Front Page Titles (by Subject) 3 June: TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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3 June: TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM. - 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 MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.
Philadelphia, 3 June, 1776.
I received your favor by yesterday evening’s express, with the several letters and intelligence from General Schuyler, and am much concerned for the further misfortunes, that have attended our arms in Canada. I have laid the whole before Congress, who had before resolved to send a considerable augmentation to our army there; and doubt not that General Schuyler may receive assistance from the militias, most convenient to him, for securing the different passes and communications, till they can be. As to sending a reinforcement from New York, neither policy nor prudence will justify it, as we have the strongest reasons to believe the day not far distant, when a large armament will arrive and vigorously attempt an impression there; to oppose which the forces we have will not be more than equal, if sufficient.
Congress have determined on building sundry gondolas and fire-rafts, to prevent the men-of-war and enemy’s ships from coming into the New York Bay or Narrows. I must therefore request, that you make inquiries after carpenters, and procure all you can, with materials necessary for building them, that they may goe on with all possible expedition, as soon as the person arrives from hence, whom I have employed to superintend the work. He will be there in a day or two. I am, dear Sir, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 7 June, 1776.
I have not time to answer your two last favors minutely, but only to acknowledge the receipt of them, being just returned from Philadelphia, and the post about to depart this morning. The situation of our affairs in Canada is truly alarming, and I greatly fear, from the intelligence transmitted from thence by Captain Wilkinson to General Greene,1 that ere this we have sustained further and greater misfortunes, than what happened when you wrote. I have enclosed you a copy of his letter, by which you will see I have too much ground for my concern; and I sincerely wish the next letters from the northward may not contain melancholy advices of General Arnold’s defeat, and the loss of Montreal. The most vigorous exertions will be necessary to retrieve our circumstances there, and I am hopefull you will strain every nerve for that purpose. Unless it can be now done, Canada will be lost for ever; the fatal consequences of which every one must feel.
I have enclosed to you a copy of a resolve of Congress for reinforcing the army in Canada, and keeping up the communication with that province.2 I hope the several colonies will immediately furnish their quotas of men, which, or as many of them as may be necessary, I should imagine had better be employed at the communications, and all the enlisted soldiers sent forward to Canada. You have, also, another resolution for employing and engaging a number of Indians in the service,3 though Congress have not particularized the mode for raising and engaging ’em. I would have you, and the Commissioners appointed for Indian affairs, pursue such measures for the purpose, as to you may seem best for securing their friendship and service. If a smaller number than two thousand will do, I would not advise more to be embodied than may be necessary.
If your presence or direction at St. John’s, or any post in Canada, could be of service and tend to put our affairs in a better channel than they now are, I would wish you to goe, as General Thomas is down with the smallpox; but I do not mean to direct or request you to do it, if you think by remaining where you are, or not going, will be of more public advantage, or that the cause will be injured by doing it. You will be governed by such measures, as appear to you best, and the circumstances of our affairs under your management, and those in Canada with which you must be much better acquainted than I am, or can possibly be, at this distance. It is probable your presence may be necessary & wanted at the negotiation with the Indians, which will be one cause to prevent your going.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 7 June, 1776.
I do myself the honor to inform Congress, that I arrived here yesterday afternoon about one o’clock, and found all in a state of peace and quiet. I had not time to view the works carrying on, and those ordered to be begun when I went away; but have reason to believe, from the report of such of the general and other officers I had the pleasure to see, that they have been prosecuted and forwarded with all possible diligence and despatch.2 I am much concerned for the situation of our affairs in Canada, and am fearful, ere this, it is much worse than was first reported at Philadelphia. The intelligence from thence in a letter from Captn. Wilkinson of the 2d Regt. to Genl. Greene is truly alarming. It not only confirms the account of Colonel Bedel’s and Major Sherburne’s defeat, but seems to forebode General Arnold’s, with the loss of Montreal. I have enclosed a copy of the letter, which will but too well show that there is foundation for my apprehensions.
On Wednesday evening I received an express from General Schuyler, with sundry papers respecting Sir John Johnson, which I have not time to copy, as the post is just going off, but will do myself the honor of transmitting you as soon as I possibly can.1 Before I left Philadelphia, I employed a person to superintend the building of the gondolas, which Congress had resolved on for this place. He is arrived, and all things seem to be in a proper channel for facilitating the work; but when they are done, we shall be in much want of guns, having never received any of those taken by Commodore Hopkins. Be pleased to mention me to Congress with the utmost respect, and I am, Sir, with every sentiment of regard and esteem, your and their most obedient servant.
P. S. I this minute received your favor of the 5 Inst. I am in need of Commissions and beg Congress to point out precisely the line I am to pursue in filling ’em up. This I mentioned in my Letter of the 11 Ulto. . . . I am much pleased at the fortunate captures and the generous conduct of the owners and masters for the tender of the money to Congress.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 8 June, 1776.
In my letter of yesterday, which I had the honor of addressing you and which was designed to have come by the post, but was prevented by his departure before the usual time, I mentioned my having received by express a letter and sundry papers from General Schuyler, respecting Sir John Johnson, copies of which I herewith transmit to you for your inspection and perusal. They will show you what measures were planned and attempted for apprehending him, and securing the Scotch Highlanders in Tryon county.
Having heard that the troops at Boston are extremely uneasy and almost mutinous for want of pay (several months of which being now due) I must take the liberty to repeat a question contained in my Letter of the 5 Ulto. “what mode is to be pursued respecting it, whether is money to be sent from hence by the paymaster General, or some person subordinate to him to be appointed there for that purpose? I expected some direction would have been given in this instance long ere this, from what was contained in yours accompanying, or about the time of the last remittance. I presume it has been omitted by reason of the multiplicity of important business before Congress.1
In perusing the several resolves you honored me with when at Philadelphia and since my return, I find one allowing a chief engineer for the army in a separate department. The service requiring many of them, I wish Congress, if they know any persons skilled in this business, would appoint them. General Schuyler has frequently applied, and suggested the necessity of having some in Canada. I myself know of none. I also find there is a resolve of the 3d of June for taking Indians into service, which, if literally construed, confines them to that in Canada. Is that the meaning of Congress, or that the Commander-in-chief may order their service to any place he may think necessary?
