George Washington & Arms

Our first President George Washington

Concerning Arms in the hands of We The People

   At a time when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke, and maintain the liberty, which we have derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in question.

   That no man should scruple or hesitate a moment to use arms in defense of so valuable a blessing is clearly my opinion. Yet arms, I would beg leave to add, should be the last resource, the dernier resort.

–George Washington, April 5, 1769 letter to George Mason. [Life And Times Of Washington, Schroeder-Lossing, Revised, Enlarged, And Enriched: With A Special Introduction By Edward C. Towne, B.A. Volume II Albany New York M.M. Belcher Publishing Co. 1903 Pg. 541-42]

Journals of the Continental Congress,
TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 1775

The committee appointed to draught instructions to the general, reported the same, which being read, were agreed to, and are as follows:

To George Washington Esqr.

This Congress having appointed you to be General and Commander in chief of the Army of the united Colonies and of all the forces raised or to be raised by them and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service and join the said army for the defence of American liberty and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof, you are to repair with all expedition to the colony of Massachusetts bay and take charge of the army of the united colonies.

For your better direction

    1st You are to make a return to us as soon as possible of all forces which you shall have under your command together with their military stores and provisions. And also as exact an Account as you can obtain of the forces which compose the British Army in America.
    2dly You are not to disband any of the men you find raised until further direction from this Congress and if you shall think their numbers not adequate to the purpose of security, you many recruit them to a number you shall think sufficient, not exceeding double that of the enemy.
    3d In all cases of vacancy occasioned by the death or removal of a Colonel or other inferior officer, you are by brevet or warrant under your seal to appoint another person to fill up such vacancy until it shall be otherwise ordered by the provincial Convention or Assembly of the colony from whence the troops in which such vacancy happen, shall direct otherwise.
    4. You are to victual at the continental expence all such volunteers as have joined or shall join the united Army.
    5. You shall take every method in your power consistent with prudence, to destroy or make prisoners of all persons who now are or who hereafter shall appear in Arms against the good people of the united colonies.
    6. And whereas all particulars cannot be foreseen, nor positive instructions for such emergencies so before hand given but that many things must be left to your prudent and discreet management, as occurrences may arise upon the place, or from time to that time fall out, you are therefore upon all such accidents or any occasions that may happen, to use your best circumspection and (advising with your council of war) to order and dispose of the said Army under your command as may be most advantageous for the obtaining the end for which these forces have been raised, making it your special care in discharge of the great trust committed unto you, that the liberties of America receive no detriment.

…At the same Court, Hate-evil Colston of Colo. Nixon’s Regiment was tried for entering the house of Reuben Crosby, an Inhabitant of Frederick’sburgh, by force of Arms in company with one more, and taking from thence about three hundred dollars in Continental Money, one Musquet….

…He is determined to make Examples which will deter the boldest and most harden’d offenders. Men who are called out by their Country to defend the Rights and Property of their fellow Citizens, who are abandoned enough to violate those Rights and plunder that Property deserve and shall receive no Mercy.

– George Washington, October 23, 1778, General Orders. [The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.]

…General Washington is chosen commander-in-chief, General Ward the first major-general, and General Lee the second, (the last has not yet accepted,) and Major Gates adjutant-general. Lee and Gates are experienced officers. We have proceeded no further as yet….

…There is something charming to me in the conduct of Washington. A gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent, leaving his delicious retirement, his family and friends, sacrificing his ease, and hazarding all in the cause of his country! His views are noble and disinterested. He declared, when he accepted the mighty trust, that he would lay before us an exact account of his expenses, and not accept a shilling for pay….

– John Adams, June 18, 1775 letter to Elbridge Gerry. [Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1.]

There are many people in this country that have contended that the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms has always been contingent upon militia duty. This contention is plainly baseless and false. To the people that make such erroneous claims, the following TRUTHS are submitted:

    The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to William Fairfax,

    Alexandria, August 11, 1754.

    “…An account must be first sent of the quantity which is wanted; this, added to the carriage up, with the necessary Tools, &c., that must be had, as well as the time of bringing them round, will, I believe, advance us into that season, when it is usual, in more moderate climates, to retreat into Winter Quarters, but here, with us, to begin a campaign.62

        [Note 62: There was a misunderstanding between the governor and the House of Burgesses, which prevented any appropriation of money at this juncture. It had been a custom in former times that when the governor signed a patent for land, he should receive a fee of a pistole* (about $3.60) for every such signature, which was a perquisite of his office. This fee had been revived by Governor Dinwiddie, but the House of Burgesses considered it an onerous exaction, and determined to resist it. As the governor refused to sign patents on any other terms, the burgesses had the year before passed some spirited resolves, and sent an agent to England with a petition to the King’s Council that this custom might be abolished. The agent was Peyton Randolph, then attorney general of Virginia, and afterwards president of the first American Congress. While he was absent, the governor wrote to a correspondent in England: “I have had a great deal of trouble and uneasiness from the factious disputes and violent heats of a most impudent troublesome party here, in regard to that silly fee of a pistole; they are very full of the success of their agent, which I give small notice to.” The attorney general returned, without effecting his whole object, but the board of trade made new regulations, by which relief was afforded in certain cases, and the fee was prohibited except where the quantity of land patented was more than zoo acres. (See Journal of the House of Burgesses, November, 1753.) …]

            * Editorial Note – Although the “pistole” referred to is more than likely “a coin, sometimes called a doubloon, and worth roughly the purchase price of a cow.” Its mention does allow for the introduction of some facts. For, it was indeed the RIGHT of an English subject to “have arms for their defense”. To Wit;

            That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law…

–English Bill of Rights of 1689.

   The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to Andrew Lewis,

    October 27, 1755.

    You are hereby ordered to send out Parties to gather the Corn at the Plantations of those people, who are supposed to be killed or taken prisoners by the Indians, and have it secured for the Publick; taking a particular account of what is gathered from each Plantation. You are also to send out small Parties to Protect the Country People, while they gather their their Corn that is near the Fort. When the Indians arrive with Captain Montour or Gist, you are to see them properly provided with all necessaries, and use your utmost endeavours to see them duly encouraged; and the Officers are all desired to take notice of them and treat them kindly, as their assistance at this time is absolutely necessary. As there are several people near this place who were killed by the Indians, and have not yet been buried, you are to send out a Party for that purpose. You are to collect all the Arms which have been given out to the Country People, and Fuses (intended for the Indians) which were delivered to the Sergeants here, and return them to the Stores. You are to cause the Bottom on the other side of the Creek to be cleared immediately; which the frequent alarms and hard Duty, have hitherto prevented. You are to see that the Blankets belonging to the Publick, which the Officers made use of on the march, be immediately restored; and you are to deliver to the most needy of the men of the Virginia Regiment, Shoes and Blankets.

    The Officers to take notice what men are Served. You are to see that the Articles of War are frequently read to the men.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie,

Winchester, April 7, 1756.

…I have ordered the party there to be made as strong as time and our present circumstances will afford, for fear they should attempt to execute the orders of Dumas. I have also ordered up an officer and twenty recruits to assist Joseph Edwards, and the people on those waters. The people of this town are under dreadful apprehensions of an attack, and all the roads between this and Fort Cumberland are much infested. As I apprehend you will be obliged to draft men, I hope care will be taken that none are chosen but active, resolute men,–men, who are practised to arms, and are marksmen….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington, May 26, 1756, Evening Orders

As many Draughts are expected up for the Regiment immediately the Commissary is to call in all the Countrys Arms, which he has delivered out of the Stores, upon receipts given to the people. If the people of the Town or Country, have any Arms, clothes, Blankets, &c. &c. belonging to the Soldiers, which they have bought; they are desired to give them in immediately to the commanding officers: If they are found in their possession after issuing this Order; they must expect to be prosecuted to the utmost riguor of the Law; which has laid a penalty of twenty pounds (upon any person who buys or exchanges any Arms, Clothes &c. with a Soldier;) to be paid to the Informer.***

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie,

Winchester, June 25, 1756.

“…Two hundred and forty-six draughts are the total number brought in, out of which number several have deserted. Three were discharged, being quite unfit for service, (and indeed several more ought to be, if men were not so scarce,) and there remain now in confinement six Quakers, who will neither bear arms, work, receive provisions or pay, or do any thing that tends, in any respect, to self-defence. I should be glad of your Honor’s directions how to proceed with them.76 I cannot yet return to your Honor the names of the volunteers, that will be appointed to the vacancies, but as soon as I arrive at Fort Cumberland shall acquaint you according to request.”

    [Note 76: “If the six Quakers will not fight you must compel them to work on the forts, to carry timber, &c.; if this will not do confine them with a short allowance of bread and water, till you bring them to reason.”– Dinwiddie to Washington. July 1, 1756.]

Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. Published by the Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton.

Robert Dinwiddie to George Washington,

WILLIAMSBURG July 1st: 1756


Last Night I recd: Yrs of the 25th: Ulto.–I am sorry for the Delay of the Waggon with the Tools probably occasion’d by the badness of the Horses, but I hope e’er this they are with You.

I approve of Your consulting at a Council of War in regard to building of Forts, which I fear will be attended with very great Delays from the small number of Men You have, & I think it will not be proper to divide Yr. Men at too great Distances therefore You must build them one after another, so that on occasion You may collect a proper number to repell any Forces that may appear against You. As the Six Nations have sumon’d the Delawares & Shawnesse to Onondago, I hope they will comply therewith & in course be ordered to live peaceably with us.

Inclos’d You have a Letr. to Capt. Hogg & another to the Commanding Officer of the Militia in Augusta; & I desire You will give Ct. Hogg Your Opinion & Direction in regard to building of Forts on their Frontiers, which I hope will answer the Intent of protecting our Frontiers by Forts. I very much approve of the Field Officers having each a Company, which You may now put in execution, tho’ I am sorry to think we have so many Officers & so few Rank & File. —

I am surpriz’d there are no more than 246 draughted Men & so bad as three to be discharg’d, send me an Acct. of the Number from each County–If the six Quakers will not fight You must compell them to work on the Forts, to carry morter Timber &c. if this will not do confine them with a short Allowance of Bread & Water till You bring them to reason or provide others in their room2.

    [Note 2: 1 Washington had written to Dinwiddie, June 25, “There remain in confinement six Quakers, who will neither bear arms, work, receive provisions, or pay, or do anything that tends, in any respect, to self-defence. I should be glad of your Honor’s directions how to proceed with them.”]

I am glad Gov. Sharpe is building a Fort which will be so useful, but the Assembly of Myld allow no more than 1100 to enlist & maintain 200 Men build a Fort & three Block Houses & I daresay the Gov. will not exceed the Note of Assembly.2

    [Note 2: 2 The Assembly of Maryland had passed a bill for raising forty thousand pounds for his Majesty’s service. Eleven thousand to be appropriated to building a fort on the frontiers, and twenty-five thousand for carrying on any expedition for the public service, in which the other colonies might join. The Governor was authorized also to raise two hundred men to be employed in constructing the fort. Acts of Assembly passed in May, 1756.]

I consulted the Treasurer3 now here, about the Militia, & he is of Opinion they will all desert therefore he & I agree that those that will not remain shd. be return’d to their Counties, & that You write to the Lieut.s of those Countys to make Draughts from their Militia agreeable to the Act of Assembly & send them up to You by the Major of each County but if You can prevail on any of them to remain till Decr. let them know they will be paid as Militia to that Time–I recomend to You to persuade those that are Tradesmen & can handle the ax &c. to remain in building of Forts & You may augmt. their Pay as You & they can agree–I am fully convinc’d the few Men You will have remaing. are not sufficient for Defence & building the Forts, nor can I at present propose any Method to augmt. Your Regmt. I am really ashamed of the dastardly pusillanimous Spirit of the People in general at this time of Danger. & we must depend much more on the Protection of Heaven, than on the second means expected from us by God.–I recomend You to his guidance, & wishing You Health I remain

    [Note 3: 3 1John Robinson, who held the position of Treasurer of the Colony as well as Speaker of the House of Burgesses.]

… Sir
… Your most hble Servt.
I hope You will send me a
proper Roll of all our Men
by this Expres–We have no
Acct. of Lord Loudon’s arrival

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie,

June 10, 1757.

…I am importuned by the country people inhabiting the small Forts, for Supplies of ammunition*. I have refused them all, until I know your Sentiments. Ammunition is not to be purchased; and indeed some of them are too poor to buy, if it was. Therefore they apply to me. If your Honor thinks proper to order me to deliver it out to such people as I conceive will appropriate it to a good use, and in such quantities as we may be able to spare, I will do it; but not without….

    *– Why would “the country people” want ammunition if they had nothing to use it in?

And here we see the birth of the U.S. Rangers:

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie,

[Fort Loudoun], October 24, 1757.

Honble. Sir: Your favour of the 19th instant was delivered to me this evening.

The raising a company of Rangers, or augmenting our strength in some other manner, is so far necessary, that without it, the remaining inhabitants of this (once fertile and populous) valley will scarcely be detained at their dwellings ’till the Spring. And, if there is no Expedition to the westward then, nor a force more considerable than Virginia can support, posted on our frontiers (if we still adhere to our destructive, defensive schemes,) there will not, next campaign I dare affirm, be one soul living on this side the Blue Ridge the ensuing autumn; unless it be the Troops in Garrison, and a few inhabitants of this town, who may shelter themselves under the protection of this fort. This I know to be the immovable determination of all the settlers of this County; which to give a more succinct account of than I cou’d in writing, was the principal among many other reasons that induced me to ask leave to come down. It was not to enjoy a party of pleasure I wanted leave of absence; I have been indulged with few of those, winter or summer! I must here add, that an incredible number of Inhabitants has fled in consequence of the two last incursions of the Enemy, of which your Honor has already been advertised. And that I have taken indefatigable pains, and found it no easy task to prevail on the bulk of the country to wait the consultations of this winter, and the event of this Spring. I do not know on whom this miserable and undone people are to rely for redress. If the Assembly are to give it to them, it is time that measures were concerting; if we are to seek it of the Commander-in-chief, it is time our grievances were made known to him: for as I before said, another campaign, such as was the last, will depopulate this country. Then let the consequences be considered, where are we to get supplies of provisions for our armies, when this valley which is the only support of them, is entirely abandoned to an Enemy, which by that means will be entirely possessed of every thing necessary to pursue their conquest; and that the adjacent counties will fly much faster than this, not being half so well settled, is a fact indisputable.

I shall also add, what I did not in my last (lest it shou’d be thought I spoke from prejudice) that Captain Hogg is the most unfit person in the world, to raise and command a company of Rangers. He in the first place is generally disliked, were he not, he has neither activity, spirit or knowledge enough of the woods, to answer this end. And again, the men most proper for such an undertaking would be backward to enlist under him, fearing his discipline; whereas, I conceive, a person in some degree upon a level with themselves wou’d have it in his power to engage for the good pay which is offered, huntsmen, who have been used to arms from their childhood, and in a particular manner acquainted with the country from which many have been drove.

These are my reasons against Capt. Hogg, and in behalf of some such person as Mr. Rutherford, to whom I have no particular attachment, or desire to serve. He refuses to accept of the second command.

I have expressed my sentiments upon this latter, as well as the first affair, with the utmost candor and sincerity; in doing which I conceive I have done no more than my duty. The whole is submitted to your Honor’s better judgment.

Yesterday arrived here the Indians spoken of in the enclosed (copies of letters which came with them to me) I purchased four Horses, bridles, and saddles, for £14., and send them off to-day, escorted by an officer who is charged with the care of conducting them thro’ this Colony. The Cherokees that were on the Branch, are on their return to their nation, having left this for that purpose several days ago. They met (about 8 miles beyond Fort Cumberland) a party of Indians under command of a French cadet, whom they engaged. The French cadet was killed and scalped, his orders found, which Captain Dagworthy detained, without even sending me a copy of them. I understand, however he was ordered to take a view of Fort Cumberland and then proceed into the Inhabitants, to kill, captivate, and lay waste the country.

Mr. Kennedy I shall appoint in the place of Mr. Hamilton. I am, &c.

P.S. Your Honor has not mentioned what pay the officers commissioned and non-commission’d, are to have.

I cou’d settle the provisions in dispute at Fort Cumberland, with Doctor Ross upon no other terms than these; He is to replace the flour and so much of the beef as the Marylanders used at this place, and to pay for the flour and beans. The remainder of the beef I must have transported to the Branch.

Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. Published by the Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton.

Robert Dinwiddie to George Washington,

WILLIAMSBURG Novr. 2d: 1757


Yr. Letter of the 24th. ulto.: I recd.–And as You observe the absolute Necessity of having a Company of Rangers, I agree to the raising sixty, seventy or 80 Men to be Comdd. by Mr. Rutherford, but You must be certain of his raising the Men, not to load the Country with a Charge, as formerly, without Men to the different Companies;–I do not doubt of Yr. keeping them strictly to their Duty–his Pay, with first and second Lieuts. to be the same as the Officers in Your Regmt–& as the private Men are to have 12d. per Day they are to have no enlisting Money or Clothing, & if possible they are to furnish their own Arms, but if they cannot You are to supply them by delivering a Number to Ct. Rutherford, on his Receipt to restore them Causalties excepted; & they are to be provided with Provisions by the Contractor; this I hope will encourage the Settlers to rema. on their Plantations.

I always was strongly of Opinion that an Offensive War was most eligible, & I have repeatedly urg’d it, tho’ always disappointed, & before I leave this I shall endeavor again to represent it to his Lordship.

You did very right in furnishing the Cherokees from Pensylvaa. with Horses &c. i wonder Ct. Gist writes Nothing of the Indians that were on the Branch, returning Home; I hope they did not go disgusted.

