George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Benjamin Lincoln, 9 January 1781

To Major General Benjamin Lincoln

Head Quarters New Windsor 9th Jany 1781.

My dear Sir

I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 25th of December. If prejudices will still prevail against experience, the fatal effects of temporary inlistments must be endured to the risque, if not the ruin, of the cause. The discontents and jealousies arising from this source have at length broke out in the Pennsylvania Line as you will have been informed by General Knox before this reaches you. I have heard nothing particular from those infatuated people since he left us.1

The Cloathing department, as you observe, is upon the most vague and unsettled footing possible, at present. The States depend upon the public, and the public upon the States; hence arises the miserable situation in which we find ourselves this moment. This Army has a bare supply of under cloathes and a prospect of about half enough Coats. The southern Army, small as it is is literally naked.2

I have never had any official information of the quantity of Cloathing so long expected from France, but if it should arrive between this and the Spring, and should come up to the quantity that I have heard spoken of, it would not be more than sufficient for the Army that ought to be raised in this quarter: But, as the southern States have few or no resources, a considerable part of that cloathing must of necessity be sent there.3 This, was there no other reason, points out the propriety of either the particular States, or the Continent, availing themselves of the oppertunity of procuring supplies out of the quantities of Goods at Philadelphia and at the Eastward. General Knox is instructed particularly upon that head, in the application which he is to make to the Eastern States.

As the Recruits cannot possibly join the Army before they are cloathed, and as it will be attended with many inconveniencies and difficulties to bring them on in small parties. You will be pleased to make Boston and Springfeild the general places of rendezvous. Those are already pointed out as places of deposit, and there will be magazines at them.4 The state allowance of mileage, if in the new emission,5 is, I think, fully sufficient to bring the Men on, and therefore makes the establishing magazines at Worcester and Litchfield unnecessary.

It will, I apprehend, be some time before any number of Officers will be wanted at Boston and Springfeild. You may, for the present appoint some of those who are at home upon Furlough to take care of the Recruits as they come in, and I will desire General Heath to assign a particular number to releive them and remain upon that duty. You may retain some of the public Arms for the Recruits.

You will be pleased to inspect generally into military Affairs as eldest Officer in the State, without considering yourself in a separate department. Should any particular matter occur, on which you do not think yourself authorised to act or determine, you can make particular application to me. I am with very sincere Regard My dear Sir Your most obt & humble Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. I had made a promise to Colo. Shepherd, that he should if possible be employed in a duty near home till the Spring. As he lives in the Neighbourhood of Springfeild, you will be pleased to appoint him to superintend the Recruits which rendezvous there.6

LS (photostat), in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NjP: Armstrong Collection; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For Brig. Gen. Henry Knox’s mission, see GW to Knox, 7 Jan.; see also Anthony Wayne to GW, 2 Jan., and the source note to that document.

2For the report on conditions in the southern army, see Nathanael Greene to GW, 7 Dec. 1780.

3The Continental frigate Ariel arrived from France on 17 Feb., but without the expected uniforms (see Edward Hand to GW, 18 Feb.).

4For GW’s designation of places for the deposit of provisions in magazines, see Circular to State Executives, 10 Dec. 1780.

5For the new congressional monetary policy, see Philip Schuyler to GW, 12 March 1780, and notes 3 and 4 to that document.

6Lincoln’s letter to Col. William Shepard appointing him to this duty, dated 19 Jan., is in MHi: Lincoln Papers.

Index Entries