In respect to the establishing expresses between the several Continental posts, who is to do it.—the Resolve does not say. Is it expected by Congress that I should? whoever the work is assigned to, I think should execute it with the utmost dispatch. The late imperfect and contradictory accounts respecting our defeat at the Cedars strongly point out the necessity there is for it—No intelligence has yet come from any officer in command there, and most probably for want of a proper channel to convey it, tho’ this misfortune happened so long agoe.1
When I had the honor of being in Congress, if I mistake not, I heard a resolve read, or was told of one, allowing the New York Troops the same pay of others in the Continental service. This, if any such, I do not find, and if there is not such a one, I shall be under some embarrassment how to pay the Militia to be provided by this Province. The Resolve providing them says, they are to be paid while in service as other Troops are. But if those Inlisted heretofore in this province, are to receive according to the first establishment, it is a matter of doubt what the Militia are to have.1
2 Before this comes to hand, a Hand-Bill containing an account of a victory gained by General Arnold, over the party that had defeated Colo. Bedel and Major Sherburne will most probably have reached you. I have inquired into the authenticity of this fortunate report and have found there is no dependance to be put in it, nor do I believe it deserves of the least credit. I shall be happy not to hear the reverse. I have &c.
P. S. If Congress have come to any Resolution about an Allowance to Induce men to reinlist you will please to favor me with it, as the Time the Rifle Regimt. is engaged for is just expired.
As the Militia will be coming in and they will be in much need of covering please to have all the Tents and Cloth proper for making ’em that can be procured forwarded as soon as possible.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 9 June, 1776.
I was honored Yesterday with your Favor of the 7th, with its Inclosures. When Doctor Potts arrives I shall order him to Canada or Lake George, as may appear most proper it is certainly necessary that he or Doctor Stringer should go to the former.
The resolve respecting General Wooster’s recall, I will immediately transmit to him, with directions to repair hither without delay.2 The situation of our affairs in Canada, as reported by the honorable Commissioners, is truly alarming; and I am sorry, that my opinion of the ill consequences resulting from the short enlistment of the army should be but too well confirmed by the experience they have had of the want of discipline and order in our soldiery there. This induces me again to wish Congress to determine on a liberal allowance, to engage the troops already in service to re-enlist for a longer period, or during the continuance of the war; nor can I forbear expressing my opinion of the propriety of keeping the military chest always supplied with money, as evils of the most interesting nature are often produced for want of a regular payment of troops. The neglect makes them impatient and uneasy. I am much surprised at the scarcity of provisions there, particularly of flour; as, from several accounts I had received from thence, I was led to expect that considerable supplies of that article could be procured there. That our misfortunes may not become greater, I have wrote to the commissary to forward more provisions, in addition to those already sent.
An adjutant and quartermaster general are indispensably necessary, with assistants. The money saved the continent by their non-appointment will be but small and trifling, when put in competition with the loss for want of them. Colonel Fleming, who acted in the former capacity under General Montgomery is now here; but his indisposition is such as to render him unfit at this time for the post; it is an important one, and requires vigor and activity to discharge the duties of it. He will be of much service to Colonel Reed, the business of whose office will increase considerably by the augmentation of the army. It will be necessary, too, that the commissaries in Canada, and the deputy quartermaster-generals, should have several assistants and clerks; nor do I think a precise number can be fixed on, as a variety of circumstances may and must occur to render the number, essential for doing the business in those departments, greater or less at different times. It will be better, I apprehend, to leave it indefinite, and with power to the commanding officer to allow such as may be wanted.
I am still in the dark, how the unfortunate affair ended at the Cedars, or on what terms the surrender was made, as the last letter from the Commissioners has reference to a former, and mentions an agreement entered into, which I have not seen; but I know of it more than I could wish.
I have received from Providence in consequence of Mr. Morris’s Order as Chairman of the secret committee of Congress 234 Musquets in part of the 244 directed to be sent—the inclosed Copy of a Letter from Mr. Brown will account for the Deficiency.
I shall be much obliged by your ordering a Quantity of Lead and Flints to be immediately forwarded. Our Demands for both are and will be very pressing—there are also wanted some particular and necessary Medicines to compleat our Hospital Chests, of which I will get Dr. Morgan to furnish the Congress with a List, when he writes or waits on them about some other Matters necessary to be fixed in his Department.
As General Wooster in all Probability will be here in a little Time in Compliance with the Resolve of Congress and my Order transmitted him, I wish to know what I am to do with him when he comes—
Genl. Schuyler, in his Letter of the 31st Ulto. of which I transmitted you a Copy Yesterday, mentions that sundry Persons had a Design to seize him as a Tory and probably still have, and wishes Congress to give him some public Mark of their Approbation, if they are convinced of his Zeal and Attachment to the Cause of his Country—whether he intended that I should communicate his Desire to them or not; I am not certain; but supposing that he did, I must beg Leave to request that you lay the Paragraph before them that they may do in the Instance of his Requisition, whatever they may judge necessary. I have &c.
P. S. If Congress have agreed to the Report of the Committee for allowing the Indians 50£ for every Prisoner they shall take at Niagara &c. it is material I should be informed of it—this will be a favorable Opportunity for them to embrace to gain Possession of Detroit and the other Posts whilst the Enemy are engaged towards Montreal, &c.1
TO GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 9 June, 1776.
