TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS
Head Quarters,Camp at Cambridge, September 21, 1775
SIR: I have been in daily expectation of being favored with the Commands of the Honorable Congress on the Subjects of my two last Letters. Thc Season advances so fast that I cannot any longer defer laying before them such farther measures as require their immediate attention and in which I wait their direction.
The mode in which the present Army has been collected, has occasioned some Difficulty in procuring the Subscription of both Officers and Soldiers to the Continental Articles of War. Their principal Objection has been, that it might subject them to longer Service than that for which they engaged under their several Provincial Establishments. It is in vain to attempt to reason away the Prejudices of a whole Army, often instill'd and in this Instance at least encourged, by the Officers from private and narrow Views. I have therefore foreborn pressing them as I did not experience any such Inconvenience from their adherence to former Rules, as would warrant the Risque of entering into a Contest upon it: more especially as the restraints necessary for the Establishment of essential Discipline and Subordi~ nation, indisposed their Minds to every change, and made it both Duty and Policy to introduce as little Novelty as possible. With the present Army I fear such a Subscription is impracticable: But the Difficulty will cease with this Army.
The Connecticut and Rhode Island Troops stand engaged to the 1st. December only, and none longer than to the 1 st January. A Dissolution therefore, of the present Army will tak place unless some early Provision is made against such al. Event. Most of the General Officers are of Opinion the great~lil part of them may be re-inlisted for the Winter or another Cam. 1 paign, with the Indulgence of a Furlough to visit their Friends, I which, may be regulated so as not to endanger the Service. How far it may be proper to form the new Army entirely out of the ~ Old for another Campaign, rather than from the Contingents of the several Provinces, is a Question which involves in it too many Considerations of Policy and Prudence for me to undertake to decide. It appears to be impossible to draw it from any other source than the Old Army this Winter; and as the Pay is ample, I hope a sufficient number will engage in the Service for that Time at least, but there are various Opinions of the Tem. per of the Men on the Subject, and there may be great Hazard in deferring the Tryal too long.
In the Continental Establishment no Provision has been made for the Pay of Artificers, distinct from that of common Soldiers; Whereas under the Provincial, such as found their own Tools were allowed 1 per Day advance and particular Artizans more. The Pay of the Artillery also now differs from . that of the Province. The Men have less, the Officers more, and for some Ranks no Provision is made, as the Congress will please to observe by the list which I have the Honor to enclose.
These particulars, tho' inconsiderable, are the source of much complaint and Dissatisfaction, which I endeavour to compose in the best manner I am able.
By the returns of the Rifle Companies and that Battalion, they appear to exceed their Establisllment very considerably. I doubt my Authority to pay these extra men, without the directions of the Congress, but it would be deemed a great Hardship wholly to refuse them, as they have been encouraged to come.
The necessities of the Troops having required Pay, I directed those of Massachusetts should receive a Months pay, on being mustered and returning a proper Roll, but a Claim was immediately made for Pay by Lunar Months, and several Regiments have declined taking up their Warrants on this Account.\n
As this Practice was entirely new to me, tho' said to be warranted by former usage, the matter here now waits the Determination of the Hon. Congress. I find in Connecticut and Rhode Island, this Point was settled by Callender Months, in Massachusetts tho' mentioned in Congress, it was left undetermined, which is also the case in New Hampshire. The inclosure No. 1 is a Petition from the Subalterns, respecting their Pay. Where there are only two of them in a company, I have considered one as an Ensign and ordered him Pay as such, as in the Forces of Connecticut: I must beg leave to recommend this Petition to the Favor of the Congress, as I am of Opinion the allowance is inadequate to their rank and Service and is one great source of that Familiarity between the Officers and Men, which is incompatible with Subordination and Discipline. Many valuable Officers of these ranks, finding themselves unable to support the character and appearance of Officers, I am informed will retire, as soon as the Term of Service is expired, if there is no Alteration.
For the better tegulation of Duty, I found it necessary to settle the rank of the Officers and to number the Regiments, and as I had not received the commands of the Congress upon the Subject, and the exigence of the Service forbade any farther Delay, the General Officers were considered as having no Regiments. An Alteration which I understand is not pleasing to some of them, but appeared to me and others to be proper, when it was considered, that by this means the whole Army is put upon one Footing and all particular Attachments dissolved. Among many other Considerations, which the approach of Winter will demand, that of clothing appears to be one of the most important. So far as regards the Preservation of the Army from cold, they may be deemed in a state of nakedness. Many of the men have been without Blankets the whole campaign and those which have been in use during the Summer, are so much worn as to be of little Service. In order to make a Suitable Provision in these Articles, and at the same time to guard the Public against Imposition and expence, it seems necessary to determine the mode of continuing the Army,for should Troops be clothed under the present Engagement and at the Expiration of the Term of Service decline renewing it, a Set of unprovided men may be seIl to supply their Places.