As formerly, I leave the Settlemt. with Dr. Ross, entirely to YrSelf, & what You do therein will be approv’d of–I am much indisposed–I remain

… Sir
Yr. Care in havg. proper … Your mo. hble Servant
Lts. for Ct. Rutherford … ROBT. DINWIDDIE
will be for the Public Serv.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to John Blair,

Fort Loudoun, May 4, 1758.

Honble. Sir: The enclosed letter from Capt. Waggener, will inform your Honor of a very unfortunate affair.14 From the best accounts I have been able to get, there are about 60 persons killed and missing. Immediately upon receiving this Intelligence, I sent out a Detachment of the Regiment, and some Indians, that were equipped for war, in hopes of their being able to intercept the Enemy in the retreat. I was fearful of this stroke, but not time enough to avert it, as your Honor will find by the following account which came to hand just before Capt. Waggener’s letter, by Captn. McKenzie:

    [Note 14: The Indian raid on Augusta County, Va., backwoods inhabitants. (See Washington’s letter to Sir John St. Clair, May 4, ante.)]

Lieutenant Gist with 6 soldiers and 30 Indians marched the 2d of April from the South Branch; and after a tedious march (occasioned by the deep snows on the mountains) got on the waters of the Monongahela, where Mr. Gist was lamed by a fall from a steep bank, and rendered incapable of marching. The white people and some of the Indians remained with him; and the rest of the Indians divided themselves into three parties and separated. Ucahula and two more went down the Monongahela in a bark canoe and landed near Ft. Duquesne, on the no. side, where they lay concealed for two days. At length an opportunity offered of attacking a canoe, in which were two French men fishing; those they killed and scalped in sight of two other canoes with French men in them, and came off safe.

When he got about 15 miles on this side Ft. Duquesne, he came upon a large Indian Encampment, from the size of which, and the number of tracks, judged to be at least 100, making directly for the frontiers of Virginia, as they again discovered by crossing their tracks.

At present I have nothing more to add to your Honor, having written several times lately on matters, to which I have received no answer.

I had wrote thus far, and was going to send off an Express with this melancholy account, when I received advice, that the Particulars relative to those murders had been transmitted from Augusta, to your Honor. I thereupon thought it most advisable to postpone sending ’till I should receive answer to my several letters by Jenkins and Mr. Gist; which I was accordingly honored with, the 7th and last night.

May 10th. After due deliberation on your Honor’s letter of the 2d by Gist, I am of opinion, that the number of Militia you have ordered for the defence of the Posts, to be evacuated by the regiment, will be sufficient, unless the completing the works at this place should be thought necessary.

As it can not be supposed that the Enemy will attempt any formidable inception after the march of our army; and as to the depredations to be feared from their small scalping-parties, it would be out of the power of thrice the proposed number (or indeed of any number) effectually to prevent them. But, as you are pleased to desire my opinion, I beg leave to offer a few, things relative to the disposition you propose.

I humbly conceive therefore, that it would be infinitely more for the interest of the service, to order the 100 from Prince William to the South Branch, and continuing Rutherford’s company in its present station, making this its headquarters. For, as that company is perfectly acquainted with all that range of mountains, extending from the Potomack to the Augusta Line, and thro’ which the Enemy make incursions into this settlement, they could with greater facility obstruct their inroads and assist the inhabitants of this valley (of whom they themselves form a very great part) than those who are ignorant of the ground. The militia from Prince William, equally know the Branch and this vicinity, and therefore may be supposed to do as much there, as here; whereas moving Rutherford’s there, would be stripping them of those essential advantages which they may derive from their thorough knowledge of these parts, and removing them from defending their immediate rights (the sole motive of the enlisting).

One half of this company, were it continued here, might be constantly ranging, and the other left in this fort, which is centrical to their present station.

It the works here are to be completed, which from their great importance I should think highly necessary, in that event, an additional number of 60 or 80 good men from the militia, for that particular service, would be wanted; and I do not know any person so capable of directing the works as Major Joseph Stephen, of Caroline County. He formerly had the overlooking of them, and managed with remarkable industry.

A part of the militia ordered for the Branch should take post at Edwards’s (on Cacapehon) and at Pearsalls, for the security of convoys passing from hence to Fort Cumberland.

I really do not know what method can be practised to compel the country people to deliver up the public arms, unless there could be a general search in every county.

Governor Dinwiddie, if I remember right, issued two or three proclamations ordering them in, to no purpose.

With regard to opening the roads, I think it would be most advisable to postpone all attempts, ’till Sir Jno. St. Clair’s arrival, as he is expected so soon. For Pearsalls, altho’ it is the most convenient road for the Virginia, may not be used by the northern troops; as I understand their rendezvous is ordered at Fort Frederick in Maryland. This may also (altho’ I cannot yet absolutely say) render garrisons at Edwards and Pearsalls, useless, unless it be a few to preserve the forts and the families gathered into them.

As several of our best sergeants were made officers in the Carolina Regiment (besides some other vacancies in that Rank) parting with 10 for the use of the new Regiment will be a very great hardship at this juncture.

We are likewise short of our number of Drummers, and many of those we have are raw and untutored. As the General expects not regularity from the new levies, well knowing how little any attempts towards it, in a short time, would avail; I can not help being surprized at their requesting your Honor to give direction for doing what would be of no real service to the new Regiment, and would be of vast prejudice to that I have the honor to command.

In consequence of your orders for completing the Regiment (with all possible despatch) by recruiting, I sometime ago sent all the officers I could spare to those parts of the Country where there is the greatest probability of success and furnished them with all the money I had, and directions to draw upon me for whatever sum they might want for that service. I likewise engaged some of the most popular of the country gentlemen to recruit for me, giving them the same liberty to draw upon me. Well knowing the difficulty of getting any tolerable number in a short time, I exerted myself in prosecuting every measure, that afforded a prospect of success, having then not the least reason to doubt of being duly supplied with money: But how great is my surprise at that paragraph of your Honor’s letter, that you can not send me any for that service. As I had immediate demands upon me, which I put off until Mr. Gist’s arrival, I consulted with my officers about applying the £400, sent for contingencies, towards these demands; and enclose you their opinion on that head; and I must earnestly request, that you will be pleased to fall upon some measures of sending me 800 or 1,000 £ more; as your honor, the honor of the Colony, as well as mine, and the officers, together with that of those gentlemen above-mentioned, who I have employed, is so nearly and immediately interested in the completion of those engagements, which I have, in consequence of your orders, entered into. Surely it cannot be imagined that I can pay the money (if I had it to deposit) out of my own private fortune; nor does the shortness of the time, nor the circumstances I am under, admit of any other alternative.

I will chearfully bespeak, and can easily procure, the Stage Horses you desire; when furnished with money for that purpose.

As Jno. Berry was made a soldier (how legally the Court of Officers &c, that sent him can better declare) I must think it not only repugnant to law, but to the articles of War, and the customs of the army, to allow him to enlist in any other corps; for, by this means, if there were no other bad consequences attending it, he defrauds the Country of double-bounty-money.

I shall make a prudent use of the power you have been pleased to give me, respecting the issuing orders to the parties of militia.

Your favor of the 3d by Mr. French Mason, I have just been presented with; and would gladly have appointed him Ensign in the regiment, had not the vacancies been disposed of, in the following manner, before it came to hand, vizt.:

Capt. Lt. Bullet, to Joshua Lewis’s company, Mr. Duncanson, oldest Ensign, to the Lieutenancy occasioned by this removal: and Mr. Thomas Gist and Mr. Allen, volunteers, and John McCully and John Sallard, worthy Sergeants, (all of whom had served a considerable time with credit and reputation) to be Ensigns. I had likewise before the receipt of yours, promised Major Hire,15 of this County, a gentleman of good

    [Note 15: Probably John Hite, of Frederick County, Va., referred to as Colonel Hite.]

 character, the Colors that would become vacant; upon the event of Colo. Mercer’s Company being filled up; as he in consideration, had engaged to recruit 50 men, for the service which I then thought would be a vast advantage. I am, &c.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Robert Adam,

November 22, 1771, Account Book 2.

The Gun herewith sent please to have handsomely Stock’d; let the Stock be of the same Bend, and Substance at the Britch as the old one. The Barl. to be scaled and properly cleans’d on the Inside and to have a new Lock of a piece with the Barl., the whole to be done in a compleat mann’r, with a pair of Bullet Moulds.

Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. Published by the Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton.

George Mason to George Washington,

GUNSTON HALL February 6th. 1775.

…Threatened with the Destruction of our antient Laws & Liberty, and the Loss of all that is dear to British Subjects & Freemen,–justly alarmed with the Prospect of impending Ruin,–firmly determined, at the hazard of our Lives, to transmit to our Children & Posterity those sacred Rights to which Ourselves were born; & thoroughly convinced that a well regulated Militia, composed of the Gentlemen Freeholders & other Freemen, is the natural Strength, and only safe & stable Security of a free Government…”

…And such of us as have, or can procure Riphel (Rifle?) Guns, & understand the use of them, will be ready to form a Company of Marksmen or Light-Infantry for the said Regiment, chusing our own Officers as aforesaid, & distinguishing our Dress, when we are upon Duty, from that of the other Companies, by painted Hunting-Shirts, and Indian Boots, or Caps; as shall be found most convenient.–Which Regulation & Establishment is to be preserved & continued, until a regular and proper Militia Law for the Defence of the Country shall be enacted by the Legislature of this Colony–And we do Each of us, for ourselves respectively, promise and engage to keep a good Firelock in proper Order, & to furnish Ourselves as soon as possible with, & always keep by us, one Pound of Gun Powder, four Pounds of Lead, one Dozen Gun-Flints, & a pair of Bullet-Moulds, with a Cartouch-Box, or powder-horn & Bag for Balls–That we will use our best Endeavours to perfect Ourselves in the Military Exercise & Discipline, & therefore will pay due Obedience to our Officers, & regularly attend such private & general Musters as they shall appoint–And that we will always hold Ourselves in Readiness, in Case of Necessity, Hostile-Invasion, or real Danger, to defend & preserve to the utmost of our Power, Our Religion, the Laws of our Country, & and the just Rights & Privileges of our fellow-Subjects, Our Posterity, & Ourselves, upon the Principles of the English Constitution….”

The Diaries of George Washington. Vol. 3. Donald Jackson, ed.; Dorothy Twohig, assoc. ed. The Papers of George Washington. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1978.

Feb. 25, 1775 Diary Entry;

Today the convention accepted an amended report of the defense committee, which recommended that each county “form one or more voluntier Companies of Infantry and Troops of Horse,” that every infantryman have a rifle or firelock and a tomahawk and “be cloathed in a hunting Shirt by Way of Uniform,” while the county committees were to be in charge of raising the money for munitions from among the local citizenry (VAN SCHREEVEN, 2:374–75). The convention also appointed a committee to report on manufactures, to which GW was appointed, and then chose the same seven delegates who had attended the First Continental Congress to attend the second Congress set for May. In the polling GW stood second to Peyton Randolph (VAN SCHREEVEN, 2:376).

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to John A. Washington,

    Richmond, March 25, 1775.

    Dear Brother: Mr. Smith deliverd me your Letter of the 16th., but as one is generally in a hurry and bustle in such places, and at such times as these I have only time to acknowledge it, and add that it would have given me pleasure to have met you here. I shall refer you to Mr. Smith for an Acct. of our proceedings up to this day, and you cannot fail of learning the rest from the Squire, who delights in the Minutiæ of a Tale. I am in doubt whether we shall finish here this week, but as I shall delay little time on the Road in returning, I shall hope to see you on your way up, or down, from Berkeley. I am much obliged to you for the Holly Berries and Cotton Seed. My Love to my Sister and the Children. I had like to have forgot to express my entire approbation of the laudable pursuit you are engaged in of Training an Independant Company. I have promised to review the Independant Company of Richmond4 sometime this Summer, they having made me a tender of the

    [Note 4: On March 17 the independent company of Richmond County, Va., unanimously chose Washington its commander. The original notification is in the Washington Papers. He had already been chosen to command the Prince William independent company, and later was chosen to command the Fairfax, Albemarle, and Spotsylvania companies. John Augustine Washington’s letter announcing that the Westmoreland company had acted in like manner is not in the Washington Papers.

    On March 20 the convention assembled” in the old church in the town of Richmond.” One of its first acts after organization was to approve the proceedings of the “American Continental Congress,” and to consider “this whole continent as under the highest obligations to that very respectable body, for the wisdom of their counsels, and their unremitted endeavors to maintain and preserve inviolable, the just rights and liberties of his Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects in America.” Thanks were returned to the delegates by name. (See Force’s American Archives, Fourth Series, vol. 2, pp. 163, 164.)

    On March 23 Patrick Henry introduced resolutions looking to the arming of the colony. The convention resolved “that a well regulated militia, composed of gentlemen and yeomen, is the natural strength and only security of a free government; that such a militia in this colony would forever render it unnecessary for the mother country to keep among us, for the purpose of our defence, any standing army of mercenary forces, always subversive of the quiet, and dangerous to the liberties, of the people, and would obviate the pretext of taxing us for their support.” (See Force’s American Archives, Fourth Series, vol. 2, 168, 169.)

    Some of the warmest patriots in the convention, writes Wirt, opposed these resolutions. Richard Bland, Benamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton, and Robert C. Nicholas “resisted them with all their influence and abilities.” He gives, on the authority of Edmund Randolph, what purports to be Henry’s speech in favor of his resolutions; but the researches of Mr. Moncure D. Conway enable us to give what Randolph himself wrote: “After a few seconds Richard Henry Lee fanned and refreshed with a gale of pleasure; but the vessel of the revolution was still under the impulse of the tempest which Henry had created. Artificial oratory fell in copious streams from the mouth of Lee, and rules of persuasion accomplished every thing which rules could effect. If elegance had been personified, the person of Lee would have been chosen. But Henry trampled upon rules, and yet triumphed, at this time perhaps beyond his own expectation. Jefferson was not silent. He argued closely, profoundly, and warmly on the same side. The post in the revolutionary debate belonging to him, was that at which the theories of republicanism were deposited. Washington was prominent, though silent. His books bespoke a mind absorbed in meditation on his country’s fate; but a positive concert between him and Henry could not more effectually have exhibited him to view, than when Henry ridiculed the idea of peace ‘when there was no peace,’ and enlarged on the duty of preparing for war.” (See Conway’s Biography of Edmund Randolph, p. 382.)

    On the same day (March 25) Washington was appointed on a committee” to prepare a plan for the encouragement of arts and manufactures in this colony.

    That this colony be immediately put into a posture of defence, and that Mr. Henry, Mr. Lee, Mr. Treasurer, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Lemuel Riddick, Mr. Washington, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Andrew Lewis, Mr. Christian, Mr. Pendleton, Mr. Jefferson, and Mr. Zane be a committee to prepare a plan for the embodying, arming, and discipling, such a number of men as may be sufficient for that purpose.” A report was made on the following day and is printed in the Virginia Gazette of Mar. 30, 1775.

    The Delegates to the Continental Congress were also elected.

    George Mason was taking an active part in the political events of this time, but he appears to have made Washington the instrument for carrying his ideas into practice. He submitted, in February, a plan for establishing a militia and made the judicious suggestion that the old burgesses should be chosen as delegates to attend the convention at Richmond, rightly believing that such a step would carry more weight with the people than the selection of new men. (See Force’s American Archives, Fourth Series, vol. 1, 1145.)] Command of it at the sametime I could review yours and shall very cheerfully accept the honr. of Commanding it if occasion requires it to be drawn out, as it is my full intention to devote my Life and Fortune in the cause we are engagd in, if need be, I remain Dr. Sir, Yr. most affect. Brother

Delegates to Congress: Letters of delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, Volume 1

George Washington to George William Fairfax

Philadelphia May 31st. 1775.

Discusses matters pertaining to Fairfax’s business affairs. Mentions Lexington and Concord and encloses affidavits taken after the engagement.(1) “General Gage acknowledges that the detachment under Lieutenant Colonel Smith was sent out to destroy private property; or, in other Words, to destroy a Magazine which self preservation obliged the Inhabitants to establish. And he also confesses, in effect at least, that his Men made a very precipitate retreat from Concord, notwithstanding the reinforcement under Lord Piercy; the last of which may serve to convince Lord Sandwich (and others of the same sentiment) that the Americans will fight for their Liberties and property however pusilanimous, in his Lordship’s Eye, they may appear in other respects.

From the best Accounts I have been able to collect of that affair; indeed from every one, I believe the fact, stripped of all colouring, to be plainly this, that if the retreat had not been as precipitate as it was (and God knows it could not well have been more so) the Ministerial Troops must have surrendered, or been totally cut off, For they had not arrived in Charlestown (under cover of their Ships) half an hour, before a powerful body of Men from Marblehead and Salem were at their heels, and must, if they had happened to have been up one hour sooner, inevitably intercepted their retreat to Charlestown. Unhappy it is though to reflect, that a Brother’s Sword has been sheathed in a Brother’s breast, and that, the once happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched with Blood, or Inhabited by Slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous Man hesitate in his choice?


Tr (DLC). Washington, Writings (Fitzpatrick), 3:290 92.

1 Affidavits concerning the engagement at Lexington and Concord are printed in JCC, 2:28 44.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Thomas Gage,

Head Quarters, Cambridge, August 20, 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, shewn 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 preeminent, 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 lawless 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 Fact, is usurped, or founded upon the genuine Principles of Liberty, were altogether foreign to 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 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 Truth, to punish misrepresentation and Falsehood. If Experience 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 original 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 Charles Town 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 Posterity those just and invaluable Privileges, which they received from their Ancestors.

