George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Paterson, 26 April 1782

West Point 26th April 1782


The circumstances and disposition of this Country are such and the Finances so low, that no operations ought to be undertaken unless they convey with them the greatest probability of uccess, especially where they would be attended with an extraordinary accumulation of the public Debt, a failure in that case, would increase the Stupor at present too prevalent, and materially injure our infant Bank.

Britain, already very much reduced, her Debt large, her Navy at least not Superior, I think must be induced to wish a peace, tho she yet appears haughty, this I think must be an Argument against an unnecessary increase of our Burthen, yet if York could be reduced, it would render the wished for period more certain, for this reason I should be for making the attempt if practicable.

On the first Question, admitting they have a superiority on the Coast & in the Harbour, I think it unadvisable.

On the second, if they have the same force, keep the Command of the Harbor, but loose their superiority at Sea, I must suppose it our Duty to make the attempt.

On the third, if they have the same force, but loose the Command of the Water in the Harbor, and at Sea, I think the opportunity ought not by any means be overlooked.

The probability of obtaining a sufficient force from the Country is not great, tho I think if they are not reinforced from Charlestown and we command the Harbor and Coast, or only the Coast, we may with what Militia may be collected make out a body of twenty thousand, which as the Enemy are situated would not be too many, but if the garrisons of Charlestown and Georgia should join them, our additional force ought nearly to double that of the Enemys but am fearful in that case it would be impossible to collect a force sufficient unless assisted by a foreign one. I am with the greatest Esteem & respect your Excellencys most obedient servant

John Paterson

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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