TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS Camp above Trenton Falls, December 20, 1776


SIR: I have waited with much Impatience to know the determinations of Congress on the Propositions made some time in October last for augmenting our Corps of Artillery, and establishing a Corps of Engineers; the time is now come, when the 1st cannot be delayed without the greatest injury to the safety of these States, and therefore under the Resolution of Congress bearing date the 12th. Instt. at the repeated Instance of Colo. Knox, and by the pressing advice of all the General Officers (now here) I have ventured to order three Battalions of Artillery to be immediately recruited; this is two less than Colo. Knox recommends, as you will see by his Plan Inclosed but then this scheme comprehends all the United States whereas some of the States have Corps already established and these three Battalions are indispensibly necessary for the operations in this Quarter ([including] comprehending the Northern department). The pay of our Artillerests bearing no proportion with that in the English or French Service, the Murmering and dissatisfaction thereby occasioned, and the a. solute impossibility, as I am told, of getting them upon the terms, and the unavoidable necessity of obtaining them at all events, have Induced me (also by advice) to promise Officers, and Men that their pay should be augmented ~ pr. Ct., or that their ingagements shall become null and void; this may appear to Congress premature, and unwarrantable; but Sir, if they view our Situation in the light it strikes their officers, they irill be convinced of the Utility of the Measure, and that the Execution could not be delayed till after their Meeting at Baltimore; In short, the present exigency of our Affairs will not admit delay, either in Council or the Field, for well convinc'd I an that if the Enemy go into Quarters at all, it will be for a short Season; but I rather think the design of Genl. Howe is to possess himself of Phila. this winter, if possible (and in truth I do not see what is to hinder [prevent] him, as 10 days more will put an end to the existence of our Army); that one great point, is to keep us as much harrassed as possible, with a view to injure the Recruiting Service, and prevent a Collection of Stores, and other necessaries for the next Campaign, I am as clear in as I am of my existence; if therefore in the short Interval we have to provide, and make these great and arduous preparations, every matter that in its nature is self evident, is to be refer'd to Congress, at the distance of 130 or 140 Miles, so much time must necessarily elapse, as to defeat the end in view.

It may be said that this is an application for powers that are too dangerous to be Intrusted. I can only add, that desperate diseases require desperate Remedies; and with truth declare, that I have no lust after power but wish with as much fervency as any Man upon this wide extended Continent, for an oppertunity of turning the Sword into a plow share. But my feelings as an Officer and a Man, have been such as to force me to say that no person ever had a greater choice of difficulties to contend with than I have; it is needless to add that short Inlistmcats, and a mistaken dependence upon Militia, have been the Origin of all our Misfortunes and the great accumulation of our Debt.

We find Sir, that the Enemy are daily gathering strength from the disaffected; this Strength like a Snow ball by rolling, will Increase, unless some means can be devised to check, effectually, the progress of the Enemy's Arms; Militia may, possibly, do it for a little while; but in a little while also, the Militia of those States which have been frequently called upon will not turn out at all or with so much reluctance and sloth as to amount to the same thing. Instance New Jersey! Witness Pennsylvanial Could any thing but the River Delaware have sav'd Philadelphia? Can any thing (the exigency of the case g indeed may justify it), be more destructive to the recruiting Service than giving 1o Dollars Bounty for Six Weeks Service of the militia; who come in you cannot tell how, go, you cannot tell when; and act, you cannot tell where; consume your
Provisions, exhaust your Stores, and leave you at last in a critical moment. These Sir are the Men I am to depend upon Ten days hence,Ă‘this is the Basis on which your Cause will and
must for ever depend, till you get a large standing Army, sufficient of itself to oppose the Enemy. I therefore beg leave to give it as my humble opinion that 88 Battalions are by no means equal to the opposition you are to make, and that not a Moment's time is to be lost in raising a greater number; not less in my opinion, and the opinion of my Officers than 1 0o; it may I be urged, that it will be found difficult enough to compleat the I first Number, this may be true, and yet the Officers of 1 lo Battalions will recruit many more Men than those of 88. In my judgment this is not a time to stand upon expence; our funds are the only objects of Consideration. The State of New York have added one (I wish they had made it two) Battalions to their quota. If any good Officers offer to raise Men upon Continental pay and establishment in this Quarter, I shall encourage them to do so, and Regiment them when they have done it. If Congress disapprove of this proceeding, they will please to signify it, as I mean it for the best.