I am now to acknowledge the Receipt of your several Favors of the 21st 24th 26th & 26th 27 28 & 31st Ulto. with the several Papers enclosed—the Whole of them except the last, I communicated to Congress when at Philadelphia; that I did not get till on my return, but have since transmitted them a copy of it and of the papers respecting Sir J. J[ohnson].
In Regard to a further remittance to Canada, the Commissioners have wrote Congress fully on the Subject, and I presume they will forward such a Supply of Money immediately as they think necessary.
As there is but too much probability that Sir J. J. may attempt to ravage the frontier counties and to excite the disaffected to take arms against us, I think it will be advisable that Colonel Dayton should remain as you request, as long as you apprehend a Necessity for it.
It is not in my power to spare any more men from hence, either for the communication, or to assist in repairing Ticonderoga— The detachments already gone to Canada have weakened the force necessary for the defence of this place, considering its Importance, more perhaps than policy will justify— Be that as it may, the reinforcements which Congress have resolved to send to Canada for keeping open the communication between that country and these Colonies as you will see by the copy inclosed in my letter of the 7th would supersede the necessity of men going from this camp provided they could be spared. I should suppose that Vanschaick’s and Wynkoop’s regiments exclusive of any other men would nearly suffice for the purposes mentioned in your several letters, or that very few men more in addition to them certainly would,—if they were compleat and properly employed; but I am informed by a letter from General Sullivan of the 18th Ulto., dated at Albany, that those regiments were not to be found on the strictest enquiry he could make; that Colo. Vanschaick, who was there, never furnished a single man for guard or any other duty after he got there, and that Lieutenant Colo. Courtland, of Wynkoop’s Regiment, when he applied for pay for two companies said to be in Tryon County to keep the Tories in order, informed him they had neither arms nor ammunition; that in some Companies there was not a man present fit for duty, and that in others there were not more than eleven and in some less. He also complains of the great waste of pork by the Waggoners drawing out the brine to lighten the carriage—and in his letter two days before charges the batteau men and the Waggon Master with indolence, and a strange neglect of duty— I well know, my dear Sir, that the multiplicity of matters you are engaged in will necessarily put in the power of these who are not influenced by principles of honesty and justice to practise many impositions; but I must beg you will turn your attention as much as possible to these things, and reform such abuses as have already happened or prevent them in future.
I am very doubtful whether the flour you seem to think may be had in Canada, can be got. The Commissioners’ letters as late as the 28th Ulto. seem to preclude every such hope.
I esteem it a matter of importance not only to fortify and secure Ticonderoga but every other post on the communication, and that you should garrison them with men under judicious and spirited officers to be fixed there who might be called to account for misconduct, which is difficult to do where they are shifting and changing continually, and who would esteem it their indispensible duty to carry on and maintain the Works against any surprizes or attacks that may be attempted— I have wrote to Congress to appoint Engineers, if they can fix upon proper Persons for the office. If you know of any, you had better employ them. I am confident Congress will allow them the usual Pay.
When I came from Philadelphia I left the Indians there and doubt not but Congress will use their Endeavors to prevent them returning for some time. I shewed them what you said upon the Subject.
I have spoken to the Q. M. about proper Person to Superintend the Building of gondolas; but he knows of none. There is a man who came to direct the building of some here; and if any of the Carpenters shall be deemed qualified after seeing the model, I will send you one. I have wrote to Philadelphia for a supply of flints which shall be forwarded you as soon as possible and will give direction that you be furnished with a quantity of necessary medicines—
With respect to St. Luc Lacorne, Major Campbell and the other prisoners at Esopus, I think it will be prudent for you to remove them or such of them as you apprehend dangerous to some other secure place; and they should be under a suitable and trusty guard.
Your continuing to build batteaus appear a necessary measure, as a sufficient number should be had to transport our troops going to Canada or coming from thence, if they should ever be under the disagreeable necessity of evacuating the possession they now have to the enemy—an event I sincerely wish not to happen but which from the melancholy complexion of things in that quarter, I conceive possible.
I have been much surprized at not receiving a more perfect and explicit account of the defeat of Colo. Bedel and his party at the Cedars. I should have thought some of the officers in command there would undoubtedly have transmitted it immediately; but as they have not, it is probable I should have long remained in doubt as to the event, had not the Commissioners called on me to-day, nor should I consider my not having a return of the army stores &c in Canada, a matter of less wonder, had I not been accustomed to the neglect. If it is not become too inveterate, I wish it could be got the better of—It is certainly of much importance and necessary to be known frequently.
Since mine of the 21st & yours of the 31st Ulto. Captns Swann and Dundee with three privates have been here, having a permit to go to Philadelphia. They came down the North River from Albany (I believe) to this place where I make no doubt they reconnoitre all our works, and in their passage there at the Highlands. This Indulgence I conceive of such Infinite prejudice to our cause for the reasons I have assigned and many more that may be added, that I hope it will be never granted again.
I wish you to notify the Several Committees in the neighborhood of Albany, having the care of prisoners, of the injurious consequences which must necessary result from such a license, to prevent their allowing it to any on future applications.
As Congress have resolved on a large augmentation to the army in Canada, as you will see by the copy of their vote transmitted in my last, it seems material that you should advise with the Commissary in that department and Mr. Trumbull there and concert a plan for their subsistence. If they cannot be supplied plentifully with provisions, their going will be of more injury than benefit, and encrease the distress of the whole.
In your favor of the 28th, you are desirous that a Court of Inquiry should be ordered respecting the charges contained in the Informations I enclosed you in mine of the 21st. If you conceive it necessary, I will do it with pleasure, if you will point out the mode to be pursued to me, the matters objected to you, appear so uncertain, vague and incredible, that there is nothing to found the proceedings on, were there the most distant necessity for the scrutiny—By reason of a paragraph in your letter of the 31st I mentioned the matter to Congress, to whom I had the honor of writing this day, and when at Philadelphia communicated it to some of them, on their reading your first letter in which mention was made of the subject. In doing this and giving you the Information I had received, I consider myself as having only discharged the duties of justice and of friendship.
