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General Washington to Continental Congress



[Read September 13, 1775.]

Head-Quarters, Cambridge, August 23, 1775.

Sir: The enclosed letter came under such a direction and circumstances as led me to suppose it contained some interesting advices, either respecting a supply of powder, or the clothing lately taken at Philadelphia; I therefore took the liberty of breaking the seal, for which I hope the service and my motives will apologize.


As the filling up the place of vacant Brigadier-General will probably be of the first business of the honourable Congress, I flatter myself it will not be deemed assuming to mention the names of two gentlemen whose former services, rank and age may be thought worthy of attention on this occasion. Of the one, I can speak from my own knowledge; of the other, only from character. The former is Colonel John Armstrong, of Pennsylvania: he served during the last war in most of the campaigns to the southward, was honoured with the command of the Pennsylvania forces, and his general military conduct and spirit much approved by all who served with him; besides which, his character was distinguished by an enterprise against the Indians, which he planned with great judgment, and executed with equal courage and success. It was not till lately that I had reason to believe he would enter again on publick service, and it is now wholly unsolicited and unknown on his part. The other gentleman is Colonel Frye, of Massachusetts-Bay: he entered into the service as early as 1745, and rose through the different military ranks in the succeeding wars to that of Colonel, until last June, when he was appointed a Major-General by the Congress of this Province. From these circumstances, together with the favourable report made to me of him, I presume he sustained the character of a good officer, though I do not find it distinguished by any peculiar service. Either of these gentlemen, or any other whom the honourable Congress shall please to favour with this appointment, will be received by me with the utmost deference and respect.

The late adjournment having made it impracticable to know the pleasure of the Congress as to the appointment of Brigade-Majors beyond the number of three, which they were pleased to leave to me, and the service not admitting of farther delay, I have continued the other three, which I hope their Honours will not disapprove. These latter were recommended by the respective corps to which they belong as the properest persons for these offices, until further direction, and have discharged the duty ever since. They are the Majors Box, Scammel, and Samuel Brown.

Last Saturday night we took possession of a hill considerably advanced beyond our former lines, which brought on a very heavy cannonade from Bunker' s Hill, and afterwards a bombardment, which has been since kept up with little spirit on their part, or damage on ours. The work having been continued ever since is now so advanced, and the men so well covered, as leave us under no apprehensions of much farther loss. In this affair we had killed one Adjutant, one volunteer, and two privates. The scarcity of ammunition does not admit of our availing ourselves of the situation as we otherwise might do; but this evil, I hope, will soon be remedied, as I have been informed of the arrival of a large quantity at New-York, some at New-London, and more hourly expected at different places. I need not add to what I have already said on this subject, our late supply was very seasonable, but far short of our necessities.

The late adjournment of the honourable Congress having been made before my letter of the fourth instant was received, I must now beg leave to recall their attention to those parts of it which respect the provision for the winter, the reduction of the troops, the double commissions under different establishments, and Colonel Gridley' s appointment of Major-General. In all which I hope to be honoured with their commands as soon as possible.

The Advocate-General has sent me a memorial respecting his service, which I have the honour to enclose, (No˙ 1 ,) and from the variety and multiplicity of duty in a new Army, as well as his regular service and attendance, I am induced to recommend him to the further notice of the honourable Congress.

The treatment of our officers, prisoners at Boston, induced me to write to General Gage on that subject; his answer and nay reply I have the honour to lay before the Congress, in the enclosures Nos. 2 , 3 , 4 . Since which, I have heard nothing from him.

I remain, with the greatest respect and regard. Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,

George Washington.