Front Page Titles (by Subject) 5 May: TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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5 May: TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 5 May, 1776.
I am honored with your favor of the 30 Ulto. and observe what Congress have done respecting the settlement of the pay masters accounts—This seems expedient as he is out of office and I am certain will be attended with but little, if any difficulty, nothing more being necessary thereto, than to compare the Warrants with his debits and the receipts he has given with his credits.3 I wish every other settlement as easy, and that a Committee was appointed to examine and audit the accounts on which the Warrants are founded, particularly those of the Quarter Master and Commissary Generals—they are long and of high amount, consisting of a variety of charges, and of course more intricate and will require time and an extraordinary degree of attention to adjust and liquidate in a proper manner.—Upon this subject I did myself the honor to write you a considerable time ago.1
Having had several complaints from the officers in the Eastern Regiments, who have been and are engaged in recruiting, about the expense attending it, and for which they have never been allowed any thing, tho the officers in their Governments have, as I am informed, I shall be glad to know whether the allowance of 10s. granted to the Officers for every man inlisted by the Resolve of Congress in—2 is general and Indiscriminate, or confined to the Middle districts: If general, must I have retrospect to the time of the Resolve, and pay for the Intermediate services, or only for future Inlistments?3
In a Letter I wrote Congress the 25th of December, I inclosed one I had received from Jacob Bayley, Esqr. about opening a Road from Newbury to Canada4 ; I received another on the 15 Ulto., and from his account of the intelligence of others I have no doubt of the practicability of the measure, and am well informed that the distance will be considerably shortened; in so much that our Troops going to Canada from any part of the New England Governments Eastward of Connecticut River, or returning from thence Home, will perform their march in five or Six days less than by going or returning any way now used. Add to this, that the Road may be carried to Missisque River, as it is said, from whence the water carriage to St. Johns is good, except forty odd miles or so far to the Northward as to keep clear of the Lakes altogether and which will afford an easy pass to and from Canada at all Seasons, the benefits resulting from this Route will be so great and Important that I have advanced Colo. Bayley Two Hundred and fifty pounds to begin with, and directed him to execute his plan. No doubt It will require a more considerable advance to accomplish it, but the whole will be soon sunk—The Expence saved by shortning Six days pay and provisions for the men returning to the Eastern Governments at the expiration of this Campaign, will be almost, if not more than equal to the charge of opening it; if not, as in all probability there will be often a necessity for detachments of our Troops from those Governments, to go and return, it will soon be repaid.1
By a letter from Genl. Schuyler of the 27 ulto. I find Genl. Thompson and his Brigade had arrived at Albany. Genl. Sullivan with the last except three or four companies of Colo. Wayne’s Regiment not yet come, is embarked and gone, and probably will be soon there. I am apprehensive from General Schuyler’s account, they will not proceed from thence with the expedition wished owing to a difficulty in getting Teams and provender for the Cattle necessary to carry their Baggage, and a scarcity of Batteaus for transporting so great a number, tho he is using the utmost Industry and diligence to procure ’em. Should they be retarded for any considerable time, it will be exceedingly unfortunate, as we are much weakened here by their going, and our Army in Canada not strengthened. I have sent with the last Brigade, Sixty Barrels of Powder and other Stores and Intrenching Tools, a supply being wanted; also the Chain for a Boom at the Narrows of Richlieu, and the three Boxes of money brought me by Mr. Hanson, and have wrote Genl. Schuyler to have the Boom fixed as soon as possible. The Commissary too has forwarded about Eight Hundred Barrels of pork and is in expectation of a further Quantity from Connecticut which will go on without stopping here.
As the Magazine from whence the Northern and Eastern Armies will occasionally receive supplies of powder, will probably be kept here, and our stock is low and inconsiderable being much reduced by the Sixty Barrells sent to Canada, I shall be glad to have a Quantity immediately forwarded. Our Stores should be great, for if the Enemy make an attack upon the Town or attempt to goe up the North River, the expenditure will be considerable. Money too is much wanted. The Regiments that are paid have only received to the first of April. By a letter from Genl. Ward, I find his Chest is just exhausted, the money left with him for the payment of the Five Regiments at Boston and Beverly, being almost expended by large drafts in favor of the Commissary and Quarter Master, and in fitting out the Armed Vessels. I would here ask a question, to wit, whether as Mr. Warren’s Commission is superseded by Mr. Palfrey’s appointment, it will not be necessary to fix upon some person to pay the Troops at those places, or are the payments to goe thro’ his Hands? He does not incline to do any thing in the affair without the direction of Congress.
I have inclosed you a Return of the last Brigade departed and also of the forces remaining here, and as it is a matter of much importance to know the whole of our strength from time to time, and to see it at one view for regulating our movements with propriety, I wish it were a direction from Congress to the Commanding Officers in the different Districts to make Monthly returns to the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, of the State of the Troops in their departments and also of the Military Stores. Such direction will probably make ’em more attentive than they otherwise would be—I could not get a Return of the army in Canada, all last year.1
I beg leave to lay before Congress a copy of the proceedings of a Court Martial upon Lieutent. Grover of the 2d Regiment, and of his defence, which I should not have troubled them with, had I not conceived, the Court’s sentence upon the facts stated in the proceedings, of a singular nature, the small fine imposed by no means adequate to the enormity of his offence, and to be of a dangerous and pernicious Tendency. For these reasons I thought it my duty to lay the proceedings before them in order to their forming such a Judgement upon the Facts, as they shall conceive right and Just, and advancive of the public good.1 At the same time I would mention that I think it of material consequence that Congress should make a Resolve taking away the supposed right of succession in the Military line from one Rank to another, which is claimed by many, upon the happening of Vacancies, and upon which principle this offence seems to have originated in a great measure and this ordinary Judgement to be founded; declaring that no succession or promotion can take place in case of vacancies, without a Continental commission giving and authorizing it. It is of much importance to check and entirely suppress this opinion and claim become too prevalent already, and which have an obvious tendency to introduce mutiny and disorder. Or if they conceive the claim good and that it should take place, that they will declare it so, that the point may be known and settled in future.2 I have &c.3
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 5 May, 1776.
I have so often, and so fully communicated my want of Arms to Congress that I should not have given them the trouble of receiving another Letter upon this subject, at this time, but for the particular application of Col. Wayne of Pennsylvania, who has pointed out a method by which he thinks they may be obtained.
