George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 19 February 1781

To George Clinton

Head ⟨Quarters New Windsor Febry 19. 81⟩


I am honored with Your Ex⟨cellencys⟩ letter of the 14th instant in behalf of the leg⟨islature⟩ with the copy of one of the 5th to Congress.1 ⟨I beg leave⟩ to assure the legislature of the high sense I ent⟨ertain⟩ of the honor they do me by their confidence in ⟨this⟩ communication—while I deplore the melancholy picture given of the distress of the State which I ⟨have⟩ every reason to believe from the facts that have fa⟨llen⟩ within my own observation is not exaggerated.

I sincerely wish it were in my power ⟨to⟩ comply with the request of the state for leaving ⟨its⟩ two regiments for the defence of the frontier next Campaign: but I should not merrit its confidence, if I were to flatter it with an expectation which may probably be disappointed—The reduction of the number of our regiments, if they were completed would scarcely give us a force adequate to a vigorous offensive campaign which it is to be hoped will ⟨take⟩ place—towards which proposals have been made and engagements entered into on my part. But we have too much room to fear the regiments ⟨of several⟩ of the states will be far from complete, which will in the case I have mentioned, render the collection of our whole force the more indispensable.

Situated as I am, I can only say that I ⟨anxiously wish it⟩ were in my power to give ⟨security to the⟩ frontier of all the states—that I ⟨sensibly feel⟩ for the peculiar circumstances of this—⟨that I⟩ shall be happy if practicable to give it ⟨effe⟩ctual protection and relief—but cannot promise the practicability of it. Much will depend upon the operations of the Campaign; if they have for object any decisive enterprize, we shall be obliged to employ all our force in it; If they are of a defensive kind, the protection of the frontiers, will be attended to in a manner equal to their importance, and I hope successfully.

Our stock of ammunition is more scanty than Your Excellency can have any idea of—but of this stock small as it is, I shall order a part to be deposited at Albany for the purpose you mention.

At present the regiments of Artillery are extremely reduced—and without knowing what will be their state at the opening of the campaign, I can give no possitive answer to the application on this head—but I think it probable it will be in my power to comply with it.

The want of provision is unfortunately an evil, which every part of the Army experiences and must have fatal consequences, unless the states can hereafter generally comply better with the requisitions of Congress, or some other more competent mode can be adopted, than has hitherto obtained. But with respect to the Garrison of Fort Schyler, ’till your letter arrived I had reason to ⟨suppose it had had a supply, which would suffice ’till May. The Commissary General shall be directed to apply to the Magazine at Richmond, or any other where relief is to be procured⟩.2

I beg Your ⟨Excellency to assure the Legis⟩lature of the high respect ⟨I entertain for them and of⟩ the gratitude I feel for the su⟨pport I have upon⟩ all occasions experienced from the state. With every sentiment of pers⟨onal respect⟩ and esteem, I have the ho⟨nor to be⟩ Your Excellency’s Most Obedt and Humble servant

Go: Washington

LS (partially burned), in William Colfax’s writing, N: George Clinton Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Burned portions of the LS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton.

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