I shall now, Sir, close my Correspondence with you, perhaps forever. If your Officers, our Prisoners, receive a Treatment from me, different from what I wish to shew them, they and you will remember the Occasion of it. I am, sir, etc.4

    [Note 4: The draft, in the Washington Papers, is in the writing of Joseph Reed; the copy sent by Washington to Congress is in that of Edmund Randolph and is dated August 19. The letter sent is in the archives of the New York Historical Society and is dated the 20th. Washington’s first letter to Gage (August 11) and Gage’s answer were published by the British Government in the London Gazette about six weeks later, but the August 20 letter was ignored.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

We have taken up Arms in Defence of our Liberty, our Property; our Wives and our Children: We are determined to preserve them or die. We look forward with pleasure to that day not far remote (we hope) when the Inhabitants of America shall have one Sentiment and the full Enjoyment of the blessings of a Free Government. . . .Let no Man desert his habitation. Let no Man flee as before an Enemy.

The cause of America and of liberty is the cause of every virtuous American Citizen Whatever may be his Religion or his descent, the United Colonies know no distinction, but such as Slavery, Corruption and Arbitrary Domination may create. Come then ye generous Citizens, range yourselves under the Standard of general Liberty, against which all the force and Artifice of Tyranny will never be able to prevail.

– George Washington to Canadian Citizens, September 6, 1775.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Island of Bermuda [British] Citizens,

Camp at Cambridge 3 Miles from Boston, September 6, 1775.

Gentn: [In the great Conflict, which agitates this Continent, I cannot doubt but the Assertors of Freedom and the Rights of the Constitution, are possessed of your most favorable Regards and Wishes for Success. As Descendents of Freemen and Heirs with us of the same Glorious Inheritance, we flatter ourselves that tho’ divided by our Situation, we are firmly united in Sentiment; the Cause of Virtue and Liberty is Confined to no Continent or Climate, it comprehends within its capacious Limits, the Wise and good, however dispersed and seperated in Space or distance.] You need not be informed, that Violence and Rapacity of a tyrannick Ministry, have forced the Citizens of America, your Brother Colonists, into Arms; We equally detest and lament the Prevalence of those Councils, which have led to the Effusion of so much human Blood and left us no Alternative but a Civil War or a base Submission. The wise disposer of all Events has hitherto smiled upon our virtuous Efforts; Those Mercenary Troops, a few of whom lately boasted of Subjugating this vast Continent, have been check’d in their earliest Ravages and are now actually encircled in a small Space; their Arms disgraced, and Suffering all the Calamities of a Siege. The Virtue, Spirit, and Union of the Provinces leave them nothing to fear, but the Want of Amunition, The applications of our Enemies to foreign States and their Vigilance upon our Coasts, are the only Efforts they have made against us with Success. Under those Circumstances, and with these Sentiments we have turned our Eyes to you Gentlemen for Re lief, We are informed there is a very large Magazine in your Island under a very feeble Guard; We would not wish to in volve you in an Opposition, in which from your Situation, we should be unable to support you:–We knew not therefore to what Extent to sollicit your Assistance in availing ourselves of this Supply;–but if your Favor and Friendship to North America and its Liberties have not been misrepresented, I persuade myself you may, consistent with your own Safety, pro mote and further this Scheme, so as to give it the fairest prospect of Success. Be assured, that in this Case, the whole Power and Execution of my Influence will be made with the Honble. Continental Congress, that your Island may not only be Supplied with Provisions, but experience every other Mark of Affection and Friendship, which the grateful Citizens of a free Country can bestow on its Brethren and Benefactors. I am &c.43

[Note 43: There is no draft of this address to the Bermuda inhabitants in the Washington Papers. The copy of it there was made by George Taylor, jr., one of Varick’s writers, in 1781. (See Washington’s letter to Gov. Nicholas Cooke, August 4, 1775, ante.) Capt. Abraham Whipple, of Rhode Island, sailed for Bermuda. He arrived too late, as Gage had already removed the powder.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to John A. Washington,

    Camp at Cambridge, October 13, 1775.

    Dear Brother: Your favour of the 12th. Ulto. came safe to hand a few days ago; by it I gladly learnt that your Family were recover’d of the two complaints which had seized many of them, and confind my Sister.38 I am very glad to hear also, that the Convention had come to resolutions of Arming the People, and preparing vigorously for the defence of the Colony; which, by the latest accts. from England will prove a salutary Measure.39 I am also pleasd to find that the Manufactury of Arms and Ammunition have been attended to with so much care; a plenty of these and unanimity and Fortitude among ourselves must defeat every attempt that a diabolical Ministry can Invent to Inslave this great Continent. In the Manufacturing of Arms for Publick use great care should be taken to make the bores of the same size, that the same Balls may answer, otherwise great disadvantages may arise from a mixture of Cartridges.

    [Note 38: Hannah Bushrod, wife of John Augustine Washington.]

    [Note 39: An account of the convention is given in a letter from George Mason to Washington, Oct. 14, 1775. Mason’s letter is in the Washington Papers.]

    The Enemy by their not coming out, are, I suppose, afraid of us; whilst their Situation renders any attempts of ours upon them in a manner Impracticable.40 Nothing new has happend

        [Note 40: On October 18 the officers were convened a second time to hold a council respecting an attack on Boston. There was a unanimous voice against it, but there is no record of what was Washington’s opinion. The question of attacking Boston had come before the committee of conference, the subject being thus stated by Washington: “The council of war, having. in consequence of an intimation from Congress, deliberated on the expediency of an attack upon the troops in the town of Boston, and determined that at present it was not practicable; the General wishes to know how far it may be deemed proper and advisable to avail himself of the season to destroy the troops who propose to winter in Boston, by bombardment (when the harbor is blocked up), or in other words, whether the loss of the town, and the property therein, are so to be considered, as that an attack upon the troops there should be avoided, when it evidently appears that the town must, of consequence, be destroyed?” The committee thought this too important to be determined by them. They, therefore, referred it to Congress, where it hung fire for a long time.

        I mean not to anticipate your determination, but only to approve your design to hover like an eagle over your prey, always ready to pounce upon it when the proper time comes. I have not forgot your proposition relative to that city; I try to pave the way for it, and wait for the season, as you do.:– Lynch to Washington, Nov. 13, 1775.

        It was not until December 22 that a resolution was reached, which appears in the printed journals, although marked “secret” in the manuscript journals. “That if General Washington and his council of war should be of opinion, that a successful attack may be made on the troops in Boston, he do it in any manner he may think expedient, notwithstanding the town and property in it may be destroyed.

In communicating this resolve, President Hancock wrote: “You will notice the resolution relative to an attack upon Boston. This passed after a most serious debate in a committee of the whole house, and the execution was referred to you. May God crown your attempt with success. I most heartily wish it, though individually I may be the greatest sufferer.” (President Hancock possessed a valuable property in Boston.)

        It is a little remarkable that each party had conclusive reasons for avoiding to attack the other. “It is inadvisable,” said General Gage in a letter to Lord Dartmouth (August 20), “to attempt penetrating the country from Boston. The enemy’s forces are numerous, and such an attempt must be made under very great disadvantages; and even if successful. little would be gained by it, as neither horses, carriages, nor other means for moving forward could be procured. Our force is too small to be divided into detachments for this purpose, and success would answer no other end than to drive the rebels out of one strong-hold into another.” General Howe used the same arguments on October 9– Ford.]

    since my last worth communicating; since finishing of our own Lines of Defence we, as well as the Enemy, have been busily Imployed in putting our Men under proper cover for the Winter. Our advanced Works, and theirs, are within Musket Shott of each other; we are obliged to Submit to an almost daily Cannonade without returning a Shott from our scarcity of Powder, which we are necessitated to keep for closer Work than Cannon Distance whenever the red Coat gentry pleases to step out of their Intrenchments. Seeing no prospect of this I sent a Detachment, about a Month ago into Canada by the way of Kennebec River under the Command of a Colo. Arnold, this Detachment consisted of 1000 Men and was Order’d to possess themselves of Quebec if possible, but at any rate to make a diversion in favour of General Schuyler who by this is in possession I expect of Montreal and St. Johns, as I am not altogether without hopes Colo. Arnold may be [possessed] of the Capital. If so, what a pretty hand the Ministry have made of their Canada Bill, and the Diabolical Scheme which was constructed upon it. I have also, finding we were in no danger of a visit from our Neighbours, fitted, and am fitting out, several Privateers with Soldiers (who have been bred to the Sea) and have no doubt of making Captures of several of their Transports, some of which have already fallen into our hands laden with Provisions.

    I am obliged to you for your advice to My Wife, and for your Intention of visiting of her; seeing no great prospect of returning to my Family and Friends this Winter I have sent an Invitation to Mrs. Washington to come to me, altho’ I fear the Season is too far advanced (especially if she should, when my Letters get home, be in New Kent, as I believe the case will be) to admit this with any tolerable degree of convenience. I have laid a state of the difficulties, however which must attend the journey before her and left it to her own choice. My Love to my Sister and the little ones are sincerely tenderd and I am with true regard Yr. Most Affecte. Brother.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington, October 31, 1775,

    Head Quarters, Cambridge, October 31, 1775.

    Parole Cambridge. Countersign Dedham.

    As many Officers, and others, have begun to inlist men for the Continental Army, without Orders from Head Quarters; The General desires, that an immediate Stop be put thereto; that the inlistments be return’d; and that no person for the future, presume to interfere in this matter, ’till there is a proper establishment of Officers, and those Officers authorised and instructed in what manner to proceed. Commissions in the new Army are not intended merely for those, who can inlist the most men; but for such Gentlemen as are most likely to deserve them. The General would therefore, not have it even supposed, nor our Enemies encouraged to believe, that there is a Man in this army (except a few under particular circumstances) who will require to be twice asked to do what his Honour, his personal Liberty, the Welfare of his country, and the Safety of his Family so loudly demand of him: When motives powerful as these, conspire to call Men into service, and when that service is rewarded with higher pay, than private Soldiers ever yet met with in any former war: The General cannot, nor will not (until he is convinced to the contrary) harbour so despicable an Opinion of their understanding and zeal for the cause, as to believe they will desert it. As the Congress have been at so much pains to buy Goods, to cloath the Army, and the Quarter Master General, at great trouble to collect, upon the best terms he can, such Articles as are wanting for this purpose, he is directed to reserve those goods for those brave Soldiers, who are determined to stand forth in defence of their Country another year; and that he may be able to distinguish these, from such as mean to quit the Service, at the end of their present engagement, he will be furnished with the Inlistments. Any person therefore (Negroes excepted, which the Congress do not incline to inlist again) coming with a proper Order and will subscribe the Inlistment, shall be immediately supplied. That every non Commissioned Officer and Soldier may know upon what Terms it is he engages, he is hereby inform’d–That he is to be paid by the Kalender Month, at the present Rates; to wit.–Forty eight Shillings to the Serjeants, Forty-four to the Corporals, Drums and Fifes, and Forty to the privates, which pay it is expected will be regularly distributed every Month.

    That each man is to furnish his own Arms (and good ones) or, if Arms is found him he is to allow Six Shillings for the use thereof during the Campaign.

    That he is to pay for his Cloathing, which will be laid in for him, upon the best terms it can be bought; to do which, a Stoppage of Ten Shillings a month will be made, until the Cloathing is paid for.

    That Two Dollars will be allowed every one of them, who brings a good Blanket of his own with him, and will have Liberty to carry it away at the end of the Campaign.

    That the present allowance of provisions will be continued; And every man who inlists shall be indulged in a reasonable time, to visit his family in the Course of the winter, to be regulated in such a manner, as not to weaken the Army or injure the service.

    The Quarter Master General in preparing Barracks for the Officers, is to assign one to each compleat Corps under the new establishment.

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

    George Washington To Brigadier General John Sullivan

    Cambridge, November 5, 1775.

          Sir: At a time when some of our Seaport Towns are cruelly and Wantonly laid in Ashes; and ruin and Devastation denounced against others: when the Arms are demanded of the Inhabitants, and Hostages required (in effect) to surrender their Liberties. When General Howe by Proclamation, under the threat of Military Execution, has forbid the Inhabitants of Boston to leave the Town without his permission, first had and obtaind in Writing. When by another proclamation he strictly forbids any person’s bringing out of that place more than Five pounds Sterlg. of their property in Specie, because truely the Ministerial Army under his Command may be injured by it; and when by a third Proclamation, (after leaving the Inhabitants no alternative) he calls upon them to take Arms, under Officers of his appointing; ’tis evident, that the most Tyrannical, and cruel system is adopted for the destruction of the rights, and liberties of this Continent, that ever disgraced the most despotick Ministry, and ought to be opposed by every Means in our Power.

          I therefore desire, that you will delay no time in causing the Seizure of every Officer of Government at Portsmouth who have given pregnant proofs of their unfriendly disposition to the Cause we are Ingaged In; and when you have secured them, take the opinion of the Provencial Congress, or Committee of Safety, in what Manner to dispose of them in that Government. I do not mean that they should be kept in close confinemt. If either of these bodies should incline to send them to any of the Interior Towns upon their Parole not to leave them ’till released, it will meet with my concurrence.

          For the present, I shall avoid giving you the like order in respect to the Tories in Portsmouth; but the day is not far of when they will meet with this, or a worse fate if there is not considerable reformation in their Conduct, of this may be assured Sir, Yr. etc. 78

         The same letter, with the necessary change to meet the geographical location, and minus the last paragraph, was dated November 12 and sent to Governor Trumbull, Governor Cooke, and William Palfrey, at Portsmouth, N.H.


The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington, General Orders

    Head Quarters, Cambridge, November 12, 1775.

    Parole America. Countersign Freedom.

    Each Colonel upon the new establishment, to come to Head Quarters, to morrow morning ten OClock, in order to receive from the Adjutant General, as many printed Inlistments, as there are commission’d Officers in his Regiment–They will therefore without delay distribute One to each Officer, who is forthwith to proceed to inlist men for their respective Regiments in the Continental Army–The Soldiers as the printed Inlistments express to be engaged to serve untill the last day of December 1776

    In the General Orders of the 31st of October, it is declared, that every Non Commission’d Officer and Soldier, shall be paid by the Kalender month, as follows, to a Serjeant forty-eight Shillings, to the Corporals forty-four, and forty to each private; which pay it is expected, will be regularly distributed, every month–Each Non Commissioned Officer, and Soldier, (Drums and Fifes excepted) is to furnish his own Arms; if Arms are found him, he is to allow Six Shillings, at the end of the Campaign for the use thereof. New cloathing will forthwith be provided, for every Non Commission’d Officer and Soldier, for which an easy stoppage, of only ten Shillings a Month, will be made out of his pay, until the whole is paid. Two Dollars will be allowed to each Non Commission’d Officer, and Soldier, who provides himself with a good Blanket, and Liberty to take it away at the end of the campaign; the present ample allowance of provisions will be continued, and those who inlist, will be indulged in a reasonable time, to visit their familys, in the Course of the winter, this to be regulated in such a manner, as not to weaken the army, or injure the service.

    To prevent such contentions as have arisen, from the same person being inlisted by different Officers, and for different Regiments, it is possitively ordered; upon pain of being cashiered, That no Officer knowingly presume to inlist any Soldier, who has been previously inlisted by another Officer, where such a mistake happens undesignedly, the first Inlistment is to take place–The Officers are to be careful not to inlist any person, suspected of being unfriendly to the Liberties of America, or any abandon’d vagabond to whom all Causes and Countries are equal and alike indifferent–The Rights of mankind and the freedom of America, will have Numbers sufficient to support them, without resorting to such wretched assistance–Let those who wish to put Shackles upon Freemen fill their Ranks, and place their confidence in such miscreants.

    Neither Negroes, Boys unable to bare Arms, nor old men unfit to endure the fatigues of the campaign, are to be inlisted; The preferrences being given to the present Army, The Officers are vigilantly to try, what number of men can be inlisted, in the Course of this week, and make report thereof to their Colonels, who will report it to the General–This to be done every week, until the whole are compleated. The Regiments are to consist of eight Companies, each Company of a Captain, two Lieutenants, and an Ensign, four Serjeants, four Corporals, two Drums and Fifes and Seventy-six Privates; As the Regiments are compleated, they will be mustered, and then reviewed by the Commander in Chief; when a Roll of each Company, sign’d by the Captain, according to a form previously deliver’d by the Adjutant General; is to be delivered to his Excellency. The Colonel of each Regiment will receive a List of the Officers upon the New establishment from his Brigadier General. The Commissioned, non Commissioned Officers and Soldiers of the present Army are, (notwithstanding their new engagement) to continue in the Regiment and Company they now belong to, until further orders. Upon any Soldier being inlisted, from the present, into the New Establishment, the Regiment he now belongs to, with his Name, Town and Country, are to be enter’d in a Roll kept for that purpose, by each Officer: A Copy of this Roll sign’d, to be sent every Saturday morning, to the Colonel of each regiment–When the new Regiments are compleated, the Colonels may upon Application, receive their Continental Commissions for themselves, and their Officers.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington, Head Quarters, Cambridge, November 20, 1775.

    Parole Essex. Countersign Falmouth.

    The Colonels and commanding Officers of Regiments, upon the new Establishment, are forthwith to send one Officer from each Company upon the recruiting Service into the Country, they are to take with them a Copy of the recruiting Instructions as contain’d in General Orders of the 12th Instant, and comply strictly therewith; care to be taken not to leave any Company under the old establishment destitute of proper Officers.

    As the General is informed that this is the season, in which the people of the four New England Governments, lay in Provisions, Stores &c, for the use of their families; he has recommended (in the strongest manner he is capable) the Necessity of sending Money to Camp, for the immediate payment of the Troops for the Months of October and November, and in Order to enable those, who have again inlisted, and such others as are resolved to continue in service; to do this more effectually, he has also recommended them to the Congress, for one Months advanced pay, and has no doubt himself, of its being complied with, if Money can be forwarded in time.

