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TO GENERAL FORBES, COMMANDING HIS MAJESTY'S FORCES EMPLOYED ON THE OHIO EXPEDITION.
In consequence of your request of the Colonels assembled at your lodgings, the 15th ultimo, I offer these plans to your consideration. They express my thoughts respecting a line of march through a country covered with woods, and how that line of march may be formed quickly into an order of battle. The plan of the order of march and order of battle, on the other side, is calculated for a forced march with field-pieces only, unincumbered with wagons. It represents, first, a line of march ; and, secondly, how that line of march may in an instant be thrown into an order of battle in the woods. This plan supposes four thousand privates, one thousand of whom, picked men, are to march in the front in three divisions, each division having a field-officer to command it, besides the commander of the whole ; and always to be in readiness to oppose the enemy, whose attack, if the necessary precautions are observed, must always be in front.
The first division must, as the second and third likewise ought to be, subdivided for the captains ; these subdivisions to be again divided for the subalterns ; and the subalterns again for the sergeants and corporals. By which means every non-commissioned officer will hav a party to command, under the eye of a subaltern, as the subalterns will have, under the direction of a captain.
I shall, though I believe it unnecessary, remark here, that the captains, when their subdivisions are again divided, are to take command of no particular part of it, but to attend to the whole subdivision, as the subalterns are to do with theirs, each captain and subaltern acting as commandant of the division he is appointed to, under the field-officer, visiting and encouraging all parts alike, and keeping the soldiers to their duty. This being done, the first division, so soon as the van-guard is attapked (if that gives the first notice of the enemy's approach), is to file off to the right and left, and take to trees, gaining the enemy's flanks, and surrounding the as described in the second plan. The flank-guards the right, which belong to the second division, are immediately to extend to the right, followed by that division, and to form, as described in the aforesaid plan. The rear-guard division is to follow the left flankers in the same manner, in order, if possible, to encompass the enemy, which being a practice different from any thing they have ever yet experienced from us, I think may be accomplished. Such Indians as we have, should be ordered to get round, unperceived, and fall at the same time upon the enemy's rear. The front and rear being thus secured, a body of two thousand five hundred men remains to form two brigades, on the flanks of w r hich six hundred men must march for their safety, and in such order as to form a rank entire, by only marching the captains' and subalterns' guards into the intervals between the sergeants' parties. The main body will now be reduced to nineteen hundred men, who should be kept as a corps de reserve to support any part, that shall be found weak or forced.
The whole is submitted with the utmost candor, by Sir, &,c.
- George Washington
- The Writings of George Washington Vol II, Jared Sparks, 1847