American History Told by Contemporaries

Author: George Washington  | Date: 1890

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U.S. History

"The Game Is Pretty Near up" (1776)



OWING to the number of letters I write, the recollection of any particular one is destroyed, but I think my last to you was by Colonel Woodford, from Hackinsac. Since that time, and a little before, our affairs have taken an adverse turn, but not more than was to be expected from the unfortunate measures, which had been adopted for the establishment of our army. The Retreat of the Enemy from the White Plains led me to think, that they would turn their thoughts to the Jerseys, if no farther, and induced me to cross the North River with some of the Troops, in order if possible to oppose them. I expected to have met at least five thousand men of the Flying Camp and militia; instead of which I found less than one half of that number, and no disposition in the Inhabitants to afford the least aid. This being perfectly well known to the Enemy, they threw over a large body of Troops, which pushed us from place to place, till we were obliged to cross the Delaware with less than three thousand men fit for duty, owing to the dissolution of our force by short Enlistments; the Enemy’s numbers, from the best accounts, exceeding ten or twelve thousand men. . . .

. . . We are in a very disaffected part of the Province; and, between you and me, I think our affairs are in a very bad situation; not so much from the apprehension of General Howe’s army, as from the defection of New York, Jerseys, and Pennsylvania. . . .

I have no doubt but General Howe will still make an attempt upon

Philadelphia this winter. I see nothing to oppose him a fortnight hence, as the time of all the troops, except those of Virginia reduced (almost to nothing,) and Smallwood’s Regiment of Maryland, equally as bad, will expire in less than that time. In a word, my dear Sir, if every nerve is not strained to recruit the new army with all possible expedition, I think the game is pretty near up, owing, in a great measure, to the insidious arts of the Enemy, and disaffection of the colonies before mentioned, but principally to the accursed policy of short enlistments, and placing too great a dependence on the militia, the evil consequences of which were foretold fifteen months ago, with a spirit almost Prophetic. Before this reaches you, you will no doubt have heard of the captivity of General Lee. This is an additional misfortune, and the more vexatious, as it was by his own folly and Imprudence, (and without a view to answer any good,) he was taken, going three miles out of his own camp, and within twenty of the enemy to lodge, a rascally Tory rid in the night to give notice of it to the enemy, who sent a party of light-Horse that seized and carried him, with every mark of triumph and indignity.

You can form no idea of the perplexity of my situation. No man, I believe, ever had a greater choice of difficulties, and less means to extricate himself from them. However, under a full persuasion of the justice of our cause, I cannot entertain an Idea, that it will finally sink, tho’ it may remain for some time under a cloud. . . .

George Washington, Writings (edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford, New York, etc, 1890), V, 109–116 passim.


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Chicago: George Washington, "The Game Is Pretty Near up (1776)," American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1902), 559–560. Original Sources, accessed December 2, 2022,

MLA: Washington, George. ""The Game Is Pretty Near up" (1776)." American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford, Vol. V, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 3, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1902, pp. 559–560. Original Sources. 2 Dec. 2022.

Harvard: Washington, G, '"The Game Is Pretty Near up" (1776)' in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. . cited in 1902, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York, pp.559–560. Original Sources, retrieved 2 December 2022, from