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I am honored with yours of the 2d instant. The good opinion you are pleased to entertain of me, makes me very happy, because there is no man's opinion I reverence more ; and that very circumstance is, at the same time, the source of trouble in my mind, as you force me to abandon that idea of security which I was desirous of maintaining. It is truly lamentable, that we have never been able to this day to conquer that fundamental error made in the outset by short enlistments. It was not until conviction of the absolute necessity__of it, stared every man in the face, that frltr -wholesome measure of enlisting for three years, or during the war, could be carried in Congress; and since it was carried there, it meets with insuperable obstacles, raised by the former practice ; for the bounties, high wages, and short service, have vitiated the minds of all that class of people, and they are grown the most mercenary beings that exist.
I do not confine this observation to the soldiery merely, but extend it to those who get their livings by feeding and entertaining them. These are the harpies that injure us much at this time. They keep the fellows drunk while the money holds out ; when it is gone, they encourage them to enlist for the sake of bounty, then to drinking again ; that bounty gone, and more money still wanted, they must enlist again with some other officer, receive a fresh bounty and get more drink, &c. This scene is actually carrying on here daily, and does immense injury to the recruiting service ; but still I hope our new army will be got together before long, at least so many as will enable you to put a good face towards your enemies ; and if that is accomplished, I think they will not venture this way at present. It seems to be their object ; and, in your situation, I really do not see what is to f prevent their taking possession of it, unless the want of stores, forage, &c., retards their movements, or renders it impracticable for them to come on. In the mean time, the public stores are removing, and Congress has adjourned back to this place, many of the members are come up, and the rest on the road. I do not expect they will make a House sooner than Monday; but your late despatches shall be delivered to the President as soon as he arrives.
I wish with you, Sir, that they had complied with General Lee's request; and when I sent forward those despatches to Baltimore, I wrote my sentiments to some of the members ; and although it would have been inconvenient for me, and I urged not to be appointed on that errand, yet I would have gone rather than he should have been disappointed. Whether they will take up the matter again, I do not
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume I., Jared Sparks, 1853