Congress makes decisions on military related matters both big—selecting military leaders–and small—the number of mittens and rations needed. A new Committee of Five is created to determine the size of the army needed to secure the common defense. John Hancock writes about “The Distresses of this Great Continent.” America was unprepared to be “thrown into Convulsions by an unnatural War.”
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Congress was involved in selecting military leaders, such as Benedict Arnold as Brigadier General, and also providing “688 caps, 688 pair mittens, 688 pair stockings, 688 pair leggings, 688 pair shoes, 688 haversacks, 688 slings for fire locks, 1,200 shirts, 688 waistcoats, 500 pair of breeches, 300 blankets, 64 pitching axes, and 9 baggage wagons” and rations, “lodgings and provisions on the road,” for two battalions.
Resolved, That a Committee of five be appointed to take into consideration the state of these colonies, and report as soon as possible what number of forces, in their opinion, will be necessary for the common defense. The members chosen were James Duane, Thomas Lynch, William Hooper, Edward Rutledge, and James Wilson.
Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.
John Hancock to Philip Schuyler
The Distresses of this Great Continent thrown into Convulsions by an unnatural War, the unprepared State we were in, when unjustly attacked, the Enemies that have arisen up against us in different Quarters, and the horrid Attempts of the Southern Governors to excite domestic Insurrections, and bring the Savages to desolate our Frontiers, the Necessity of providing armed Vessels, to prevent, if possible, the Desolation threatened our Sea-Coasts; these and other Matters of the highest Importance, which you can easily conceive, must apologize for your Letters not having an earlier Answer. Besides, the Congress flattered themselves from the steps they had taken and from the Orders & Instructions given to their Committee, who were sent to confer with you, that your Army would have re-enlisted, and your Difficulties, in other Respects, have been relieved.
After the Return of their Committee, the Congress took into Consideration your several Letters, and the Report of the Committee, and thereupon came to sundry Resolutions, which I have the Honor to enclose.…
The Congress resent the Conduct of Lieutenant Halsey, & are of opinion you should proceed to have his Conduct inquired into by a Court Martial, giving him previous Notice to appear in his own Defense, and that such Sentence should be passed on him, as the Court Martial shall think just: and should he decline to submit his Conduct to such Examination and Sentence, in that Case, all Arrears due to him, ought to be stopped.
I cannot sufficiently express the Confidence the Congress have in your Attention to the Public Interest, and their Reliance that you will give to the proper officers in your Department, such Orders as will procure Indemnification to the Public for any Embezzlement or Waste of its Stores or Monies….
The Conduct, Spirit, and Resolution shown both by the Officers and Men who have penetrated Canada, have induced the Congress in Testimony of their Approbation, to reserve the raising of two Regiments out of the Forces now there, for the Defense and Protection of that Country, which their Valor has rescued from Slavery.
The Regiments in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, are under orders to march and join them, and the other Regiments destined for that Service, will be ordered to march as fast as raised.
The enclosed Resolutions of Congress are so full & explicit, that I need not enlarge.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.