The Arrival of the Young Gentlemen with your Dispatches to Congress, Shewing the sudden & unexpected defeat of the Army under your command, must, like every other event of that kind, stand subjected to the various strictures of mankind, forming opinions on subjects in their local circumstances too remote for accurate & fair decision even to judges otherwise competent. Being indisposed, I was not in the House when yr. letter was read but have not learned that Congress, either then or afterwards
By some mistake we had been informed that you had Eleven thousand men a considerable time ago, that the Enemy had left Camden and retired to Moncks' Corner, &c. Had this been the Case, my first apprehensions were, lest you shou'd follow too suddeny into the unhealthy part of the country. That risque however is over for the Season, and Experience will always favour the propriety of training a raw Militia by gradual Skirmishing, by harassing & impeding the Enemy, rather than by risquing a general Action, which to you I am confident was not matter of choice, but of necessity circumstanced as you must have been.
The second division of the French fleet has in fact been blocked up at Brest by thirty odd British Ships of the line so that we have now but little expectation of their arrival in time for an expedition agst. New York before next Spring.
We have some reason to believe, that by this time 12 Sail of the line & Six Frigates from the West Indias, have arrived at one or other of our Eastern Ports. This if true may revive the design agst. New York, of which I hope Major MacGuill may carry you farther notice. Some British Commoners are Still amusing themselves with the Idle phantom, that a Change in their Ministry, wou'd regain the confidence of America. Burke & Conway have indeed drawn the present picture of G. Britain in frightful colours, and the Armed Neutrality of Russia and various other European powers must have a humiliating influence on the arrogance of that Nation. The Emperour of Moroca has Ordered his Ports kindly to treat & receive every American trader. Money alone, or rather the want of it is like to distress us beyond measure. The Army are now often without the Article of Beef.
Your letter of the 29 Ulto. is this day come to Town and the Result of a Committee will I doubt not furnish you with an agreeable answer. I have recd. Major Armstrong's letters, and have my apprehensions lest his late illness may terminate in a decay, of which, should you discover any Symptoms this Fall, I am persuaded your cordial friendship for him will prompt you to advise & give him Such leave of Absence, as you think proper for the recovery of his health, intimating the same to Congress or the Board of War. Please to present my Compliments to Mr. Thos. Burke, and inform him, that with perseverence I have procured a place in the Hospital Department for my unfortunate countryman of whom we spoke before he left Philada. Adieu, Dear General, may that God whose mercies are Over all his other Works guide and protect you, and be not discouraged.