No Soldier whenever dismissed, is to carry away any Arms with him, that are good, and fit for service, if the Arms are his own private property, they will be appraised, and he will receive the full Value thereof: Proper persons when necessary, will be appointed to inspect, and value, the Arms, so detained.

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

    George Washington, GENERAL ORDERS Head Quarters,

    Cambridge, November 23, 1775.

    Parole Lebanon. Countersign Marshfield.

    The Colonels, or commanding Officers of each new established Regiment, may draw to the Amount of two Month’s pay, for each Officer they send into the Country, (agreeable to the Orders of the 20th Instant) a recruiting, and furnish them therewith — Abstracts to be made and given in accordingly.

    Men recruited out of the old Regiments will continue in pay after the term of their present Enlistments, as usual, and all new recruits, that is, Men who are not at present in the service, will enter upon pay so soon as they inlist, and will be allowed Six-pence a day for Subsistance, from the time they are recruited, until they march for the camp, and one-penny per mile from their usual place of abode, to their regiment, for subsistance and Expences afterwards; The Officers are not to keep the Recruits they raise in the country, a moment longer than they can help, but send them to their respective regiments, as fast as eight, or ten of them, are inlisted.

    The Colonels, or commanding Officers of Regiments, may relieve the Officers who are first sent into the Country upon the recruiting service, as they shall see occasion; and are expressly ordered, to recall every one, who is negligent and unsuccessful in this duty.

    The new inlisted men upon producing to the Colonel, or commanding Officers, of the Regiment they are inlisted into, a Blanket fit for use, will be entitled to the Two Dollars allowed by the Continent therefor; and the Colonel, or commanding Officer, is to make out a List of the names of such men, that the money may be drawn for them — The Colonel is to keep a Copy of such List, to prevent mistakes — the list must specify the Company each Man belongs to.

    The Major General, with the Brigadier of his division, are to appoint three persons of character, and judgment, to value the Arms of discharged Soldiers, specifying to whom they belong, whether public or private property, and what they consist of — They are to fix a reasonable and just price upon them, and to take none but such as are fit for service — They are to enter into a Book such Valuation, and deliver the Arms so valued, to the Commissary of Artillery Stores, and take a receipt for the same.

    A General Court Martial to sit to morrow, in Cambridge, to try such prisoners as shall be brought before them. The General Court Martial of which Col. Poor was president is dissolved.

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

George Washington To Brigadier General John Sullivan

Cambridge, December 8, 1775.

Sir: The Intention of yesterday’s order, respecting the Review of the Connecticut Troops, is only to afford a good oppertunity of making choice of such of their Arms as shall be found fit for the use of the New Army.

I am not without my fear that if they are appriz’d of the Intention, some of the best Arms will be Secreted; for this reason I desire you will say nothing of the matter till the Regiment (in your Brigade) is paraded, and then, in Company with the Field Officers of it, make choice of all the Arms that are good, taking the names of the Proprietors of them that they may be lodged, valued, and paid for agreeable to the General Order of the 23d. Ulto. I am Sir, etc.

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

George Washington To The President of Congress

Cambridge, December 25, 1775.

Sir: I had the Honor to address myself to you the 19th instant; since which I have received undoubted Information, that the genuine instructions given to Conolly, have not reached your hands, that they are very artfully concealed in the tree of his Saddle and covered with canvass so nicely that they are scarcely discerned, that those which were found upon him, are intended to deceive if he should be caught; you will certainly have his Saddle taken to peices in order to discover this deep laid plot. 78 Inclosed is a Copy of General Howe’s Letter in Answer to the one I wrote him the 18th instant; The Conduct I am to observe towards Brigadier Prescott, in consequence of these Letters, the Congress will Oblige me by determining for me. The Gentlemen by whom you sent the Money are arrived; the sum they brought tho’ large, is not sufficient to answer the demands for

    [Ford notes that Allen Cameron, Dr. John Smith (or Smyth), and John Connolly were apprehended at Hagerstown, Md., by the committee of Frederick County, Md., and some incriminating documents found on them. Connolly had been commissioned by Gage to raise a company in the back country and Canada and was arrested when on his way to the Delaware Indians bearing a speech from Dunmore to enlist their efforts against the colonists. Cameron was to be appointed a lieutenant and Smith a surgeon in the new company. Both were Scotchmen. Connolly was kept a prisoner till the end of the war. A narrative of his experience is printed in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1888-89).]

the Army, which at this time are remarkably heavy. There is three months pay due; one month advance; Two Dollars for each Blanket; The Arms which are left by those who are dismissed, to be paid for, besides the demands on the Commissary and Quarter Master Generals. You will therefore see the necessity of another remittance, which I beg may be soon as you conveniently can….

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

    George Washington, GENERAL ORDERS Head Quarters,

    Cambridge, December 28, 1775.

    …It is expected of such Men as are determin’d not to continue in the Service, another Campaign, that they will sell their Blankets to those who do, and are in want of them, the same thing is also recommended to the Militia.

    In appraising the Arms, the General expects, that they be number’d and mark’d, in such manner, as the Owners of them and the prices, may at any time be ascertain’d upon the delivery of them by the Commissary of the Stores — All Arms thus appraised, and taken for the Use of the Public, must be delivered into the Care of the Commissary of the Ordnance Stores, but may be redrawn immediately, if the Colonel will pass his Receipt for them and account for the delivery to his men….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to New Hampshire Convention,

Cambridge, January 13, 1776.

Sir: I am sorry, that I should have so often troubled you respecting this Army, and that I am under the necessity of applying to you again.

To my great surprise Sir, I find, that notwithstanding I have taken the utmost pains to prevent the soldiers that would not reenlist in the New Army from carrying away their Arms, or such of them as were good, that the whole number collected amounts only to 1620, of which there are no more than 120 now in store; the rest being delivered to the Recruits, which have come in.

I also find from the Report of the recruiting officers, that few men are to be inlisted, who have Arms in their Hands, and that they are reduced to the disagreeable alternative, of getting men without any, or no men at all. Unhappy situation! What is to be done? Must not these Governments exert themselves in procuring them from the several Towns, or in such other manner, as to them shall seem most effectual and Speedy.***16

[Note 16: The omission is the same as the third paragraph in the letter to the Massachusetts Legislature of this same date.]

The prospect of getting Imported Arms, is so remote and uncertain that I cannot depend upon it. I therefore request the favor of you, to inform me, whether you have any and what number belonging to the Government, as also If you will be able to procure more and in what time. If you have any or can get’ them, I shall be glad to take them on account of the United Colonies. They must be had if possible. I have wrote to the Honble. Genl. Court of this province about the same, but have not received their Answer. Should any of your Militia be here, when I get your Answer, will it be prudent to apply to them for their Arms; leaving it optional in them cannot be amiss.–But will the necessity of the case justify an Involuntary detention of them? I ask for Information. I am Sir, &c.

George Washington to Massachusetts Assembly,

Cambridge, January 13, 1776.

Gentn: It is exceedingly painful to me, to give you so much trouble as I have, and am like to do, in the support of our Lines and arrangement of the New Army. But my difficulties, must in their consequences, devolve trouble on you.

To my very great surprize, I find that the whole number of Arms, which have been stopped from the discharged Soldiers, amount to no more than 1620; and of that number, no more than 120 are in store, the rest being redelivered to the Recruits which have come in. I also find, from the Report of the recruiting officers, that few Men are to be Inlisted, who have Arms in their hands, and that they are reduced to the Alternative, of either getting no Men, or Men without Arms. Unhappy Situation; what is to be done, unless these Governments will exert themselves in providing Arms from the Several Towns, or in such other manner, as to them shall seem speedy and effectual.

To account for this great deficiency, would be tedious and not much to the purpose,– Suffice it generally to say, that it has arisen from two causes;–the badness of the Arms of the old Army, which the Inspectors and Valuers of, did not think fit to detain; and to the disobedient Regiments, which in spite of every order I could Issue to the Contrary, (even to solemn threat of stopping the pay for the Months of November and December, of all those who should carry away their Arms) have, in a manner by stealth borne them away.

I am glad to hear, by a Gentn. of your Honble. Body, who does me the Honor to be the bearer of this Letter, that you have for sometime past been Collecting Arms at Watertown, whilst a good deal of dispatch has been used in making them elsewhere. I beg to know how many I can rely upon, as the recruits now coing in from the Country, will be useless without. It is to no purpose I find, to depend upon Imported Arms; what you can furnish, I must take in behalf of the Continent, and will upon Notice, send some Gentleman to receive them. Will it be prudent to apply to such of the Militia, as are going away, for their Arms? leaving It optional in them, cannot be amiss, but will the Necessity of the case Justify the policy of detaining them; I ask for Information. being with great truth etc.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Continental Congress,

Cambridge, January 14, 1776.

Sir: I am exceedingly sorry, that I am under the necessity of applying to you, and calling the attention of Congress to the state of our Arms, which is truly alarming; Upon the dissolution of the old Army, I was apprehensive that the New would be deficient in this instance, and that the want might be as inconsiderable as possible, I gave it in Orders that the Arms of such men as did not reinlist, should be (or such of them as were good) retained at the prices which should be affixed by persons appointed to Inspect and value them: And that we might be sure of them, I added, that there would be a stoppage of pay for the Months of Novr. and Decr. from those, that should carry their Firelocks away, without there being first examined.

By these precautions I hoped to have procured a considerable Number: But Sir, I find with much concern, that from the badness of the Arms, and the disobedience of too many in bearing them off without a previous inspection, that a very few were collected; neither are we to expect that many will be brought in by the New Recruits: the Officers who are out inlisting, having reported, that few [17] men who have Arms will engage in the Service, and that they are under the disagreable alternative of taking men without Arms, or of getting none. Unhappy situation Indeed and much to be deplored! especially when we know, that we have to contend with a formidable Army, well provided of every necessary, and that there will be a most vigorous exertion of Ministerial vengence against us, as soon as they think themselves in a condition for it. I hope it is in the power of Congress to afford us relief; If it is not, what must, what can be done?

[Note 17: This word is in the writing of Washington.]

Our Treasury is almost exhausted, and the demands against it, very considerable; a constant supply of money to answer every claim and exigency, would much promote the good of the Service; in the common affairs of Life, it is useful: In War, it is absolutely necessary and essential. I would beg leave too, to remind you of Tents and of their importance; hoping if an opportunity has offered, you have procured them.

I fear that our Army will not be raised to the New Establishment in any reasonable time, if ever; the Inlistments go on so very slow, that they seem almost at an end.

In my Letter of the 4th. instant I wrote you that I had received certain Intelligence from a Mr. Hutchinson and others, that 2 of the 5 regiments from Cork were arrived at Halifax, one at Boston and the other 2 had sailed for Quebec, and had not been heard of. I am now Assured as a matter to be relied on, by four Captains of Ships (who left England about the 2d of Novemr. and who appear to be men of veracity, that the whole of these regiments (except the three Companies, which arrived at Boston some time ago) when they sailed, were at Milford Haven where they had been Obliged to put in by a violent Storm the 19th of October; That they would not be able to leave it for a considerable time, being under the necessity of repairing their Vessels and taking some new ones up; such is the uncertainty and contradiction in what I now hear, that it is not possible to know, what to believe or disbelieve.

I wrote to the General Court yesterday and to the Convention of New Hampshire immediately on being acquainted with the great deficiency in our Arms, praying that they would Interest themselves in the matter, and furnish me with all in their power. Whether I shall get any or what quantity, I cannot determine, having not received their Answers. The same Application will be made to the Governments of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

I do myself the Honor to send you sundry news papers, I received from the above mentioned Captains as they may be later than any you have seen, and contain some Interesting Intelligence. I have the Honor to be etc.18

[Note 18: In the writing of Robert Hanson Harrison.]

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

George Washington to To Joseph Reed

Cambridge, January 14, 1776.

…Thus am I situated with respect to men. With regard to arms I am yet worse off. Before the dissolution of the old army, I issued an order directing three judicious men of each brigade to attend, review, and appraise the good arms of every regiment; and finding a very great unwillingness in the men to part with their arms, at the same time not having it in my power to pay them for the months of November and December, I threatened severely, that every soldier, who carried away his firelock without leave, should never receive pay for those months; yet so many have been carried off, partly by stealth, but chiefly as condemned, that we have not at this time one hundred guns in the stores, of all that have been taken in the prize-ship and from the soldiery, notwithstanding our regiments are not half completed. At the same time I am told, and believe it, that to restrain the enlistment to men with arms, you will get but few of the former, and still fewer of the latter, which would be good for any thing….

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

    George Washington To The Massachusetts Legislature

    Cambridge, January 16, 1776.

    …In the mean while, as there is an appearance of this service going on but slowly, and it is necessary to have a respectable Body of Troops here as soon as possible, to act as circumstances shall require; I must beg that you will order in, with as much expedition as the Nature of the Case will admit of, Seven Regts. agreeable to the establishment of this Army, to continue in Service till the 1st of April, If required. You will be pleased to direct, that the Men come provided with good Arms, Blankets, Kettles for cooking, and if possible, with Twenty rounds of Powder and Ball.

    With respect to your other resolve relative to arms, I am quite ready to make an absolute purchase, of such as shall be furnished either by the Colony or Individuals. I am also ready to engage payment for all the Arms, which shall be furnished by the Recruits, if lost in the Public Service; but I do not know how far I could be justified in allowing for the use of them; when I know it to be the opinion of Congress, that every Man shall furnish his own Arms, or pay for the use of them, if put in his hands. To do otherwise, is an Indirect way of raising the pay. I again wish that the Honble: Court could devise some method of purchasing….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington, General Orders

    Head Quarters, Cambridge, January 21, 1776.

    Parole Granby. Countersign Monckton.

    The Colonel, or commanding Officer of each Regiment, is forthwith to send out one, or two, prudent and sensible Officers, to buy up such Arms as are wanted for his Regiment, These Officers to be also good Judges of arms, and they are directed to purchase none, but such as are proper and in the best repair, and if possible to get them with Bayonets, but not to refuse a good Firelock without–The Officers going upon this duty, are to be furnish’d with Cash, from their respective Colonels, or Commanding Officers, out of the Money designed for the Month’s advance pay, for the Recruits, which money will be replaced as wanted–The Names of the Officers sent upon this business, with Sums advanced them, are to be immediately returned to the Adjutant General by the Colonels–These Officers are not to be absent longer, than the 4th of February next.

    All Recruits who shall furnish their own Arms, (provided they are good) shall be paid one Dollar, for the Use of them, shall have the Privilege of carrying them away, when their time is out, and in case they are lost (through no default of their own) shall be paid for them, at the end of the campaign.

    All Persons having business with the Adjutant General, are to apply to him at his Office, at the entrance next to the Front of the Head Quarters.

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

George Washington to The President of Congress

Camp, Cambridge, January 24, 1776.

…Having met with no encouragement from the Governments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire from my application for Arms, and expecting no better from Connecticut and Rhode Island; I have as the last expedient, sent one or two Officers from each Regiment into the country with Money to try if they can buy. In what manner they succeed, Congress shall be informed, as soon as they return….

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

George Washington General Orders Head Quarters,

Cambridge, January 28, 1776.

Parole Cleavland. Countersign Lowther.

As the General is consenting to, and desirous of the Militia drawing the same pay, as the Continental Troops The Officers of those Companies are hereby inform’d, that since the first of January, their pay will be the same as those Officers (of equal Rank), upon the new establishment; but before that date, no more than what was drawn under the old establishment, can be allow’d them, of this they are to take particular notice, that no mistake may happen.

When the Militia are discharged the Colonels or commanding Officers of the Regiments with whom they have done duty, are to take especial care that every Ounce of Ammunition is received from them (belonging to the public) as also such Men as Joined their Regiments for a Month — If any Man attempts to carry off a single Grain of Ammunition not known to be his own, he will be pursued, brought back and severely punished.

The Colonels, or commanding Officers of Regiments, are requested to buy any good Arms, which the Militia may voluntarily incline to sell; They are also to make out Pay Abstracts, for those Men who joined their Regiments for the Month of January; confining it to that Month, that Warrants may issue accordingly.

Brigadier Genl. Heath, with the Colonels of his Brigade, to attend at Head Quarters to morrow for Commissions to be filled up.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

Cambridge, January 30, 1776. George Washington To Continental Congress

…I have not succeeded in my applications to these Governments for Arms; they have returned for Answer that they can not furnish any. Whether I shall be more lucky in the last resource left me in this Quarter, I cannot determine, having not received returns from the Officers sent out to purchase of the People. I greatly fear, that but very few will be procured in this way, as they are exceedingly scarce and but a small part of what there are fit for service;–when they make their report, you shall be informed….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Continental Congress,

Cambridge, February 9, 1776.

…I am entirely of your Opinion, that should an accommodation take place, the Terms will be severe, or favorable, in proportion to our ability to resist, and that we ought to be on a respectable footing to receive their Armaments in the Spring:– but how far we shall be provided with the means is a matter I profess not to know under my present unhappy want of Arms, Ammunition, and I may add men, as our Regiments are very incomplete, the recruiting goes on very slow and will I apprehend be more so, if for other services the men receive a bounty and none is given here.

I have tried every method I can think of to procure Arms for our Men; they really are not to be had in these Governments [belonging to the Public]83 and if some method is not fallen upon in the Southern Governments, to supply us, we shall be in a distressed situation for want of them; there are near 2000 men now in Camp without Firelocks. I have wrote to the Committee of New York, this day, requesting them to send me those Arms which were taken from the disaffected in that Government, the Congress interesting themselves in this request, will doubtless have a good effect. I have sent Officers into the Country with Money to purchase Arms in the different Towns, some have returned and brought in a few, many are still out, what their success will be I cannot determine.

