Primary tabs

General Washington to General Gage


No˙ 4.


Head-Quarters, Cambridge, August 19, 1775.

SIR: I addressed you on the 11th instant in terms which gave the fairest scope for the exercise of that humanity and politeness which were supposed to form a part of your character. I remonstrated with you on the unworthy treatment shown to the officers and citizens of America whom the fortune of war, chance, or a mistaken confidence, had


thrown into your hands. Whether British or American mercy, fortitude and patience are most prominent; whether our virtuous citizens, whom the hand of tyranny has forced into arms to defend their wives, their children, and their property, or the mercenary instruments of lawess domination, avarice and revenge, best deserve the appellation of Rebels, and the punishment of that cord which your affected clemency has forborne to inflict; whether the authority under which I act is usurped, or founded upon the geunine principles of liberty, were altogether foreign on the subject. I purposely avoided all political disquisition; nor shall I now avail myself of those advantages which the sacred cause of my Country, of liberty and human nature, give me over you, much less shall I stoop to retort and invective. But the intelligence you say you have received from our Army requires a reply. I have taken time, Sir, to make a strict inquiry, and find it has not the least foundation in truth. Not only your officers and soldiers have been treated with a tenderness due to fellow-citizens and brethren, but even those execrable parricides, whose counsels and aid have deluged their Country with blood, have been protected from the fury of a justly enraged people. Far from compelling or permitting their assistance, I am embarrassed with the numbers who crowd to our camp, animated with the purest principles of virtue and love of their Country. You advise me to give free operation to the truth, to punish misrepresentation and falsehood. If expereince stamps value upon counsel, yours must have a weight which few can claim. You best can tell how far the convulsion which has brought such ruin on both Countries, and shaken the mighty Empire of Britain to its foundation, may be traced to these malignant causes.

You affect, Sir, to despise all rank not derived from the same source with your own. I cannot conceive one more honourable, than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people — the purest source and orignal fountain of all power. Far from making it a plea for cruelty, a mind of true magnanimity and enlarged ideas would comprehend and respect it.

What may have been the Ministerial views which have precipitated the present crisis, Lexington, Concord and Charlestown can best declare. May that God to whom you then appealed, judge between America and you. Under his providence, those who influence the councils of America, and all the other inhabitants of the United Colonies, at the hazard of their lives are determined to hand down to poseterity those just and invaluable privileges which they received from their ancestors.

I shall now, Sir, close my correspondence with your, perhaps forever. If your officers, our prisoners, receive a treatment from me different from what I wished to show them, they and you will remember the occasion of it.

I am, Sir, your very humble servant,

General Gage.