Letter from Thomas Burke to Richard Caswell
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
Volume 13, Pages 378-380
HON. THOS. BURKE TO GOV. CASWELL.
[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
York, Pennsylvania March 12th, 1778.
I had the honour of addressing you some short time before my departure from home, which was not so early as I Expected when I took leave of you in New Bern, owing to unavoidable delays which I assure you Sir I surmounted as soon as it was in my Power. The intolerable bad roads kept me three weeks nearly on my journey and I find on my arrival here things by no means in such forwardness as I wish. The army is at present much in the same situation that it has been all the Winter; a Committee of Congress is at Camp in order to inquire into and regulate the abuses and Insufficiencies therein. The Congress are much alarmed
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an account of the scarcity of Flesh provisions, and many splendid projects we contemplated, but I fancy nothing will do unless the possessors af that Commodity can see prospects of gratifying their avarice. This vile principle if anything can, will mar our cause, for though America abounds with provisions we cannot get sufficient for a few thousand men without expending Millions in the purchase of it. The Congress have yet resolved on nothing relative to our Militia; indeedI cannot find that they have any Idea of a plan of Operations or System of Warfare for the next Campaign, and are not able to determine whether they will want them or not. I am myself of Opinion that our army will neither take the field early enough or be of Competent Strength when it is collected, and I fear we shall be able to undertake nothing against the enemy, but must act still on the Defensive, and prolong the war. This is far from being agreeable to my Ideas of good policy—but without force sufficient for an Offensive war, it is all that can be done. Virginia is the only State who has wholly yet agreed to ratify the Confederation. The 24th of this month is assigned for passing upon it again; by that time I suppose all of the States will be Instructed. Maryland and Connecticut have produced theirs. The former desires the western boundaries of the States claiming to the Mississippi or South Seas to be Ascertained by Congress, and that all of the Country west of the Frontiers not granted to Individuals should be common stock.
The latter desires that no standing Army be kept up in time of peace by the United States, or Pensioners supported by them, except persons disabled in War, that the quota of the public Expense be in proportion to the Number of People in each State. I shall Endeavour to procure Copies of the several Instructions, and transmit them to you, but I suppose the next Assembly will not take it up. They will deem it prudent to know the sense of every other State before they finally determine. I refer you to Mr. Penn for Intelligence.
I believe I was mistaken in supposing the tenth of May the time of our Election; Mr. Penn informs me it was the 28th of April. If this be so I shall return sooner than I expected, for having no powers beyond the day, and hoping the assembly will not require me to serve here any longer, my stay would be useless. I hope the Assembly will take this into early Consideration.
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If I shall observe any thing of Importance before Mr. Penn's Departure (who only waits for good weather, and the roads being a little settled) I will add it. I have the honor to be, with the greatest Esteem and respect,
Your Excellency's Obed. Servt.,