George Washington to John Hancock, referred to Wythe & Committee, 31 December 1775

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George Washington writes to Congress to discuss the status of the army. Washington says that the monthly expenses of the army is about $275,000. He talks about how there was not a sufficient number of uniforms sent to the Quartermaster General and there isn't a way for him to get more to his location. He asks for the Paymaster General to be given the authority to deposit money to the Treasury of Philadelphia. Washington discusses the pay of several positions in the army including Assistant Engineers and Chaplains saying that if their pay isn't raised, it is likely that those that fill the positions will seek employment elsewhere. Also, he talks about the movement of the army and relays the news he has heard from other officers such as Colonel Gridley and Colonel Arnold.

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 31 December 1775, pg 1." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Letter text

Page 1

Cambridge 31st. Decem. 1775


I wrote you the 25th. instant. Since which I am not honoured with any of your favours — the estimate I then inclosed you, was Calculated to pay the troops &c. up to the first of January — that cannot be done for want of funds in the Paymaster General’s hands — which Causes a great murmuring amongst those, who are going of —

the monthly expences of this Army amt. to near 275,000 Dollars, which I take the Liberty of recommending to the observation of Congress that their future remittances may be governed thereby —

it sometimes happens, that persons woud wish to deposit money in the hands of the Paymaster General for his bills on the Treasury at Philadelphia — he has hitherto declined such offers, not having authority from Congress to draw — woud it not be proper to give this power? if it Should be approved of — you will please to point out the mode, that the Congress would chuse to have it done in —

the clothing Sent to the Quarter Master Genl. is not sufficient to put halfe our Army into Regimentals, nor is there a possibility of getting any quantity here. I have wrote to General Schuyler, that I wish what was Lodged at Albany, could be Spared for these troops — as General Montgomery woud cloath the men under his command at Montreal, if this can be done, it will be of infinit Service, & no time shou'd be Lost in forwarding them to this Camp —

Page 2

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 31 December 1775, pg 2." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Informing the Regiments for the new establishment, I thought it but justice, to appoint the Officers detatched under Colonel Arnold, to Commissions in them — their absence at present is of very great detriment to the Service, especially in recruiting — I woud therefore wish, if the Congress intend raising troops in or for Canada that they coud be taken in there — the Sooner I have their oppinion of this matter, the better — that if they can be Commissioned in Canada, I may appoint Officers here to replace them —

Inclosed you have Copy of a Representation Sent to me by the Legislative Body of this Province respecting four Companies Stationed at Braintree Weymonth & Hingham — as they were never Regimented and were doing duty at a distance from the rest of the Army. I did not know whether to consider them as a part of it, nor do I think myselfe authorized to direct payment for them, without the approbation of Congress —

It has been represented to me that the free negroes who have Served in this Army, are very much dissatisfied at being discarded — as it is to be apprehended, that they may seek employ in the ministerial Army — I have presumed to depart from the Resolution respecting them, & have given Licence for their being enlisted, if this is disapproved of by Congress, I will put a stop to it, —

I believe Colonel Gridley expects to be Continued as Chief Engineer in this Army — it is very certain that we have no one here, better qualified, he has done very little hitherto in that department, but if the Congress chuse to appoint him — I will take care that he pays a proper attention to it — before I quit this Subject I must remark, that the pay of the Assistant Engineers is so very small, that we cannot expect men of Science will engage in it — those Gentlemen who are in that Station, remained under the expectation, that an additional allowance woud be made them, by the respective Provinces, in which they were appointed, to that, allowed by the Congress —

Captain Freeman, arrived this day at Camp from Canada, he Left Quebec the 24th Ultmo. in Consequence of General Carletons proclamation, which I have the honor to send you herewith — he saw Col. Arnold the 26th. — and says that he was joind at Point ã Tremble by General Montgomery the 1st. instant that they were about 2000 strong & were making every preparation for attacking Quebec. that General Carleton had with him about 1200 men, the majority of whom are Sailors, that it was his oppinion, the French woud give up the place, if they get the same Conditions — granted to the Inhabitants of Montreal —
    Captain Adams, of the Warren armed Schooner sent into Marblehead the Sloop Sally, bound from Lisbon to New York Laden with 2 pipes and 126 Qr. Caskes of wine — this sloop was made a prize of by the

Page 3

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 31 December 1775, pg 3." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Niger Man of War, somewhere near Bermudas, the Captain of whom put his mate & five hands on board with orders to proceed with her to Boston, the Sloop & Cargo belongs to Mr. Peter Barberie of Perth Amboy in New Jersey —

Captain's Simple & Harbeson take under their Care Mr. Kirkland who appears to be a much more illiterate & simple man, than his strong recommendations bespake him — Capt. Mathis & Mr. Robinson will accompany them — the two Later were prisoners taken by Lord Dunmore who was sending them to Boston, from whence there is Little doubt, but that they would be forwarded to England, to which place, I am Credibly informed, Captain Martindale & the Crew of the Washington are sent, also Colonel Allen & the Prisoners taken with him in Canada, this May account for General Howes Silence on the Subject of an Exchange of Prisoners, mentioned in my Letter to him —

General Lee is just returned from his excursion to Rhode Island, he has pointed out the best method, the Island would admit of, for its defence — he has endeavoured all in his power, to make friends of those that were our enemies, you have inclosed a specimen of his abilities in that way, for your perusal, I am of oppinion, that if the same plan was

Page 4

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 31 December 1775, pg 4." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

pursued through every Province, it woud have a very good effect —

I have Long had it on my mind to mention to Congress, that frequent applications had been made to me, respecting the Chaplains pay — which is too small to encourage men of abilities — some of them who have Left their flocks, are obliged to pay the parson action for them, more than they receive — I need not point out the great utility of Gentlemen whose Lives & Conversation are unexceptionable, being employed for that service, in this Army, there are two ways of making it worth the attention of Such — one is, an advancement of their pay, the other, that one Chaplain be appointed to two Regiments, this Last I think may be done without inconvenience I beg leave to recommend this matter to Congress whose Sentiments hereon, I shall impatiently expect —

Upon a further Conversation with Captain Freeman — he is of opinion that General Montgomery has with him near 3000 men Including Col. Arnold's — he says that Lord Pit, had received repeated orders from his father to return home — in Consequence of which he had embarked sometime in October, with a Captain Green who was Master of a vessel, belonging to Philadelphia —

By a number of Salutes in Boston Harbour

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"George Washington to the President of Congress, 31 December 1775, pg 5." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

yesterday I fancy Admiral Shuldam is arrived two Large Ships were Seen Coming in —

Our Inlistments now amount to 9650

Those Gentlemen who were made prisoners of by Lord Dunmore being Left destitute of money & necessarys I have advanced them one hundred pounds Lawfull money belonging to the publick, for which I have taken Capt. Mathew’s draft on the Treasury of Virginia, which goes inclosed — I have the honour to be

Sir Your Most Obedt. Servt.
Go: Washington

P.S. you have inclosed the Returns of the Army

The Honble. John Hancock Esq.

Page 6

"George Washington to the President of Congress, 31 December 1775, pg 6." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Letter from G. Washington
Dated 31 Dec 1775

Read 15 Jany.      No. 25.

Referred to Mr. Wythe
Mr. Adams
Mr. Watson

Estimate of Expences of Army at
Cambridge about 275000 dollars per mo.
Copied. —

See also