In the hands of the Committee of Safety at Philadelphia, there are, According to Col. Wayne’s account not less than two or three thousand stand of Arms for Provisional use, from hence he thinks a number might be borrowed by Congress, provided they are replaced with Continental Arms as they are brought into the magazine in that City. At a crisis so important as this such a loan might be attended with signal advantages, while the defenceless state of the Regiments if no relief can be had, may be productive of fatal Consequences.
To give Congress some idea of our Situation with respect to arms (and justice to my own Character requires that it should be known to them, altho the world at large will form their opinion of our Strength from numbers, without attention to Circumstances) it may not be amiss to inclose a Copy of a Return which I received a few days ago from the Troops in the Highlands, and add that by a report from Colo. Ritzema’s Regiment of the 29th ult. there appeared to be only 97 Firelocks and seven Bayonets belonging thereto, and that all the Regiments from the Eastward are deficient from Twenty to Fifty of the former.
Four of those Companies at the Fortifications in the Highlands belong to Colo. Clinton’s Regiment, but in what condition the residue are, on account of arms and how Colo. Wynkoop’s men are provided, I cannot undertake to say, but am told most miserably; as Colo. Dayton’s (of New Jersey) and Colo. Wayne’s (of Pennsylvania) also are. This, Sir, is a true, tho’ Melancholy description of our Situation. The propriety therefore of keeping Arms, in Store when Men in actual pay are wanting of them, and who it is presumed will, as they ought, bear the heat and burthen of the day, is submitted with all due deference to the Superior judgement of others.
I cannot, by all the enquiries I have been able to make, learn, what number of Arms have been taken from the Tories—where they lay—or how they are to be got at. The Committee of Safety for this Colony have assured me that no exertions of theirs shall be wanting to procure Arms, but our sufferings in the meanwhile may prove fatal, as men without are in a manner useless. I have therefore thought of employing an Agent, whose sole business it shall be to ride through the middle and interior parts of these Governments for the purpose of buying up such Arms as the Inhabitants may incline to sell, and are fit for use.
1 The designs of the enemy are too much behind the curtain, for me to form any accurate opinion of their Plan of operations for the summer’s Campaign; we are left to wander therefore in the field of Conjecture, and as no place (all its consequences considered) seemed of more importance in the execution of their grand Plan than possessing themselves of Hudson’s River I thought it advisable to remove, with the Continental Army to this City so soon as the troops evacuated Boston, but if Congress from their knowledge, information, or believe, think it best for the General good of the Service that I should go to the Northward, or elsewhere, they are convinced I hope that they have nothing more to do than signify their commands. With great respect, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL WARD, AT BOSTON.
New York, 9 May, 1776.
Your letters of the 27 & 28 ulto. came in course to Hand. I am glad that you have given your attention to the works, which I doubt not are by this time compleat. It will give me pleasure to hear they are, for should these accounts of Hessians and Hanoverian Troops coming over prove true it is possible the Enemy may make some attempts to Regain a Footing in your province. I have Represented to Congress the want you was in for Cash to which I have not yet received a Answer. When I do you shall be Inform’d thereof. The account you give of the Vessells at Beverly being unfit for Service surprize’s me prodigiously. I was taught to believe very Differently of the Ship Jenny, by Commodore Manly and Captain Bartlett, who you mention to have given you their oppinion of them. The Brigantine from Antigua was also thought very fit to arm. Doctr. Brown’s accounts are more Immediately in the Director Gen’l of the Hospital Department; when he arrives here I shall give them to him for his Inspection. Mr. Singletany’s account is Easily settled, as he has the Commissary’s Receipt for the Arms; if the account of the cost of the arms was more particular, it would be more regular & Satisfactory. A Letter is just come to my hands from Winthrop Sargent, Esqr. agent for the Navy at Gloucester. He says there are some women and children, whom he is obliged to Mantain at the Continental Expense; also a Number of men taken in some of the last prizes. You will please to Examine into their Situation; if Prisoners of war, they should be sent into some Inland place and confind; if Tories, the General Court are the proper persons to take cognizance of them; I see by the publick prints that the prizes at Beverly are to be sold the 20th Instant, as by the Obstructions put on Commerce in General there may appear but few purchasers for the vessel so of course they may be sold vastly under their Value. I think you had best have some persons in whom you can Confide, present at the sale with Power to purchase the large ship and the Brig from Antigua, if he finds them going very much under their Value. It is not above two or three years since the ship cost £3,000 Sterling, she is to be sure something worse for wear, & I believe is not Remarkably well formed at present, as she has been pillaged for the use of our Armed Vessells which must make a Considerable Abatement of her Value. The Brigantine is I suppose in the same predicament. But a good Judge will easily know the Value. Wm. Watson Esqr. of Plymouth Advises that the prizes Norfolk and Happy Return, are Condemned, and Desires I would appoint a Day for sale of them and their Cargoes. This you will please to do—letting them be Advertised in the papers at least a fortnight before the sale. I have had no advice from Congress relative to your resignation. I shall write them this day to know what officer they may think proper to the command in your state. When I receive their answer, you shall be informed. I am, &c.
TO LUND WASHINGTON, MOUNT VERNON.
New York, 10 May, 1776.
As I am not able to form any idea of the time of my return, and as it is very reasonable and just, that Mr. Custis should be possessed of his estate, although it is not in my power, (circumstanced as I am at present), to liquidate the accounts and make a final settlement with him, I have wrote to the clerk of the Secretary’s office for authentic copies of the last accounts, which I exhibited against him and the estate of his deceased sister. With these (for I have directed them to be sent to you) and the bundle of bonds, which you will find among my papers, I would have Mr. Custis and you repair to Colonel Mason and get him, as a common friend to us both, as a gentleman well acquainted with business, and very capable of drawing up a proper memorandum of the transaction, to deliver him his own bonds, which, if my memory fails me not, and no changes have happened, are in one parcel and endorsed; and at the same time deliver him as many bonds out of the other parcel, endorsed Miss Custis’s bonds, as will pay him his moiety of her fortune and the balance, which will appear due to him from me, at my last settlement with the General Court. How the account will then stand between us, I cannot with precision say, but I believe the balance will be rather in my favor than his.
In my last settlement of the estate of Miss Custis (which you will have sent to you, I expect, by Mr. Everard), every bond, mortgage, &c., were fully accounted for, and will be the best ground to found the dividend (between Mr. Custis and myself) upon lest any of the bonds or mortgages should be misplaced, or in the office.
