George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Armstrong, 29 June 1782

Carlisle 29th June 1782

Dear General

Altho’ this warm weather leaves me but little inclination to write, I could not entirely decline the present opportunity—The little news afforded from the Western part of our Country happens at present not to be good—the Volunteers commanded by Coll Crawford who lately formed an Expedition against Sandusky, have retreated & are returned with some loss; among the missing Coll Crawford is said to be one, but so loose are the particulars that no dependance can yet be put on them—the Enemy are said to have had some field pieces and Light Horse, neither of which could be formidable in the Swamp where it’s said the action happened.

With what additional vigour or in what parts of the Country the Enemy may return this visit we cannot tell, but the consequence has no favourable aspect.

The present & for sometime past I take to be a period of profound Suspense, and altho’ troops are wished for at different places it may even yet remain doubtful where they should be Sent, but with respect to those at this town, duty obliges me to inform your Excellency that in my Opinion, they are already rather too long at a place of this sort—nor need I give any detail of those practices but too common to raw troops of the lowest Class of men, especially when favoured by opportunity & intercource with too many like themselves whereby discipline (which I understand is punctually exercised here) is comparatively ineffectual & even desertion frequently happens. There is no doubt great necessity for these men on our Northern Frontiers Viz. the West Branch of the Susquehanah & upper parts of the Juniata—between these two Rivers happened the last Indian depredations which were indeed considerably heavy & their consequences very detrimental to the Spring Seeding, and where at this Season we have reason Suddenly to look for another Stroak more detrimental than the former. the comforting of those people thro’ the Harvest and puting in of the Fall Crop is in itself a thing very desirable & often the Second best that can be done but however difficult it be to persuade the country people, or apease them when they know of any Soldiers not immediate employ who could yield them relief; yet are there few so ignorant as not to know they must yield up their private wishes to the superior Objects of the publick when any such present themselves, to which Objects these kind are duly Submitted. It is never the less true that the Governing b[ody] of the State with more propriety might have thus represented thing[s] to yr Excellency some time ago, whilst prudential reasons may have concealed the effect of their application—I never wished the tr[oops] far from yr call, the Station mentioned above would make the odds of three or four days longer march, than from this place upon an [emer]gency—In regard to feeding the men altho’ I don’t know how that may stand in the Plans already laid down, yet think it practicable with some advantage arising to the Soldiers from Roots &c. in the Fall Season; and a Saving of Expence to the Officers. I shall not farther add than that I wish these men either stationed as above, or nearer head Quarters.

Should our late excursion be resented agst Westmoreland, I rather think it will be by small partys of the Enemy directed against the Inhabitants—and anything formidable from that quarter of the Enemy more probably pointed at Kaintucky, than Fort Pitt.

I had rather have wrote, on the necessity of Reformation & the blessings of Peace—may God grant them early—I had the pleasure of writing you by Coll Humpton in the Winter, and an hundred such letters will not bring you one paragraph in debt, but leave me the honour of being Your Excellencys Constant Debtor and Affectionate humbl. Servant

John Armstrong

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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