I am sorry for the attack you have had of the Ague, and wishing you a perfect Recovery, I am &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.1
New York, 10 June, 1776.
Since I did myself the honor of writing to you yesterday, I have had the satisfaction of seeing, (and for a few minutes conversing with), Mr. Chase and Mr. Carroll, from Canada. Their account of our troops and the situation of affairs in that department, cannot possibly surprise you more than it has done me. But I need not touch upon the subject, which you will be so well informed of from the fountain-head; nor should I have given you the trouble of a letter by this day’s post, but for the distraction, which seems to prevail in the commissary’s department, (as well as others in that quarter); the necessity of having it under one general direction; and the dissatisfaction of Colonel Trumbull, at the allowance made him by Congress (as an equivalent for his trouble). With respect to this particular matter, I can only say, that I think he is a man well cut out for the business, and that, where a shilling is saved in the pay, a pound may be lost by mismanagement in the office; and that his resignation at this time, (I mean this campaign,) may possibly be attended with fatal consequences. I therefore humbly submit to Congress the propriety of handsomely rewarding those gentlemen, who hold such very important, troublesome, and hazardous offices, as commissary and quartermaster.1
In speaking to the former about the supplies necessary for the troops to be raised, he informed me, that the quantity of salt provisions, which was shipping from hence, might render his attempts to do it precarious; in consequence of which I desired him to lay the matter before the Convention of this colony, which he will do this day, but in the mean while desired Congress might be informed of the matter, which I cannot better do than in his own words enclosed, and submit the consideration of it to the wisdom of that honorable body. To Congress I also submit the propriety of keeping the two Continental battalions, under the command of Colonels Shae and McGaw, at Philadelphia, when there is the greatest probability of a speedy attack upon this place from the King’s troops. The encouragements given by Governor Tryon to the disaffected, which are circulated, no one can well tell how; the movements of these kind of people, which are more easy to perceive than describe; the confident report, which is said to have come immediately from Governor Tryon, and brought by a frigate from Halifax, that the troops at that place were embarking for this; added to a thousand incidental circumstances, trivial in themselves, but strong from comparison; leaves not a doubt upon my mind, that troops are hourly expected at the Hook.1
I had no doubt when I left this city for Philadelphia, but that some measures would have been taken to secure the suspected and dangerous persons of this government before now, and left orders for the military to give every aid to the civil power. But the subject is delicate, and nothing is done in it. We may therefore have internal as well as external enemies to contend with. I have the honor to be, &c.2
New York, 12 June, 1776.
Though I wrote to you but a very few days ago, and have nothing new of much moment to communicate, I cannot deny myself the comfort of unburthening my mind to you, whenever I have a little leisure, amid the thousand anxieties and disquietudes that almost distract me. I know the goodness of your heart, and that you will attend to me with indulgence and sympathy, though it be not in your power any otherwise to afford me relief. There cannot, in the nature of things, be a situation so truly irksome to an ingenuous mind, as the being perpetually obliged to act a part foreign to our true feelings; yet this, alas! as you know, is, and must be, my lot. I wear a countenance dressed in the calm serenity of perfect confidence, whilst my heart is corroded with infinite apprehensions, and I have no bosom friend near me, to whom I dare lay it open. Tell me, Lund, for you have long been privy to my most secret thoughts,—trusting to thy native candor, I have never hesitated to lay my heart bare and open to thy inspection; tell me then, am I, do you think, more subject to fears than other men? For I will not conceal it from you, that, at this moment, I feel myself a very coward. Do not mistake me; I thank my God, I have never yet known what it was to fear for any personal danger that might befal me. I am not afraid to die, why should I? I am afraid only to die with infamy and disgrace. And, if I am afraid so to die, need I tell you that I am ten thousand times more afraid to live, like Lucifer, a fallen angel. No, Lund, that were too much; betide what will, I cannot, and I will not survive either my misfortunes, or my disgraces. Heaven, that knows how truly I love my country; and that I embarked in this arduous enterprize on the purest motives. But we have overshot our mark; we have grasped at things beyond our reach: it is impossible we should succeed, and I cannot with truth, say that I am sorry for it; because I am far from being sure that we deserve to succeed. That the British Ministry had meditated schemes fatal to the liberties of America; and that, if we had not opposed their first efforts to impose taxes upon us, without our consent, we might have bid adieu to every idea of constitutional security hereafter, I have not a doubt. Nay, I am so thoroughly persuaded of the unworthiness of their designs, and of the duty of every honest American to oppose them, that, dissatisfied as I am with my situation, were it to do over again, I would rather be even as I am, than tamely crouch, whilst chains were fastening round my neck. For there is not, in my estimation, so vile a thing upon earth as a human being who, having once enjoyed liberty, can patiently bear to see it taken from him. I would, and I will die ten thousand deaths, rather than be this thing myself. On these principles, and these only, I first took up arms; but my misfortune, and the true source of all my uneasiness is, that though in good policy, as well as honor, these ought to be the principles of every American, I have long ago discovered they are not. And on this account alone, that I dread our defeat. Our want of skill, our want of ammunition, in short, our want of everything which an army ought to have, are all, no doubt, exceedingly against us; but, they are all nothing to our want of virtue.—
Unused to the many arts and devices, by which designing men carry their points, I unwillingly listened to my own apprehensions, when early in the first Congress, I thought I saw a tendency to measures which I never could approve of I reasoned myself, however, out of my fears, with no ordinary reproach on my own meanness, in having given way to suspicions, which could not be true, unless we had men amongst ourselves more flagitious than even those we were opposing. At length, however, when a continental army came to be voted for, my fears returned with redoubled force; for then, for the first time, I clearly saw our aims reached farther than we cared to avow. It was carried with an unanimity that really astonished me; because I knew many who voted for it, were as averse to the independency of America, as I was. And they even ridiculed me for my apprehensions on that account; and indeed, when they suggested that Great Britain, seeing us apparently determined to risque every thing rather than that they should tax us, would never think of engaging in a civil war with us, which must necessarily cost her more than even America could repay her, I could not but hope, that I was mistaken; and that our military preparations might be a good political movement. In one thing, however, we all agreed, that, as the forces were chiefly to be raised in New-England, it would be extremely rash and imprudent in the southern delegates to leave them in the possession of so formidable a power without any check. I need not tell you, that it was this consideration which, if I am to be credited, sorely against my will, determined me to accept of the command of this army. We set out with bad omens; I was mistrustful of them in every thing; and they were taught to look upon me with jealousy.