Mr. Mercer’s bonds I have promised to take into my part; and, as there are wheat and other accounts opened between that estate and me, I should be glad to have them allotted accordingly. In like manner, I promised to take Mr. Robert Adams’s debt upon myself, and believe the last mortgage from him was taken in my own name. As to the others, I do not care how they are divided, nor was I anxious about these, further than that it served to comply with their desires, founded (I believe) on an opinion, that I should not press them for the money.
The bank stock must, I presume, be equally divided between us. Long before I left Virginia, I directed it to be sold, writing to Messrs. Cary and Company, who had always received the dividends, to negotiate the matter; in consequence, they sent me a power of attorney, and a great deal of formal stuff for Mrs. Washington and myself to execute before the governor. This we did, literally as required, and transmitted; since which, the directors of the bank have prescribed another mode, and I have had forwarded to me another set of papers, to be executed also before the governor, which it has never been in my power to do, as they arrived but a little while before I set out for the Congress last spring. Thus the matter stands, as far as I know, with respect to the money in the funds.
There is another matter, which I think justice to myself requires to be mentioned, and that is, with respect to the sterling balance, which it will appear I was owing to Mr. Custis upon the last settlement. It was then, and ever since has been, my intention to assign to him as many bonds, carrying interest, as would discharge this balance; but my attendance upon Congress in the fall of 1774, and spring of 1775, put it out of my power to attend the General Court at their sessions; consequently no order could be taken, or account rendered, of this matter; and now, by the rise of exchange, if I were to turn current money bonds into sterling, I should be a considerable sufferer, when I had not, nor could have, any interest in delaying of it; and that it was so delayed was owing to the reasons abovementioned, it being a practice to let out his money upon interest as soon as it came to my hands.
The many matters, which hang heavy upon my hands at present, do not allow me time to add more, but oblige me to request, as I have not written fully to Colonel Mason on this subject, that you will show him, and if necessary let him have this letter. I am, very sincerely, &c.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 11 May, 1776.
I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 4 and 7 Instt. with their several inclosures, and am exceedingly glad that before the Resolution respecting Lt. Colo. Ogden came to hand, I had ordered him to join his Regiment, and had quelled a disagreeable spirit both of mutiny and desertion which had taken place and seemed to be rising to a great degree in consequence of it—In order to effect it, I had the Regiment paraded, and ordering two more at the same time under arms, convinced them of their error and ill conduct, and obtained a promise for their good behavior in future. To such of them as had absconded, I gave pardons on their assurances to return to their duty again.
In my Letter of the 5 Instt which I had the honor of addressing you, I mentioned to Congress the refractory and mutinous conduct of Lieut. Grover of the 2d. Regiment and laid before them a copy of the proceedings of a Court Martial upon him and of his defence, with a view that such measures might be adopted as they should think adequate to his crime.1 I will now beg leave to inform them, that since then he has appeared sensible of his misconduct, and having made a written acknowledgement of his offence and begged pardon for it, as by the inclosed copy will appear, I thought it best to release him from his confinement and have ordered him to join his Regiment, which I hope will meet their approbation, and render any determination as to him unnecessary; observing, at the same time that I have endeavored, and I flatter myself not ineffectually, to support their authority and a due subordination in the army. I have found it of importance and highly expedient to yield many points in fact, without seeming to have done it, and this to avoid bringing on a too frequent discussion of matters which in a political view ought to be kept a little behind the curtain, and not be made too much the subjects of disquisition. Time only can eradicate and overcome customs and prejudices of long standing—they must be got the better of by slow and gradual advances.
I would here take occasion to suggest to Congress, (not wishing or meaning of myself to assume the smallest degree of power in any instance,) the propriety and necessity of having their sentiments respecting the filling up the vacancies and issuing commissions to officers, especially to those under the rank of field-officers. Had I literally complied with the directions given upon this subject, when I first engaged in the service, and which I conceived to be superseded by a subsequent resolve for forming the army upon the present establishment, I must have employed one clerk for no other business than issuing warrants of appointment, and giving information to Congress for their confirmation or refusal. It being evident from the necessity of the thing, that there will be frequent changes and vacancies in office, from death and a variety of other causes, I now submit it to them, and pray their direction, whether I am to pursue that mode, and all the ceremonies attending it, or to be at liberty to fill up and grant commissions at once to such, as may be fit and proper persons to succeed.
When I came from Cambridge, I left instructions with Colo. Knox of the Artillery Regiment for the regulation of his conduct, and among other things directed him immediately to send forward to this place Lt. Colo. Burbeck, who notwithstanding he received orders for that purpose has refused to come,—considering himself as he says in his answer to Colo. Knox, his Letter, (copies of which I have inclosed) bound in point of generosity to stay in the service of the province, tho I am told by Col. Knox that some of the members of the General Court on hearing of the matter informed him, that they did not consider him as engaged to them, and that he had no just pretext for his refusal. I thought it right to lay this matter before Congress, and submit it to them, whether Colo. Burbeck, who will or will not serve the Continent, or go to this or that place as it may suit his convenience and square with his pretended notions of generousity, shou’d be longer continued in office.1
Before I have done, with the utmost deference and respect, I would beg leave to remind Congress of my former letters and applications, respecting the appointment of proper persons to superintend and take direction of such prisoners, as have already fallen and will fall into our hands in the course of the war, being fully convinced, that, if there were persons appointed for, & who would take the whole management of them under their care, that the continent would save a considerable sum of money by it, and the prisoners be better treated and provided with real necessaries, than what they now are; and shall take the liberty to add, that it appears to me a matter of much importance, and worthy of consideration, that particular and proper places of security should be fixed on and established in the interior parts of the different governments for their reception.