[Note 83: The words in brackets are in the writing of Washington.]

I was in great hopes, that the expresses, resolved to be established between this place and Philadelphia, would ere now have been fixt. It would in my Opinion, rather save, than increase the expence, as many Horses, are destroyed by one Man coming the whole way, it will certainly be more expeditious, and safer than writing by the Post, or private hands, which I am often under the necessity of doing.84 I have the Honor etc.85

[Note 84: This letter was read in Congress on February 22; considered in Committee of the Whole on February 23; and committees appointed to contract for arms and encourage their manufacture, Another committee was appointed to encourage the manufacture of powder. On March 14 a general resolution was adopted recommending the disarming of the “notoriously disaffected to the cause of America” throughout the Colonies; the arms taken to be paid for.]

[Note 85: In the writing of Stephen Moylan.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Massachusetts General Court,

Cambridge, February 10, 1776.

Gentn: Notwithstanding I have taken every method my Judgment could Suggest, to procure a sufficient number of Firelocks for the Soldiers of this Army, by applications to the Assemblies and Conventions of these Governments, as well as by sending Officers out with Money to Purchase; I am constrained by necessity to Inform you, that the deficiency is amazingly great, and that there are not nigh enough to Arm the Troops already here. It is true, that all the Officers gone upon the business, are not yet returned, but from the small success of those who have made report, I cannot promise myself many more; I must therefore beg leave to Sollicit your kind attention to this Interesting and Important concern, and would submit it to your Consideration whether if your Honorable Court were to depute some of their Members to make application to the different Towns, they might not procure a Considerable Quantity. I will most chearfully furnish them with Money for the purpose, or pay for them on their delivery here, as you shall think most advisable. I shall only add, that I hope the Exigency of our affairs at this critical crisis, will excuse this request and my confidence of your readiness and zeal, to do every thing in your power for promoting the public good; and am Gentln. etc.

P S I have heard that there are several King’s Muskets in the Country, for every good one with a Bayonet, that have not been abused, I will give 12 Dollars,–and in proportion for other Guns fit for Service.

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

    George Washington To Governor Jonathan Trumbull

    Cambridge, February 19, 1776.

    …For want perhaps of better Information, I cannot help giving it as my opinion, that at a time when our Military Operations are intirely at a stand, for want of Powder principally and Arms; It is inconsistent with good policy, to hoard up Town Stocks of either; better it is, to fight an Enemy at a distance, than at one’s door. Prudence indeed points out the expediency of providing for private as well as Public Exigencies; But if both are not to be done, I should think there can be no hesitation in the Choice; as the Army now raised and supported at a Considerable expence, can be of little use, if it is not sufficient to prevent an Enemy from disturbing the quiet of the interior Towns of these Governments. I am &c.

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

    George Washington, GENERAL ORDERS Head Quarters,

    Cambridge, February 21, 1776.

    Parole Devonshire. Countersign Grafton.

    The General being anxious to have the established Regiments, compleated, with all possible expedition, desires the Colonels, and commanding Officers, forthwith to send an Officer from each incompleat Company, into the Country, upon the recruiting service; who are expressly forbid enlisting any Boys — Old Men — or Slaves: — These Officers are also to use their best endeavour, to get what good Arms they can — The Recruiting in Camp, is also to be continued —

    The Colonels, and Commanding Officers of Regiments; are to send to the Qr. Mr. General, to morrow Morning, the names of the Sutlers licensed by them, to supply their respective Corps.

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

    George Washington, GENERAL ORDERS Head Quarters,

    Cambridge, February 24, 1776.

    …The Commanding Officer of each Regiment, may apply for a Warrant for Five- hundred Dollars, to put into the hands of such Officers, as they send into the Country, On the recruiting Service, to buy Arms; these Officers are in an especial manner charged to purchase no Arms, but such as are good, and fit for immediate Use — Kings Musquets, or Guns as near that quality as can be had, should be got, and with Bayonets, if possible — As there is a Committee in each of the Counties, of the Massachusetts-Bay, appointed by the General Court, to purchase Arms for this Army, the Officers are to take care, not to raise the price, by bidding against each other….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Continental Congress,

May 5, 1776.

…I cannot, by all the enquiries I have been able to make, learn, what number of arms have been taken from the Tories, where they lay, or how they are to be got at.

    The Committee of Safety for this Colony have assured me that no exertions of theirs shall be wanting to procure Arms; but our sufferings in the meanwhile may prove fatal, as Men without are in a manner useless.

    I have therefore thought of Imploying an Agent, whose sole business it shall be, to ride through the middle and interior parts of these Governments for the purpose of buying up such Arms as the Inhabitants may Incline to sell, and are fit for use. (27)

    [Note 27: The resolve of May 14, 1776, authorized Washington to employ such an agent, but ignored the reported stores in Philadelphia. The Secret Committee was ordered to send to camp the muskets that were at Newport, R. I.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to James Clinton,

    New York, June 25, 1776.

    Sir: I received yours of the 20th Inst. and in Answer thereto, request you to draw out of your Regiment, all the Armourers, in it and set them immediately to Work. They will receive the same Pay as the Armourers here do, under the like Circumstances. You must endeavour to engage the one you mention, upon the same Terms that are given here; but if you cannot do better, you must continue him on those contained in your letter.

    In Respect to keeping two of the Commissioners, if it is absolutely necessary, it must be done, till you are provided with an Engineer, or so long as they may be wanted. Will not one be sufficient? If it will, two need not be retained.

    It being impossible to procure a sufficient Number of Tents for the whole Army, it will be necessary for you to procure a Quantity of thin Boards, which you must have put up in a close Manner to answer the Purpose. This is now doing for General Scott’s Militia Brigade,18 and will do exceedingly well.

    [Note 18: Brig. Gen. John Morin Scott, of the New York Militia.]

    I cannot but consider the Pay of the Carpenters enormous and extravagant; nor can I suggest any good Reason, why they should receive more than those employed here; some of which, for Instance, Captain Bruen’s Company from the Jerseys, are compleat Workmen, and can execute almost any Kind of Work in the best Manner. I desire you will endeavour to lessen their Pay, and to prevail on them to receive no more than what is given here.

    The Pay Rolls will be settled by the Provincial Congress up to the last of April inclusive, as has been done with the other Troops raised in this Colony. The Abstracts after that Time, will be taken in, and paid by me as others are.

    I observe by the Returns, that your Regiment is still greatly deficient in Arms, which is a Circumstance highly distressing at this Time. As I have no Prospect of getting any, that I know of; I request you to have no Dependence on me for a Supply, and that you will use every possible Method you can to procure what you want from the Country People, or wheresoever they can be had by purchasing. I am, etc.

P.S. The Powder of the Province in your Hands, and which is made up in Cartridges, you must not spare by any Means; But repay the Quantity of it out of continental Stock, if any.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to Continental Congress,

    New York, July 4, 1776.

    Sir: When I had the honor to address you on the 30th. Ulto., I transmitted a copy of a Letter I had received from a Gentleman a Member of the Honorable General Court of Massachusetts Bay, suggesting the improbability, of succours coming from thence in any reasonable Time, either for the defence of this place, or to reinforce our Troops engaged in the Canada expedition. I am sorry to inform you, that from a variety of Intelligence his apprehensions appear to be just, and to be fully confirmed. Nor have I reason to expect, but that the supplies from the other two Governments, Connecticut and New Hampshire, will be extremely slow and greatly deficient in number. As it now seems beyond Question, and clear to demonstration, that the Enemy mean to direct their Operations and bend their most vigorous Efforts against this Colony and will attempt to Unite their two Armies, that under General Burgoyne, and the one arrived here. I cannot but think the expedient proposed by that Gentleman is exceedingly just and that the Continental Regiments now in Massachusetts Bay, should be immediately called from thence and be employed, where there is the strongest reason to believe their aid will be indispensably necessary.72 The expediency of the Measure I shall submit to the consideration of Congress, and will only observe as my Opinion, that there is not the most distant prospect of an attempt being made where they now are, by the Enemy, and if there should, that the Militia that can be assembled upon the shortest Notice, will be more than equal to repel it; They are well armed, resolute and determined, and will instantly oppose any Invasion that may be made in their own Colony.

    [Note 72: On July 8, on report of the Board of War, the Commander in Chief was vested with discretionary power to call to New York such of the Continental regiments in Massachusetts as had not already been ordered to Ticonderoga. The militia were to supply their place at Boston. (See Journals of the Continental Congress.)]

    I shall also take the Liberty again to request Congress, to Interest themselves in having the Militia raised and forwarded with all possible expedition, as fast as any considerable number of them can be collected, that are to compose the Flying Camp.73

    [Note 73: The 10,000 men for the Flying Camp were to be furnished from the militia of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. They were to be, of course, in Continental pay.]

    This I mentioned in my Letter of Yesterday, but think proper to repeat it, being more and more convinced of the necessity. The Camp will be in the Neighbourhood of Amboy, and I shall be glad, the Conventions or Committees of Safety of those Governments from whence they come, may be requested to give me previous notice of their marching, that I may form some plan, and direct Provision to be made for their reception. The disaffection of the People at that place and others not far off, is exceedingly great, and unless it is checked and overawed, it may become more general and be very alarming. The arrival of the Enemy will encourage it.

    They or at least a part of them are already landed on Staten Island, which is quite contiguous and about 4000 were marching about it yesterday, as I have been advised and are leaving no Acts unessayed, to gain the Inhabitants to their side, who seem but too favourably disposed. It is not unlikely that in a little time they may attempt to cross to the Jersey side, and induce many to join them, either from motives of Interest or fear, unless there is a force to oppose them.74

    [Note 74: “The enemy’s fleet is now come up within twelve miles of us; and yesterday a large body of men, with Cortlandt Skinner at their head, landed on Staten Island, and dividing themselves into three bodies, traversed the whole Island, with a view of collecting stock and vegetables. The villainy and treachery of many of the inhabitants will give them some supplies; for though the General took every method to get off the stock, (force excepted,) they contrived by some means or other to evade it.”– Joseph Reed to Esther Reed ( his wife), July 4, 1776. This letter is from Reed’s Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed.]

    As we are fully convinced that the ministerial Army we shall have to oppose this Campaign, will be great and numerous and well know, that the utmost Industry will be used, as it already has been, to excite the Savages and every body of People to Arms against us whom they can Influence, It certainly behooves us to strain every nerve to Counteract their designs: I would therefore submit it to Congress whether, especially as our Schemes for employing the Western Indians do not seem to be attended with any great prospect of success from General Schuyler’s Accounts, It may not be advisable to take measures to engage those of the Eastward, the St. Johns, Nova Scotia, Penobscot &ca. in our favor. I have been told that several might be got, perhaps five or six hundred or more, readily to Join us. If they can, I should imagine, It ought to be done. It will prevent our Enemies from securing their friendship, and further, they will be of infinite service, in annoying and harrassing them should they ever attempt to penetrate the Country. Congress will be pleased to consider the measure and if they determine to adopt it, I conceive it will be necessary to Authorize and request the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay to carry it into Execution.

    Their situation and advantages will enable them to Negotiate a Treaty and an Alliance better than it can be done by any persons else.75

    [Note 75: On July 8 Congress resolved: “That General Washington have permission to call forth and engage in the service of the United States so many Indians of the St. Johns, Nova Scotia and Penobscot tribes, as he shall judge necessary, and that he be desired to write to the general court of the Massachusetts bay, requesting their aid in this business, and informing them that Congress will reimburse such expences as may be necessarily incurred.” (See Journals of the Continental Congress.)]

    I have been honored with your two favors of the 1st. instant, and agreeable to the wishes of Congress, shall put Monsieur Wiebert in the best place I can, to prove his Abilities in the Art he professes. I shall send him up immediately to the Works erecting towards Kings Bridge under the direction of General Mifflin, whom I shall request to employ him.

    I this Moment received a Letter from General Greene, an extract of which I have inclosed. The Intelligence it contains is of the most Important nature, and evinces the necessity of the most spirited and Vigorous exertions on our part.76 The

    [Note 76: The extract, in the writing of George Lewis, is from Greene’s letter of July 4, which is not found in the Washington Papers. The extract is filed with Washington’s letter in the Papers of the Continental Congress.] expectation of the Fleet under Admiral Howe,77 is certainly the reason the Army already come, have not begun their Hostile operations. when that arrives we may look for the most interesting events and such as in all probability will have considerable weight in the present Contest. It behoves us to be prepared in the best manner, and I submit it again to Congress whether the Accounts given by these prisoners do not shew the propriety of calling the several Continental Regiments from the Massachusetts Bay Government, raising the flying Camp with all possible dispatch and engaging the Eastern Indians.

    [Note 77: Richard, Lord Howe, rear admiral and commander in chief of the British Fleet in North America.]

    July 5.

    General Mercer arrived here on Tuesday and the next morning was ordered to Powles Hook to make some Arrangement of the Militia, as they come in, and the best disposition he could to prevent the Enemy crossing from Staten Island, if they should have any such Views.

    The distressed situation of the Inhabitants of Elizabeth Town and New Ark, has since induced me upon their application, to give up all the Militia from the Jerseys, except those engaged for Six Months. I am hopeful they will be able to repell any Incursions that may be attempted. Generals Mercer and Livingston78 are concerting plans for that purpose. By a Letter from the Latter last night, I am informed the Enemy are throwing up small Works at all the passes on the North side of Staten Island, which it is probable they mean to secure. None of the Connecticut Militia are yet arrived, so that the reinforcement we have received, is very inconsiderable.

    [Note 78: Gen. William Livingston.]

    A Letter from General Schuyler with sundry inclosures, of which No. 1, 2. and 3. are exact Copies, this Moment came to hand and will no doubt claim as It ought to do the immediate attention of Congress. The evils which must inevitably follow a disputed Command are too obvious and alarming to admit a Moments delay, in your decision thereupon.79 And altho’ I do not presume to advise, in a matter now of this delicacy, Yet as it appears evident that the Northern Army has retreated to Crown Point and mean to act upon the defensive only, I cannot help giving it as my Opinion, that one of the Major Generals in that Quarter would be more usefully employed here, or in the flying Camp, than there; for it becomes my duty to observe. If another experienced Officer, is taken from hence in order to command the flying Camp, that your Grand Army will be entirely stripped of Generals who have seen service, being in a manner already destitute of such. My Distress on this Account; the Appointment of General Whitcomb80 to the Eastern Regiments; a conviction in my own breast, that no Troops would be sent to Boston and the certainty of a number coming to this place, occasioned my postponing from time to time sending any General Officer from hence to the Eastward heretofore, and now I shall wait the Sentiments of Congress relative to the five Regiments in Massachusetts Bay, before I do anything in this matter.

    [Note 79: By the time Gates’s leisurely movements had carried him toward his Canadian command the army had retreated from Canada and had fallen down to Ticonderoga, Gates claimed the supreme command, but Schuyler demurred on the ground that Gates was to command in Canada only. The matter was submitted to Congress and, as Gates’s influence was not yet as great with that body as it afterwards became, the decision (July 8) was against Gates, Hancock wrote him urging cordial cooperation with Schuyler. (See Journals of the Continental Congress.)]

    [Note 80: Gen. Jonathan Whitcomb.]

    The Commissary General has been with me this Morning concerning the other matter contained in General Schuyler’s Letters respecting the Business of that department. He has I believe in order to remove difficulties recalled Mr. Avery; but seems to think it necessary in that case, that Mr. Livingston should be left to himself, as he cannot be responsable for persons not of his own Appointment. This matter should also be clearly defined by Congress. I have already given my Opinion of the necessity of these Matters, being under one General direction, in so full and clear a manner, that I shall not take up the Time of Congress to repeat it in this place.81 I am &c.82

    [Note 81: Elisha Avery and Walter Livingstone’s dispute over command of the commissary department of the Northern Army was an outcome of the Gates-Schuyler controversy. Schuyler’s letter to Washington, dated July 1, 1776, outlining the matter, is in the Washington Papers. It is printed in Sparks’s Letters to Washington, vol. 1, p. 247.]

[Note 82: In the writing of Robert Hanson Harrison.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Continental Congress,

New York, July 10, 1776.

Sir: I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your two favors of the 4th and 6th instants, which came duly to hand, with their important inclosures. I perceive that Congress have been employed in deliberating on measures of the most interesting Nature. It is certain that it is not with us to determine in many instances what consequences will flow from our Counsels, but yet it behoves us to adopt such, as under the smiles of a Gracious and all kind Providence will be most likely to promote our happiness; I trust the late decisive part they have taken, is calculated for that end, and will secure us that freedom and those priviledges, which have been, and are refused us, contrary to the voice of Nature and the British Constitution. Agreeable to the request of Congress I caused the Declaration to be proclaimed before all the Army under my immediate Command, and have the pleasure to inform them, that the measure seemed to have their most hearty assent; the Expressions and behaviour both of Officers and Men testifying their warmest approbation of it. I have transmitted a Copy to General Ward at Boston, requesting him to have it proclaimed to the Continental Troops in that Department.

It is with great pleasure that I hear the Militia from Maryland, the Delaware Government and Pennsylvania, will be in Motion every Day to form the Flying Camp. It is of great importance and should be accomplished with all possible dispatch. The readiness and alacrity with which the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania and the other conferrees have acted in order to forward the Associated Militia of that State, to the Jerseys for service ’till the Men to compose the Flying Camp arrive, strongly evidence their regard to the Common Cause, and that nothing on their part will be wanting to support it. I hope and I doubt not, that the Associated Militia, impressed with the expediency of the Measure, will immediately carry it into execution and furnish in this instance a proof of the continuance of that Zeal which has so eminently marked their conduct. I have directed the Commissary to make necessary provision for their reception, who will also supply the Army for the Flying Camp with Rations. A proper Officer will be appointed to command it….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to Pennsylvania Safety Council,

    Head Quarters, Bucks County, December 15, 1776.

