Head Quarters New Windsor 12th April 1781.
I have been honored with your Excellencys letter of the 7th inclosing the copy of a peice of intelligence communicated by General Forman. I have yet heard nothing of the kind from New York, but still I cannot undertake to contradict it altogether. I do not however think it probable that a detachment, so large as one ought to be to merit the attention of Sir Henry Clinton himself, can be spared from New York without endangering that post. Though indeed from our present strength and our prospects of increasing it a very feeble Garrison would suffice to maintain it: For it may not be improper to observe in this place, that the embarrassments with which we are surrounded for want of Money beggar all description. I very much fear that I shall not be able to get as much provision drawn from the Magazines of the several States to the different posts as will keep the Men from starving or disbanding, altho’ I have made applications to the Executive powers—have addressed the people thro’ their Magistrates and have taken every measure that could be devised to strengthen the hands of the Quarter Master.
The Enemy, while they have a superior Fleet, may take a post at a variety of places upon the Delaware and maintain themselves in it while that superiority continues; but if a tolerable share of labor and pains is bestowed upon the Works of Mud Island, experience has shewn that nothing but a very large force determined upon a serious operation can affect the City of Philadelphia. This I think may be impressed upon the Executive of the State with great propriety at this time.
Should a small post be established for the purpose of obstructing Commerce and drawing in the supplies of the Country—a Body of Militia from the adjacent parts of Pennsylvania—Delaware—Maryland and Jersey which are all interested in preventing the enemy from extending themselves must be called in. Your Excellency will be pleased to observe that I advise this measure of necessity not of choice. I look upon calling out Militia detrimental in every point of view, but they are the only substitutes for a regular force. I have the honor to be with the most perfect Respect Yr Excellency’s Obedt and humble Servt
DNA: Item 152, Letters from George Washington, PCC—Papers of the Continental Congress.