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The Washington Letters

George P. Schmidt


Among the George Washington collection are the eleven Washington letters in the Rutgers Library.  These eleven original letters carry more than mere antiquarian interest. They were all written, as might be expected from their present location, in or near New Jersey, during those anxious years when the Commander-in-Chief, maneuvering between New York and Philadelphia, was desperately trying to hold his own against the British forces and to keep the waning enthusiasm for independence alive. The span covered is from January 11, 1777, to August 29, 1781; collectively they furnish a glimpse of the problems and difficulties of the period of the most stirring campaigns. Six are addressed to Colonel David Forman, three to Colonel John Neilson, one to Simeon DeWitt, and one to the justices of Somerset county. The last-named, the least personal of all the letters, is a requisition for cattle and grain for the army. Though courteous in tone, it veils a threat of more summary action in case the request is not met.

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