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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) [Continental Army War Council minutes]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00838 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Bergen County, New Jersey Type: Autograph document Date: 6 September 1780 Pagination: 6 p. ; 34.5 x 21.2 cm.

Summary of Content: Minutes of a council of war held by Washington with his generals on 6 September 1780 at Camp Bergen County. Discusses the effects of a blockade in Rhode Island Harbor by the British fleet on the amount of supplies and the issue of raising troops as the term for the men currently serving is due to expire. Bergen County, New Jersey.

Full Transcript: at a Council of War held in Camp Bergen County Septr 6 1780.
Present -
The Commander in chief

The Commander in chief states to the Council that since he had the ...honor of laying before the General officers, at Morris Town, the 6th of June last a general view of our circumstances, several important events have occur'd which have materially chang'd the prospects of the campaign
That the succour expected from France instead of coming out in one body and producing a naval superiority in [these] seas, has been divided into two divisions, the first of which only consisting of seven ships of the line, one 44, and three smaller frigates, with 5000 land forces, had arriv'd at Rhode Island.
That a reinforcement of six ships of the line, from England having reinforc'd the enemy, had made their naval face in these seas, amount to nine sail of the line - two 50s. two 44s. and a number of [2] of smaller frigates, a force completely superior [to] that of our allies, and which has in consequence held them block'd up in the harbour of Rhode-Island til the 29th ulto. at which period, the british fleet disapear'd, and no advice of them has been since received
That accounts received by the alliance frigate, which left France in July, announces the second division to be confin'd in Brest, with several other ships [struck: of] by a british fleet of thirty two sail of the line - and a fleet of thirty six or 38 ships of the line of our allies ready to put to sea from Cadiz to relieve the port of Brest
That most of the states in their answer to the requisitions made of them gave the Strongest assurances of doing every thing in their power to furnish the men and supplies requir'd for the [expected] Cooperation - the effect of which however has been far short of our expectations, for not above one third of the Levies demanded for the continental battalions, nor above the same proportion [of] the militia have been assembled - and the supplies have been so inadequate that there was a necessity for dismissing all the militia whose immediate service could be dispens'd with, to lesen our [3] our consumption, notwithstanding which, the troops now in the field are suffering severely for want of provision
That the army at this post and the vicinity in operating force consists of 10,400 continental troops, and about 400 militia besides which is a regt of continental troops of about 500, at Rhode Island left there for the assisstances of our allies against any attempts of the Enemy that way, and two connecticut state regiments [amounting] to 800 at North Castle - That the times of service which the levies are engag'd will expire by the first of January which if not replac'd, allowing for the [usual] casualities, will will [sic] reduce the continental army to less than 6000 men.
That since the state of the Councill above refer'd to, the Enemy have brought a detachment of about 3,000 from charles-Town to New-York which makes the perfect operating force in this quarter between 10 & 11,000 men.
That the enemies force in the southern states, has not lately been ascertained by any [struck: direct] distinct accounts; but the General supposes it cannot be [4] be less than 7000 (of which about 2000 are probably at Savannah) at this estimate the diminution by the casualties of the climate is suppos'd to be equal to the increase of force derived from the disafected [sic].
That added to the loss of charles-Town and its Garrison, accounts of a recent misfortune just arriv'd from Major Genl Gates giving advice of a general action which happen'd on the 16th of August near Canada in which the army under his command met with a total defeat, and in all probability the whole of the continental troops, and a considerable part of [the] militia would be totally cut off -
That the state of Virginia has been some time exerting [itself] to raise a body of 3000 to serve till the end of Decr 81, but how far it has proceeded is not known
That Maryland had resolv'd to raise 2000 men, of which a sufficient number to compose one battalion was to have come to this army, the remainder to recruit the Maryland Line, but in consequence of the late advices an order has been sent, to march the whole to the southward
That the Enemys force in Canada, Hallifax, St Augustine and at [5] at Penobscot, remains much the same as stated to the preceeding council
That there is still every reason to believe the Court of France will prosecute its original intention of giving effectual [succour] to this country as soon as circumstances will permit, and it is hoped the second division will certainly arrive in the course of the fall.
That a fleet greatly superior to that of the Enemy in the West Indies and a formidable land force had saild some time since from Martinique to make a combined attack on the Island of Jamaica - That there is a possibility of a reinforcement from this quarter also to the fleet of our ally at Rhode Island.
The Commander in chief having this [struck: stated] given the council a full view of our present situation, and future prosperity requests the opinion of each member in unity - what plan will be advisable for us to pursue - to what objects our attention ought to be directed, in the course of this fall and winter, taking into consideration the alternatives of having or not having, a naval superiority -, whether any offensive operation [6] operation can be immediately undertaken and against what point - what ought to be our immediate preparations, and dispositions, particularly whether we can afford or ought to send any reinforcements from this army to the southern states, and to what amount- the General requests to be favord with these opinions by the 10th instant at furthest -
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Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: NavyRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralPresidentContinental ArmyBlockadeGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyMilitary HistoryMilitary SuppliesRecruitment

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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