excellency must perceive, that should the Enemy move out while this River continues open, it will be in my power to afford but very little6 assistance, without putting these valuable posts to a most imminent Risque.

The principal inducement with me in wishing to have Sheldons Regiment cantonned in the neighbourhood of Colchester was, that they might be at hand, should such an event, as you now apprehend, take place.7

Should I hear that the enemy have embarked, I shall communicate the intelligence to Your Excellency, that you may as soon as possible get rid of the inconvenience and expence of the Militia.8 I have the honor to be with very great Respect Your Excellency’s Most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, Ct: Trumbull Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The LS is docketed: “recd 22nd inst.”

2GW interlineated and struck out “employ every means in my power” above the previous six words on the draft, which GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman penned.

3GW wrote the previous sixteen words without parentheses in the left margin of the draft.

4Tilghman first wrote “numbers” at this place on the draft. That word was struck out, and GW wrote “the greatest part” above the line. Tilghman then rendered “greater” on the LS.

5See GW to William Heath, 28 Nov., and n.1 to that document; see also Heath to GW, 17 Dec., and GW to Heath, this date.

6Tilghman initially wrote “such” on the draft. He then struck out that word and interlineated “but” before GW wrote “very little” above the line.

7See Trumbull to GW, 13 Dec., found at Elisha Sheldon to GW, same date, n.4; see also GW to Trumbull, 17 December.

8GW reported a British embarkation when he wrote Trumbull on 2 Jan. 1781 (Ct: Trumbull Papers); see also GW to Trumbull, 13 Dec. 1780, postscript.

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