George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Philip John Schuyler, 21 May 1780


Morris Town May 21st 1780

Supposing the enemy to continue in their present divided state—where can they be attacked to the greatest advantage? and in what manner can we operate most effectually against them?

Is not that part of their Army & Shipping which is at the Southward more exposed & liable to a more certain blow than the other part which is at New York—where there is uncertainty of getting in to the harbour—and where works surrounding the City are already established for its defence—and every possible exertion using to increase & strengthen them?

What danger, for want of Secure harbours for Ships of the line, would the French Fleet be involved in on the Carolina Coast? What difficulties Should we have to encounter in getting there, with the necessary apparatus—Provisions—&ca? And how could we be Supported when there, in case an enterprize of this kind Should otherwise be thought eligable.

Supposing again—the Enemy to form a junction of their force at New-York—what is practicable to be done in that case? And what measures had best be pursued in consequence?

Again, let us suppose the enemy to have succeeded at Charles Town—that they have captured the Garrison employed in defence of it—That they mean to leave a sufficient Force in the States of So. Carolina & Georgia to hold the Towns of Chas Town & Savanna without aiming at any thing more in that quarter, at present—And the rest arrived at New York—What is best for us to do in that case?

In a word, my wish is, to have our situation, and that of the enemy, considered in all the points of view they can be placed, and the most advantageous plan of operation proposed for each.

What force in aid of the French Army and Continental Troops, will it be necessary to call upon the States for, in case of an operation against New York? (—To answer this question—it is necessary to premise—that in New York and its dependencies, there are at least 8,000 regular Troops besides about 4,000 Refugees & Militia—) how many of the latter (when matters become serious) can be brought to act is more than I can tell— At the Southward there are about 7,000 Regular Troops under the immediate command of Sr Henry Clinton.

Supposing the enemy to continue in the divided state they are at present—and New York (The Troops in it I mean) should be our object, how far with perfect safety would it be practicable to let the Fench Troops act seperately on long Island if it should be judged expedient to attack the Town by a combined operation in that Quarter, and from York Island at the same time?

Where had the French best establish their Hospitals, & deposit their heavy stores?

Under a full view of all circumstances what position is most eligable for the American Army to take previous to the arrival of the french fleet & Army? And when shld it be taken?

My dear Sir;

Your opinion on the forgoing quaeries, and on such other matters as relates to the business which is unfolding and wch requires the closest attention under our circumstances will be thankfully received by Yr affecte Servt

Go: W——n

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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