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HEAD-QUARTERS, March 11, 1783.
HE commander in chief having heard that a general-meet
ing of the officers of the army was proposed to be held at the new building, in an anonymous paper, which was circulated yesterday by some unknown person, conceives, although he is fully persuaded that the good sense of the officers would induce them to pay very little attention to such an irregular invi. tation, his duty as well as the reputation and true interest of the army, requires his disapprobation of such disorderly proceedings. At the same time he requests the general and field officers, with one officer from each company, and a proper representative from the staff of the army, will assemble at 12 o'clock on Saturday next, at the new building, to hear the report of the committee of the army to congress. After mature deliberation, they will devise what farther measures ought to be adopted as most rational and best calculated to attain the just and important object in view. The senior officer in rank pre. sent will be pleased to preside, and report the result of their de. liberations to the commander in chief.
TO THE OFFICERS OF THE ARMY.
HE author of a late address, anxious to deserve, though
he should fail to engage, your esteem ; and determined at every risk to unfold your duty and discharge his own, would beg leave to solicit the further indulgence of a few moments attention.
AWARE of the coyness with which his last letter would be received, he feels himself neither disappointed nor displeased with the caution it has met. He well knew that it spoke a language which, 'till now, had been heard only in whispers, and that it contained some sentiments which confidence itself would have breathed with distrust. But their lives have been short, and their observations imperfect indeed, who have yet to learn, that alarms may be false ; that the best designs are sometimes obliged to assume the worst aspect; and that, however synonimous surprize and disaster may be in military phrase, in moral and political meaning, they convey ideas as different as they are distinct. Suspicion, detestable as it is in private life, is the loveliest trait of political character. It prompts you to enquiry, bars the door against design, and opens every avenue to trutha. It was the first to oppose a tyrant here, and still stands centinel over the liberties of America. With this belief it would illy become me to stifle the voice of this honest guardian- guardian who, authorised by circumstances digested into proof, has herself given birth to the address you have read, and now goes forth among you with a request to all, that it may be treated fairly; that it may be considered before it be abused, and condemned before it be tortured ; convinced that, in a search after error, truth will appear; that apathy itself will grow warm in the pursuit, and though it will be the last to adopt her advice, it will be the first to act upon it.
The general orders of yesterday, which the weak may mistake for disapprobation, and the designing dare to represent as such, wears, in my opinion, a very different complexion, and carries with it a very opposite tendency. 'Till now, the commander in chief has regarded the steps you have taken for redress with good wishes alone. His ostensible silence has authorized your meetings, and his private opinion has sanctified your claims. Had he disliked the object in view, would not the same sense of duty which forbad you from meeting on the third day of the week, have forbidden you from meeting on the seventh ? I£ not the saine subject held up for your discussion ? And has it not passed the seal of office, and taken all the solemnity of an order ? This will give system to your proceedings, and sta
bility to your resolves. It will ripen speculation into fact ; and, while it adds to the unanimity, it cannot possibly lessen the independency of your sentiments. It may be necessary to add upon this subject, that, from the injunction with which the general o ders close, every man is at liberty to conclude that the report to be made to head-quarters is intended for congress. Hence will arise another motive for that energy which has been recommended : for, can you give the lie to the pathetic description of your representations, and the more alarming predictions of your friends ? To such as make a want of signature an objection to opinion, I reply, that it matters very little who is the author of sentiments which grow out of your feelings, and apply to your wants; that in this instance diffidence suggested what experience enjoins; and that while I continue to move on the high road of argument and advice, which is open to all, I shall continue to be the sole confident of my own secret. But, should the time come, when it shall be necessary to depart from this general line, and hold up any individual among you as an object of the resentment or contempt of the rest; I thus publicly pledge my honor as a soldier, and veracity as a man, that I will then assume a visible existence, and give my name to the army, with as little reserve as I now give my opinions.
CANTONMENT, 15tb Marcb, 1783.
The oficers of the army being contened, agreeably to a general
order of the 11tb instant, tbe bonorable major-general GATES, president, bis excellency tbe COMMANDER IN CHIEF was pleased to address the meeting as follows
Y an anonymous summons, an attempt has been made to
convene you together. How inconsistent with the rules of propriety, how unmilitary, and how subversive of all order • and discipline, let the good sense of the army decide.
In the moment of this summons, another anonymous production was sent into circulation, addressed more to the feeling's and passions than to the reason and judgment of the army. The author of the piece is entitled to much credit for the goodness of his pen ; and I could wish he had as much credit for the rectitude of his heart; for, as, men see through different optics, and are ir.iuced, by the reflecting faculties of the mind, to use different means to attain the same end, the author of tle address should have had more charity than to mark for suspicion, the man who should recommend moderation and longer forbearance ; or, in other words, who should not think as he thinks, and ad as he advises. But he had another plan in view, in which candor and liberality of sentiment, regard to justice and love of country, have no part: and he was right to insi
the darkest suspicion to effect the blackest design. That the address is drawn with great art, and is designed to answer the most insidious purposes ; that it is calculated to impress the mind with an idea of premeditated injustice in the sovereign power of the United States, and rouse all those resentments which must unavoidably flow from such a belief; that the secret: mover of this scheme, whoever he may be, intended to take advantage of the passions, while they were warmed by the recollection of past distresses, without giving time for cool, deliberate thinking, and that composure of mind which is só necessary to give dignity and stability to measures, is rendered too obvious, by the mode of conducting the business, to need other proof than a reference to the proceeding. Thus much, gentlemen, I have thought it incumbent on me to observe to you, to shew upon what principles I opposed the irregular and hasty meeting which was proposed to have been held on Tuesday last, and not because I wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity, consistent with your own honor, and the dignity of the army, to make known your grievances. If my conduct heretofore has not evinced to you, that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at this time would be equally unavailing and improper. But as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common country ;-'as I have never left
your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty; as I have been the constant companion and witness of your distresses, and not among the last to feel and ate krowledge your merits ; as I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army ; as my heart has ever expanded with joy. when I have heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen when the mouth of da traction has been opened against it, it can scarcely be supposed, at this late stage of the war, that I am indiffer-nt to its inter
But how are they to be promoted ? The way is plain, says the anonymous addresser. If war continues, remove into the unsettled country ; there establish yourselves, and leave an ungrateful country to defend itself. But who are they to defend ? Our wives, our children, our farms and other property, which we leave behind us! Or, in this state of hostile separation, are we to take the two first, (the latter cannot be re. moved) to perish in a wilderness with hunger, cold and nakedness? If peace takes place, never sheath your swords, says he, until you have obtained full and ample justice. This dreadful alternative of either deserting our country in the ex. tremest hour of her distress, or turning our arms against it, which is the apparent object, unless congress can be compelled into instant compliance, has something so shocking in it, that humanity revolts at the idea. My God ! what can this writer have in view, by recommending such measures? Can he be a friend to the army? Can he be a friend to this country? Rather is he not an insidious foe ? some emissary; perhaps, from New-York, plotting the ruin of both, by sowing the seeds of discord and separation between the civil and military powers of the continent ? And what a compliment does he pay to our understandings, when he recommends measures, in either alternative, impracticable in their nature? But, here, gentlemen, I will drop the curtain, because, it would be as imprudent in me to assign my reasons for this opinion, as it would be insulting to your conception to suppose you stood in need of them. A moment's reflection will convince every dispassionate mind of the physical impossibility of carrying either proposal into execution. There might, gentleinen, be an impropriety in my taking notice in this address to you, of an anonymous production ; but the manner in which that performance has been introduced to the army, the effect it was intended to have, together with