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The American Revolution
Creating a Continental Army
General Washington to the President of the Continental Congress, July 10, 1775

Washington arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 3, 1775. He immediately busied himself with myriad matters relating to the army. A week later, he found time to report to the Continental Congress. In the following excerpts from Washington's letter to the President of the Continental Congress, what issues does Washington address? What is Washington's position with respect to recruitment specifically?

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Camp at Cambridge, July 10, 1775.

Sir: I arrived safely at this place on the 3d instant;--after a Journey attended with a good deal of Fatigue and retarded by necessary attentions to the successive Civilties which accompanied me in my whole route. Upon my arrival I immediately visited the several Posts occupied by our Troops, and as soon as the Weather permitted, reconnoitred those of the Enemy.

. . . Upon the whole I think myself authorized to say, that considering the great extent of Line and the nature of the Ground, we are as well secured, as could be expected in so short a time and under the disadvantages we labour. These consist in a Want of Engineers to construct proper Works and direct the Men; a Want of Tools and a sufficient Number of Men to man the Works in case of an Attack. You will observe by the Proceedings of the Council of War, which I have the Honor to enclose, that it is our unanimous Opinion to hold and defend these Works, as long as possible. The Discouragement it would give the Men and its contrary Effect on the Ministerial Troops thus to abandon our Incampment in their Face, formed with so much Labour and expence; added to the certain Destruction of a considerable and valuable extent of Country, and the uncertainty of finding a place in all respects so capable of making a stand are leading reasons for this Determination. At the same time we are very sensible of the Difficulties which attend the Defence of Lines of so great extent, and the Dangers which may ensue from such a Division of the Army.

My earnest Wishes to comply with the Instructions of the Congress in making an early and complete return of the State of the Army, has led into an involuntary delay of addressing you, which has given me much concern. Having given Orders for that purpose immediately upon my arrival, and not then so well apprized of the imperfect Obedience which had been paid to those of like nature from General Ward, I was led from day to day to expect they would come and therefore detained the messenger. They are not so complete as I could wish, but much allowance is to be made for inexperience in Forms and Liberties which had been taken (not given) on this subject. These reasons I flatter myself will no longer exist and of consequence more regularity and exactness in future prevail. This, with a necessary attention to the Lines, the movements of the Ministerial Troops and our immediate security, must be my apoligy, which I beg you to lay before the Congress, with the utmost duty and respect.

. . . We labour under great Disadvantages for want of Tents, for tho' they have been help'd by a collection of Sails from the Seaport Towns, the Number is yet far short of our Necessities. The Colleges and Houses of this Town are necessarily occupied by the Troops, which affords another reason for keeping our present Station: But I most sincerely wish the whole Army was properly provided to take the Field, as I am well assured, that besides greater Expedition and activity in case of alarm, it would highly conduce to health and discipline. As meterials are not to be had here, I would beg leave to recommend the procuring a farther supply from Philadelphia, as soon as possible. . . .

I find the Army in general and particularly the Troops raised in Massachusetts Bay very difficient in necessary Clothing: Upon Inquiry it appears there is no Probability of Obtaining any supplies in this Quarter; upon the best consideration of this matter, I am able to form, I am of Opinion that a number of hunting Shirts, not less than 10,000, would in a great Degree remove the difficulty in the cheapest and quickest manner. I know nothing so trivial in a speculative View, that in Practice would have a happy Tendency to unite the men and abolish those Provincial distinctions which lead to Jealousy and Dissatisfaction. . . . Upon the Article of Ammunition, I must re-echo the former complaints on this Subject; we are so exceedingly destitute that our Artillery will be of little use without a supply both large and seasonable; what we have, must be reserved for the small Arms and that managed with the utmost Frugality.

The State of the Army you will find ascertained, with tolerable Precision, in the Returns which accompany this Letter. Upon finding the Number of Men to fall so far short of the Establishment arid below all Expectation, I immediately called a Council of the General Officers, whose opinion as to the mode of filling up the regiments and providing for the present Exigency, together with the best Judgment we are able to form of the Ministerial Troops, I have the Honor of inclosing. From the Number of Boys, Deserters and negroes which have inlisted in this Province, I entertain some doubts whether the Number required, can be raised here; and all the General Officers agree, that no Dependance can be put on the Militia for a continuance in Camp, or Regularity and Discipline during the short time they may stay. This unhappy and devoted Province has been so long in a State of Anarchy, and the Yoke of Ministerial Oppression so heavily laid, that great allowances are to be made for their Troops collected under such circumstances; The Defficiencies in their numbers, their Discipline and Stores can only lead to this conclusion, that their Spirit has exceeded their Strength. But at the same time I would humbly submit to the Congress, the Propriety of making some further Provision of men from the other Colonies. If these Regiments should be completed to their Establishment, the dismission of those who are unfit for Duty, on account of their Age and Character, would occasion a considerable Reduction, and at all events, they have been inlisted upon such Terms, that they may be dismissed when other Troops arrive: But should my apprehens'ons be realized, and the Regiments here not be filled up, the public Cause would suffer by an absolute Dependance upon so doubtful an Event, unless some Provision is made against such a Disappointment. It requires no Military Skill to judge of the Difficulty of introducing Discipline and Subordination into an Army while we have the Enemy in View and are in daily expectation of an attack, but it is of so much Importance, that every Effort will be made to this End, which Time and circumstances will admit. In the mean Time I have the Pleasure of observing, that there are Materials for a good Army, a great Number of Men, able Bodied, Active, Zealous in the Cause and of unquestionable Courage. . . .

My best Abilities are at all Times devoted to the Service of my Country, but I feel the Weight, variety and Importance of my present Duties too sensibly, not to wish a more immediate and frequent communication with the Congress. I fear it may often happen, in the Course of our present Operations, that I shall need the Assistance and Direction from them which Time and Distance will not allow me to receive.
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