Such establishments are agreeable to the practice and usage of the English and other nations, and are founded on principles of necessity and public utility. The advantages, which will arise from ’em, are obvious and many. I shall mention only two or three. They will tend much to prevent escapes, which are difficult to effect, when the public is once advertised, that the prisoners are restrained to a few stated and well-known places, and not permitted to goe from thence; and the more ingenious among them from disseminating and spreading their artful and pernicious intrigues and opinions throughout the country, which would influence the weaker and wavering part of mankind, and meet with but too favorable a hearing. Further, it will be less in their power to join and assist our enemies in cases of invasions, and will give us an opportunity always to know, from the returns of those appointed to superintend them, what number we have in possession, the force sufficient to check and suppress their hostile views in times of emergency, and the expenses necessary for their maintenance & support. Many other reasons might be adduced to prove the necessity and expediency of the measure. I shall only subjoin one more, and then have done on the subject, which is, that many of the towns, where prisoners have been already sent, not having convenience for or the means of keeping them, complain that they are burdensome; and have become careless, inattentive, and altogether indifferent whether they escape or not; and those of ’em that are restricted to a closer confinement, the limits of jail, neglected, and not treated with that care and regard, which Congress wish.1
I have not received further intelligence of the German troops2 since my letter of the 7th instant, covering Mr. Cushing’s despatches: but, lest the account of their coming should be true, may it not be advisable and good policy to raise some companies of our Germans to send among them when they arrive, for exciting a spirit of disaffection and desertion? If a few sensible and trusty fellows could get with them, I should think they would have great weight and influence with the common soldiery, who certainly have no enmity towards us, having received no injury nor cause of quarrel from us. The measure having occurred, and appearing to me expedient, I thought it prudent to mention it for the consideration of Congress. Having received a letter from General Ward, advising that Congress have accepted his resignation, and praying to be relieved, and it being necessary that a general officer should be sent to take the command of the troops at Boston, especially if the army should arrive, which is talked of, and which some consider as a probable event, I must beg leave to recommend to Congress the appointment of some brigadier-generals, not having more here, (nor so many at this time) than are essential to the government, and conducting the forces and works, that are carrying on. Generals Sullivan and Thompson being ordered to Canada, I cannot spare one more general officer from hence without injuring the service greatly, and leaving the army here without a sufficient number.1 Having frequent application from the Committee of Safety and others, about an exchange of prisoners, and not having authority to pursue any mode in this instance, than that marked out by a resolve of Congress some considerable time ago, I hope they will pardon me when I wish them to take under consideration such parts of my letter of the 22d ultimo, as relate to this subject and for their determination upon it. I shall then have it in my power to give explicit and satisfactory answers to those who shall apply.2
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 15 May, 1776.
Since my last of the 11 Instt. which I had the honor to address you, nothing of moment or importance has occurred, and the principal design of this is to communicate to Congress the intelligence I received last night from General Schuyler by a letter of the 10th respecting the progress of our Troops in getting towards Canada—not doubting of their impatience and anxiety to hear of it, and of every thing relating to the Expedition—for their more particular information & satisfaction, I have done myself the pleasure to extract the substance of his Letter on this Head, which is as follows:
“That Genl. Thompson with the last of his Brigade in the morning of Tuesday sennight embarked at Fort George and in the Evening of the next day Genl. Sullivan arrived at Albany. That he had ordered an Additional number of Carpenters to assist in building Boats, who finishing Eight every day, would have 110 complete by the 21st, before which he was fearfull the last of Genl. Sullivan’s Brigade could not embark. That they would carry 30 men each besides the Baggage, Ammunition and Intrenching Tools. That he has given most pointed orders to restrain the licentiousness of the Troops, which was disgraceful and very injurious, in those gone on heretofore, in abusing the Inhabitants and Batteau men and that he had ordered Captain Romans from Canada for Trial at Albany, there being sundry complaints lodged against him. He also informs that the 60 Barrells of powder had arrived and would be forwarded that day; that the 1st Regiment of Genl. Sullivan’s Brigade marched that morning, and that the Intrenching Tools and about 600 Barrells of Pork were also gone on; that he cannot possibly send more than half of the 300,000 Dollars into Canada being greatly in debt on the public Account, and the Creditors exceedingly clamorous and importunate for payment, which sum he hopes will be sufficient till the Canadians agree to take our paper Currency to which they are much averse, and of which he is exceedingly doubtfull; That he had got the Chain and would forward it that day to Genl. Arnold with orders to fix it at the Rapids of Richlieu. He adds that he had reviewed Genl. Sullivan’s Brigade in presence of about 260 Indians who were greatly pleased with the order and regularity of the Troops and surprized at the number which the Tories had industriously propagated consisted only of 3 Companies and that they were kept always walking the Streets to Induce ’em to believe their number was much greater than it really was.”1
I have inclosed a Copy of General Schuyler’s Instructions to Jas. Price Esqr Deputy Commy Genl for the regulation of his conduct in that department which I received last night & which Genl. Schuyler requested me to forward you; I also beg leave to lay before Congress a Copy of a Letter from Saml. Stringer director of one of the Hospitals, purporting an application for an increase of surgeons, mates &c.—an estimate of which is also inclosed and submit it to them what number must be sent from hence, or got elsewhere. It is highly probable that many more will be wanted in Canada, than what are already there, on account of the late augmentation of the Army, but I thought it most advisable to make his requisition known to Congress and to take their order and direction upon it. As to the Medicines, I shall speak to Doctor Morgan (not yet arrived) as soon as he comes and order him to forward such as may be necessary and can be possibly spared.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 17 May, 1776.
I this morning Received your favor of the 13 Instant with its Enclosures, Conveying Intelligence of the Melancholy situation of our affairs in Canada,1 and am not without my fears, I confess, that the prospect we had of possessing that Country, of so much importance in the present controversy, is almost over, or at least that it will be effected with much more difficulty and effusion of blood, than were necessary, had our exertions been timely applied.—However we must not despair. A manly and spirited opposition only can ensure success, and prevent the Enemy from improving the advantage they have obtained.—I have forwarded the Letters to Congress; and their answer to you and the Honorable Commissioners I will transmit to you, as soon as they come to hand.—I am fully sensible, that this unfortunate event has greatly deranged your schemes, & will involve you in difficulties to be obviated only by your Zeal & assiduity which I am well satisfied will not be wanting in this or any other instance where the good of your Country requires them.
Notwithstanding the most diligent pains, but a small part of the Nails you wrote for is yet Collected, nor will there be a possibility of getting half the quantity, the Quarter Master expects that they will be here to day, when they will be instantly forwarded with the five Tons of lead—
I am, Sir, with sentiments of much esteem and regard, your most obedient humble servant.1
TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.
New York, 18 May, 1776.
My Dear Sir,
In great haste I write you a few lines to cover the enclosed;1 they came in the manner you see them, and as explained in Captain Langdon’s letter to me. I hesitated some time in determining whether I could, with propriety, select them from the rest, considering in what manner they came to my hands; but as there are some things in each which may serve to irritate, I concluded it best to send not only the one directed to you, but the other also, (to Doctor Franklin) under cover to you, as you may communicate and secrete such parts as you like. I have no time to add the necessity of vigorous exertions; they are too obvious to need any stimulus from me. Adieu, my dear Sir.