It may be thought that, I am going a good deal out of the line of my duty to adopt these Measures, or advise thus freely; A Character to loose, an Estate to forfeit, the inestimable Blessing of liberty at Stake, and a life devoted, must be my excuse.

I have heard nothing of the light Horse from Virginia, nor the Regiment from the Eastern Shore; I wish to know what Troops are to [Act in] furnish the different departments and to have those from the Southward (design'd for this place) order'd on as fast as they shall be raised, the Routs should be pointed out by which they are to March. Assistant Commissaries and Quarter Masters upon the Communication to supp~: their Wants; the first or second Officer of each Battalion to for" ward them and the other to come on, receive, and form them at their place of destination. Unless this is immediately set about, I the Campaign, if it should be closed, will be opened in the I Spring before we have any Men in the Field. Every exertion should be used to procure Tents. A Clothier General should be appointed without loss of time for Supplying the Army with | every Article in that way. He should be a Man of Business and I Abilities. A Commissary of Prisoners must be appointed [to | attend the Army]; for want of an Officer of this kind the [business of that department] Exchange of Prisoners has been conducted in a most shameful [and injurious] Manner We have had them from all Quarters push'd into our Camps at the most critical junctures and without the least previous notice. We have had them actually travelling through the different States in all directions, by certificates from Committees without any kind of Controul; and have had Instances of some going into the Enemy's Camp without my privily or knowledge, after passing in the manner before mentioned. There may be other Officers necessary, which [t clont] my recollection at this time does not furnish [and which when thought of] but must be provided; for this Sir you may rely on, that the Commanding Officer under the present establishment is obliged to attend to the business of so many different departments as to render it impossible to conduct that of his own with the attention necessary, than which nothing can be more Injurious.

In a former Letter, I intimated my opinion of the necessity of having a Brigadier for every three Regiments, and a Majr. Genl. to (at most) every three Brigades. I think no time is to be lost in making the Appointments, that tht arrangement may be consequent; this will not only aid the Recruiting Service but will be the readiest means of forming and disciplining the Army afterwards; which, in the short time we have to do it, is of amazing consequence. I have labourd ever since I have been in the Service to discourage all kinds of local attachments, and distinctions of Country, denominating the whole by the gTeater name of American; but I found it impossible to overcome prejudices, and under the New Establishment I conceive it best to stir up an Emulation in order to do which, would it not be better for each State to furnish (tho not appoint) their own Brigadiers; this if known to be part of the Establishment might get rid of [prevent] a good deal of contention and jealousy, and would, I believe, be the means of promotion going forward with more satisfaction and quiet in the higher officers.

Whilst I am speaking of Promotion, I cannot help giving it as my opinion that if Congress thinks proper to confirm what I have done with respect to the Corps of Artillery, that Colo. Knox (at present at the head of that department, but [who] without Promotion will resign) ought to be appointed to the Command of it with the rank and pay of Brigadier. I have also
to mention, that for want of some establishment in the department of Engineers, agreeable to the plan laid before Congress in October last Colo. Putnam who was at the head of it, has quitted, and taken a Regiment in the State of Massachusetts. I know of no other Man tolerably well qualified for the conducting of that business. None of the French Gentlemen whom I have seen with appointments in that way, appear to me to know anything of the Matter. There is one in Philadelphia whom I am told is clever, but him I have never seen. I must also once more beg leave to mention to Congress the admisability [expediency] of letting Promotion go [be] in a Regimental line; the want of this, has already driven some of the best Officers [that were] in your Army out of the Service; from repeated, and strict enquiry I am convinced you can adopt no mode of promotion that will be better receivd, or [that will] give more general satisfaction, I wish therefore to have it anounced.

