George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Benjamin Lincoln, 17 June 1782

Head Quarters 17th June 1782

Dear Sir

When pressed by Neccessity to adopt a Measure, a Choice is scarcely left us. In answer therefore to your Letter of the 12th Instant, I am obliged to observe, that the Tardiness of the States will compel us to that, which in my Opinion, policy forbids.

At this critical Moment, Inclination would not lead me to consent to disbandg any Corps of the Army—But if the States cannot—or what is the same, will not, recruit the Regiments which are quotaed upon them, nor furnish the Supplies which are necessary for their Support, we must next Consider what kind of Troops, under the present View of the Matter, can best be dispensed with; in doing which, I cannot hesitate to declare that, Cavalry, in present Circumstances & the probable Operations of the Campaign, will be least usefull, & for that reason, aught to be the first to be reduced. But how to effect this purpose appears difficult—the Corps being verry much dispersed, & the Sentiments of the Officers quite unknown to me, I confess I am at a Loss how to point out any particular Mode—To make it a Matter of Arrangement with the Officers, to determine among themselves who should go out, & who should remain in Service, would be a Work of Time—To select the best, from among the whole, is not only an invidious Business, but requires a perfect Knowledge of each individual Character: a knowledge, which with a few Exceptions, I confess myself unpossessed of—And to retain the Corps, or Officers by Seniority, may, & I am sure in some Instances would, give the most indifferent Officers in the whole Line of the Cavalry—Not being able to hit on any Method, which is satisfactory to myself, I submit this point to your Decision.

If the Regiments of Artillery allotted to the States of Pennsylvania & Virginia, cannot be compleated, an Event of which I see but little prospect, however inconsistent it may be with probity and Whatever Consequences it may involve, I readily subscribe to the Opinion of Blending the two into One—nothing surely can be more inconsistent with every principle of Oeconomy than to keep up whole corps of Officers for the sake of a few or a handfull of Men.

There cannot, I think, be a Doubt of the propriety, of reducing Hazens Regiment The Canadian part of it, may be formed into one or more Companys, according to their Number, & be employed as Watermen, or in other Services suited to their Circumstances—the remainder to be turned over to the States to which they respectively belong.

What prospects the States South of the Delaware have of getting their Regiments filled under the several Modes adopted by them, I know not—therefore can give no Opinion respecting them—but am certain that no Regiment of Infantry belongg to any State North of the Delaware ought to be reduced.

Most of the Staff Departments of the Army have under gone a recent Change—those I presume, cannot want a Revision. The Qr Masters Departt has been regulated without any participation of mine, and I know too little of its present Constitution to form any Judgment upon it—The same is the State of my knowledge respecting the Clothiers Department—I can only observe to you, that upon an Application to me from the Assistant Clothier here, for provisions it appeared to me, that he had more persons Employed under him than I thout necessary—and on that Principle I refused to give him an Order for his full Request.

Thus Sir I have given you my Sentiments on your Queries—If they shall prove of any Use in effecting the salutary purposes you wish, I shall think myself happy in contributing in this Way to the general Weal. I am &ca

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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