P. S. Upon second thought, knowing that Doctor Franklin is in Canada, I send you a copy only of a letter to him, (which I take to be from Doctor Lee) and the original to the Doctor.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 20 May, 1776.
Your favor of the 16th, with several resolutions of Congress therein enclosed, I had not the honor to receive till last night. Before the receipt, I did not think myself at liberty to wait on Congress, although I wished to do it; and therefore the more readily consented to General Gates’s attendance, as I knew there were many matters, which could be better explained in a personal interview, than in whole volumes of letters. He accordingly set out for Philadelphia yesterday morning, and must have been too far advanced on his journey (as he proposed expedition) to be overtaken.1
I shall, if I can settle some matters, which are in agitation with the Provincial Congress here, follow to-morrow or next day; and, therefore, with every sentiment of regard, attachment, and gratitude to Congress for their kind attention to the means, which they think may be conducive to my health, and with particular thanks to you for the politeness of your invitation to your house,1 I conclude, dear Sir, your most obedient, &c.2
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 21 May, 1776.
I have Enclosed for your perusal Copies of two Informations, and a letter I received on Saturday last from the Committee of King’s district by the hands of a Martin Bebee, who says he is their clerk and was sent express. From these you will readily discover the diabolical and Insidious Arts and Schemes carrying on by the Tories, and friends of government, to raise distrust, dissensions, and divisions among us. Having the utmost confidence in your Integrity, and the most incontestable proof of your great attachmt to our common Country and Its Interest, I could not but look upon the charge agt. you with an eye of disbelief, and sentiments of detestation and abhorrence; nor should I have troubled you with the matter, had I not been Informed, that Copies were sent to different Committees and to Govr Trumbull, which I conceived would get abroad, and that you, should you find that I had been furnished with them, would consider my suppressing ’em as an Evidence of my belief, or at best of my doubts of the charges.
The confidence and assurance I have of the Injustice and Infamy of the charges agt. the Convention obliged me also to lay the matter before them; lest my not doing it should be construed a distrust by them of their Zeal, and promote the views of the Tories; who, to excite disorder and confusion, judge it essential to Involve those in high departments in a share of the plot, which is not unlikely to be true in some parts, believing that our Internal Enemies have many projects in contemplation for to subvert our liberties.1 Before I conclude, I wou’d mention, that some Officers called upon me a few days agoe, having your permit to goe to Pennsylvania and settle some affairs there. This License, when there is really business, is certainly countenanced by Humanity and Generosity, but, nevertheless, it shou’d not be Indulged, and I hope will not be granted in future, as it gives them an opportunity of getting Intelligence of all our Operations, of forming opinions of our strength, the places proper for attack, and settling a channel of Correspondence with the disaffected by which our Enemies may and will be furnished with full accounts of our designs and every thing that can promote their service and Injure ours.—There is but little reason to believe, nay we are certain they will not conduct themselves upon principles of the strictest honor for the favors done ’em, but will, when in their power, exercise every matter, that can operate to our prejudice. I am, Sir, &c.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.1
The Congress having been pleased to signify a desire that I should repair to Philadelphia, in order to advise and consult with them on the present posture of affairs, and as I am on the point of setting out accordingly I have to desire that you will cause the different works now in agitation to be carried on with the utmost expedition. To this end I have written to the Provincial Congress of this Colony for tools, and have hopes of obtaining them. Apply, therefore accordingly, taking an exact account of what you receive.
The works upon Long-Island should be completed as expeditiously as possible; so should those in and about this town and upon Governor’s Island. If new works can be carried on without detriment to the old, (for want of tools,) I would have that intended at Paulus Hook set about immediately, as I conceive it to be of importance. In like manner I would have that at the Narrows begun, provided Colonel Knox, after his arrangement of the artillery, should find there are any fit pieces of cannon to be spared for it; otherwise, as I have no longer any dependence upon cannon from Admiral Hopkins, it would be useless.
The barriers of those streets leading from the water are not to be meddled with, and where they have been pulled down are to be repaired, and nearer the water, if more advantageous.
As it does not appear to me improbable that the enemy may attempt to run past our batteries in and about the town, and land between them and the woody grounds above Mr. Scott’s, I would have you employ as many men as you can in throwing up flushes at proper places and distances within that space, in order to give opposition in landing; but if there are not tools enough to carry on the other more essential works and these at the same instant, you are not to neglect the first, but esteem this as a secondary consideration only.
Delay not a moment’s time to have the signals fixed for the purpose of communicating an alarm upon the first appearance of the enemy. Let them be placed in such a manner, and at such distances, as to be easily discovered, day or night. If this was continued upon the Long Island shore for some distance, good consequences might result from it, as nothing can be attended with more signal advantages than having timely notice of the enemy’s approach, whilst nothing can add more to the disgrace of an officer than to be surprised; for this reason I have to beg that the same vigilance and precaution may be used as if the enemy were actually within sight, as a brisk wind and flowing tide will soon produce them when they are once on the coast. The officers and men, therefore, should be constantly at their quarters, the guards alert, and every thing in readiness for immediate action.
As I have great reasons to fear that the fortifications in the Highlands are in a bad situation, and the garrisons, on account of arms, worse, I would have you send Brigadier Lord Stirling, with Colonel Putnam, (and Colonel Knox if he can be spared) up there to see, report, and direct such alterations as shall be judged necessary for putting them into a fit and proper posture of defence.
Open any letters which may come directed to me upon publick service whilst I am absent; and if any very interesting advices should be contained therein, either from the eastward or northward, forward them to Philadelphia, after regulating your conduct thereby.
I must again beg that your particular attention be turned to our powder magazines, to see that that valuable article is properly placed and secured. I also beg that no time or means be neglected to make as many cartridges as possible.
I have reason to believe, that the Provincial Congress of this colony have in contemplation a scheme for seizing the principal Tories and disaffected persons on Long Island, in this city, and the country round about; and that, to carry the scheme into execution, they will have recourse to the military power for assistance. If this should be the case, you are hereby required during my absence to afford every aid, which the said Congress or their Secret Committee shall apply for. I need not recommend secrecy to you, as the success, you must be assured, will depend absolutely upon precaution, and the despatch with which the measure, when once adopted, shall be executed.
