George Washington to John Hancock, referred to Wythe & Committee, 14 February 1776

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George Washington says that he received a letter that was sent between Lord Dunmore and the British General James Robertson and tells Congress his thoughts on Lord Dunmore being involved with Britain and his intentions.[1] Willard and Child, who had been sent to Nova Scotia in accordance with a Congressional resolve, returned and gave Washington their report. Washington does not seem to be very pleased with the report, mentioning that they only went a little ways into Nova Scotia and got their information second-hand. There was a fire set on Dorchester Neck in Massachusetts and when there were people sent to investigate the fire, those who had set it had already retreated. Washington encloses a letter for Benedict Arnold's aide-de-camp David Franks from the British Commissary-General Daniel Chamier about the provisions of the British Army. Washington asks Congress to supply the American officers with more money and clothing so he can stop repeatedly getting requests for such materials.

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 14 February 1776, pg 1." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Letter text

Page 1

Cambridge February the 14. 1776


Through you I beg leave to lay before Congress, the Inclosed Letter from Lord Drummond to General Robertson, which came to my hands a few days agoe in order to be sent into Boston.

As I never heard of his Lordship being vested with power to treat with Congress upon the Subject of our Grievances nor of his having laid any propositions before them for an Accommodation, I confess It surprized me much, and led me to form various conjectures of his motives, and Intended application to General Howe & Admiral Shouldam for a pasport for the safe Conduct of such Disputes as Congress might appoint for Negociating Terms of Reconciliation between Great Britain and us. — Whatever his Intentions are, however benevolent his designs may be, I confess that his Letter has embarrassed me much, and I am not without suspicion of Its meaning more than the Generous purposes It proposes —. I should suppose that If the mode for Negociation which he points out, should be adopted, which I hope will never be thought of, that It ought to have been fixed and settled previous to any application of this Sort, and at best that his conduct in this Instance is premature

Page 2

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 14 February 1776, pg 2." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

and Officious, & leading to consequences of a fatal and Injurious nature to the rights of this Country. his zeal and desire perhaps of an amicable & constitutional adjustment's taking place may have Suggested & precipitated the measure, be that as It may, I thought It of too much importance to suffer It to go in without having the express direction of Congress for that purpose, and that It was my Indispensable duty to transmit them the Original to make such Interpretations and Inferences as they may think right —.

Messrs Willard & Child who were sent to Nova Scotia in pursuance of the Resolve of Congress, have just returned and made their Report, which I do myself the honor to Inclose you. they have not Answered the purposes of their commission by any means, as they only went but a little way into that Country, and found their Intelligence upon the Information of others —. You will see the reasons they Assigned in excuse or justification of their conduct in the Report Itself. —

Last night a party of Regulars, said to be about Five hundred, landed on Dorchester Neck and burnt some of the Houses there, which were of no value to us, nor would they have been, Unless we take post there; they then might have been of some service. — A Detachment went after them as soon as the fire was discovered, but before It could arrive, they had executed their plan and made their retreat.

Inclosed is a Letter for David Franks Esq. from Mr. Chamier in Boston, upon the Subject of victualling such of the Kings Troops as may be prisoners within the Limits of his Contract, which I beg the favour of you to deliver him, and that proper agents may be appointed by him to see that It is done — I could wish too that Congress would fall upon some mode for Supplying the Officers with such Money as they may really stand in need of, and depute propose persons for that purpose & furnishing the privates with such Cloathing as may be absolutely necessary; I am applied to and wearied by their repeated requests — In some Instances I have desired the Committees to give the prisoners within their appointments, what they should Judge absolutely necessary for their support, as the only means in my power of relieving their distress — But I can imagine that If those were persons to superintend this business that their wants

Page 3

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 14 February 1776, pg 3." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

would be better attended to, and many exorbitant charged prevented and saved to the Continent, & the whole wou'd then be brought in to a proper account

I am Sir,
with great esteem & regard
Your Most Hble. Servt.
Go: Washington

P.S. I send a Return of the strength of the Regiments —

Letter from gen. Washington
Feby 14. 1776.
Enclosing Lord Drummand’s letter return of the New Army.
Information of the persons sent to Nova Scotia.

Read 29 Feby. 1776
Mr. Chase
Mr. J Adams
Mr. Penn
Mr. Wythe
& Mr. Rutledge

By G.W. from
Mr. Chase 11 March

See also


  1. The Papers of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, ed. John P. Butler (Smithsonian Inst Pr, 1978), M247, r166, i152, v1, 485.