This soon manifested itself in forming them to any thing like decent discipline. But I have, long ago, pestered you more than enough with complaints on this head. I knew not, however, certainly, that I had been appointed to this high station only to be disgraced and ruined, till about the middle and latter end of last February.
When, contrary to my wishes, I found it absolutely necessary that we should come to open hostilities against our fellow subjects in the ministerial army; doubtless, common prudence required that when we did attempt it, we should, if possible, do it speedily and effectually. And having all the reason in the world to believe that large armies would be sent against us early in the summer, I resolved, cost what it would, to cut off those already here, which would have given us such infinite advantages over any future reinforcements that might be sent. And this I believe was easily in our power: but as I have already told you, nothing is to be done with our New England allies, unless they are let into all your secrets. I could not advance a step without communicating my intentions to the gentlemen in the civil department; a thing ever ruinous in war. It soon got wind, as I had foreseen; and it appeared that the general of the enemy was apprized of my design. Still, however I persevered in my purposes; which in spite of all his care and caution, I was confident must succeed, and reduce him to the utmost extremity. But (as every military man must know) so capital a blow was not to be struck without the loss both of many men, and much property!
For my design was, if they would not surrender by an honorable capitulation to burn the town about their ears, and so rush in, and cut them off in their attempts to escape to the ships. And this, with our superiority of numbers, we certainly could have effected; though, no doubt it would have been a bloody business, if they had not surrendered as I think they would. But when, as I was obliged, I laid this before the Council and Representatives, they not only found a thousand objections to it, but absolutely restrained me; and I could not have got a man that would have gone on what they called so desperate a scheme. Hence was I under a necessity of proceeding in the poor, slow, and un-soldier-like manner, which not only gave them an opportunity to escape, but has taught them to despise us. There is no forming an idea of the importance of such a stroke at that juncture. If any thing upon earth could have made America independent and glorious, that was the golden opportunity. I confess to you, I had worked my imagination up to such a pitch of high expectation, that my disappointment has dispirited me in a manner I never can recover. For, from that moment, I have despaired of our ever doing any thing truly great. Any little gleams of success, or fairer prospects we have since had, serve but to make our inferiority the more conspicuous. For what incidents can fall out to aggrandize us, who can be made great only by great and spirited efforts, when we have shewn that we wanted both the understanding and the virtue to purchase to ourselves immortal glory on better and cheaper terms than ever we can hope hereafter to have it? But the worst remains yet to be told. Some of those very men who were the most forward to thwart me in this measure, had discovered a different way of thinking on other occasions, and I am persuaded that were the question put to them now, as to this city, and the southern regiments, I should not hear a dissentious voice. But, let me spare you.
After all this, you will again, I doubt not, as you often have, ask me why I continue in a situation so disagreeable to me? I wish you had forborne this question, the truth being, that I neither am able, nor very willing to answer it. My resolution to hold it out as long as I can, is dictated by my feelings, which I neither can describe to you, nor wholly justify on paper, but which, however, I find it impossible for me to disregard.—The eyes of all America, perhaps, of Europe, of the world are fixed on me. It has been our policy, (and, at the time, I thought it well founded) to hold out false lights to the world. There are not a hundred men in America that know our situation; three-fourths of the Congress itself are ignorant of it;—yourself excepted, there lives not a man at all acquainted with my peculiar circumstances. The world looks upon us as in possession of an army all animated with the pure flame of liberty and determined to die rather than not be free. It is in possession of proofs, that it is so, under my own hand: I have always so spoken of it, and I still do. But, you know how remote, in my judgment, all this is from the truth, though I am not sure that there is another man in the army, besides myself, that thinks so. I should guess, however, that there are many. But, tied up as my own mouth is, it is little to be wondered at that theirs are so too, at least to me.
Thus, circumstanced, can you point out a way in which it is possible for me to resign, just now as it were, on the eve of action, without imputation of cowardice? There is no such way. Besides, diffident and desponding as I am, how do I know, that it is not so with those we have to oppose? they certainly have reason. The events of war depend on a thousand minutiæ without the ken of a mere by-stander. I know not that the commander of the armies of the low countries, could his heart have been read as you do mine, had not the same fears, and the same causes for them that I have. You learn not this from the history; nor was it to be expected you should. Yet, he succeeded at last And, who knows, what an over-ruling providence, who often brings about the greatest revolutions by the most unlikely means, may intend for America? If it be the will of God, that America should be independent of Great Britain, and that this be the season for it, even I and these hopeful men around may not be thought unworthy instruments in his hands. And, should we succeed, we are heroes, and immortalized beyond even those of former times. Whereas, disgrace only, and intolerable infamy await our retreat. In this persuasion, I resolve to go on, contented, with the glorious King William, to save my country, or die in the last ditch. I am, my dear Lund, your Faithful Friend and Servant.
TO GOVERNOR TRUMBULL.
New York, 10 June, 1776.