General Greene will, though not in person perhaps, have a principal share in ordering the detachments from his brigade on Long Island; of course he will be a proper person to be let into the whole plan. I would, therefore, when application is made by Congress, have you and him concert measures with such gentlemen, as that body shall please to appoint, and order the execution with as much secrecy and despatch as possible, and at the same time with the utmost decency and good order. Given under my hand at Head-Quarters, in the city of New York, this 21st day of May, 1776.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
Amboy, 22 May, 1776.
Congress having been pleased to request my attendance at Philadelphia, to advise with them on the situation of our affairs, and of such measures as may be necessary to adopt for this campaign, I had got thus far on my journey, when I called to view the ground, and such places on Staten Island contiguous to it, as may be proper for works of defence, when your favor of the 16th instant, with its several enclosures, came to hand. I am exceedingly concerned for the distress of our troops in Canada, and, as I informed you heretofore, have been very importunate with the commissary to forward all the provisions in his power; in consequence of which he has sent a good deal on, and I shall again repeat my orders and enjoin him to continue his supplies as largely and expeditiously as possible.
I wrote you on the 17th Inst. and am hopefull the 27 & ½ Casks of Nails, which were all that could be got, with the 5 tons of lead then sent will have reached you or got to Albany, from whence they will be forwarded, and in a Letter to Genl. Putnam have directed him to examine our stock of the latter, and to furnish you with a further quantity if it can be spared. At Philadelphia I will try to get a supply. I have also directed him to send you Two Tons more of Powder and such Intrenching Tools as can be possibly spared or procured from the Convention, in consequence of an Application I made two or three days since. We are deficient in those, not having a sufficiency to carry on the works for the defence of New York with the expedition I wish, or the exigency of the times demands.
In respect to Cannon, shot, and Guns for the vessells in the Lake I have requested him to consult with Col. Knox and with the Convention about sail Cloth, &c.; and if any of them can be spared or procured, that they be immediately sent you.
Our situation respecting the Indians is delicate and embarrassing. They are attached to Johnson, who is our enemy. Policy and prudence on the one hand suggest the necessity of seizing him and every friend of governmt; on the other, if he is apprehended, there will be danger of incurring their resentment. I hope the Committee will conduct the matter in the least exceptionable manner, and in that way that shall most advance the public good.
I observe by the minutes of a council of war, by General Thomas’s letter, and that of Messrs. Carroll and Chase to Dr. Franklin, that our troops cannot make a stand at Deschambault, as I had hoped. I wish it were practicable; for most certainly the lower down the river we can maintain our post, the more important will the advantages resulting from it be. Considering all the country below us as lost, and that there may be some prospect of gaining that above, from whence we might draw supplies in some degree, and have the friendship and assistance of the inhabitants,—it is certain we should make a stand as low down as we can, so as not to have a retreat cut off in case of necessity, or an opportunity of receiving provisions. But unacquainted as I am with the country, I cannot undertake to say where it should be. Not doubting and hoping that every thing for the best will be done, I am, Sir, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL THOMAS, IN CANADA.
Philadelphia, 24 May, 1776.
I received your favor of the 8th instant with its enclosures, confirming the melancholy intelligence I had before heard, of your having been obliged to raise the siege of Quebec, and to make a precipitate retreat with the loss of the cannon in the batteaux, and interception of the powder going from General Schuyler. This unfortunate affair has given a sad shock to our schemes in that quarter, and blasted the hope we entertained of reducing that fortress and the whole of Canada to our possession.
From your representation, things must have been found in great disorder, and such as to have made a retreat almost inevitable; but, nevertheless, it is hoped you will be able to make a good stand yet, and by that means secure a large or all the upper part of the country. That being a matter of the utmost importance in the present contest, it is my wish and that of Congress, that you take an advantageous post as far down the river as possible, so as not to preclude you from a retreat, if it should be ever necessary, or from getting proper supplies of provision. The lower down you can maintain a stand, the more advantageous will it be, as all the country above will most probably take part with us, from which we may draw some assistance and support, considering all below as entirely within the power of the enemy and of course in their favor. This misfortune must be repaired, if possible, by our more vigorous exertions; and trusting that nothing will be wanting on your part or in your power to advance our country’s cause. I am, &c.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.
Philadelphia, 28 May, 1776.
I received yours of the 24th Inst. with its several inclosures, and the Letter and Invoice from Genl Ward giving Intelligence of the fortunate capture made by our Armed Vessells, on which event you have my Congratulations.
I have wrote Genl. Ward as you will see by the inclosed Letter, which having read you will seal and send by post, to send forward to New York Colo. Putnam’s demand & also such Articles as Colo Knox may apply for out of the Cargoe taken.—In like manner I have desired him to send me as soon as possible part of the powder and eight hundred of the Carbines which will greatly assist in making up the deficiency in this instance.
As to the plan for employing the Armed Vessells I have no Objection to its being adopted, provided it will not frustrate the main design for which they were fitted out. That I would by no means have injured, as it is a matter of much importance to prevent a Correspondence between the disaffected and the Enemy, and the latter from getting supplies of provision, but if this end can be answered, and the other advantages in the plan mentioned, it is certainly an Eligible one.
The great variety of business, in which Congress are engaged, has prevented our settling what I was requested to attend for, though we have made several attempts, and a committee has been appointed for the purpose day after day; nor can I say with precision when I shall be at liberty to return. I must therefore pray your attention and vigilance to every necessary work; and further, if you should receive, before I come, certain advices, and such as you can rely on, of the enemy’s being on the coast, or approaching New York, that you inform me by express as early as possible. I do not wish an alarm to be given me without foundation; but, as soon as you are certified of their coming, that it be instantly communicated to me, and orders given the express who comes, to bespeak, at the different necessary stages on the road, as many horses as may be proper for facilitating my return, and that of the gentlemen with me, with the greatest expedition. I am, Sir, yours, &c.
P. S. I advise you’l speak to the several Colonls. & Hurry them to get their Colors done.1
TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
Philadelphia, 31 May, 1776.
Since my arrival at this place, where I came at the request of Congress to settle some matters relative to the ensuing campaign, I have received your letter of the 18th from Williamsburg, and think I stand indebted to you for another, which came to hand some time ago in New York.
