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Letter from General Washington


A Letter of this date from his Excellency General Washington, relative to the Militia called forth from the Counties of Dutchess, Ulster, Westchester, and Orange, was read, and hereafter follows, viz:

"New-York, August 8, 1776.

"SIR: I have been favoured with your letter of the 6th instant, and am happy to find the nomination I made of General Clinton, in consequence of your request to appoint an officer to the command of the levies on both sides of Hudson' s River, has met the approbation of your honourable body. His acquaintance with the country, abilities, and


zeal for the cause; were the motives that induced me to make choice of him. However, I am led to conclude from that part of your letter which desires me to transmit him his appointment, with the resolution subjecting the levies on both sides of the river to his command, that your honourable body entertain ideas of the matter somewhat different from what I do or ever did.

"When I was honoured with your letter of the 16th ult˙, with the resolves of Convention upon this subject, the state of the Army under my command would not allow me to send a General Officer in the Continental service to command the levies you then proposed to raise, supposing I had been authorized to do it; but considering myself without power in this instance — the levies altogether of a Provincial nature, to be raised by you, and subject to your direction — I esteemed the nomination of a General Officer over them intrusted to my choice, a matter of favour and of compliment, and as such I gratefully felt it. I am persuaded I expressed myself in this manner to the gentlemen who were pleased to attend me on the occasion, and that they had the same ideas. Under the influence of this opinion, all I expected was, that an appointment would be made in conformity to my nomination, if there was no objection to the gentleman I proposed; conceiving then, as I do now, if he was approved by Convention he was their officer, and deriving his appointment and authority from them. In this light, I presume, General Clinton must be viewed, and his power over the levies you alluded to flow from you. Lest accident may have mislaid the letter I wrote you on the subject, I have enclosed an extract of it, so far as it had related to it: ‘It is not in my power to send an experienced officer at this time to the post you mention. I trust that Colonel Clinton will be equal to the command of both the Highland fortifications. They are under his direction at present.’

"In respect to the two Commissaries, I thought the matter had been fixed; but as it is not, I have requested Mr˙ Trumbull, who has the charge of this, to wait upon and agree with the Convention on proper persons to conduct the business in such a way that their purchases and his may not clash; to him, therefore, I beg leave to refer you upon this subject.

"I am extremely obliged by the order for the telescope. I have obtained it, and will try to employ it for the valuable purposes you designated it.

"I shall pay proper attention to your members, and persons employed in their service, and give it in general orders that they be permitted to pass our guards without interruption.

"Before I conclude, I cannot but express my fears that the enemy' s Army, so largely augmented, should possess themselves of the whole stock on Long-Island. When the further reinforcement arrives, which they hourly expect, they may do it without a possibility on our part of preventing them. I wish the Convention may not see cause to regret that they were not removed.

"I have the honour to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,