Before this, I expect you have received the resolve of Congress for augmenting our army here and in Canada, with their requisition for the quota of men to be furnished by your colony.1 I must beg leave to add, that, from the intelligence I have just received, and a variety of circumstances combining to confirm it, General Howe, with the fleet from Halifax, or some other armament, is hourly expected at the Hook, with designs doubtless to make an impression here, and possess themselves of this colony, of the last importance to us in the present controversy. Our works are extensive and many, and the troops here but few for their defence, being greatly reduced by the regiments detached on the Canada expedition.
In this critical conjuncture of affairs, the experience I have had of your zeal and readiness to assist the common cause, induces me to request the most speedy and early succor, that can be obtained from your colony, and that the militia may be forwarded, one battalion after another, as fast as they can possibly be raised, without waiting to make up the whole complement to be furnished for this place, before any of them march. I would advise, that they come properly provided with field and other officers, and that the person appointed by the colony to command the whole be here a day or two before them, to receive his orders, and to be in readiness to take the command on their arrival. It will be proper, too, that notice be sent a day or two before their coming, that provision may be made for furnishing and disposing of them in proper places. I have wrote a similar letter to the Jersey Convention, praying aid from them. I am, Sir, &c.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Head-Quarters,New York, 13 June, 1776.
I have the honor of transmitting to Congress a letter, which came by express last night from General Schuyler, enclosing the copy of a letter to him from Colonel Kirkland. I have likewise enclosed the copy of one directed to General Putnam, or the commanding officer at New York. The representations contained in these letters have induced me, without waiting the determination of Congress, to direct General Schuyler immediately to commence a treaty with the Six Nations, and to engage them in our interest, upon the best terms he and his colleagues in commission can procure; and I trust the urgency of the occasion will justify my proceeding to the Congress. The necessity for decision and despatch in all our measures, in my opinion, becomes every day more and more apparent. The express, Mr. Bennet, was overtaken at Albany by General Schuyler, who had received intelligence at Fort George, that a considerable body of Mohawk Indians were coming down the Mohawk River under the conduct of Sir John Johnson. The general’s extreme hurry would not allow him to write; but it seems his intention is to collect at Albany a sufficient force to oppose Sir John. I have given him my opinion, that Colonel Dayton’s regiment should be employed in that service, and to secure the post where Fort Stanwix formerly stood.
In consequence of an information, that several merchants were exporting salted pork and beef from this place, I requested the commissary to make application to the Provincial Congress for a restraint to be laid on the exportation of those articles, as I apprehended, not only that the enemy might receive supplies by the capture of our vessels, but that our people might shortly experience a scarcity. The Provincial Congress have accordingly made a resolution (a copy of which is enclosed) to stop the exportation for fourteen days. They expect Congress will in the meantime frame some general regulations on this head. They are unwilling, they say, to subject their constituents to partial restraints.
I once mentioned to Congress, that I thought a war-office extremely necessary, and they seemed inclined to institute one for our army; but the affair seems to have been since dropped. Give me leave again to insist on the utility and importance of such an establishment. The more I reflect upon the subject, the more I am convinced of its necessity, and that affairs can never be properly conducted without it.
T’is with pleasure that I receive the resolve enclosed in your favor of the 11th instant. One considerable ground of dissatisfaction in the army is thereby removed. I have employed persons in building the gondolas and rafts, which the Congress thought necessary for the defence of this place, and, in conjunction with the Provincial Congress, I have determined to sink chevaux de frise one of which is already begun. I am, &c.
TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL SULLIVAN, IN CANADA.
New York, 13 June, 1776.
Having received intelligence of the unfortunate death of General Thomas, occasioned by the smallpox he had taken, the command of the army in Canada devolves on you. I am therefore to request your most strenuous exertions to retrieve our circumstances in that quarter from the melancholy situation, they are now in, and for performing the arduous task of bringing order out of confusion. I confess there is more room for enterprise and activity, than I could wish; but then you will remember, that you and your colleagues will be entitled to the grateful thanks of your country, in proportion to the services you render.
Being extremely hurried in sending despatches to Congress and General Schuyler, I have not time to write to you so fully as I could wish; and therefore shall only add my request, that you from time to time make me regular returns of the strength of the army, military stores, and every material occurrence, & wishing you and your Brothers, under the direction of a gracious Providence, to lead your army to conquest and victory, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 14 June, 1776.
I herewith transmit to you copies of a letter from General Schuyler, and its several enclosures, which I have received since I had the honor of addressing you yesterday. From these you will learn that General Thomas died the 2d instant1 ; and the apprehensions of our frontier friends in this colony, that our savage foes are meditating an attack against them.
I must beg leave to refer you to a paragraph in the Copy of General Schuyler’s Letter to General Putnam or the Commanding Officer here, Inclosed in mine of the 13th where he requests a supply of clothing to be sent for the Army in Canada. As there is but little or no probability of getting it here, I shall be glad to know whether there will be any chance of procuring it in Philadelphia, and if it should be sent thro’ the hands of the Qr. Master here, to what account it is to be charged.
I was last Evening favored with yours of the 11th Inst. and hope the Two Battallions which Congress have ordered from Philadelphia to the defence of this place, will come provided with Arms; if they do not, they will be of no service, as there are more Troops here already than are armed.
From Genl. Schuyler’s Letter he has in view the taking post where Fort Stanwix formerly stood. I wrote him I thought it prudent previous to that, to secure a post lower down about the Falls below the German Flatts, lest the Savages should possess themselves of the Country, and prevent supplies of men and provisions that may be necessary to send there in future, he says he is in want of Cannon and ammunition, but has expressed himself so ambiguously that I am at a loss to know whether he meant what he has said, as an application or not, this being the only Intelligence on the subject and the first mention of his want. I have desired him to explain the matter and in his future requisitions for necessaries to be more certain and explicit as to quantity and quality. In the mean time I shall send him some Intrenching Tools and inquire whether there are any Cannon that can be spared from hence. I am, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL WARD.
