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General Washington to the President of the Continental Congress



[Read October 21, 1775.]

Camp at Cambridge, October 12, 1775.

SIR: I am honoured with your several favours of the 26th and 30th September, and 5th October, the contents of which I shall beg leave to notice in their respective orders.

Previous to the directions of Congress to consult the General Officers on the best mode of continuing and providing for the Army during the winter, I had desired them to turn their thoughts upon these subjects, and to favour me with the result, by a particular day, in writing. In this interval, the appointment of Doctor Franklin, Mr˙ Lynch, and Colonel Harrison, was communicated; an event which has given me the highest satisfaction, as the subject was too weighty and complex for a discussion by letter. This appointment made any conclusion here unnecessary, as it is not probable any such arrangement would be agreed on as would not be altered, in some respects, upon a full and free conference. This good effect will arise from the step already taken, that every officer will be prepared to give


his sentiments upon these important subjects. The estimates of the Commissary and Quartermaster-General, I have now the honour of enclosing; the first is the enclosure No˙ 1; the other, No˙ 2. With respect to the reduction of the pay of the men, which may enter into the consideration of their support, it is the unanimous opinion of the General Officers that it cannot be touched with safety at present. I have procured an account, from Colonel Thompson, of the expenditure of the five thousand Dollars, which is enclosed, No˙ 3. Upon the presumption of there being a vacancy in the direction of the Hospital, Lieutenant-Colonel Hand, formerly a Surgeon in the Eighteenth Regiment, or Royal Irish, and Dr˙ Foster, late of Charlestown, and one of the Surgeons of the Hospital, under Doctor Church, are candidates for that office. I do not pretend to be acquainted with their respective merits, and therefore have given them no further expectation than that they should be mentioned as candidates for the department. I therefore need only to add, upon this subject, that the affairs of the Hospital require that the appointment should be made as soon as possible.

Before I was honoured with your favour of the 5th instant, I had given orders for the equipment of some armed vessels, to intercept the enemy' s supplies of provisions and ammunition. One of them was on a cruise between Cape Ann and Cape Cod when the express arrived. The others will be fit for the sea in a few days, under the command of officers of the Continental Army, who are well recommended as persons acquainted with the sea, and capable of such a service. Two of these will be immediately despatched on this duty, and every particular mentioned in your favour of the 5th instant literally complied with. That the honourable Congress may have a more complete idea of the plan on which these vessels are equipped, I enclose a copy of the instructions given to the Captain now out, No˙ 4. These, with the additional instructions directed, will be given to the Captains who go into the mouth of the St˙ Lawrence River. As both officers and men most cheerfully engage in the service, on the terms mentioned in these instructions, I fear that the proposed increase will create some difficulty, by making a difference between men engaged on similar service. I have, therefore, not yet communicated this part of the plan, but reserved an extra bounty as a reward for extraordinary activity. There are no armed vessels in this Province, and Governour Cooke informs me the enterprise can receive no assistance from him, as one of the armed vessels of Rhode-Island is on a long cruise, and the other unfit for the service. Nothing shall be omitted to secure success. A fortunate capture of an ordnance ship would give new life to the camp, and an immediate turn to the issue of this campaign.

Our last accounts from Colonel Arnold are very favourable. He was proceeding with all expedition, and, I flatter myself, making all allowances, he will be at Quebeck the 30th instant, where, a gentlemen from Canada (Mr˙ Bruce) assures me, he will meet with no resistance.

In the Quartermaster' s estimate there are some articles omitted, of which, he informs me, he cannot pretend to furnish a compulation, such as cartage, tools, &c˙, for which some general allowance must be made.

From the various accounts received from Europe, there may be reason to expect troops will be landed at New-York or some other middle Colony. I should be glad to know the pleasure of the Congress, whether, upon such an event, it would be expected that a part of this Army should be detached, or the internal force of such Colony, and its neighbourhood, be deemed sufficient; or whether, in such case, I am to wait the particular direction of Congress.

The fleet, mentioned in my last, has been seen standing N˙ N˙ E˙, so that we apprehend it is intended for some part of this Province, or New-Hampshire, or, possibly, Quebeck.

The latest and best accounts we have from the enemy are, that they are engaged in their new work across the south end of Boston, preparing their barracks, &c˙, for winter. That it is proposed to keep from five hundred to one thousand men on Bunker' s Hill, all winter, who are to be relieved once a week; the rest to be drawn into Boston.

A person who has lately been a servant to Major Connolly, a tool of Lord Dunmore' s, has given an account of a scheme to distress the Southern Provinces, which appeared


to me of sufficient consequence to be immediately transmitted. I have therefore got it attested, and do myself the Honour of enclosing it, No˙ 5.

The new levies from Connecticut have lately marched into camp, and are a body of as good troops as any we have; so that we have now the same strength as before the detachment under Colonel Arnold marched.

I am, with the most respectful sentiments to the honourable Congress and yourself, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,


To the Hon˙ John Hancock.