George Washington to John Hancock, referred to Wythe & Committee, 4 April 1776

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George Washington tells Congress that he wishes the pay for the troops had arrived when their term of service expired because the troops went home uneasy and dissatisfied as a result of the lateness of payment. Washington goes on to talk about a letter he had once enclosed to Congress that came from the Rhode Island Governor which contained information about an incoming arrival of a warship into Newport Harbor. He says that the information was false and apologizes for the unnecessary and inconvenient diversion of troops that the misinformation caused. Washington also tells Congress that the British General William Howe has made a proclamation and encloses it with the letter. Washington talks about the Paymaster General Warner seeming to not always fulfill his duties; however, because of his merit and attachment to the cause, Washington leaves the decision of what to do about him in Congress' hands. For the second time in the letter Washington brings up the issue of money and the effect it has had on the troops. He mentions that some Militia Regiments decided to march to get the pay they claim they were owed. Washington finds the march to have been unreasonable but tells Congress about it so they can decide whether they must pay out the claims or not.

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 4 April 1776, pg 1." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Letter text

Page 1

Cambridge April 4th. 1776


I was honoured with your favours of the 21st and 25 Ulto. on the 2d Instant, the favour by Mr. Hanson &c. — the latter by Fessendon — I heartily wish the Money had arrived sooner, that the militia ought have been paid as soon as their term of Service expired — the disappointment has given them great uneasiness & they are going Home much dissatisfied, nor have I been without severe complaints from the other Troops on the same account — When I get to New York I hope a sufficient Sum will be there ready to pay every claim.

& most of the others on their march to New York; nor do I know that It would answer any good purpose if I were having made repeated assertions to the several Assemblies and Conventions upon the Subject and constantly received for Answer, that they cou'd afford us releif.

When I arrive at New York I shall in pursuance of the order of Congress detach four Battalions to Canada, If the situation of affairs will admit of It and

Cop. Letter from
Gen. Washington of the 4th of April 1776

Read 15.
Referred to Mr. Wythe
Mr. Harrison
Mr. Adams

Page 2

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 4 April 1776, pg 2." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

shall be extremely happy If they and the Troops already there can effect the important end of their going.

In my letter of the 1st Inst. Ctpost, I inclosed you a Copy of a Letter from Governor Cooke advising me of the Arrival of a Ship of War &c at & near the harbor of New-Port — I have now the pleasure to Inform you that the report was entirely premature and without any foundation — you have a Copy of his Letter of the 1st Inst. to this effort — I wish the Alarm had never been given, It occasioned General Sullivan and his Brigade to make an unnecessary and inconvenient diversion from their Route.

Inclosed is a Copy of an Account presented by the Honble. Genl Court of powder furnished the Continl. Army by this Colony — From the amount It appears that part of It was supplied before, the Army was under my command and therefore I know nothing of It — But have not the smallest doubt of the justice of the charge — I shall leave about Two hundred Barrells of this Article with Major General Ward, out of which Congress will desire him to make a return. If they think proper, and also repayment of what may have been furnished by the other Governments.

A proclamation of General How's Issued a few days before his departure from Town having fallen into my hands, I have inclosed you a Copy, which will probably have been the occasion of large Quantities of Goods being carried away & the removal of every persons, which otherwise would not have happened.

Colo. Warner, Paymaster General finding the Army likely to be removed from hence, informed me the other day, that the situation of his affairs and engagements in the business of the Colony are such as to prevent him from personally attending the Army and offered in case It should be required to resign — this was rather embarrassing — to me. It appears indispensably necessary that the Paymaster Genl. with his Books should be at or near Head-Quarters — Indeed It is usual for the Head of every departments in the army, however disposed that Army may be, to be with the Commanding General, hooping deputies in the Smaller departments — On the other hand Colo. Warrens merit and attachment to the cause as much, that I could do nothing less than desire (as some money must be left for the pay & contingent Charges of the Army which will remain have) he would wait here till Congress shall be pleased to give their Sentiments upon the matter, sending in the meantime some person in whom he cou'd confide with the money, (But little of which those will be to carry, tho great the demands, as Nine of the Regiments which have Marched to New York, have only received 500 £ each towards

Page 3

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 4 April 1776, pg 3." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

their pay for the months of Feby. & March and Six others not one farthing) I hope therefore this matter will be considered by Congress and the result Transmitted me as soon as done.

I wou'd also mention to Congress that the Militia Regiments which were last called upon in making up their abstracts, charged pay, the Office from the Time they received Orders to raise Companies & the Privates from the time they respectively engaged to come or were called upon, Tho they did not march for a considerable time after; some not within three, four to Twenty days, and during all which they received at Home about their own private affairs without doing anything else than preparing for the March as they say by way of plea — This appeared to me so exceedingly unreasonable, and so contrary to Justice that the publick should pay for a longer twice than from the day of their march to that of their return, that I ordered the Abstracts to be made out accordingly and refused to give Warrants on any other Terms — They say that the Inlisting orders which went out from their Governments give them the pay they claim — the Fact may be that something in these may seem to authorize It. — But I must submit It to Congress & wish for their decision whether the Continent must pay It.

I am with great esteem
Sir Yr Most Hble. Servt.
Go: Washington

P.S. I shall set off to day.

See also