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Letter to the Committee of Cooperation, August 17, 1780

TRANSCRIPT GLC 6488
George Washington. Letter: Head Quarters Orange Town, to The Committee of Cooperation, 1780 August 17. 4 p.

Head Quarters Orange Town 17th Augst. 1780

Gentlemen,

We are now arrived at the middle of August – if we are able to undertake any thing in this quarter, this campaign, our operations must commence in less than a month from this, or it will be absolutely too late. – It will then be much later than were to be wished, and with all the exertions that can be made, we shall probably be greatly straightened in time.

But I think it my duty to inform you that our prospects of operating diminish in proportion as the effects of our applications to the respective States unfold, and I am sorry to add that we have every reason to apprehend [struck: that] we shall not be in a condition at all to undertake any thing decisive. –

The completion of our Continental Batalions to their full establishment of 5th Rank & file has been uniformly & justly held up as the basis of offensive operations – How far [inserted: we] have [struck: we] fallen short of this – the following state of the levies received and of the present deficiencies will shew

By a return to the 16 Inst we [struck: have] [inserted:: had] recd from.
New Hampshire…………….457
Massachusetts……………..2898
Rhode Island………………..502
Connecticut………………..1356
New York…………………..283
New Jersey…………………165
Pensylvania…………………482
Total 6143

The deficiencies of the Battalions from a Return [2] of the 12th. allowing for the levies since arrived to the 16th are of.
St Battalions R & File
New Hampshire………………………………..….3 ………….…..248
Massachusetts including
Jacksons [struck: lately] adopted………...............16…………….3514
Rhode Island………………………………….……2………..…….198
Connecticut including
Webbs [struck: lately] adopted………….............…9…………….1866
New York…………………………………….…….5…………….1234
New Jersey…………………………………………3……….……..569
Pensylvania………………………………………..11……….……2768
In the whole …………………................................................…..10,397

If the [inserted: amount of these] deficiencies [struck: of, replaced: &] the detached Corps, necessarily on the frontier and at particular Posts [struck: to] be deducted, and a proper allowance [struck: to] made for the ordinary casualties, and for the extra calls upon the army for Waggoners, Artificers & c. it will be easy to conceive how inadequate our operating force must be to any capital enterprize against the enemy. It is indeed barely sufficient for defence.

Hitherto all the Militia, for three Month that have taken the field under my Orders [struck: are] have been about—
700 from New Hampshire
1700 from Massachusetts
800 from New York
500 from New Jersey

A part of the eastern Militia has been detained to assist our allies at Rhode Island, and will shortly march to join the Army: But from all the information I have ; the number of Militia will fall as far short of the demand as the Continental troops. – And from the slow manner, in which the latter have fo*r* some time past come in, I fear we have had nearly [3] the whole we are to expect.

In the article of provisions our prospects are equally unfavourable. We are now fed by a precarious supply from day to day. The Commissary from what has been done in the several States, so far from giving assurances of a continuation of this supply, speaks in the most discouraging terms, as you will perceive by the enclosed copy of a letter, of the 15th Inst. in which he proposes the sending back [struck: of] the Pensylvania Militia, who were [struck: ordered] to assemble at Trenton the 12th. on [struck: a, replaced: the] principle of [struck: the, replaced: a] failure of provisions.

As to forage & transportation our prospects are still worse. These have lately been principally procured by military impress - a mode too violent, unequal, oppressive and consequently odious to the people, to be long practiced with success.

In this state of things, [inserted: Gentlemen,], I leave it to your own judgment to determine how little it will be in my power to answer the public expectation, unless more competent means can be, and are without delay put into my hands. From the communications of the General and Admiral of our allies, the second division, without some very unfortunate contrariety, will in all probability arrive before the time mentioned as the ultimate period for commencing our operations. I submit it to you whether it will not be adviseable immediately to lay before the several States a view of our circumstances at this juncture, in consequence of which they may [4] take their measures.

I have the honor to be
with greatest respect & esteem
Gentlemen
Your Most Obedt Servt
Go: Washington

N.B. The return of the Rhode Island Recruits, is to the last of July more may have since joined – There is a body of Connecticut [struck: Militia, replaced: State] Troops and Militia [struck: on the sound], employed in preparing Fascines & c on the sound. –

The Honble
The committee of Congress
for co-operation.

[struck: Honble. Committee Cooperation]


Notes: Published in Fitzpatrick, John C. The Writings of George Washington. v. 19: 391-94.