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Letter from Lord George Germaine to General Howe



Whitehall, March 28, 1776.

SIR: There being no ship-of-war in immediate readiness to sail for North-America, I have thought fit to despatch one of his Majesty' s armed packets with this letter, that you may be informed as early as possible of the additional force you are to expect from hence, and of the present state of our preparations.


The enclosed treaties will inform you of the number of foreign auxiliary troops engaged to serve in North-America; of which number twelve thousand two hundred men, being the whole body of Hessians, are intended to serve in the Army under your command, and the Brunswickers, Waldeckers, and the Regiment of the hereditary Prince of Hesse, together with the nine British Battalions and the whole of Lieutenant-Colonel Maclean' s corps, are to serve in Canada under General Carleton.

The transports for the First Division of Hessians, amounting to eight thousand two hundred men, are already completed for embarkation. A detachment of guards, consisting of one thousand and ninety-eight men, formed into a distinct corps, is on its march to Portsmouth; and I am not without hope that the First Division of Hessians may arrive at Spit-head in time, so that the whole may proceed to North-America together.

It appears to me, as far as I stand informed at present, that this body of troops should proceed to Rhode-Island; and I shall take the King' s pleasure for the necessary instructions accordingly, in confidence that, if you approve of that destination, they will find upon their arrival there such orders from you as will determine their future proceedings; or, otherwise, that a proper number of cruisers will be stationed upon the coast to watch the arrival of the fleet, and to proceed with it to such other place as you shall appoint.

The difficulties in procuring transports have been very great, and it is impossible as yet to form a guess when a sufficient number will be ready to receive the Second Division of the Hessians; but I trust it will not be long first, and that the corps of Highlanders, consisting of the Forty-Second and Seventy-First Regiments, making together three thousand four hundred and sixty-six men, which are nearly, if not entirely, completed, will embark by the Clyde, the 20th of next month at farthest.

The delays and disappointments which have attended the armament sent out to the Southern Colonies, have been greater than could have been expected; and as the fleet did not leave Cork before the 12th of last month, and afterwards met with very tempestuous weather, in which many ships were separated, and put back in distress, there is but little hope that any of the objects of that expedition can be obtained; and, therefore, I received the King' s command to despatch a vessel after the fleet, with a letter to Major-General Clinton, of which I enclose you a copy, and also of the instructions sent, at the same time, by the Admiralty to Sir Peter Parker.

The effect of these orders will probably be, that the whole, or at least the greatest part of that armament, will join you as early as the troops can arrive from hence; so that you may be able to open the campaign in the month of May or beginning of June.

Our recruiting for some time went on very slowly, and the men raised in Ireland will be of little use to you. Since the parties have been removed to England, we have had better success, and the recruits raised may make soldiers. They will be sent over to you by different ships as opportunities offer, or whenever a number is collected sufficient to be the object of a separate embarkation; but there is no prospect that we shall be able to procure in time for this campaign all that are necessary to complete the augmentation.

I observe that, in your disposition of the battalions under your command, you include the Sixth Regiment, at St˙ Vincent' s, and therefore it was the King' s intention to give you that regiment complete, by turning over to it the effective men of the Forty-Eighth; but the slow progress made in forming the additional Battalions and Companies of the Royal Americans, has made it Impossible to take both the Sixth and Forty-Eighth from the ceded Islands for the present; and, therefore, all that we can do is, to give you the Sixth Regiment in its present state; and you will therefore send for it when you can spare transports for that purpose; and as there are many recruits already raised for that corps, they will be sent immediately to you, by which means that battalion will be tolerably complete.

With regard to the service on the side of Canada, and the operations of the force to be employed there, (of the extent of which you are already informed,) it will depend upon the situation of affairs in that Province. But if the Rebels


shall, in consequence of their repulse and defeat on the 31st of December, have given up all thoughts of conquest on that side, which is most probably the case, there is good ground to hope that the Army will be able to advance into the other Colonies by the passage of the lakes, and accordingly, every proper preparation has been made here that can give facility to such a plan.

As far as I can judge of what is likely to be the general plan of operations in North-America, and, indeed, in all events, the securing the affection and assistance of our old friends and allies, the Indians of the Six Nations, is a consideration of no small importance; and I hope Colonel Guy Johnson; who is now here, and is preparing to return by the first ship, will be found useful. The King has been pleased to give him the same commission and appointments as were given to Sir William Johnson in 1756; and he is in all respects made subject to your direction and control. You will therefore employ him in such manner, and give him such instructions, as you shall think necessary and proper.

I have already acquainted you, in my letter of the 1st of February, of his Majesty' s intention to give higher rank to his General Officers serving in North-America, and enclosed I send you a list of the commissions which have been signed by his Majesty for that purpose, with the date of each commission respectively.

You will observe that the rank given by these commissions is confined to America only; but it is hoped that this arrangement will have the effect to prevent any embarrassment or inconvenience which might otherwise arise from the General Officers of the foreign troops claiming the command in consequence of their superior rank.

In your letters of the 16th and 22d of January, (Nos˙ 7 and 8,) you express a wish to receive instructions concerning the corps under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Maclean and Gorham. I have, therefore, made inquiry into that matter, and find that his Majesty' s pleasure was signified by my predecessor in office to the Commander-in-Chief, authorizing him to raise such corps, and to grant commissions for that purpose; but the officers were not to be entitled to half-pay, or to have any other rank than what was allotted to the like corps in the last war. With regard to the bounty-money and pay of these Provincial levies, I apprehend that the Commander-in-Chief must supply the sums necessary for that purpose; but the proper steps have been taken for supplying them here with clothing, arms, and accoutrements, and also with tents and other camp necessaries. These are the regulations which were thought fit with respect to those corps, and they will equally apply to the Nova-Scotia Regiment, or any other Provincial corps which may be raised in America for his Majesty' s service in the present rebellion.

I must not conclude this letter without congratulating you upon the appointment of Lord Howe to be the Naval Commander-in-Chief in North-America. The choice his Majesty has been pleased to make of so able and experienced an officer, has given universal satisfaction, and will, I am persuaded, have the most happy consequences.

I am, &c.


To General Howe.

P˙ S˙ You will observe that, in speaking of the force to be employed in Canada, I have mentioned only nine British Battalions, in which I have not included Lord Cornwallis' s Regiment, which I acquainted you in my letter of the 1st of February was to be sent to Quebeck as soon as it returned from the expedition to the Southward.