George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 13 February 1781

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters New Windsor 13th February 1781


I have been successively honored with your Excellency’s favors of the 18th 24th and 27th ulto with the enclosures to which they refer.1 I am extremely happy to find, that my remaining in the neighbourhood of West point, during the time of the mutiny of the Pennsylvania line, meets the approbation of Congress—and that the reasons assigned by me, for deeming it inexpedient to call for any part of the French Force to take post in Virginia, were likewise satisfactory to Congress.

I shall have no objection to the appointment of Lt Colonel Ternant to Colo. Armands Legion; I shall, on the contrary, be glad to see ⟨so valuable an Officer⟩ provided for.

The situation of Mr Wright and the other signers of the petition, which Congress were pleased to refer to me, is certainly very irksome and disagreeable to them, but to give up the point for which the Enemy contend, that of exchanging them in the rank which they might have formerly held in the Militia, would be an encouragement for them to take every opportunity of seizing upon Citizens, who come under the above description—The case of the Gentlemen above mentioned has been warmly combatted at every Meeting of our Commissioners and Commissaries of prisoners, and I am not without hopes, that the Enemy, finding us persist in our resolution, will at length come to a reasonable composition—In the mean time, it would be an act of generosity in Congress to direct the Commissary of prisoners to make them some allowance to enable them to subsist more comfortably.

I do myself the honor to inclose Congress the report of Brigdr General Knox, upon his return from visiting the Eastern States—His applications were generally attended with the wished for success—Your Excellency will be pleased to observe, by the report, that the Assembly of Connecticut were not sitting, and that Governor Trumbull entertained doubts, whether the powers of himself and his Council were competent to the buisiness in question2—When the Council met, they determined that they were not, and he has called his assembly in consequence.3

I also do myself the honor to inclose the copy of a letter which I wrote to the Officer commanding the ⟨British Fleet in New York on⟩ the subject of the treatment of our marine prisoners,4 With Copy of the Answer and report which I received thereon from Captain Dawson.5 I shall await Admiral Arbuthnots determination upon the request of admitting an american Officer to visit those prisoners, and shall take such ulterior measures as circumstances may dictate.

Matters being in a perfect state of tranquility, and it being necessary, on several accounts, that I should have an interview with Count de Rochambeau before the opening of the Campaign, I shall improve the opportunity and make him a visit at Newport. I purpose setting out on thursday next6—if nothing material intervenes—should time permit, I shall visit the Elaboratory and Magazine at springfield, and other public Works upon the Route.7 I have the honor to be, Your Excellency’s Most Obedt and Hble servant

Go: Washington

LS, in William Colfax’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Mutilated portions of the LS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft. Congress read this letter on 19 Feb. and referred the portions on the treatment of prisoners to the Board of Admiralty (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 , 19:160).

GW also wrote Huntington on this date from headquarters at New Windsor: “I do myself the honor of returning your Excellency a letter addressed to President Reed which came under your last cover to me. I imagine your secretary has inadvertently, in making up his dispatches, inclosed my letter to the president of Pennsylvania, as he did that for him to me” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

1See Huntington to GW, 18, 24 (found at GW to Huntington, 15 Jan., source note), and 27 January.

4The enclosed copy has not been found, but see GW to George Dawson, 25 January.

5The enclosed copies have not been found, but see Dawson to GW, 2 Feb., and n.2 to that document.

6The next Thursday was 15 February.

7GW postponed his departure (see GW to Rochambeau, 14 [first letter], 15, and 24 Feb.).

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