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THE FABIAN POLICY.
I am sensible, a retreating army is encircled with difficulties; that declining an engagement subjects a general to reproach; and that the common cause may be affected, by the discouragement it may throw over the minds of many.
Nor am I insensible of the contrary effects, if a brilliant stroke could be made, with any probability of success, especially after our loss on Long Island.
But when the fate of America may be at stake on the issue, when the wisdom of cooler moments and experienced men have decided, that we should protract the war if possible, I cannot think it safe or wise to adopt a different system, when the season for action draws so near to a close.
WAR OF POSTS.
On our side, the war should be defensive. It has ever been called a war of posts. We should, on all occasions, avoid a general action, and not put any thing to the risk, unless compelled by a necessity into which we ought never to be drawn.
MOTIVES FOR A CHANGE OF POLICY.
It was not difficult for me to perceive, that, if we entered into a serious contest with France, the character of the war would differ materially from the last we were engaged in. In the latter, time, caution, and worrying the enemy, until we could be better provided with arms and other means, and had better disciplined troops to carry it on, was the plan for us. But if we should be engaged with the former, they ought to be attacked at every step.
IMPORTANCE OF HARMONY AMONG THE TROOPS.
Enjoin this upon the Officers, and let them inculcate and press home upon the Soldiery, the necessity of order and harmony among those who are embarked in one common cause, and mutually contending for all that freemen hold dear.
I am persuaded, if the Officers will but exert themselves, that these animosities and disorders will, in a great measure, subside; and nothing being more essential to the service, than that they should, I hope nothing on their part will be wanting, to effect it.
THE ARMY, A BAND OF BROTHERS.
My first wish would be, that my military family. and the whole army should consider themselves as a
band of brothers, willing and ready to die for each
THE BEST SOLDIER, THE BEST PATRIOT.
The General most earnestly entreats the Officers and Soldiers, to consider the consequences; that they can no way assist our enemies more effectually, than by making divisions among themselves; that the honor and success of the army, and the safety of our bleeding country, depend upon harmony and good agreement with each other; that the Provinces are all united to oppose the common enemy; and all distinctions sunk in the name of AN AMERICAN.
To make this name honorable, and to preserve the liberty of our country, ought to be our only emulation; and he will be the best Soldier and the best Patriot, who contributes most to this glorious work, whatever his station, or from whatever part of the continent he may come.
Let all distinctions of nations, countries, and provinces, therefore, be lost, in the generous contest, who shall behave with the most courage against the enemy, and the most kindness and good humor to each other.
If there be any Officers or Soldiers so lost to virtue and a love of their country, as to continue in such practices, after this order, the General assures them, and is authorized by Congress to declare to the whole
army, that such persons shall be severely punished, and dismissed from the service with disgrace. 1776.
THE TOWNS AND THE ARMY.
I am well convinced, that the enemy, long ere this, are perfectly well satisfied, that the possession of our towns, while we have an army in the field, will avail them little. It involves us in difficulty, but does not by any means ensure conquest to them. They well know, that it is our arms, not defenceless towns, which they have to subdue, before they can arrive at the haven of their wishes; and that, till this is accomplished, the superstructure they have been endeavoring to raise, will, “like the baseless fabric of a vision," fall to nothing.
THE ARMY AND THE PEOPLE.
I shall continue to exert all my influence and authority, to prevent the interruption of that harmony which is so essential, and which has so generally prevailed, between the Army and the Inhabitants of the Country. And I need scarcely add, that, in doing this, I shall give every species of countenance and support to the execution of the laws of the land.
The Army and the Country have a mutual dependence upon each other; and it is of the last importance, that their several duties should be so regulated and enforced, as to produce, not only the greatest harmony and good understanding, but the truest happiness and comfort to each.
WANTON DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY.
The burning of houses, where the apparent good of the service is not promoted by it, and the pillaging of them, at all times and upon all occasions, are to be discountenanced, and punished with the utmost severity.
It is to be hoped, that men who have property of their own, and a regard for the rights of others, will shudder at the thought of rendering any man's situation, to whose protection he has come, more insufferable than his open and avowed enemy would make it; when, by duty and every rule of humanity, they ought to aid, and not oppress, the distressed, in their habitations.
The distinction between a well-regulated army and a mob, is the good order and discipline of the former, and the licentious and disorderly behavior of the latter.