Copyright 1999. Rhode Island Historical Society. All rights reserved.
I have been honored with your Letter of the 24 Jany last.
You know I am not much elated at good News or depressed at bad. I acknowledge my Breast was warmed with the most lively Emotion at knowing your great Success.[1
] An Instance so brilliant in all its parts has not occurred to my Knowledge during the War. Your real Friends feel for you much. While they know you have Enemies, they are certain you dont deserve so ill a Fate. Your Enemies are not personal, but political. The Number is small. I find however, they very readily condemn in you, what they would extol in your Predecessor as the Result of uncommon Wisdom and Fortitude. I dont mean your military Conduct, but political Sentiments respecting the Nature of Armies in this Country.[2
] My most serious Assiduity is now exerted to convince every Body, that your late Success was the Result of Skill, and not of Force, that we must soon hear of your retiring, & that you must be upon the defensive 'till we can give you Magasines and regular Troops. But, my good Friend, our civil Condition is very similar to your military one, only you have one Advantage, wch
is Credit, derived from Victory. We are obliged to begin every Thing anew. In an Intervall between the laying aside of old, & introducing new Systems there must be a political Pause; And this Pause will injure your Department more than any other. Congress have no Money.[3
] I am one of a Committee upon the Affairs of the Southern Department.[4
] I hope you will Derive some Advantage from our Measures. We have pretty good Authority that on the Night of the Twenty second last, a Brittish seventy four was stranded on Montauge Point [Montauk Point, Long Island], and another dismasted.[5
] Should that be true, the French Squadron will be superior to the British; In which Case, Arnold may be dislodged from Virginia, and Provisions and Men may be sent you by Water, as well as Arms and Amunition.[6
] For I am determined to get you the Pennsylvania Line, if possible; For I dont think the great Knife has been ground lately.[7
] You have heard of the Mutiny of that Line. The Consequence has been that most of them have been discharged, & the remainder furloughed. However, about a Thousand of them will be assembled at their Regimental Rendesvous in about two Weeks.[8
] I inclose you a political Account of that Insurrection; As it was written by your Friend, it will give you some Amusement.[9
Congress have agreed to appoint a Superindendant of Finance, a Secretary of War, A Secry of Marine, & Secry of Foreign Affairs. This arrangement will knock up many useless Boards, & direct our executive Business to certain Points. It will create a Responsibility in the respective great Departments & prevent Infinity of Confusion.[10
Congress have called upon the States to vest their willfull Powers to levy and collect Duties upon Importations and Prise Goods. Should this Measure succeed, you will perceive our System aided by increasing Vigor, and public Credit rear its Head amidst surrounding Disgrace.[11
] We are now upon the great Subject of Revenue. And as our Plans increase, I will let you know it.[12
] I am extremely happy in this City, being honored with every kind of polite and generous Attention.
A Few days since I had the Honor of a Letter from your good Lady in which I am so happy as to find she, and the little ones, are well. I have wrote Her your Success, and have endeavored to fortify her Mind against any Reverse of Fortune that succeed thro' your great Inequality in Force and Magasines to Lord Cornwallace. I have requested to address her Letters to me, wch
I can send by pretty certain Conveyances.[13
Maryland, I am very certain, have acceded to the Confederation; & the Ancient Dominion have graciously ceded to Congress their
Lands North West of the Ohio; & I suppose will soon include the Island of Japan, and that Tract of Country extending from the [portion damaged
] Calmuck Tartar down to the Black Sea.[14
God bless you. Let me hear from you often. I wont be in Debt.
Adiu my good Friend
J M Varnum
] Congress on 8 February
had appointed a committee consisting of Varnum, Thomas Burke, and Thomas Bee to consider NG's letter to Samuel Huntington of 24 January. (PGNG, 7: 185
; JCC, 19: 129
) The next day Congress ordered the committee to "take into consideration the state and condition of the southern army, and report ways and means of supplying their wants." (JCC 19:133
) This committee seems to have been replaced by one appointed on 13 February
to confer with Benjamin Harrison, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, who had come to seek assistance for his state and the Southern Department. (JCC 19:142, 176
; see also note at NG to Harrison, 20 January, PGNG, 7: 162-163
The Papers of General Nathanael Greene,
ed. Dennis Conrad et al.
(Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 1999). Full texts of documents calendared in
The Papers of General Nathanael Greene
(Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), Vol. 7, pp. 152-289. On the Web at http://mep.blackmesatech.com/mep/ [Accessed 17 January 2018]