January 14, 1776

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George Washington responds to a letter from Joseph Reed which evidently criticizes him for failing to pay proper attention or deference to the General Court of Massachusetts.  Responds Washington:  “The hints you have communicated from time to time not only deserve, but do most sincerely, and cordially meet with my thanks—you cannot render a more acceptable service, nor in my estimation give me a more convincing proof of your Friendship, than by a free, open, & undisguised account of every matter relative to myself, or conduct. I can bear to hear of imputed, or real errors; the Man who wishes to stand well in the opinion of others must do this, because he is thereby enabled to correct his faults, or remove the prejudices which are imbib’d against him; for this reason I shall thank you for giving me the opinion’s of the world upon such points as you know me to be Interested In; for as I have but one capitol object in view, I could wish to make my conduct coincide with the wishes of Mankind as far as I can consistently—I mean without departing from that great line of Duty which, though hid under a cloud for sometime, from a peculiarity of Circumstances, may nevertheless bear a Scrutiny. My constant attention to the great, and perplexing objects which continually rise to my view, absorbs all lesser considerations & indeed scarcely allows me time to reflect that there is such a body in existance as the General Court of this Colony but when I am reminded of it by a Committee; nor can I, upon recollection, discover in what Instances (I wish they would be more explicit) I have been inattentive to, or slighted them. they could not, surely, conceive that there was a propriety in unbosoming the Secrets of an Army to them—tha⟨t⟩ it was necessary to ask their opinion of throwing up an Intrenchment—forming a Battalion, &ca &ca, it must therefore be what I before hinted to you, & how to remedy it I hardly know, as I am acquainted with few of the Members, never go out of my own Lines, or see any of them in them.”

Of more importance to Washington is the continuous lack of arms and of men, and of particular annoyance is that many of the men who completed their service and had left the army took the arms they had been provided with them.  Writing to John Hancock:  “Upon the dissolution of the Old Army, I was apprehensive that the New, would be deficient in this Instance, and that the want might be as Inconsiderable as possible, I gave it in orders that the Arms of such men as did not reinlist, should be (or such of them as were good) retained at the prices which should be affixed by persons appointed to inspect & Value them; And that we might be sure of them, I added, that there would be a Stoppage of pay for the Months of Novr & December, from those who should carry their Firelocks away, without their being first examined1—I hoped by these precautions, to have procured a considerable number: But Sir I find with much concern, that from the badness of the Arms, & the disobedience of too many in bearing them of, without a previous inspection, that very few were collected—Neither are we to expect, that many will be brought in by the New recruits—the Officers who are out Enlisting, having reported that few2 men who have Arms will engage in the Service, and that they are under the disagreable alternative of taking men without Arms, or of getting none. Unhappy situation and much to be deplored! especially when we have every reason to convince us, that we have to contend with a formidable Army, well provided of every necessary, and that there will be a most vigorous exertion of Ministerial vengeance against us, as soon as they think themselves in a condition for It. I hope It is in the power of Congress to afford us releif; If it is not, what must, what can be done?”

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