    Gentn.: With the utmost regret, I must inform you of the loss our Army has sustained, by the Captivity of General Lee, who was made a prisoner on the Morning of the 13th. by a party of 70. of the Enemy’s Light Horse, near a place call’d Veal Town, in the Jerseys. For the particulars, I refer you to the inclosed from General Sullivan.13

    [Note 13: Sullivan’s letter, dated Dec. 13, 1776, is in the Washington Papers.]

    The Spirit of disaffection that appears in this Country, I think, deserves your serious attention; instead of giving any Assistance in repelling the Enemy; the Militia have not only refused to obey your General Summons and that of their Commanding Officers; but, I am told, exult at the approach of the Enemy, and our late misfortunes. I beg leave to submit to your Consideration, whether such people are to be trusted with Arms in their Hands? If they will not use them for us, there is the greatest reason to apprehend they will against us, if opportunity offers. But, even supposing they claimed a right of remaining Neuter; in my Opinion, we ought not to hesitate a Moment in taking their Arms, which will be so much wanted in furnishing the New Levies. If such a step meets your approbation, I leave it to you to determine upon the Mode. If you think fit to impower me, I will undertake to have it done, as speedily and effectually as possible. You must be sensible that the utmost secrecy is necessary [both in your deliberations on, and in the execution of] a Matter of this kind; for, if the thing should take wind, the Arms would presently be conveyed beyond our reach, or rendered useless.

    Your favors of the 13th. and 14th. Inst.14 are this moment come to my hands; I am glad to find from the latter, that the Militia of Lancaster County are in Motion; and I am in hopes, that General Mifflin’s appearance, in the different Counties, will have as good an Effect as it had in Philadelphia. I have received information, that the Body of the Enemy which lay at Pennington, under Lord Cornwallis, moved this morning back towards Princetown; if so, it looks as if they were going into Quarters; and this Corresponds with the Account brought last night by a Prisoner, a Servant belonging to Genl. Vaughan’s family, who says he heard his Master talk of going soon into Winter Quarters. The Body, that lay at Trenton, are likewise filing of[ towards Allen Town and Bordentown, with their Baggage; which makes me conjecture, they are taking the Road to South Amboy. I have a Number of Small Parties out to make discoveries; and, if the Motions of the Enemy are really such, as I have mentioned above, I shall soon have information of it. In the mean time, my Troops are so stationed, as to prevent them from crossing the River at any place, without our knowledge. But, I am in great Hopes, that the disappointment in Boats and the lateness of the Season, which now begins to put on the face of Winter, will prevent their making any Attempt upon Philadelphia till Spring. This, however, should not in the least slacken your Exertions in making the necessary preparations for the Fortification and Defence of the City by land and Water; for you may be assured that will be their first and great object in the Spring. I have the Honor &c.15

    [Note 14: These letters are in the Washington Papers.]

    [Note 15: The draft is in the writing of Tench Tilghman. The words in brackets are in Washington’s writing.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Pennsylvania Safety Council,

December 22, 1776.

…I have not a Musket to furnish the Militia who are without Arms; this demand upon me makes it necessary to remind you, that it will be needless for those to come down who have no Arms, except they will consent to work upon the Fortifications instead of taking their Tour of Military Duty; if they will do that, they may be most usefully employed. I would recommend to you to call in as many Men as can be got, for the express purpose of Working for we shall most undoubtedly have occasion for every Man who can procure or bear a Musket….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull, et al

    Head Quarters, Morris Town, February 6, 1777.

    As the Arrival of a Sufficient quantity of Small Arms from Europe in time, to arm the Continental Troops, is a matter of great uncertainty, proper Steps should be immediately taken in your State to Collect all that can be purchased from private People. The Custom of hiring them for the Campaign, is attended with many bad Consequences, the owners take little care of them and carry them away or sell or change them when they please.

    Particular Attention should be paid to the quality of the Firelock; no light trash Arms should on any Account be received in the Public Stores, if they are not Substantial, both in Lock and Barrel, they should be thrown upon the Hands of the Commissary who purchased them. I am &c.

    P.S. Letters from Genl. Schuyler inform me, that the Post of Ticonderoga is left almost intirely naked; that it is in no Situation of Resistance; you will therefore be pleased, to hurry on your Regiments and order them immediately to that Place.12

[Note 12: The draft is in the writing of Tench Tilghman. The letter sent to New Hampshire, in the archives of the New Hampshire Historical Society, is dated Feb. 7, 1777.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull,

Head Quarters, Morris Town, February 6, 1777.

Sir: I am this Evening honored with yours of the 1st Inst., and am to thank you for your Promise of forwarding the New Levies, which I am sure you will perform to the utmost of your Abilities. I have, as I wrote you in my last, pressed Congress to send you forward a Supply of Money and the proper Books to open your Loan Office. As Mr. Mease the Cloathier General is now here, I have shewed him that part of your Letter respecting Cloathing and I refer you to him for a Letter, which he will write to you upon that Head. Instead of hiring Arms, as has been the Custom heretofore, I would have them purchased of the Owners, on Account of the Continent, they will by these means be kept in better repair, for a Man looks upon it that he is at liberty to use his own firelock as he pleases. But in the purchase of the Arms, I would have special care taken as to the Quality, for our Stores are already lumbered with useless ones. I have the Honor to be etc.11

    [Note 11: The draft is in the writing of Tench Tilghman.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Samuel H. Parsons,

Head Quarters, Morris Town, February 18, 1777.

Dear Sir: I have yours of the 10th. instant, and thank you for the attention you shew to the Completion of the Eight Continental Battalions to be raised in your State. I doubt not but the people prefer inlisting in the small coasting Guards, who are to stay at home, rather than in the Regiments; but this inconvenience must be submitted to, for it would never do to have the Continental Regiments detached up and down in small parties. They must be drawn together as quick as possible, and all those who have not had the small pox, inoculated, agreeable to the Orders given to you some little time ago.

If any number of the prize Arms are not yet come forward, you ought to draw for your State, in proportion to the number of Battalions to be raised in the four Eastern States. It has heretofore been a practice to hire Arms for the Campaign; but I lately desired Govr. Trumbull to purchase all the good ones he could find in the Government, for the Continental use, and I think if active persons were employed to go thro’ the Country, as many might be procured, as, with what you already have, would nearly compleat your Regiments….

…Nothing distresses me more, than the Universal Call that is upon me, from all Quarters, for fire Arms, which I am totally unable to supply. The scandalous Loss, waste, and private appropriation of Public Arms, during the last Campaign is beyond all conception. Every State must exert itself and call upon their Colonels to produce Receipts, or to account for the Arms, that were delivered out to them last year; I beg you will not only do this, but purchase all, fit for the field, that can be procured from private persons, of which there must be a vast Number in the Government. I have wrote to Governor Cooke to return twelve hundred of the Eighteen hundred Stand of Arms, that were lent by your Agent to the State of Rhode Island, and I have also desired Col. Lee87 to defer drawing for the three hundred Stand, till he finds that there is a certainty of raising his Regt. There can be no doubt, but that the Arms that are on hand, should be delivered out to the Men that are first raised….

    [Note 87: Col. William Raymond Lee, of one of the 16 Additional Continental regiments.]

    – George Washington to Massachusetts Council, February 28, 1777. [The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull,

March 3, 1777.

…As I have in many of my late Letters, mentioned the distress that the Continent in general is under for the want of Arms, I need only repeat to you the Necessity that there is for making a Collection of the Public Arms and purchasing such as can be obtained from private Persons….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Samuel H. Parsons,

Morris Town, April 23, 1777.

…As to Arming the drafts, If they have not good ones of their own, and the State cannot furnish them, they must be supplied with those belonging to the public. But I must observe, that you cannot be too careful in taking proper and the most exact accounts of all you deliver, and to what Officer. And to prevent, in future, the scandalous abuses, arising from embezzlement and other dirty causes. All Arms, under the latter denomination, with their Accoutrements, are to be stamped, with the Words, United States, on the Barrel and such places as will receive the Impression. This is by a Resolve of Congress, and being founded in the most evident necessity, must be minutely attended to. Tho’ we have been fortunate in our late importations, yet we should not be lavish in the unnecessary use of them. All of the old, that are good and serviceable, should be first put into the hands of the Men. The deficiency to be made up with new ones, and what remain of either should be deposited in some secure place….

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 8, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

George Washington, General Orders,

Head-Quarters, Middle-Brook, June 13, 1777.


Such rifles as belong to the States, in the different brigades, to be immediately exchanged with Col. Morgan for musquets. Officers commanding brigades are desired to pay attention to this matter, as the nature of the service requires the utmost dispatch. If a sufficient number of rifles (public property) can not be procured, the Brigadiers are requested to assist Col. Morgan, either by exchanging, or purchasing those that are private property.

Those brigades that have not furnished the number of riflemen, returned to the Adjutant General, for Colonel Morgan’s Corps, are desired to send them immediately.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Benedict Arnold,

Head Quarters, Camp at Middle Brook, June 17, 1777.

…It is an happy circumstance, that such an animation prevails among the people. I would wish to let it operate and draw as many as possible together, which will be a great discouragement to the Enemy, by Showing that the popular Spirit is at such a height, and at the same time, will inspire the people themselves with confidence in their own Strength, by discovering to every individual the zeal and Spirit of his neighbours. But after they have been collected a few days, I would have the greatest part of them dismissed, as not being immediately wanted, desiring them to hold themselves in readiness for any sudden call, and concerting Signals with them, at the appearance of which they are to fly to Arms. I would have every means taken to engage a couple thousand of them for a Month, or as much more as they can be induced to consent to. In this case they will be able to render essential Service, both by an addition of Strength for the present, and by lessening the fatigue and duty of the Continental Army, which will tend to preserve them both in health and Spirits.

You will forward on all the Continental Troops by a safe route, as fast as they arrive. But you need send over no more of the Militia, ’till further orders. I approve of your fort flying such places, as you judge most likely to frustrate any attempt of the Enemy to pass the river. I am etc.

P.S. We have been so crowded with business at Head Quarters that I have not been able to write fully to Congress. I should therefore be glad you would communicate the purport of this Letter to them.76

[Note 76: The draft is in the writing of Alexander Hamilton. Arnold sent a copy of this letter to Congress, which was read in that body on June 19.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to Continental Congress,

    Head Qurs., Middle Brook, June 20, 1777.

    Sir: When I had the Honor of addressing you last, I informed you, that the Main Body of the Enemy had marched from Brunswick and extended their Van, as far as Sommerset Court House. I am now to acquaint you, that after encamping between these Two posts and beginning a line of Redoubts, they changed their Ground, Yesterday Morning and in the course of the preceeding night, and returned to Brunswick again, burning, as they went, several valuable dwelling Houses. We had constantly Light Troops, hovering round them, as far as circumstances would permit, but being secured on their flanks by the Raritan and Milstone, they were difficult to approach, and without loss, effected their return to their former Posts. This sudden and precipitate change in their operations, has afforded matter for much speculation. We suppose, their Original design was to attempt an impression on our right or to maneuvre us out of our Ground, or to advance towards the Delaware. Whether these conjectures were well founded, cannot be ascertained. But it is probable, if they had an impression in view, they found, it could not be attempted without great loss.

    As to bringing on an attack, they effectually secured themselves against One by the post they took; or if passing the Delaware ware was their object, that from the temper of the people, the prosecution of it, if not impracticable, would meet with much greater opposition, than what they expected. For I must observe, and with peculiar Satisfaction I do it, that on the first notice of the Enemy’s movements, the Militia assembled in the most Spirited manner, firmly determined to give them every annoyance in their power and to afford us every possible aid. This I thought it my duty to mention, in justice to their conduct and I am inclined to believe, that General Howe’s return, thus Suddenly made, must have been in consequence of the information he received, that the People were in and flying to Arms in every Quarter, to oppose him. I shall not reason upon this event, but I cannot but consider it, as a most fortunate and happy one to us, and the most distressing Mr. Howe has yet experienced, unless he has Schemes in contemplation, beyond the reach of my conjecture.

    I should have written to Congress more frequently respecting the Enemy, after they came from Brunswick, had I not been almost constantly on Horseback and their designs been clear; but as they were not, I did not wish to puzzle them with conjectures, more especially as I wrote Genl Arnold, with whom I was obliged to correspond, that he might cooperate with me as circumstances should require, to transmit them Copies of my Letters.

    Inclosed you will be pleased to receive an Extract of a Letter from Colo. Jackson of Boston, to Genl. Knox.87 The intelligence it contains, is interesting, and I shall be happy to hear that the two Brigs mentioned, have captured the remainder of the Hessians and more particularly so, if the capture should not be far from the British Coast, provided they arrive safe.

    [Note 87: This extract is filed with Washington’s letter in the Papers of the Continental Congress.]

    12 O’Clock.

    I just now received a Letter from Genl. Schuyler, a Copy of which and of its inclosures is herewith transmitted.88 The Enemy, from appearances, having changed their views for the present, or at least rendered them dark and mysterious, I have sent expresses to Brigadiers McDougall and Glover, to halt their Divisions, if they have proceeded any considerable distance from Peekskill, till further Orders, otherwise to return. I have also written to Genl. Putnam, to hold four Regiments in readiness to embark for Genl. Schuyler’s aid, should further intelligence, respecting the Enemy’s movements from Canada,

    [Note 88: Schuyler’s letters, dated June 15, 1777, and June 16, 1777, are in the Washington Papers; copies are filed with Washington’s letter in the Papers of the Continental Congress.] make it necessary. [The situation of Affairs in this Quarter,] The uncertainty of General Howe’s operations will not permit more to be done at this time. Genl Parsons arrived here this morning and his Division is marching to their ground towards the left of the Lines.

    I omitted to mention in my last, that in Consultation with my Genl Officers, it was agreed, that promotions should be Regimental in the Army, for all Officers under the Rank of Field Officers, and for all of that Rank, in the line of their State. This is now settled as a General Rule, a right being reserved However, that it may be made for particular merit, out of this line or refused for demerit or any substantial objection.89 I have the honor &ca.90

    [Note 89: See Journals of the Continental Congress, June 5, 1777, for report of the Board of War on rank and promotion in the Army.]

    [Note 90: In the writing of Robert Hanson Harrison. The draft, in Harrison’s and Caleb Gibbs’s writing, contains the phrase within file brackets, which was omitted from the letter sent.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Philip J. Schuyler,

11 Miles in the Clove, July 22, 1777.

Dear Sir: I yesterday Evening received the favour of your Letters of the 17th and 18th. instt. with their Inclosures.

I am heartily glad you have found two such advantageous spots to take post at, and I hope the progress of the Enemy will not be so rapid, as to prevent your throwing up such lines, as you may esteem necessary for their defence.87

[Note 87: Sparks states that Kosciuszko, the principal engineer in the Northern Department, had selected a position on Moses Creek, 4 miles below Fort Edward, N.Y., to which the army removed on July 22.]

Tho’ our affairs, for some days past, have worn a dark and gloomy aspect, I yet look forward to a fortunate and happy change. I trust Genl. Burgoyne’s Army will meet, sooner or later an effectual check, and as I suggested before, that the success, he has had, will precipitate his ruin. From your accounts, he appears to be pursuing that line of conduct, which of all others, is most favourable to us; I mean acting in Detachment. This conduct will certainly give room for enterprise on our part, and expose his parties to great hazard. Could we be so happy, as to cut one of them off, supposing it should not exceed four, five or six hundred Men, It would inspirit the people and do away much of their present anxiety.88 In such an event, they would loose sight of past misfortunes, and urged at the same time by a regard for their own security, they would fly to Arms and afford every aid in their power.

    [Note 88: At Bennington, Vt., not quite a month later, the detachments of Baum and Breymann, numbering, respectively, 550 and 642, were totally defeated with a loss of 900 killed and captured.]

    Your exertions to bring the People to view things in their proper light, to impress them with a just sense of the fatal consequences that will result to themselves, their Wives, their Children and their Country, from their taking a wrong part and for preventing Toryism, cannot be too great. Genl. Burgoyne, I have no doubt, will practise every art, his Invention shall point out, to turn their minds and seduce them from their allegiance, he should be counteracted as much as possible, as it is of the last importance to keep them firm and steady in their attachments. You have already given your attention to this matter, and I am persuaded, you will omit nothing in your power to effect these great and essential points. Stopping the roads and ordering the Cattle to be removed, were certainly right and judicious. If they are well accomplished, the Enemy must be greatly retarded and distressed.

    I hope, before this you have received the Supplies of Ammunition mentioned in my late Letters. I fully expected too, that the Camp Kettles, which I ordered from hence on your first application had reached you, till yesterday, when I found on inquiry, that the Quarter Master, by some accident, did not send them before three or four days ago.

    There will be no occasion to transmit to Congress a Copy of your observations, suggesting the necessity of evacuating Fort George. The Gentlemen, who mentioned the holding that post, had taken up an idea, that it was defensible with the assistance of the Vessels on the Lake, which were supposed to be better equipped, and what gave countenance to the idea, was, that the Bastion was erected under the direction and superintendence of British Engineers, and was intended as part of a very large, Strong and extensive Work. I thought it expedient to submit the matter to your further consideration, wishing you at the same time to pursue such measures respecting it, as your own judgment should advise and direct.