New York, 16 June, 1776.
I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 27th Ulto. & of the 3d & 6th Instt. and in answer to the 1st think you was right in your direction to Mr. Barttoll about Brigantine Hannah as Mr. Morris had wrote for one.
The two schooners, considering their force and number of men, certainly behaved extremely well in repelling the attack, made by such a number of boats; and it is only to be lamented that the affair was attended with the death of Captain Mugford. He seemed to deserve a better fate.1
The determination of the Court of Inquiry upon Colo. Varnum’s complaint transmitted in that of the 3d, is very different from what he expected or I imagined it would be from his state of the case.—Whether it is right or wrong, it is not in my power to so determine, as the Evidence which was before them is not Inserted in the proceedings, which ought to have been, as I at this distance can have no other means to warrant me, either in confirming or rejecting the Sentence. I cannot but add that it seems extraordinary to me and exceedingly strange, that Capn. Lane should have been at so much trouble and expence to get the men without having a right to ’em—For which reason, to discountenance a practice extremly pernicious in its nature, of one officer trying to take away and seduce the men of another, and on account of the imperfection in the proceedings in not stating the matter fully & the whole evidence; the Complaint should be reheard and every thing appertaining to it, the manner of Inlistment &c. particularly specified for me to found my Judgement on.1
The arms &c. which you sent to Norwich as mentioned in the Invoice contained in that of the 6th are not Arrived—The number of Carbines is only half of what Genl. Putnam wrote for, as I have been Informed, and it is less by three hundred than I directed to be sent in my Letter from Philadelphia, of the 28 Ulto. This I suppose had not come to hand when you wrote, as you have not acknowledged the receipt of it.
I have inclosed two Letters for Majr. Small and Chs. Procter Esqr. supposed to be at Halifax, which being wrote with a design to procure the enlargement of Capt. Procter a prisoner on board the Mercury Man of War, or Induce them to intercede for a more humane Treatment to be shewn him, I request you to forward by the first opportunity by way of Nova Scotia.
I am this moment favored with yours of the 9 Inst. advising me of the capture, made by our armed vessels, of one of the transports with a company of Highlanders on board, and I flatter myself, if our vessels keep a good look out, as the whole fleet are bound for Boston, which sailed with her, that more of them will fall into our hands. This is a further proof that Governmt. expected Genl. Howe was still in Boston.
I am extremely sorry that your health is more and more impaired, and, having heard by a letter from Col. Hancock, that Mr. Whitcomb, Colonel Whitcomb’s brother, is appointed a brigadier-general, I shall order him to relieve you as soon as I am informed, that he accepts his commission; and if he does, you may immediately call him to your assistance, before I am certified of his acceptance. This will ease you of some trouble, till I can regulate a few matters of importance here, which I hope to do in a little time. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant.1
TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL SULLIVAN.
New York, 16 June, 1776.
I was favored with yours of the 5th and 6th instant by express yesterday evening from General Schuyler; and am exceedingly happy on account of the agreeable and interesting intelligence it contains. Before it came to hand, I almost dreaded to hear from Canada, as my advices seemed to promise nothing favorable, but rather our further misfortunes. But I am now hopefull that our affairs, from the confused, distracted, and almost forlorn state, in which you found them, will emerge and assume an aspect of order and success.1 I am convinced that many of our misfortunes are to be attributed to a want of discipline, and a proper regard to the conduct of the soldiery. Hence it was, and from our feeble efforts to protect the Canadians, that they had almost joined and taken part against us. As you are fully apprized of this, and conceive them well disposed towards us, with confidence I trust, you will take every step in your power to conciliate and secure their friendship. If this can be effected, & of which you seem to have no doubt, I see no objection to our indulging a hope that this country, of such importance in the present controversy, may yet be added to and complete our union. I confess this interesting work is now more difficult, than it would have been heretofore, had matters been properly conducted; but yet, I flatter myself it may be accomplished by a wise, prudent, and animated behavior in the officers and men engaged in it; especially if assisted by the friendly disposition of the inhabitants. I think every mark of friendship and favor should be shown them, to encourage their zeal and attachment to our cause, and from which if they once heartily embark we shall derive innumerable benefits.
Your conduct in pushing and securing posts low down the country is certainly judicious, and of the utmost advantage. The farther down we can take and maintain posts, the greater will our possession of the country be; observing at the same time the necessity of having a safe retreat left, if you should be obliged to abandon them by a superior force. I am hopefull and shall anxiously wait to hear of General Thompson’s making a successful attack upon the party intrenching at the Three Rivers. Their defeat will be of the most essential service. It will chagrin them and disconcert their schemes on the one hand, and animate our men and give life to our Canadian friends on the other, and efface from their minds the unfavorable impressions, our late conduct has made.
It will be of material consequence, in your advances down the country, to secure the several important posts as you goe; at which, you may in case you should be obliged to decline the main object you have in view, make a vigorous and successful stand in your retreat. I concur with you in thinking it not of material moment to keep a very large number of men at Lachine or the upper posts. There should be no more than will be necessary to repel such attacks and attempts, as may be made by the savages, and the regular troops above you; allowing for such a number of disaffected Canadians as may join them. But then there should be a sufficient number for that purpose, as our further misfortunes there might be of the most injurious consequence. If they can be maintained, the disaffected above will dwindle away, and the insurrection promise nothing disastrous.
