George Washington Papers

Enclosure: Washington’s Observations on General Wayne’s Letters, 23 November 1792


Washington’s Observations on General Wayne’s Letters

[Philadelphia] Novr 23d [1792]


On Majr Genl Waynes letter of the 14th Instt1

It is unfortunate, & very extraordinary, that he should have suspended h⟨is⟩ opinion with respect to the disposition of the Army for the Winter, from a vague report of Mr H—⟨s⟩—declaration concerning the Western Posts. If this had been founded, he oug⟨ht⟩ to have looked for it from a better source, ⟨or⟩ to have disregarded it altogether.2

Now, I presume, it is too late to worry what would—(had he not been unde⟨r⟩ false impressions) have been his plan into execution. But I think he ought to be cha⟨r⟩ged in strong, & explicit terms, to run ⟨the⟩ public to no more expence in the Barrack⟨s⟩ he is about to build, than what is indispensably necessary to cover & secure the Officers & Soldiers from the weather—avoiding all decorations, and as much as possible all conveniencies—considering themselves, as it were, under marching orders, to remove during Winter or in the Spring according to events & circumstances.3

On the letter from D[itt]o dated 16th Novr4

The difficulty, and as He (G.W.) calls it, the impracticability of providing Flour after the 15th of June, is New information, which if it had been given before, might have induced the authorisation of a larger Magazine of this Article: and now, if it does not militate with the arrangement made with the Secretary of the Treasury I should have no disinclination towards increasing the quantity.5 Of the Meat kind, after a sufficient quantity of that which is salted, is stored; the dependence ought surely to be on live Cattle—Stalled or Grass fed; As the expence of transportation in Carriages, or on Pack horses, would be immense—As flour must always be carried, there may, & I think ought to be exertion used to get it forward in the best mode & time that can be embraced to the advanced Posts—for reasons which are too obvious to be mentioned.

G. W——n

ADS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1Wayne’s letter to Knox of 14 Nov. has not been identified.

2Knox incorporated GW’s observations in his letter to Wayne of 24 Nov., in which Knox referred to “a Vague report of Mr. H——s declaration of the posts of Detroit and Niagara being relinquished to us in the spring,” but which is “not corroborated by his official declarations” (Knopf, Wayne, description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends 139–42). “Mr. H.” was probably George Hammond, British minister to the United States.

3In his letter to Wayne of 24 Nov., Knox wrote, “your fortified camp near the Big Beaver is to be regarded, as a position for two or at most three Months,” and then he delivered GW’s instructions for construction of the barracks (ibid., 139). The new Legionville camp was located in western Pennsylvania near the confluence of Beaver Creek and the Ohio River. For GW’s earlier thoughts on the type of winter quarters needed for the army, see GW to Knox, 24 Sept. (first letter).

4For Wayne’s letter to Knox of 16 Nov., see ibid., 133–35.

5The arrangement for supplying flour to the army was contained in a letter, which has not been found, that Knox wrote Hamilton on 3 Nov. “relatively to the Magazines of Rations to be kept in advance” (see Knox to GW, 3 Nov., and note 2).

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