George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Anne-César, chevalier de La Luzerne, 28 April 1782

Newburgh April 28th 1782


I received with much gratitude the remembrances, and compliments of the principal Officers of the French Army in Virginia; and thank your Excellency for the trouble of being the bearer of them to me, and, the letter from Count Rochambeau.

With equal sensiblity and pleasure, I received, and do now acknowledge, my obligation to your Excellency, for the communication from your Court; which tho’ not decisive, are nevertheless important. The late instance of their generous aid, hinted at by your Excellency and particularized by Mr Morris, is one, among a variety of important considerations, which ought to bind America to France in bonds of indelible friendship & gratitude—never, I hope, to be broken asunder.

Induced by that entire confidence which I repose in your Excellency—and a full conviction that a Nation, which combines her force with ours for purposes, of all others, most interesting to humanity, ought not to be deficient of any information I can give, to point objects to means; that an accordance of them may be inseperable; I shall, without hesitation, give you the state of our present force, and my ideas of the increase of it by Recruits, from the best view of it which lyes before me.

It can scarcely be necessary to inform your Excellency, that our Military establishment for the present year consists of 4 Regts of Artillery, 4 legionary and 2 partisan Corps, and 50 Regts of Infantry; besides the Corps of Invalids—Or, that Congress have called, in pointed terms upon each State to compleat its Regiments to the Establishment, the agregate of which, if complied with, would amount to 34,308 Men, exclusive of Commissioned Officers, Sergeants & Music—Hazens Regiment and the Corps of Invalids. Of this force, 1 Legionary Corps, 2 Regiments of Artillery, & 22 of Infantry; besides Hazens Regiment & the Invalids; compose the Northern Army—but as Hazens Regiment is fostered by no State, discouraged from Recruiting by all, and without funds if the case was otherwise, it must soon dwindle to nothing—being now very weak.

The present totallity of the Rank & File, exclusive of Sergeants, of those Regiments which compose the Northern Army, amounts to 9,146; from this number the Sick—Men in different branches of the Staff department—and such as are employe’d on other extra duties (which the peculiarity of our circumstances compells me to furnish from the Army) being deducted, will reduce the efficient operating force of these Corps to 7,553 Rank & File. And I should be uncandid if I was not to acknowledge, that I do not expect it will be encreased by Recruits, in the course of the Campaign, to more than 10,000 fit for duty in the Field.

This Sir, in my opinion, will be the full amount of the established Regiments of the States East of Pennsylvania.

To ascertain the number of Militia which may be assembled for occasional offensive operations, is more than I can do; the general opinion is, that there will be no want of Militia for any enterprise we can have in view. Be this as it may, this one thing is certain—that this class of Men are not only slow in their movements, but, undertaking to judge likewise of the propriety of them in point of time, will wait till the necessity for it, strikes them; which in most cases, is as injurious to the Service as inability or want of inclination; Disappointment being the consequence of delay.

This observation I can not refrain making, because in all combined operations, especially those which may depend upon the Season, or a limited period for their execution, it is of the utmost importance to be known.

The inclosed return, which is a copy of the last state of the force under the orders of Major Genl Greene (which has come to my hands) will give your Excellency every information in my power respecting the State, and condition of that Army—which was to be augmented by the Partisan Corps of Colo. Armand, consisting of about 200 horses & foot. Independent of these, there are two small Regiments at Fort Pitt—one from the State of Pennsylvania, and the other from Virginia—which are included in the genral establishment of the Army, but no particular return is here had of them.

What measures are adopted by the States of Georgia and North and South Carolina to Recruit their Regiments, I know not—Virginia marched about 400 Men the latter end of Feby for the Southern Army; and an Act of the Legislature passed at their last Session, resolved to raise [          ] Men more; but in what forwardness they are, or what is to be expected from the Act, I am equally uninformed—Maryland and Pennsylvania depend upon voluntary enlistments; and are proceeding very slow in the business of Recruiting; especially the latter—It is impossible for me therefore to say, to what number that Army will be increased.

This Sir, is an accurate state of the force we have at present; and my expectation of what it may be, independent of Militia.

The Enemy’s force from the best information I have been able to obtain of it, may stand thus.

At New York

Regulars—includg their established Rank & file
Corps of Provencials 9000
Militia of the City Refugees—& Independent Companies 4000
Sailors & Marines—according to the numbr of Ships which
may be in the Harbour—& this being uncertain, none can be
Present Strength — 13,000
Charlestown 3300
Savanna 700
Canada —Including British, German, and
Established Provencials 5000
Penobscot 500
Hallifax —and its dependencies—uncertain but say 3500

The above estimate so far as it respects New York, Charles Town & Savanna, is, I believe, to be depended upon—the force of Canada by some accounts is more, & by others less than 5000—the regular British and German Troops in that Country cannot exceed 4000; but in addition to these, are the Corps of Sir Jno. Johnson & others; which I am told have been considered encreased by the disaffected of this & other states, who have fled to Canada. but it is to be observed, that this force, be it what it may, is employed in the occupation of Posts from Quebec to Michillimakinac; & on the Lake Champlain, through an extent of not less than 7 or 800 Miles and that, all these Posts are dependent upon the former for Provision & Supplies of every kind. I am less certain of the Enemy’s force in Nova Scotia than elsewhere. The number here given is not from recent intelligence and may be erroneous, as their Garrisons are weakened or strengthened according to circumstances. Cumberland, Windsor, Annapolis, St Johns River, &c. are Posts dependent on Hallifax, & included in the 3500 Men here mentioned.

If this state of matters can be satisfactory to your Excellency, or useful in the formation of any plans against the common enemy, I shall be very happy in having given it.

Permit me now Sir, to express the high sense I have of the honor you have done me in communicating the favorable opinion entertained of my conduct by the Court, & Nation of France; & to acknowledge my obligations to those Officers who have inspired these sentiments. To stand well in the eyes of a Nation which I view as one of the first in the World; and in the opinion of a Monarch, whom I consider as the supporter of the rights of humanity; & to whom I am personally indebted for the command he has been pleased to honor me with; is highly flattering to my vanity, at the same time it has a first claim to all my gratitude. It is unnecessary, I hope, to add fresh assurances of the respect & esteem with which I have the honr to be, yr Excellys most Obedt & most Hble Servt

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