The casting of Cannon is a matter that ought not to be one moment delayed, and therefore I shall send Colo. Knox to put this in a Train, as also to have travelling Carriages and Shott provided, Elaboratories to be established, one at Hartford and another in York, Magazines of Provisions should also be laid in; these I shall fix with the Commissary, as our great loss last year proceeded from a Want of Teams, I shall direct the Quarter Master Genl. to furnish a certain number to each Regiment to answer the common purposes thereof, that the Army may be enabled to remove from place to place differently from what we have done, or could do, this Campaign. Ammunition Carts, and proper Carts for Intrenching Tools should also be pro~ vided, and I shall direct about them accordingly; above all, a Store of Small Arms should be provided or Men will be of little use; the Consumption, and waste of these this year has been great; Militia, Flying Campmen &cat coming in without, were obliged to be furnished, or become useless; Many of these threw their Arms away, some lost them, whilst others deserted and took them along. In a word, altho' I used every precaution to preserve them, the loss has been great, and this will forever be the case in such a Mixed and irregular Army as ours has been.

If no part of the Troops already embark'd at New York, have appeard in Virginia their destination, doubtless, must be to
some other Quarter, and that State must, I should think, be freed from any Invasion, if Genl. Howe can be effectually opposed in this. I therefore Inclose a Memorandum given me by Brigr. Stephen of Virginia, which Cong;ress will please to adopt in whole, in part, or reject, as may be consistent with their Plans, and Intelligence.

That division of the Army, late under the command of Genl. Lee, now Genl. Sullivan, is just upon the point of joining us; a strange kind of fatality has attended it! they had Orders on the 17th of Novr. to join, now more than a Month! Genl. Gates with four Eastern Regiments are also near at hand; three others ffom those States were coming on by his order by the way of Peakskill, and had joined Genl. Heath, whom I had ordered on with Parsons's Brigade to join me, leaving Clintons Brigade and some Militia (that were at Forts Montgomery and Constitution) to guard those important passes of the Highlands; but the Convention of the State of New York seeming to be much alarmed at Heath's coming away, a fleet appearing off New London, and some part of the Enemy's Troops retiring towards Brunswick, induced me to countermand the Order for the march of Parsons's Brigade, and to direct the three Regiments from Tyconderoga to Halt at Morris Town, in Jersey; where I understand about Soo Militia had collected, in order to inspirit the Inhabitants and as far as possible cover that part of the Country; I shall send Genl. Maxwell this day to take the Command of them, and if to be done, to harrass and annoy the Enemy in their Quarters and cut off their Convoys.

The care and vigilance which was used in securing the Boats on this River has hitherto baffled every attempt of the Enemy to Cross, but from concurring reports, and appearances they are waiting for Ice to afford them a passage.

Since writing the foregoing I have receiv'd a Letter from Govr. Cooke of Rhode Island of which the Inclosed is a Copy, previous to this, and immediately upon the first Intelligence obtain'd of a Fleets going, through the Sound, I dispatch'd orders to Genls. Spencer and Arnold to proceed immediately [without the least] delay to the Eastward. The first I presume is gone the latter not getting my Letter till he came to a place calletl Laston was, by advice of Genl. Gates who also met my
Letter at the same place, induced to come on hither before he proceeded to the Eastward. Most of our Brigadiers are laid up, not one has come on with the division under Genl. Sullivan but [are] left sick at different places on the Road. By Accts. from the Eastward, a large body of Men had assembled in Rhode Island from the States of Massachusetts and Connecticut; I presume (but I have no advice of it) that the Militia ordered from the first, to Rendezvous at Danbury (6000 in number) under the Command of Major Cenl Lincoln' for the purpose of supplying the Places of the disbanded Men of that State in the Continental Army will now be ordered to Rhode Island. In speaking of Genl Lincoln I should not do him justice were I not to add that he is a Gentleman well worthy of Notice in the Military Line. He commanded the Militia from Massachusetts last Summer, or Fall Rather, and much to my satisfaction, having prov'd himself on all occasions an active, spirited, sensible Man. I do not know whether it is his wish to remain in thc Military Line, or whether, if hc should, any thing under the Rank he now holds in the State he comes from, would satisfy him; how far an appointment of this kind might offend the Continental Brigadiers I cannot undertake to say; many there are, over whom he ought not to be placed, but I know of no way to discriminate. Brigadier Read of New Hampshire [does] not I presume mean to continue in Service, he ougllr not, as I am told by the Severity of the small Pox he is become both blind and deaf. I am &c.

P. S. Genls. Gates and Sullivan have this Instant come in, by them I learn, that few or no Men are recruited out of the Regiments coming on with them; and that, there is very little reason to expect that these Regiments will be prevaild upon to continue after their term of Service expires. If Militia then do not come in the consequences are but too evident.