    I could heartily wish, Harmony and a good understanding to prevail thro’ the whole Army, and between the Army and the people. The times are critical, big with important events, they demand our most vigorous efforts, and unless a happy agreement subsists, they will be feeble and weak. The Enemies of America, have cultivated nothing with greater or with so much industry, as to sow division and jealousy amongst us.

    I cannot give you any certain account of Genl. Howe’s intended Operations. His conduct is puzzling and embarrassing, beyond measure; so are the informations, which I get. At one time the Ships are standing up towards the North River. In a little while they are going up the Sound, and in an Hour after they are going out of the Hook. I think in a day or two we must know something of his intentions. I am etc.

    P.S. I think it will not be advisable to repose too much confidence in the Works you are about to erect and from thence to collect a large Quantity of Stores. I begin to consider Lines as a Kind of Trap and not to answer the valuable purposes expected from them. Unless they are on passes that cannot be avoided by an Enemy.89

    [Note 89: The draft is in the writing of Robert Hanson Harrison.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to John D. Thompson,

[Note 10: Of the Maryland Militia.]

Head Qurs., Wilmington, August 28, 1777.

Sir: I have your favour of Yesterday by Lieutt. Veary11 and it gives me pleasure to hear that your people are so unanimously bent upon giving opposition to the Enemy. I wish it was in my power to furnish every man with a firelock that is willing to use one, but that is so far from being the Case that I have scarcely Sufficient for the Continental Troops.12 As it is needless to keep

    [Note 11: Lieut. William Veary, of the Maryland Militia. Johnston’s Campaign of 1776 states that Capt.Edward Veazy, of an Eastern Shore independent company, was present in this campaign.]

    [Note 12: This same day Tilghman wrote to Col. Benjamin Flower, ordering him, by Washington’s direction, to forward from 500 to 1,000 muskets “as the bad weather has damaged aged many of late and there is no getting them put in order here with any expedition.” Also, Harrison wrote to Flower to forward all the rifles in store, complaining that many of the cartridges Flower sent were too small for the bore of their muskets. “All belonging to the public are of the French and English bores and the Cartridges must be made to fit those sizes. If you have any 16 and 18 (Viz: Cartridges which require so many to the pound) now ready you are to transmit them without a Moments delay.” The letters of Tilghman and Harrison are in the Washington Papers.]

    Men together without Arms, I would advise you to collect as many Arms as you possibly can and then class your Battalion; let the unarmed go home and at a certain period relieve their Companions. It is to be wished, that every Man could bring a good Musket and Bayonet into the field, but in times like the present, we must make the best shift we can, and I wou’d therefore advise you to exhort every Man to bring the best he has. A good fowling Piece will do execution in the hands of a Marksman.

    As the Congress have ordered down Genl. Smallwood and Colo. Gist, to arrange the Militia of Maryland, they ought to be drawn together at some certain place, that these Gentlemen may meet them embodied and the more readily form a disposition. The Militia of Kent and below it, will Assemble at George Town and the Head of Sarsafras, from whence I shall advise parties to be sent down into Sarsafras Neck, to prevent the disaffected inhabitants from Trading with the Enemy and supplying them with Stock &ca. I think yours had as well assemble at the Head of Bohemia,13 or any other place that you may think more convenient, from whence you may keep small parties along shore under intelligent Officers, not only to keep Boats from landing, but to observe the motions of the Enemy. Horses and Cattle, but Horses in particular should be removed from the Shores, and for this purpose some of the unarmed may be employed.

    [Note 13: Bohemia Manor, Delaware.]

    The intent of Assembling the Militia of Maryland near the Head of the Bay, is to be ready, to fall in upon the Rear of the Enemy shou’d, they move towards Philadelphia and to answer this end, I think they should be advanced as far as New Castle, from whence the distance to the Head of Elk is but short. If they cou’d cross Elk river, the Heads of Sarsafras and Bohemia would not be inconvenient, but you may depend that the Enemy will throw Vessels in the way to prevent the passage and oblige you to march round by land. I am etc.14

    [Note 14: The draft is in the writing of Richard Kidder Meade.]

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 8 September 19, 1777 – January 31, 1778

Elbridge Gerry to George Washington

Sir Lancaster Sepr. 24th 1777 In Consequence of your Letter of the 22d directed to the President or any Member of Congress,(1) I have conferred with William Henry Esqr. of this Place upon the most expeditious Method of collecting the Arms & accoutrements in the Hands of the Inhabitants here & he is of opinion that it may be accomplished by your Warrant to him grounded on the late Resolution of Congress for that & other Purposes.(2) As there is not a prospect of having a Congress or Board of War for several Days to give him Authority, & the Articles are immediately wanted, he has consented to proceed on the Business without Delay in Expectation that on the Receipt of this You will give him full Powers to justify his Conduct & date them the 22d, that the Time of his Transaction may comport with his Commission. With Wishes of Success to your Excellency & the Cause in which You are engaged I remain sir very respectfully your most humble Sert,

E Gerry

RC (MH-H).
1 Washington’s September 22 letter has not been found, but for further information on his concern for collecting arms in the neighborhood of Lancaster, see Washington’s September 26 and 27 letters to Gerry in Washington, Writings (Fitzpatrick), 9:270, 27G75; and Gerry to Washington, September 25, 1777.
2 On September 17, Congress had given Washington broad authority to impress “all such provisions and other articles as may be necessary for the comfortable subsistence of the army under his command.” JCC, 8:752.

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 8 September 19, 1777 – January 31, 1778

Elbridge Gerry to George Washington

Sir Lancaster Sepr 25th 1777 3 0Clock P.M. I wrote You a Line Yesterday desiring You to impower Mr. Henry of this Place to collect the Fire Arms wanted for the Virginia Troops on their March to the Camp, since which your Letter of the 23d is received, desiring that a Number of Blankets & Shoes may be also collected.(1) I have seen Mr. Henry within this half Hour, & he informs me that he has collected already about 250 Arms, & shall be able to obtain about as many more. He also says that 300 pair Shoes went off this Morning to General Wayne, & that he will proceed in collecting as many pair of shoes, & Blankets, as can be procured or with propriety be taken from the Inhabitants of the Town, & Farmers in the Neighbourhood thereof. You will therefore be pleased to enlarge &c the Powers proposed to be given by your Excellency to Mr. Henry, and authorize him to collect the Articles last mentioned.(2)
Colo R H Lee is present, & has just directed a Letter to the Commandg Officer of the Militia at Frederick Town in Maryland ordering on all the Militia that are armed & 500 of those that are unarmed to be supplyed in this Place. I have the Honor to be Sir with much Esteem your Excellency’s very hum serv. E Gerry

1 Washington’s September 23 letter to President Hancock was read in Congress on September 27. JCC, 8:755; and Washington, Writings (Fitzpatrick), 9:25740. See also Gerry to Washington, September 24. 1777.
2 In a September 27 reply to Gerry, Washington repeated his September 25 demurer about seizing the arms of private citizens, but urged that the “collection of Blankets and shoes . . . cannot be carried to too great an extent.” Washington, Writings (Fitzpatrick), 9:274 75.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Elbridge Gerry,

September 26, 1777.

Sir: I was this Morning favored with your Letter of the 24th. When I wrote Congress, I was informed, that there were several Arms in Lancaster belonging to the Public. These, with their Accoutrements, I wished to be collected and put into the Hands of the Militia coming from Virginia. But I did not mean that any, the property of Individuals, should be taken; because I did not conceive myself authorised, nor do I at this time, to order such a Measure. I don’t know how the Inhabitants would relish such an exercise of Power. I rather think it would give great uneasiness. The Army is much distressed for Blankets and Shoes, and I wish the most vigorous exertions could be pursued to make a Collection the speediest possible where you are and in the Neighbourhood. I am satisfied, if proper Steps were taken, many might be procured. I have been and am doing all I can to make a Collection, but what will be obtained will be totally inadequate to the demand.82

[Note 82: “Since I wrote you a few minutes ago, His Excellency has received a letter from Mr, Gerry at Lancaster, in which he says that 300 pairs of Shoes had been sent off from thence to you; but as you have already obtained 200 pair from Reading’, the General desires that when those arrive from Lancaster, they may be sent to the Clothier Genl: to be distributed among the Troops.”– Tench Tilghman to Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne, Sept. 27, 1777. Tilghman’s letter is in the Washington Papers.]

We are now in Motion and advancing to form a junction with Genl McDougall. I expect to be joined in a day or two by Genl. Foreman with fourteen or Fifteen hundred Jersey Militia. The Main body of the Enemy are also advancing towards Philadelphia, and were below Germantown from my last advices; which also mentioned, that a Thousand Infantry, with about 100 Dragoons, had filed off towards Chesnut Hill. I fear they are pushing for Bristol, after our Stores, which I am apprehensive are not entirely removed tho’ l gave orders for it, the Moment I heard they were there. I am &c.83

[Note 83: The draft is in the writing of Robert Hanson Harrison.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Elbridge Gerry,

Camp at Pennybecker’s Mill, September 27, 1777.

Sir: I am favored with yours of the 25th. I yesterday wrote you, that I did not think myself Authorised to seize upon any Arms the property of private Persons; but if they can be collected and the owners satisfied for them, it would be of very essential service, as great numbers of Militia would join the Army, could they be furnished with Arms. I am glad you have began the collection of Blankets and Shoes; this business cannot be carried to too great an extent, and I think, if the Measure is properly pursued, great Quantities of Blankets, Rugs and Coverlids, may be collected in the back Counties. The approach of the Enemy to Philadelphia, hindered the Officers I sent upon that Business from doing much; the disaffected hid their goods the moment the thing took wind and our friends had, before, parted with all they could spare. As soon as Gibson’s Regiment or any of the Virginia Militia arrive at Lancaster, be pleased to send them forward without delay. I am &ca.87

[Note 87: The draft is in the writing of Tench Tilghman.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to Patrick Henry,

    November 13, 1777.

How different the case in the Northern department! There the States of New York and New England, resolving to crush Mr. Burgoyne, continued pouring in their Troops, ’till the surrender of that Army; at which time, not less than 14,000 Militia were actually (as I have been informed) in General Gates’s Camp, and these composed, for the most part, of the best Yeomanry in the Country well armed, and, in many instances, supplied with provisions of their own carrying.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

Valley forge, March 1, 1778.

    Dear Sir: Your favor of the 8th. of Decr. came safe to my hands after a considerable delay in its passage.6 The sentiments you have expressed of me in this Letter are highly flattering, meriting my warmest acknowledgements, as I have too good an Opinion of your sincerity and candour to believe that you are capable of unmeaning professions and speaking a language foreign from your Heart. The friendship I ever professed, and felt for you, met with no diminution from the difference in our political Sentiments. I know the rectitude of my own intentions, and believing in the sincerity of yours,

    …The determinations of Providence are all ways wise; often inscrutable, and though its decrees appear to bear hard upon us at times is nevertheless meant for gracious purposes; in this light I cannot help viewing your late disappointment; for if you had been permitted to have gone to england, unrestrained even by the rigid oaths which are administred on those occns. your feelings as a husband, Parent, &ca. must have been considerably wounded in the prospect of a long, perhaps lasting seperation from your nearest relatives. What then must they have been if the obligation of an oath had left you without a Will? Your hope of being instrumental in restoring Peace would prove as unsubstantial as mist before the Noon days Sun and would as soon dispel: for believe me Sir great Britain understood herself perfectly well in this dispute but did not comprehend America. She meant as Lord Campden in his late speech in Parlt. clearly, and explicitly declared, to drive America into rebellion7 that her own purposes might be more

        [Note 7: Charles Pratt, Baron Camden, in the debate on the reply to the King’s speech at the opening of Parliament (Nov. 18, 1777) referring to some of the preliminary steps in the contest, had said: “The people of America showed great dissatisfaction, but that did not fully answer the intentions of government. It was not dissatisfaction, but rebellion, that was sought; dissatisfaction might furnish a pretence for adding to the intolerable oppressions, that those people had for a series of years groaned under; but nothing short of something in the shape of rebellion, or nearly approaching to it, could create a decent apology for slaughter, conquest, and unconditional submission.” In regard to the declaration that Massachusetts was in open rebellion, Camden had charged: “But all this did not do; the New Englanders were resolved not to verify the address; they were determined not to be rebels; but only to prepare, should the worst happen, to be in a situation to defend themselves. Something more was still wanting, and that was obtained. Our troops were ordered to act effectively; and self-defence was styled actual and declared rebellion.” (See Almon’s Parliamentary Register, vol. x, pp. 30, 31.)]

    fully answered by it but take this along with it, that this Plan originating in a firm belief, founded on misinformation, that no effectual opposition would or could be made, they little dreamt of what has happened and are disappd. in their views; does not every act of administration from the Tea Act to the present Session of Parliament declare this in plain and self evidt. Characters? Had the Comrs. any powers to treat with America? If they meant Peace, would Lord Howe have been detaind in England 5 Months after passing the Act? Would the powers of these Comrs. have been confined to mere acts of grace, upon condition of absolute submission? No, surely, No! they meant to drive us into what they termed rebellion, that they might be furnished with a pretext to disarm and then strip us of the rights and privileges of Englishmen and Citizens. If they were actuated by principles of justice, why did they refuse indignantly to accede to the terms which were humbly supplicated before hostilities commenced and this Country deluged in Blood; and now make their principal Officers and even the Comrs. themselves say, that these terms are just and reasonable; Nay that more will be granted than we have yet asked, if we will relinquish our Claim to Independency. What Name does such conduct as this deserve? and what punishment is there in store for the Men who have distressed Millions, involved thousands in ruin, and plunged numberless families in inextricable woe? Could that wch. is just and reasonable now, have been unjust four Years ago? If not upon what principles, I say does Administration act? they must either be wantonly wicked and cruel, or (which is only anr. mode of describing the same thing) under false colours are now endeavouring to deceive the great body of the people, by industriously propagating a belief that G. B. is willing to offer any, and that we will accept of no terms; thereby hoping to poison and disaffect the Minds of those who wish for peace, and create feuds and dissentions among ourselves. In a word, having less dependance now, in their Arms than their Arts, they are practising such low and dirty tricks, that Men of Sentiment and honr. must blush at their Villainy, among other manoeuvres, in this way they are counterfeiting Letters, and publishing them, as intercepted ones of mine to prove that I am an enemy to the present measures, and have been led into them step by step still hoping that Congress would recede from their present claims. I am, etc.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington, General Orders

    Head Quarters, Fredericksburgh, Friday, October 23, 1778.

    …At the same Court, Hate-evil Colston of Colo. Nixon’s Regiment was tried for entering the house of Reuben Crosby, an Inhabitant of Frederick’sburgh, by force of Arms in company with one more, and taking from thence about three hundred dollars in Continental Money, one Musquet….

    …His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves these sentences. Shocked at the frequent horrible Villainies of this nature committed by the troops of late, He is determined to make Examples which will deter the boldest and most harden’d offenders. Men who are called out by their Country to defend the Rights and Property of their fellow Citizens, who are abandoned enough to violate those Rights and plunder that Property deserve and shall receive no Mercy….

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

William Alexander, Lord Stirling, General Orders

Head Quarters, Middle Brook, Thursday, December 24, 1778.

Parole Tobago. Countersigns Venlo, Wakefield.

The Troops after having provided themselves with sufficient timber for hutting are to cut down no more green standing timber for firewood, until the logs, tops and old fallen timber be first used for that purpose.

The wise and proper orders that have been issued from time to time by His Excellency General Washington in this Army have already produced such good effects that there can be no doubt that the whole Army of whatever rank or station will use their utmost endeavours to see them carried into execution, particularly to the comfortable hurting the Army; and in order that it may be more comfortably effected, it is particularly recommended to the commanding Officers of Brigades to see that ditches are made upon the upper side of every row of huts where on descending ground at about three feet distance from them, and at every convenient place to make other ditches so as to carry off the water in front; This observed will secure the troops from any inundation of water and much contribute to the health and convenience of the whole Camp. It is also recommended to the commanding Officers of Brigades to see that no obstructions of whatever kind are left in the streets of their Encampments and that a good Parade in front of the Brigade be made clear of every incumbrance for parade duty. No firing or discharging of pieces, on any pretence whatever is to be suffered except at particular hours, which will be made known to the Army.

The People of the Country are not to hunt or fire in the neighborhood of the Camp; Whoever finds delinquents in this case will bring the Persons and Their Arms to Head-Quarters.

The whole Army to observe the strictest regularity and decency in their behaviour to the People of the Country. Officers are desired to use their utmost endeavours to detect and bring to punishment Marauders of every kind.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Virginia War Board,

West point, October 20, 1779.

…The putting of the Militia on a respectable Military footing, is certainly a desirable object and whatever can ought to be done to effect it. In a Country however like ours, where the Inhabitants are thinly settled, and where the laws which have generally prevailed, have not in their foundation been much calculated to introduce discipline and less attended to in their execution, it is a Work at least of great difficulty. All reforms must be the result of Legislative establishments, and the nearer these can be brought to the System which governs regular Armies, the better; the genius however and the prejudices of the people must be regarded. The first and most essential point is to arm them, this done, the bare report will have an influence to prevent invasions and descents….

    George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 3b Varick Transcripts

    To Colo. Henry Jackson Addl. Corps.

    14th Feby. 1780.


    I have considered your favour of this date with its inclosure.

    There does not appear to me any reason upon which the soldiers are intitled to, or can claim the Continental Fire-arms at the expiration of their times of service. The act of Assembly is very plain. As an Encouragement for Men to bring their own arms into the Army, it offers a cerrtain Bounty, and to such who do not, a lesser sum. The difference, which is given to the former, appears to have been designed as a compensation for the use of the arms; nor can any construction whatsoever authorize the latter to carry off arms &c. the property of the Continent.

