George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Fitzhugh, 8 August 1781

Camp near Dobbss ferry 8th Augt 1781

Dear Sir,

I stand indebted to you for two letters—dated the 26th of Aprl and 29th of May—the reason why I did not, immediately answer so much of the first as related to your Son William, was the hourly expectation I was in of seeing his Brother the Captain, from whom I expected to know what Corps would be prefered—Not doing this till the middle of June, my answer was protracted till I was informed that he had changed his views, and was about to enter the suite of Genel Smallwood—This rendering an answer to that part of the letter in some degree unnecessary—the moving state of the Army, and the junction which was formed with the Auxiliary Troops immediately after, has been the occasion of my silence till I was informed by the Captain that his Brother had revived his first intention of getting an appointment in the Cavalry which has induced me to write to both Govr Nelson & Genl Greene, recommending him to a Commission in Baylors Cavalry—I have no doubt of his succeeding if there is a vacancy in the Regiment.

There is scarce a stage of the Campaign, or an occurrence that happens in it, that does not exhibit some proof of the fatal policy of short enlistments, and of the immense expence we are involved in by them. The enemy never fail to take advantage in some quarter or another, of the weak state of our Army, whilst we, if an opening presents itself, have men to raise (by enormous bounties) before advantage can be taken of it; which occasions such a lapse of time that the favourable moment is passed, & the enemy is prepared for us by a transport of their Troops.

The force called for and which I ought to have had by the first of Jany is not yet arrived, nor do I know when to expect it. the Season is rapidly advancing, and the enemy, if reports and appearances do not deceive us, is in hourly expectation of a reinforcement from Virginia at New York—thus it is we are always labouring—always accumulating expence—and always disappointed of our object.

It is much to be feared that the Campaign will waste away as the last did in a fruitless attempt to get men; who are procured in such a manner, and for such short periods, that the first who come into the field are about leaving it, as the last arrive, by which means an enormous expence is incurred, and no benefit derived; as we never have a sufficient force at any period to answer our purposes.

I am clearly in Sentiment with you, that all emissions of Paper money ought to be subject to a supreme direction to give it a proper stamina, & universal credit; and that good & sure funds should be appropriated for the redemption of it—but in this, as in most other matters, the States individually have acted so independantly of each other as to become a mere rope of sand, & to totter upon the brink of ruin at a time when the independency of them, if the Resources which have been drawn forth, had been applied to great objects by one common head, would have been as unshaken as Mount Atlas, and as regardless of the efforts of Great Britain to destroy it, as she is of the unheeded tempests that pass over her.

It was with much concern I heard of your second loss by the Pirates of the Bay—and of the Insults Mrs Fitzhugh & yourself had receiv[ed] from them— My Compliments attend her—and with very great esteem & regard I am—Dear Sir Yr Most Obt & Affecte Servt

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NHi: George & Martha Washington Papers.

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