I cannot suppose it unknown to the Hon. Congress, that in all Armies it is an established Custom to make an Allowance of Provisions according to their Rank; as such an Allowance formed no Part of the Continental Establishment, I have hitherto forbore, to issue the Orders for that purpose, but as it is the received Opinion of such Members of the Congress, as I have had, an Opportunity of consulting, as well as throughout the Army, that it must be deemed as a Matter of Course and implied in the Establishment of the Army, I have directed the following Proportion of Rations, being the same allowed in the American Armies last War, Vizt.
Rations, Major General 15, Brigadier General 12, Colonel 6, Lieutenant Colonel ~, Major 4, Captain 3, Subaltern ~, Staff :.
If these should not be approved by the Hon: Congress they will be pleased to signify the Alterations they would have made in the whole or in Part.
I am now to inform the Hon: Congress, that encouraged by the repeated Declarations of the Canadians and Indians and urged by their requests; I have detached Colonel Arnold with took men to penetrate into Canada by Way of Kennebeck River, and if possible to make himself Master of Quebec. By this man~uvre, I propose either to divert Carlton from St. Johns, which would leave a free Passage to General Schuyler, or if this did not take Effect, Quebec in its present defenseless State must fall into our Hands an easy Prey. I made all possible Inquiry as to the Distance, the Safety of the Rout and the Danger of the Season being too far advanced, but found noth ing in either to deter me from proceeding, more especially, as it met with very General Approbation from all whom I consulted upon it.
That nothing might be omitted, to enable me to judge of its Propriety and probable Consequences, I communicated it by Express to General Schuyler, who approved of it in such Terms, that I resolved to put it into immediate Execution. They have now left this Place 7 Days and if favoured with a good Wind, I hope soon to hear of their being safe in Kennebeck River.
For the Satisfaction of the Congress, I have inclosed a copy of the proposed rout No. 3.
I also do myself the Honor of enclosing a Manifesto, which I caused to be printed here and of which Colo: Arnold has taken a suitable Quantity with him; This is the Inclosure No. 4. I have also forwarded a Copy of his Instructions No. 5 from all which I hope, the Congress will have a clear victory
The State of Inactivity in which this Army has lain for some Time past, by no Means corresponds with my Wishes, by some decisive stroke to relieve my Country from the heavy expenses its subsistence must create.
After frequently reconnoitering the Situation of the Enemy in the Town of Boston, collecting all possible Intelligence and digesting the whole, a surprize did not appear impracticable though hazardous. I communicated it to the General Officers some Days before I called them to Council, that they might be prepared with their Opinions. The Result I have the Honor of sending in the enclosure No. 6. I cannot say that I have wholly laid it aside, but new Events may occasion New Measures. Of this I hope the Hon Congress can need no Assurance, that there is not a Man in America, who more earnestly Wishes such a Termination of the Campaign, as to make the Army no longer necessary.\n
The Season advances so fast, that I have given Orders to prepare Barracks and other accomodations for the Winter. The great Scarcity of Tow Cloth in this Country, I fear, will totally disappoint us in our expectations of procuring Hunting Shirts. Govr. Cooke informs me, few or none to be had in Rhode Island, and Govr. Trumbull gives me little Encouragement to expect many from Connecticut.
I have filled up the Office of Quarter Master General, which the Congress was pleased to leave to me to by the Appointment of Major Mifflin, which I hope and believe will be universally acceptable.
It gives me great Pain to be obliged to solicit the Attention of the Hon. Congress to the State of the Army, in Terms which imply the Slightest Apprehension of being neglected: But my Situation is inexpressibly distressing to see the Winter fast approaching upon a naked Army, The time of their Service within a few Weeks of expiring, and no Provision yet made for such important Events. Added to this is totally exhausted. The Paymaster has not a single Dollar in Hand. The Commissary General assures me he has strained his Credit to the utmost for the Subsistence of the Army:ÑThe Quarter Master General is precisely in the same situation, and the greater part of the Army in a State not far from mutiny, upon the Deduction from their stated Allowance. I know not to whom to impute this Failure, but I am of opinion, if the Evil is not immediately remedied and more Punctuality ob" served in future, the Army must absolutely break up. I hoped I had expressed myself so fully on this Subject both by Letter and to those members of the Hon: Congress who have Honored the Camp with a Visit, that no Disappointment could possibly happen.
I therefore hourly expected Advices from the Pay Master, that he had received a fresh Supply in Addition to the 172,000 Dollars delivered him in August; And thought myself warranted to assure the Public Creditors, that in a few Days they should be satisfied, but the Delay has brought Matters to such a Crisis, as admits of no farther uncertain Expectation. I have therefore sent off this Express with orders to make all possible Dispatch. It is my most earnest request that he may be returned with all possible Expedition, unless the Honr. Congress have already forwarded what is so indispensibly necessary. I am with the most respectful regard &catorders the Quarter Master General this day, to publish Advertisements, to acquaint the Inhabitants of the surrounding districts, that such of them, as are detected bringing new Cyder into the Camp, after Thursday, the last day of this month, may depend on having their casks stove.