George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Howe, 12 April 1781

Portsmouth in Newhamshire 12th April 1781

Dear Sir

I arriv’d Yesterday at this Place and intend taking a View of th[ose] Parts of this country worthy of Observation, unless some Circumstance of service should make my return necessary, which should it do I rely upon your Excellency’s Goodness to recall me without the least attention to any suppos’d disapointment it may Occasion me, for nothing however interesting to me Could Compensate for the loss of service. It is a Circumstance of Concern to me to find this Fort as well as that of Newburg Marble Head &c: &c: &c: so unprepared for Defence that they seem to invite an attack, for certain it is that a single Frigate could lay them in ashes at any time. At Each of these Places are some Valuable cannon going to Ruin & left so Expos’d that twenty men might possess themselves of them & turn them upon those Towns they Were intended to defend, and tho’ it is not likely that the Enemy will make any heavy movements against these Places, Yet as such immense Property might be had at Each, which could be taken by a small Force & carried off in a Few Hours, it is a matter of surprise to me it has not been done, & I have my Fears that one day or other it will be Effected. I have in Forcible terms Express’d this to the People themselves, and as far as it Relates to the Massachusetts intend doing it to Governor Hancock on my return, & shall also do it as it relates to this to the President of the State. I feel much concern that the Recruits for our army are not so readily obtain’d, or hastily sent up as I could wish, there is I fear an inertion that lurks some where, which your Excellency’s frequent and strongly express’d remonstrances to Particular Characters would I imagine remove. I am the more anxious that the Troops should be hurried up as the Melancholy Aspect of our Southern Affairs may make it necessary to give that Quarter farther Assistance & which until your Army is much fuller it may not be in your power to do, to Effect.

I am to thank you my Dear General for the Honour done me in the To[ur] you permitted me to make in your company, & for the introductory letters with which you favour’d me. Governor Hancock has held out to me the greatest Hospitality, politeness & kindness & has done Every thing in his power to make me happy, he [   ] for your Excellency, and I dare say feels, the warmest attachment to you, which I assure you sir does not fail to increase my good Opinion of him.

I cannot Conclude without once more taking the liberty to request that I may be call on with the utmost haste should Service present it self where I can be Useful, & shall Esteem this mark of your Attention to me as Contributing both to my Honour and Felicity. I am my Dear General with the most Affectionate Respect Your Excellencys most obt very hum. servt

Robt howe

P.S. I send this letter by a Gentleman going to Boston who promises to send it by a safe hand or to put it into the Post if no Opportunity Offers.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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