    I am &c.

G. Washington

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 22, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

George Washington to President Joseph Reed

Head Quarters, New Windsor, June 24, 1781.

Dear Sir: In the course of our expected operations we shall stand in need of a species of troops, which are not at present to be procured either in this Army or in any of the States to the Northward of Pennsylvania. They are expert Rifle Men. The use of these Men will be to fire into the embrazures and to drive the enemy from their parapets when our approaches are carried very near their Works. Without this can be done, our loss will be immense when we shall come within Musket Shot. General Lincoln informs me that the enemy made use of this mode at the Siege of Charlestown, and that his Batteries were in a manner silenced, untill he opposed the same kind of troops and made it as dangerous for the enemy to shew their Men as it had been before for him to expose his. The number which we shall want will be about three hundred, and I shall be exceedingly obliged to your Excellency, if you will endeavour to procure so many from the Frontier of Pennsylvania.

Had the quota of Militia from your State come to this Army, I should have endeavoured to have selected the required number from among them. But that not being the case, I think it but reasonable, that the expence of raising the Rifle Men should be Continental. I have written to this effect to Congress and have requested the president to signify their approbation to your Excellency if they think proper to accede to it. I would wish the Corps to be formed into six Companies of 50 each, under the command of a Captain and two subs, the whole to be commanded by a Major. The term of service to the 1st. day of January next. The choice of the Officers I shall leave to your Excellency. If Major Parr formerly of the 7th. Penna. Regt. would engage in such a service, a better Officer could not be found for the purpose. The Bounty cannot now be determined, and therefore it will be with you to procure them on as low terms as possible. But that the business may not be retarded for want of proper encouragement, I would wish you to make yourself acquainted with the Sum which will most probably engage them and offer that, whatever it may be. One of the terms should be that they are to find their own Rifles, as we have none in Store. I shall be glad to hear as soon as possible what probability there will be of succeeding in this undertaking. The greater part of the Men, must be with the Army by the 1st. of Augt. or their services will be useless afterwards. I have the honor etc.   

     [The draft is in the writing of Tench Tilghman.]

Washington, George, 1732-1799: The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 22, 1745-1799. [The Modern English Collection at the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center.]

George Washington to Major Thomas Parr,

Head Quarters, Dobbs’s ferry, July 28, 1781.

Sir: I am pleased to find by a letter from His Excellency president Reed that you have accepted of the command of the Corps of Rifle Men which are to be raised in Pennsylvania and that there is a probability that the Men will be obtained. As their services are immediately wanted, you will be pleased to send them to Camp in parties from 20 to thirty under the charge of an Officer.

I observe by the Recruiting instructions that the Men are to be paid for the use of their Rifles if they bring them into the field; this leaves the matter optional, and if a considerable part of them should come unarmed we shall be put to very great difficulties on that account, as we have but few Rifles belonging to the Continent. You will therefore recommend it to the recruiting Officers to procure as many Arms in the Country as they possibly can. I am &c.

     [The draft is in the writing of Tench Tilghman.]

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Benjamin Lincoln,

Newburgh, April 25, 1782.

…I am perswaded the enemy have not, at this time, less than 9000 regular Troops in New York and its dependencies; including their established Provencial Corps. and by a report from the Commandant of that place to Lord George Germain in the Winter of 1780, when they expected an Attack from us, it appears that of City Militia, Volunteer Companies, and some other small Corps which were named; enclusive of Marines, Sailers and Delancys Refugees; they had in Arms, regularly organized for defence of the Town 3390 Men. These added to their regular forces make a body of 12,390 independent of their Southern Army; which I estimate at 4000 more; making altogether 16,390 besides Sailors and Marines. But, as an augmentation of the force in New York is, as yet, only problematical, I will suppose that the Enemy do not mean to with draw their Southern Garrisons, and that no re-inforcements will arrive from Europe, which is the most favourable point of view the matter can be placed in; we still have (besides Sailors and Marines which always will be more, or less, accordingly to the number of Ships in the harbour) 12,390 Men opposed to us, in Works which are growing into consistency and strength every day….”

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Meshech Weare, et al, May 4, 1782,

    Circular Letter on Troop Recruitment

…Your Excellency will permit me on this occasion to observe, that even if the Nation and Parliament are really in earnest to obtain peace with America, it will undoubtedly be Wisdom in us, to meet them with great Caution and Circumspection; and by all means to keep our Arms firm in our Hands; and instead of relaxing One Iota in our Exertions, rather to spring forward with redoubled Vigor, that we may take the advantage of every favorable Opportunity, untill our Wishes are fully obtained. No Nation have ever yet suffered in Treaty, by preparing, even in the Moment of Negotiation, most vigorously for the field….

…While the General recollects the almost infinite variety of Scenes thro which we have passed, with a mixture of pleasure, astonishment, and gratitude; While he contemplates the prospects before us with rapture; he can not help wishing that all the brave men (of whatever condition they may be) who have shared in the toils and dangers of effecting this glorious revolution, of rescuing Millions from the hand of oppression, and of laying the foundation of a great Empire, might be impressed with a proper idea of the dignifyed part they have been called to act (under the Smiles of providence) on the stage of human affairs: for, happy, thrice happy shall they be pronounced hereafter, who have contributed any thing, who have performed the meanest office in erecting this steubendous fabrick of Freedom and Empire on the broad basis of Indipendency; who have assisted in protecting the rights of humane nature and establishing an Asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions. The glorius task for which we first fleu to Arms being thus accomplished, the liberties of our Country being fully acknowledged, and firmly secured by the smiles of heaven, on the purity of our cause, and the honest exertions of a feeble people (determined to be free) against a powerful Nation (disposed to oppress them) and the Character of those who have persevered, through every extremity of hardship; suffering and danger being immortalized by the illustrious appellation of the patriot Army: Nothing now remains but for the actors of this mighty Scene to preserve a perfect, unvarying, consistency of character through the very last act; to close the Drama with applause; and to retire from the Military Theatre with the same approbation of Angells and men which have crowned all their former vertuous Actions.

–George Washington, General Orders April, 18th , 1783.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to Continental Congress,

    …Notwithstanding the length of this Letter, I must beg the Liberty to suggest to Congress an Idea which has been hinted to me, and which has affected my Mind very forcibly. That is, that at the Discharge of the Men engaged for the War, Congress should be pleased to suffer those Men, non Commissd Officers and Soldiers, to take with them as their own property, and as a Gratuity, the Arms and Accoutrements they now hold. This Act would raise pleasing Sensations in the Minds of those worthy and faithfull Men, who, from their early engaging in the War, at moderate Bounties, and from their patient continuing, under innumerable distresses, have not only deserved nobly from their Country, but have obtained an honorable Distinction over those, who, with shorter Terms, have gained large pecuniary Rewards. This Act, at a comparative small Expence, would be deemed an honorable Testimonial from Congress of the Regard they bear to those distinguished Worthies, and the Sense they have of their suffering Virtues and Services, which have been so happily instrumental towards the security and Establishment of the Rights Liberties and Independence of this rising Empire. These constant companions of their Toils and Dangers, preserved with sacred Care, would be handed down from the present possessors, to their Children, as honorable Badges of Bravery and military Merit; and would probably be bro’t forth, on some future Occasion, with Pride and Exultation, to be improved, with the same military Ardor and Emulation, in the Hands of posterity, as they have been used by their forefathers in the present Establishment and foundation of our National Independence and Glory.

    Congress will suffer me to repeat my most earnest Wish, that they will be pleased, either by themselves at large, or by their Committee, to pay their earliest Attention to the matters now referred for their Consideration. for I must add, that unless the most speedy Arrangements for the War men are adopted, I contemplate with Anxiety, the disagreeable Consequences which, I fear will be the Result of much longer Delay. With the highest Respect etc.66

    [Note 66: In the writing of Jonathan Trumbull, jr. The letter was read in Congress on April 21 and referred to Samuel Osgood, Theodorick Bland, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Richard Peters, on whose report it was resolved, on April 23 that, in the opinion of Congress, the time of service of the men engaged for the war did not expire until the ratification of the definitive articles of peace; that those continuing in the service until that time should be allowed their arms and accoutrements; but that, nevertheless, discretion should be left with the Commander in Chief to grant furloughs, or discharges, to those: men, as he should judge most expedient.]

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end, a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent of others, for essential, particularly military, supplies.

– George Washington, Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Jan. 8, 1790.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

George Washington to Edmund Randolph,


    Mount Vernon, August 26, 1792.

    My dear Sir: The purpose of this letter is merely to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 5th.28 and 13th. instt., and

    [Note 28: Randolph’s long letter of this date is in the Washington Papers. In it he discusses the political situation of the United States and urges Washington to serve a second term. Among many important statements in that letter are these: “It is much to be regretted, that the judiciary, in spite of their apparent firmness in annulling the pension-law, are not, what some time hence they will be, a resource against the infractions of the constitution, on the one hand, and a steady asserter of the foederal rights, on the other. So crude is our judiciary system, so jealous are state-judges of their authority, so ambiguous is the language of the constitution, that the most probable quarter, from which an alarming discontent may proceed, is the rivalship of those two orders of judges….the precedent, fixed by the condemnation of the pension-law, if not reduced to its precise principles, may justify every constable in thwarting the laws. In this threatening posture of our affairs, we must gain time, for the purpose of attracting confidence in the government by an experience of its benefits, and that man alone, whose patronage secured the adoption of the constitution, can check the assaults, which it will sustain at the two next sessions of congress….Should a civil war arise, you cannot stay at home. And how much easier will it be, to disperse the factions, which are rushing to this catastrophe, than to subdue them, after they shall appear in arms? It is the fixed opinion of the world, that you surrender nothing incomplete. I am not unapprized of the many disagreeable sensations, which have laboured in your breast, But let them spring from any cause whatsoever, of one thing I am sure, (and I speak this from a satisfactory inquiry lately made) that if a second opportunity shall be given the people of showing their gratitude, they will not be less unanimous than before.”] to thank you for the information contained in both without entering into the details of either.

    With respect, however, to the interesting subject treated on in that of the 5th., I can express but one sentiment at this time, and that is a wish, a devout one, that whatever my ultimate determination shall be, it may be for the best. The subject never recurs to my mind but with additional poignancy; and from the declining State in the health of my Nephew, to whom my concerns of a domestic and private nature are entrusted it comes with aggrivated force. But as the allwise disposer of events has hitherto watched over my steps, I trust that in the important one I may soon be called upon to take, he will mark the course so plainly, as that I cannot mistake the way. In full hope of this, I will take no measure, yet a while, that will not leave me at liberty to decide from circumstances, and the best lights, I can obtain on the Subject.

    I shall be happy in the mean time to see a cessation of the abuses of public Officers, and of those attacks upon almost every measure of government with which some of the Gazettes are so strongly impregnated; and which cannot fail, if persevered in with the malignancy they now teem, of rending the Union asunder. The Seeds of discontent, distrust, and irritations which are so plentifully sown, can scarcely fail to produce this effect and to Mar that prospect of happiness which perhaps never beamed with more effulgence upon any people under the Sun; and this too at a time when all Europe are gazing with admiration at the brightness of our prospects. and for what is all this? Among other things, to afford Nuts for our transatlantic, what shall I call them? Foes!

    In a word if the Government and the Officers of it are to be the constant theme for News-paper abuse, and this too without condescending to investigate the motives or the facts, it will be impossible, I conceive, for any man living to manage the helm, or to keep the machine together. But I am running from my text, and therefore will only add assurances of the Affecte. esteem and regard with which I am &c.


The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to John Jay,


    Philadelphia, November 1 [–5], 1794.

    …These things have terrified the Insurgents, who had no conception that such a spirit prevailed; but, while the thunder only rumbled at a distance, were boasting of their strength, and wishing for, and threatening the militia by turns; intimating, that the arms they should take from them*, would soon become a magazine in their hands. Their language is much changed indeed but their principles want correction….

* – Excuse me, but is there anyone that can explain to me just how a supposedly, (if based upon many of the modern day beliefs), unarmed group of “insurgents”. Would be able to be “intimating” to the armed militia? And how they could effect “that the arms they should take from them, would soon become a magazine in their hands”?

Let us take a look at what Mr. Jay had previously stated concerning our Right;

    …The possession of Liberty and the security of property being of such great and evident importance, so essentially necessary for human happiness, so earnestly contended for and so long enjoyed by Britain from whence we sprung; it is not to be wondered that our Ancestors before they would hazard their lives and venture their private fortunes to explore and settle this distant country, obtained royal charters, securing and confirming to them and their Posterity forever, all the Franchises privileges and immunities of the free people of England they left behind them. It is most certain that nothing but an undeviating attention to their charter rights….

    …It has been already observed that the ostensible reasons which have been assigned for this Attempt to destroy natural, constitutional, chartered, and antient rights, is for the purpose of raising a revenue to protect and defend the Colonies, to support Government and the Administration of Justice here and to reimburse Great Britain the Expence of defending the Colonies in the last war. The two former reasons are sufficiently answered by stating the notorious facts, that from the first Settlement of the Colonies until the late War they sustained these Expences themselves…”

–John Jay, October 11-18? 1774 ‘To the People of Great Britain and Ireland’.

   It should be noted that Mr. Jay was the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Nominated by President George Washington.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

    George Washington to Jonathan Boucher,

    Mount Vernon, August 15, 1798.

    Revd. Sir: I know not how it has happened, but the fact is, that your favour of the 8th. of Novr, last year, is but just received; and at a time when both public and private business pressed so hard upon me, as to afford no leisure to give the “View of the causes and consequences of the American Revolution” written by you, and which you had been pleased to send me, a perusal.

    For the honor of its Dedication, and for the friendly and favourable sentimts. which are therein expressed, I pray you to accept my acknowledgment and thanks.

    Not having read the Book, it follows of course that I can express no opinion with respect to its Political contents; but I can venture to assert, beforehand, and with confidence, that there is no man, in either country, more zealously devoted to Peace, and a good understanding between the two Nations than I am, nor one who is more disposed to bury in oblivion all animosities which have subsisted between them, and the Individuals of each.

    Peace, with all the world is my sincere wish. I am sure it is our true policy. and am persuaded it is the Ardent desire of the Government. But there is a Nation whose intermedling, and restless disposition; and attempts to divide, distract and influence the measures of other Countries, that will not suffer us, I fear, to enjoy this blessing long, unless we will yield to them our Rights, and submit to greater injuries and insults than we have already sustained, to avoid the calamities resulting from War.

    What will be the consequences of our Arming for self defence, that Providence, who permits these doings in the Disturbers of Mankind; and who rules and Governs all things, alone can tell. To its all powerful decrees we must submit, whilst we hope that the justice of our Cause if War, must ensue. will entitle us to its Protection. With very great respect etc.

In view of all of the above. It is rather easy to ascertain that Americans have always been armed. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a Right of Nature that preexisted the adoption of the United States Constitution. That it was one of the specific rights the Revoltionary War was waged in order to protect. As well as, that the Second Amendment was intended to SECURE that specific Liberty to ALL citizens of the United States of America. And, “shall not be infringed” means EXACTLY what was written. It is plain, by all of the evidence presented, that the right has always been the same. Before, during and after the implementation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. And, was NOT intended to be subject to alteration, or arbitrary rules and regulations.

   Here are some words from our First President to those employed in government serving We The People:

    …The Officers also are to exert themselves, to the utmost to prevent every kind of abuse to private property, or to bring every Offender, to the punishment he deserves; shameful it is to find that these men, who have come hither in defence of the rights of mankind, should turn invaders of it, by destroying the substance of their friends.

    The burning of Houses, where the apparent good of the Service is not promoted by it, and the pillaging of them, at all times, and upon all Occasions, is to be discountenanced and punished with the utmost severity. In short, it is to be hoped, that men who have property of their own, and a regard for the rights of others, will shudder at the thought of rendering any Man’s Situation, to whose protection he had come, more insufferable, than his open and avowed Enemy would make it, when by duty and every rule of humanity, they ought to Aid, and not Oppress, the distressed in their habitations.

    The distinction between a well regulated Army, and a Mob, is the good order and discipline of the first, and the licentious and disorderly behaviour of the latter; Men, therefore, who are not employed, as mere hirelings, but have steped forth in defence of every thing that is dear and Valuable, not only to themselves but to posterity, should take uncommon pains to conduct themselves with uncommon propriety and good Order, as their honor, reputation &c. call loudly upon them for it….

     – George Washington, August 25, 1776 letter to Israel Putnam. [The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.]

   And, finally some words from a man who had been a very dear friend and comrade in arms with our first President;

    …The approbation of the American people and their Representatives, for my conduct during the vicissitudes of the European Revolution, is the highest reward I could receive. Well may I stand “firm and erect,” when, in their names, and by you, Mr. Speaker, I am declared to have, in every instance, been faithful to those American principles of liberty, equality, and true social order, the devotion to which, as it has been from my earliest youth, so it shall continue to be to my latest breath.

    You have been pleased, Mr. Speaker, to allude to the peculiar felicity of my situation, when, after so long an absence, I am called to witness the immense improvements, the admirable communications, the prodigious creations, of which we find an example in this City, (Washington), whose name itself is a venerated palladium; in a word, all the grandeur and prosperity of these happy United States, which, at the same time they nobly secure the complete assertion of American Independence, reflect, on every part of the world, the light of a far superior political civilization.

    What better pledge can be given of a persevering national love of liberty, when those blessings are evidently the result of a virtuous resistance to oppression, and of institutions founded on the rights of man, and the republican principle of self-government….

– General Lafayette, Dec. 10, 1824 address to the U.S. House of Representatives. [Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1824-1825. Library of Congress.]