George Washington to John Hancock, referred to Wythe & Committee, 19 January 1776

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George Washington wrote to Congress to discuss the situation of America in Canada.[1] General Schuyler had sent him a letter containing most of the information on the situation, so Washington enclosed it for Congress to read. Washington mentioned that Congress had wanted 3,000 soldiers to be sent to Canada; however, he heard from General Schuyler that those troops had not been raised. Since Washington did not want to take troops from New York, he sent a letter to the governments of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire recommending them to raise regiments to help in Canada. He enclosed copies of those letters along with a resolution of Massachusetts that answered his application for weapons. At the end of the letter, George Washington added a postscript where he said that since writing the letter, he had heard word from Massachusetts and Connecticut that they had agreed to raise regiments for Canada.

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 19 January 1776, pg 1." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Letter text

Page 1

Cambridge 19th Jan 1776


Taking it for granted that Genl. Schuyler has not only informed you of the fate of the brave, and much to be lamented Genl. Montgomerie, but of the Situation of our Affairs in Canada (as related by Genl. Wooster, Colo. Arnold, Colo. Campbell, and others) I shall not take up much more of your time on this subject, than is necessary to Inclose you a Copy of his Letter to me, with the result thereon, as appears by the Council of War which I immediately summoned on the Occasion; and at which Mr. Adams, by my particular desire, was good enough to attend. —

It may appear strange Sir, as I had not Men to spare from these Lines that I should presume, without first sending to Congress & obtaining an express direction, to recommend to the Governments of Massachusetts, Connecticut, & New Hampshire to raise each a Regiment on the Continental Acct for this Service–I wish most ardently

Page 2

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 19 January 1776, pg 2." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

ardently that the urgency of the case would have admitted of the delay. — I wish also, that the purport of General Schuylers Letter had not, unavoidably as it were, laid me under an indispensable obligation to do it.

For having inform’d you in his Letter (Copy of which he inclosed me) of his dependence on this Quarter for Men, I thought you might also have some reliance on my exertions–this consideration added to my fears of the fatal consequences of delay; to an information of your having designed 3000 Men for Canada; to belief founded chiefly on General Schuylers Letters, that few or none of them are raised; and, to my apprehensions for New York, which led me to think that no Troops could be spared from that Quarter, induced me to loose not a moments time in throwing in a force there, being well assured that General Carlton will improve to the utmost the advantages gain’d; leaving no Artifices untried, to fix the Canadians & Indian’s (who we find are too well disposed to take part with the strongest in his Interest)


If these reasons are not sufficient to justifie my conduct in the opinion of Congress; If the measure contravenes any Resolution of theirs, they will please to countermand the levying & Marching of the Regiments as soon as possible, & do me the justice to believe that, my Intentions were good, if my Judgment has erred.

The Congress will please also observe, that the Measure of Supporting our Posts in Canada appear’d of such exceeding great Importance that the General Officers (agreeing with me in Sentiment, & unwilling to lay any burthen which can possibly be avoided, although it may turn out an ill-timed piece of parsimony) have Resolved, that the three Regiments for Canada that be part of the thirteen Militia Regiments which were requested to Reinforce this Army, as appears by the Minutes of another Council of War held on the 16th. Inst. — I shall, being much hurried & fatigued, add no more in this Letter than my duty to Congress & that I have the honour to be Sir

Yr. Most Obed. & Most Hble. Serv.
Go: Washington

PS. I Inclose you a Copy of my Letter to the Governments of Massachusetts, Connecticut, & New Hampshire also a copy of

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"George Washington to the President of Congress, 19 January 1776, pg 3." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

a Resolution of this Colony in answer to an application of mine for Arms. —

GW —

Since writing the above I have been informed by a Message from the Genl. Court of Massachusetts that they have resolved upon the Raising of a Regiment for Canada, & appointed the Field Officers for it in the Western parts of this Government — I am also informed by Express from Governor Trumbull that he & his Council of Safety had agreed upon the Raising of a Regiment for the same purpose which was anticipating my application to that Government.

The Commissions (and they are applied for) are to be given by Congress to the three Regiments going to Canada you will please to have them forwarded as I have none by me for the purpose.

GW —

No. 29. Letter from Genl. Washington
19 Jany. — 1776

referred to Mr. Lynch
Mr. Wythe
Mr. Sherman
Mr. Ward
Mr. J. Adams

With 4 enclosures.
read 27. Jan.
Copied —

See also


  1. The Papers of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, ed. John P. Butler (Smithsonian Inst Pr, 1978), M247, r166, i152, v1, 419.