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General Sir William Howe to Lord George Germain



New-York, 30th November, 1776.

MY LORD: The troops being upon the eve of going into winter cantonments, I trouble your Lordship with this separate letter respecting the succeeding operation of the present campaign, and with some particulars relative to the next.

Lieutenant-Generals Clinton and Lord Percy are under orders to sail with the first fair wind to take possession of Rhode-Island, having a force exceeding six thousand rank and file, which I judge to be sufficient for the operation; and although the expedition may miscarry, from the late season of the year, yet, on account of the great importance of the object, I have hazarded the consequences of a disappointment from that cause, not doubting of success if the weather proves tolerably favourable. In this opinion I am strengthened by the cheerfulness with which it is undertaken by the two Generals to be employed, and from the little preparation the enemy has made to defend it, by the latest intelligence received.

In consequence of my expectation that Lord Cornwallis will shortly be in possession of East Jersey, I propose to quarter a large body of troops in that district, without which we should be under much difficulty to find covering, forage, and supplies of fresh provisions for the Army. The plan of the enemy, by their publick orders, is to destroy all species of forage and stock as they retire before his Majesty' s troops, which I am hopeful they will not have time to accomplish; and their further design seems to be, to retreat behind the Rariton river, or perhaps behind the Delaware, to cover Philadelphia.

By the best information from the northward, I learn the Army from Canada was obliged, by the severity of the weather, to repass the lake from Crown-Point on the 5th instant, from which event, and a consideration of the difficulties that Army roust meet with before it reaches Albany in the course of next campaign, it is reasonable to conclude this will not be effected earlier than the month of September. In that persuasion, I would humbly mention my ideas for the operations of the next campaign, with the force they may require, in order, if possible, to finish the war in one year, by an extensive and vigorous exertion of his Majesty' s arms.

1st. An offensive Army often thousand rank and file, to act on the side of Rhode-Island, by taking possession of Providence, penetrating from thence into the country towards Boston, and, if possible, to reduce that town; two thousand men to be left for the defence of Rhode-Island, and for making small incursions, under the protection of the shipping, upon the coast of Connecticut. This Army to be commanded by Lieutenant-General Clinton.

2d. An offensive Army in the Province of New-York, to move up the North River to Albany, to consist of not less than ten thousand men, and five thousand for the defence of New-York and adjacent posts.

3d. A defensive Army of eight thousand men to cover Jersey, and to keep the Southern Army in check, by giving a jealousy to Philadelphia, which I would propose to attack in autumn, as well as Virginia, provided the success of other operations will admit of an adequate force to be sent against that Province.

South-Carolina and Georgia must be the objects for winter. But to complete this plan, not less than ten ships-of-the-line will be absolutely requisite, and a reinforcement of troops to the amount of fifteen thousand rank and file, which I should hope may be had from Russia, or from Hanover, and other German States, particularly some Hanoverian Chasseurs, who, I am well informed, are exceeding good troops.

By this calculation, the Army in the southern district would consist of thirty-five thousand effective men, to oppose fifty thousand that the American Congress has voted for the service of next campaign.

The enemy, though much depressed at the success of his Majesty' s arms, are encouraged by the strongest assurances from their leaders of procuring assistance from foreign Powers, for which end it is understood that Dr˙ Franklin is gone to France, to solicit aid from that Court. I do not presume to point out a way of counteracting him; but were that effected, and the force I have mentioned sent out, it would strike such terrour through the country that little


resistance would be made to the progress of his Majesty' s arras in the Provinces of New-England, New-York, the Jerseys, and Pennsylvania, after the junction of the Northern and Southern Armies.

As the Army must, at all events, be much divided in the ensuing campaign, I beg leave earnestly to solicit your Lordship for an additional battalion of Artillery, for the good effects of which I can be responsible from the great terrour of the enemy on all past occasions where the Artillery has appeared. A few light six and three-pounders will also be wanted on this plan of operations.

I beg leave, at the same time, to request an additional number of officers to the Guards, who, when complete, have only three to one hundred men, whereas in some companies there are only two; and although the men behave with great spirit, yet the temptations of plunder are so great that it is not in the power of a few officers to keep the men under restraint.

The date of the King' s warrant for my appointments to vacant commissions being on the 22d of June, and superseding the authority given in your Lordship' s letter of the 12th of said month, I shall not presume to post to any vacancies that may happen in the detachment of Guards; neither would it be in any degree essential to the interests of his Majesty' s service that I should exercise this power, since the number of officers would not be thereby augmented.

LThe remount and additional horses for the Light Dragoons I hope may be sent out early, as the good services they have performed this campaign, and the dread the enemy have of them, has been fully experienced upon every occasion. I therefore beg leave to request that three hundred horses, with saddles and accoutrements, may be sent out in March for this service, and I could wish to have them from Ireland, as more hardy and more accustomed to get over fences than the horses from England.

Colonel Prescot, commanding at St˙ Augustine, has requested to have the rank of Brigadier-General upon the American service, and knowing him to be a worthy, good officer, I beg leave to recommend him to his Majesty' s favour.

I also beg leave to reeommend Dr˙ Morris, physician, who has served this and the last campaign to general satisfaction and with great credit to himself, to be Inspector of the Hospitals of this Army. As it must be much divided in the course of this winter and the next campaign, I apprehend such an appointment in his favour will be for the interest of his Majesty' s service.

I am, &c˙,