Volume 8 of the Revolutionary War Series documents Washington's
first winter at Morristown. Situated in the hills of north central
New Jersey, Morristown offered protection against the British army
headquartered in New York City yet enabled Washington to annoy the
principal enemy outposts at Newark, Perth Amboy, and New Brunswick.
To discover Howe's intentions for the next campaign, Washington
refined his intelligence-gathering network in New Jersey and New
York during the winter months and kept a watchful, if distant, eye
on the British armies in Rhode Island and Canada.
Most of the remainder of Washington's time and efforts were
directed toward the reorganization of the Continental army, which
dwindled away rapidly following the victories at Trenton and
Princeton. Unwilling to face the usual hardships of winter or the
dangers of a new outbreak of smallpox, many men returned home when
their enlistments expired. Desertion also rose dramatically, and
Washington was reluctantly forced to depend upon militia. By
mid-March Washington's army in New Jersey numbered only about 4,000
troops, nearly two-thirds of which were militia enlisted only to
the end of the month.
Other important matters demanding Washington's attention
included the reorganization of the hospital department and the
creation of new hospitals, the reorganization of the commissary and
clothier generals departments, the appointment of a wagonmaster,
the establishment and placement of a new "Magazine, Laboratories,
& Foundery for casting Cannon &c.", and continuing
negotiations with the British on prisoner exchanges. The volume
closes in late March with the good news that a much-anticipated
shipment of arms, ammunition, andcloth had arrived from France for
the Continental army.
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