Camp, near Valley Forge, January 6th, 1778.
What a date, my dearest love, and from what a region I am now writing, in the month of January! It is in a camp, in the centre of woods, fifteen hundred leagues from you, that I find myself enclosed in the midst of winter. It is not very long since we were only separated from the enemy by a small river; we are at present stationed seven leagues from them, and it is on this spot that the American army will pass the whole winter, in small barracks, which are scarcely more cheerful than dungeons. I know not whether it will be agreeable to General Howe to visit our new city, in which case we would endeavour to receive him with all due honour. The bearer of this letter will describe to you the pleasant residence which I choose in preference to the happiness of being with you, with all my friends, in the midst of all possible enjoyments; in truth, my love, do you not believe that powerful reasons are requisite to induce a person to make such a sacrifice? Everything combined to urge me to depart,—honour alone told me to remain; and when you learn in detail the circumstances in which I am placed, those in which the army, my friend, its commander, and the whole American cause were placed, you will not only forgive me, but you will excuse, and I may almost venture to say, applaud me. What a pleasure I shall feel in explaining to you myself all the reasons of my conduct, and, in asking, whilst embracing you, a pardon, which I am very certain I shall then obtain! But do not condemn me before hearing my defence. In addition to the reasons I have given you, there is one other reason which I would not relate to every one, because it might appear like affecting airs of ridiculous importance. My presence is more necessary at this moment to the American cause, than you can possibly conceive; many foreigners, who have been refused employment, or whose ambitious views have been frustrated, have raised up some powerful cabals; they have endeavoured, by every sort of artifice, to make me discontented with this revolution, and with him who is its chief; they have spread as widely as they could, the report that I was quitting the continent.
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