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Letter from the President of Congress to General Washington



Philadelphia, March 6, 1776.

SIR: Since my last, I have had the honour of receiving your letters of the 24th and 30th of January, 9th, 14th, 18th, 21st, and 26th of February, which were communicated to Congress. On the settlements and adjustments of accounts, the Congress have not yet come to any determination; nor have they yet had time to contrive expedients for remedying the inconveniences mentioned in that of the 9th, which is referred to, and will be taken up, in a Committee of the Whole.

The Congress highly approve your care and attention in stopping Lord Drummond' s letter, and entirely concur with you in sentiment with regard to his Lordship' s officious and unwarrantable zeal.

The situation of the Middle and Southern Colonies hath engaged the attention of Congress. These are divided into two departments: the Middle, comprehending New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, under the command of a Major-General and two Brigadier-Generals; the Southern, comprehending Virginia, North and South-Carolina, and Georgia, under the command of a Major-General and four Brigadier-Generals. As there is reason to think that the force of our enemies will be directed against the Colonies in the Southern Department, Major-General Lee is appointed to that command. The Brigadier-Generals are, John Armstrong, William Thompson, Andrew Lewis, James Moore, Esq˙, Lord Stirling, and Robert Howe, Esq˙ Of these gentlemen, General Armstrong is directed to repair to South-Carolina; General Lewis and General Howe to Virginia; General Moore to North-Carolina; and General Thompson and Lord Stirling to New-York. And that our affairs in Canada may be under the direction of an able officer, and General Schuyler' s health not permitting him to go thither, or, if he could, as his presence is so necessary in New-York, the Congress have promoted Brigadier-General Thomas to the rank of a Major-General, and directed him to repair to Canada, and take the command of the Continental Forces in that quarter. I have accordingly enclosed him his commission, and am to desire you will give him orders to repair, with all expedition, to his post. To enable him to execute the purposes Congress have in view in Canada, they have ordered twelve battering-cannon to be sent from New-York, and have forwarded ten tons of powder. Of this article, we have lately received several supplies, and have some time ago ordered five tons and a half to be sent to you; which, if you have not already received, will, I hope, soon reach you. The Congress have also ordered ten tons more of powder to be sent to you, which will set out to-morrow or next day. Besides this, in the beginning of last month they ordered ten tons of saltpetre to be sent to Mr˙ Wisner' s, powder-mill, in the Colony of New-York; and on the 12th of the same month, ten tons to Mr˙ Livingston' s mill, in the same Colony, and ten tons to the Council of Massachusetts, with a desire to have it manufactured into gunpowder with all possible expedition, and sent to you for the use of the Army under your command. Besides this, I have the pleasure to inform you that the powder-mills in this Colony are employed, and more mills are building, which will be employed; so that I have strong hopes we shall soon have a plentiful supply of that necessary article.

With regard to arms, I am afraid we shall, for a time, be under some difficulty. The importation is now more precarious and dangerous. To remedy this, a Committee is appointed to contract for the making arms; and, as there is a great number of gunsmiths in this and the neighbouring Colonies, I flatter myself we shall soon be able to provide ourselves without risk or danger. But we must, like other States engaged in the like glorious struggle; contend with difficulties. By perseverance, and the blessing of God, I trust, if we continue to deserve freedom, we shall be enabled to overcome them. To that Being, in whose hands is


the fate of nations, I recommend you and the Army under your command.

I have the honour to be, with every sentiment of esteem, sir, your most obedient, bumble servant,

JOHN HANCOCK, President.

To His Excellency General Washington.

P˙ S˙ The enclosed letter I request the favour you will please order to be delivered to Mr˙ Cushing.