I am very glad to find that the Virginia Convention have passed so noble a vote, and with so much unanimity.1 Things have come to that pass now, as to convince us, that we have nothing more to expect from the justice of Great Britain; also, that she is capable of the most delusive arts; for I am satisfied, that no commissioners ever were designed, except Hessians and other foreigners; and that the idea was only to deceive and throw us off our guard. The first has been too effectually accomplished, as many members of Congress, in short, the representation of whole provinces, are still feeding themselves upon the dainty food of reconciliation; and, though they will not allow, that the expectation of it has any influence upon their judgment, (with respect to their preparations for defence,) it is but too obvious, that it has an operation upon every part of their conduct, and is a clog to their proceedings. It is not in the nature of things to be otherwise; for no man, that entertains a hope of seeing this dispute speedily and equitably adjusted by commissioners, will go to the same expense and run the same hazards to prepare for the worst event, as he who believes that he must conquer, or submit to unconditional terms, and its concomitants, such as confiscation, hanging, &c., &c.
To form a new government requires infinite care and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid, the superstructure must be bad. Too much time, therefore, cannot be bestowed in weighing and digesting matters well. We have, no doubt, some good parts in our present constitution; many bad ones we know we have. Wherefore, no time can be misspent that is employed in separating the wheat from the tares. My fear is, that you will all get tired and homesick; the consequence of which will be, that you will patch up some kind of a constitution as defective as the present. This should be avoided. Every man should consider, that he is lending his aid to frame a constitution, which is to render millions happy or miserable, and that a matter of such moment cannot be the work of a day.
I am in hopes to hear some good accounts from North Carolina. If Clinton has only part of his force there, and not strongly entrenched, I should think that General Lee will be able to give a very good account of those at Cape Fear. Surely administration must intend more than five thousand men for the southern district, otherwise they must have a very contemptible opinion of those colonies, or have great expectations from the Indians, slaves, and Tories. We expect a very bloody summer of it at New York and Canada, as it is there I expect the grand efforts of the enemy will be aimed; and I am sorry to say, that we are not either in men or arms prepared for it. However, it is to be hoped, that, if our cause is just, as I do most religiously believe it to be, the same Providence, which has in many instances appeared for us, will still go on to afford its aid.
Your Convention is acting very wisely in removing the disaffected, stores, &c., from the counties of Princess Anne and Norfolk; and are much to be commended for their attention to the manufacture of salt, saltpetre, powder, &c. No time nor expense should be spared to accomplish these things.
Mrs. Washington is now under inoculation in this city; and will, I expect, have the smallpox favorably. This is the thirteenth day, and she has very few pustules. She would have written to my sister, but thought it prudent not to do so, notwithstanding there could be but little danger in conveying the infection in this manner. She joins me in love to you, her, and all the little ones. I am, with every sentiment of regard, dear Sir, your most affectionate brother.
[3 ]He was directed to hand in his vouchers and papers to the Superintendents of the Treasury.
[1 ]Congress referred him to its resolutions of 1 April, 1776, instituting treasury officers.
[2 ]Journals of Congress, 17 January, and 6 February, 1776.
[3 ]Congress decided that the resolution of 17 January, 1776, was general in its operation, and directed the General to make that allowance for all the troops inlisted since that date. Journals of Congress, 10 May, 1776.
[4 ]Vol. III., p. 297.
[1 ]Congress approved, and directed Washington to prosecute the plan. Journals, 10 May, 1776.
[1 ]Congress passed a resolution to this effect, 10 May, 1776.
[1 ]See note on p. 75.
[2 ]“Resolved, That this Congress has hitherto exercised, and ought to retain the power of promoting the officers in the continental service according to their merit; and that no promotion or succession shall take place upon any vacancy without the authority of a continental commission.” Journals, 16 May, 1776.
[3 ]Read May 7th. Referred to J. Adams, Braxton, and Duane.
[1 ]The conclusion of Congress was very inadequate, for it merely desired Washington to employ an agent, and said nothing of the reported stores in Philadelphia. The secret committee was ordered to send to camp the muskets that were at Newport. Journals of Congress, 14 May, 1776.
[1 ]Read May 8th. Referred to S. Adams, Wythe, Rodney, R. H. Lee, and Whipple.
[1 ]“The uncertainty of my return, and the justice of surrendering to Mr. Custis the bonds, which I have taken for the moneys raised from his estate, and lent out upon interest, as also his moiety of his deceased sister’s fortune, (consisting altogether of bonds, &c.) oblige me to have recourse to a friend to see this matter done, and a proper memorandum of the transaction made. I could think of no one, in whose friendship, care, and abilities I could so much confide, to do Mr. Custis and me this favor, as yourself; and, therefore, I take the liberty of soliciting your aid.
[1 ]“Lieut. Grover, of the 2d Regiment (commanded by Col. James Reed,) having been tried by a General Court Martial, for ‘insulting Capt. Wilkinson, disobeying his orders and abusive language’ was found guilty of the charge, and yet mulct’d of half a month’s pay only—a punishment so exceedingly disproportioned to the offence, that the General resolved to lay the whole proceeding before the Congress, and know whether they inclined to continue an officer in their service who had mis behaved in so capital a point; but Lieut. Grover appearing to be thoroughly convinced of the error of his conduct, and having promised strict obedience to the orders of his Captain, and other superior officers, for the time to come, the General (before any determination of Congress could be had upon the matter) ordered him to be released, and to join his regiment; but has it now in command from Congress, to signify to the Army, that no promotion upon vacancies, shall take place merely by succession, without their authority, insomuch as they have reserved and will exercise the power, of giving Commissions to persons of merit, regardless of any claim by succession. Of this all officers are desired to take notice, as it may serve on the one hand to prevent the dissatisfaction which have but too frequently arisen, from an idea, that all promotions should be confined to regiments, and go in regular succession, and because on the other hand, it opens a large field for the rewarding of merit, which ought, and is hoped will be, a powerful excitement to the brave and active, to signalize themselves in the noble cause they are engaged in.
[1 ]“Resolved, that lieutenant-colonel Burbeck be dismissed from the Continental Service.”—Journals of Congress, 25 May, 1776.
[1 ]See Journals of Congress, 21 May, 1776.
[2 ]German troops said to be coming from Europe to reinforce the British army in America. Intelligence to this effect had been communicated by Mr. Cushing.
[1 ]Congress resolved, in compliance with the above request, on the 14th of May, that General Washington should order a major-general to take command in the eastern department, and also send a brigadier on that service.
[2 ]Read May 14th. Referred to Livingston, Jefferson, and J. Adams.
[1 ]“The letter from the Commissioners, which you were kind enough to leave open for my perusal, describes matters and the situation of our affairs in Canada in so striking a light, that nothing less than the most wise and vigorous exertions of Congress and the army there, can promise success to our schemes and plans in that quarter. What might have been effected last year without much difficulty, has become an arduous and important work. However, I hope all things will yet goe well. I am exceedingly glad that so large a number of Indians was present at the review of General Sullivan’s brigade; They probably, from the appearance of so many armed men, somewhat Instructed in discipline, may have received favorable some impressions of our Strength sufficient to counter-operate all the Ingenious and Insidious arts of Toryism.—When those arrive, which you mention, I shall take proper notice of them, and have necessary provisions made for their entertainment.”—Washington to General Schuyler, 16 May, 1776.
[1 ]Read May 16th. Referred to Wm. Livingston, Jefferson, and J. Adams.
[1 ]Giving an account of a reinforcement of the enemy at Quebec, and the retreat of the American forces from that place with great precipitation, and loss of cannon, firearms, and powder; and intimating the probability that they would be obliged to abandon Canada.
[1 ]“I have this moment received by express from General Schuyler an account of the melancholy prospect and reverse of our affairs in Canada; and presuming, that the letters which accompany this will give Congress full information upon the subject, I shall only add, that General Schuyler, in pursuance of orders from the honorable Commissioners, has directed Brigadier-General Sullivan to halt his brigade, as a further reinforcement, on account of the scarcity of provisions, would not relieve, but contribute greatly to distress our troops already in Canada. Before he received these orders, all the brigade except Dayton’s and Wayne’s regiments had left Albany; but I suppose he will be able to stop their march.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 17 May, 1776.
[1 ]George Merchant, one of Arnold’s men captured at Quebec and sent a prisoner to England, had made his escape and returned to America with letters “concealed in the waistband of his breeches.” The letters were from Arthur Lee and were addressed to “Lieutenant Governor Colden,” as a blind. They are printed in a garbled state in Sparks, Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, i., 380 et seq.
[1 ]“This will be delivered you by General Gates, who sets out to-day for Congress agreeable to my letter of yesterday. I have committed to him the heads of sundry matters to lay before Congress for their consideration, which, from the interesting intelligence contained in my last, appear to me of the utmost importance, and to demand their most early and serious attention. Sensible that I have omitted to set down many things necessary, and which probably, when deliberating, they will wish to be acquainted with; and not conceiving myself at liberty to depart my post, though to attend them, without their previous approbation; I have requested General Gates to subjoin such hints of his own, as he may apprehend material. His military experience, and intimate acquaintance with the situation of our affairs, will enable him to give Congress the fullest satisfaction about the measures necessary to be adopted at this alarming crisis, and, with his zeal and attachment to the cause of America, have a claim to their notice and favors. When Congress shall have come to a determination on the subject of this letter, and such parts of my former letters as have not been determined on, you will be pleased to honor me with the result.”—Washington to the President of Congress, 19 May, 1776. Gates had been appointed a Major General on May 16. He arrived in Philadelphia on the 21st.
[1 ]After urging General Washington’s speedy attendance on Congress, to consult upon such measures as were necessary for carrying on the ensuing campaign, President Hancock added: “I request the favor, that you will please to honor me with your and your lady’s company at my house, where I have a bed at your service, and where every endeavor on my part and Mrs. Hancock’s will be exerted to make your abode agreeable. I reside in an airy, open part of the city, in Arch Street, corner of Fourth Street. If this should be agreeable to you, it will afford me much pleasure.” Upon receiving Washington’s reply of the 20th, Hancock again wrote on the 21st: “Your favor of the 20th instant I received this morning, and cannot help expressing the very great pleasure it would afford both Mrs. Hancock and myself to have the happiness of accommodating you during your stay in this city. As the house I live in is large and roomy, it will be entirely in your power to live in that manner you should wish. Mrs. Washington may be as retired as she pleases while under the inoculation, and Mrs. Hancock will esteem it an honor to have Mrs. Washington inoculated in her house: and as I am informed Mr. Randolph has not any lady about his house to take the necessary care of Mrs. Washington, I flatter myself she will be as well attended in my family. In short, sir, I must take the freedom to repeat my wish that you would be pleased to condescend to dwell under my roof.” The invitation was not accepted.
[2 ]Read May 21st.
[1 ]When the army retreated from Canada, and left all the upper parts of the Lake open to the ravages of the enemy, the inhabitants were greatly alarmed for their own safety, and, in the midst of their murmurs of despair, they were ready to throw all the blame upon the commander of the northern department. Committees of towns and districts assembled, and passed resolves, expressing distrust of General Schuyler, and insinuating weighty charges against his motives and conduct. Resolves of this kind were forwarded to Washington, and to the New York Provincial Congress. To a committee of the Provincial Congress, who had been the organ for communicating these charges to him, Schuyler wrote:—
[1 ]As the oldest major-general in the army at New York, General Putnam was left in command during Washington’s absence at the call of Congress.
[1 ]The machinations of disaffected persons, or Tories, as they began universally to be called, in the lower counties of New York, had for some time excited serious apprehensions, as to their effects on the army, and particularly when the British forces should arrive on the coast. Governor Tryon was at the head of this party, and by his talents, his former popularity in the province, and his emissaries among the people, he was maturing designs, which it was found necessary to take speedy and efficient measures to counteract. The Provincial Congress had appointed a secret committee of their number to confer with General Washington, from time to time, on all such matters as required the cooperation of the civil and military powers for the common safety. The subject of the Tories had occupied their deliberations, and it was agreed that a strong and decided course ought immediately to be pursued in regard to them. General Washington had promised military aid for carrying into effect any resolves, which might be adopted to attain this object. The following is an extract from the proceedings of the Congress on the 19th of May:
[1 ]Washington arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, 23 May, 1776, about two o’clock.
[1 ]“Joseph Lent of Col. McDougall’s Regiment and Capt. Hogh’s Company, tried at the above Court Martial for ‘Disobedience of Orders, and striking his commanding Officer, Ensign Young when in the execution of his duty’ is found guilty of Disobedience of orders and sentenced to be confined five days on bread and water in the Provost Dungeon.
[1 ]On Wednesday, May 15, the Virginia Convention, consisting of one hundred and twelve members resolved unanimously to instruct their delegates in the Continental Congress to propose “to that respectable body to declare the Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain,” pledging their support to such a declaration, and “to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a confederation of the colonies, at such time, and in the manner, as to them shall seem best: Provided, that the power of forming government for, and the regulation of the internal concerns of each colony, be left to the respective colonial legislatures.”