It is impossible for me at this distance, and not acquainted with the situation of affairs as well as you, who are on the spot, to give any particular direction for your conduct and operations. I therefore have only to request, that you with your officers will in every instance pursue such measures, as the exigency of our affairs may seem to require, and as to you shall appear most likely to advance and promote the interest and happiness of your country. The return which you mention to have inclosed, was not in your Letter; you probably thro hurry forgot to put it in, or Genl. Schuyler may have omitted it when in his hands. I wrote you on the 13 Inst on this Subject and must again enjoin a particular attention to this part of your duty, it being of the utmost importance to be frequently certified of our whole strength and Stores.—In compliance with your request I shall transmit a Copy of your letter to Congress by tomorrow’s post. It will give them sensible pleasure and such as they had no good reason to expect, at least so soon.
I have inclosed you an Extract of a Letter from Genl. Ward. from the capture mentioned in it there is no reason to expect the other transports that sailed with her are not far off the coast.1
In regard to your giving Commissions, it is a measure that I can neither approve or disapprove, having no authority to act in this instance myself—The propriety of it, must depend upon the powers and practice of your predecessors in command—If they had none, it will be judged of most probably by the good or bad consequences it may produce—Congress from your Letter will see you have exercised such a power, and when they write you, will either confirm or refuse it in all probability.2
Lest you should conceive that I do not think Lachine or the Cedars posts of importance, and whose defence are not very material, I must then add, that I esteem them of much consequence but only mean that more men need not be employed than what will be equal to any probable attack that may be made against them.
I would observe before I have done that it is my most earnest request, that harmony, a good understanding, and a free communication of sentiments may prevail and be preserved between the general and field-officers, particularly the former. Nothing can produce greater benefits than this, nor tend more to promote your military operations; whereas history and observation sufficiently evince (they abound with numberless examples) the fatal consequences, which have ever resulted from distrust, jealousy, and disagreement among officers of these ranks. Wishing therefore your counsels and efforts to be founded in a happy union, and to meet the smiles of a kind Providence, I am, dear Sir, &c.
P. S. Knowing your great zeal for the cause of your country, and desire to render her every possible service, I must caution you not to put too much to the hazard in your exertions to establish her rights, and to receive with a proper degree of caution the professions the Canadians may make. They have the character of an ingenious, artful people, and very capable of finesse and cunning. Therefore my advice is, that you put not too much in their power; but seem to trust them, rather than do it too far. I would also have you to keep all your posts, as you goe, well secured, to guard against any treacherous conduct.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 17 June, 1776.
I last night received by Mr. Bennet your favor of the 8 Inst. addressed to Genl Putnam, or the Officer commanding here, covering one for Congress with a copy of Col. Kirkland’s to you—both of which I shall immediately forward to Philadelphia.
In consequence of your former Letters the Commissary has been directed to continue Supplies of Provisions, I shall repeat the direction and doubt not of his exertions in this Instance—If its arrival at Albany ceased for a time, it might be owing to the accounts received that a good deal, particularly flour might be had in Canada. I will speak to him about the expenditure of pork here, and request that no more be used than he may find necessary, that there may be a large quantity for the Canada department.1 I will also speak to the Quarter Master General to provide and forward all the clothing he can get as soon as possible.—As to Intrenching Tools, they are extremely scarce and what we have far too few, for the works carrying & proper to be carried on for the defence of this place—However I will try to furnish you with a few more, and wish your endeavors to purchase what you can from the country people—Many of them perhaps will part with a Spade or Pick Ax and some with both, and tho’ many may not be collected in that way, what are, will be of great Service.
If the accounts of Colonel Bedel’s and Major Butterfield’s conduct be true, they have certainly acted a part deserving the most exemplary notice. I hope you will take proper measures, and have good courts appointed to bring them, and every other officer, that has been or shall be guilty of malconduct, to trial, that they may be punished according to their offences. Our misfortunes at the Cedars were occasioned, as it is said, entirely by their base and cowardly behavior, and cannot be ascribed to any other cause.1
In my letter of the 7th, which will have reached you ere this, I enclosed a resolve of Congress for engaging the Indians, not more than two thousand, in our service. This will indicate to you their opinion; and knowing their sentiments fully upon this head, I cannot but advise, that you forthwith hold a conference with the Six Nations, and any others, you with your brother commissioners may think necessary; and form with them an alliance on such terms and conditions, as shall seem most likely to secure their interest and friendship, without waiting the further direction of Congress.1
The situation of our affairs will not suffer the delay, and I am persuaded your conduct, and the speech you intend to deliver the Sachems, will meet their approbation and thanks. I think that part of it, which mentions the time and place of our taking post, might be omitted; but this I leave to you. I shall inform Congress of what I have wrote you on this subject, and of the verbal intelligence you sent me by Bennet from Albany, where you overtook him, respecting the Indians coming down the Mohawk River under Sir John Johnson, and of your preparing to resist them. I sincerely wish you success, and that their first incursions and attempts against us may be attended with their entire defeat. It will be necessary to employ Colonel Dayton and his regiment in this service, and in securing a post where Fort Stanwix formerly stood, which I esteem of much importance; but I submit it to you, who are much better acquainted with that country than I am, whether, previous to that, it will not be necessary and essential, that a post be established lower down somewhere about the falls below the German Flatts, to secure our communication with that garrison. Should this not be done, will it not be in the power of the savages to come between that and our frontiers, and intercept all supplies of men and provisions going thither?
I observe you esteem the ground opposite to Ticonderoga to be more advantageous for a post against the enemy. Messrs. Chase and Carroll had told me the same. I should think, therefore, that the place most capable of defence, and having the greatest advantages, should be improved, and necessary works thrown up, with the utmost despatch. But will not both be best? Cannot Ticonderoga be kept, and this improved and maintained at the same time? I must submit this to you and refer you to my Letter of the 9th upon the subject of fortifying all the posts and about the Engineers. If you know of any persons, who can be of service in that way, do employ them. I know of none myself, or have I one whom I can possibly spare.
I have been applied to by Colo Nicholson who says he was appointed by Congress to the Command of a Regiment to be raised out of 2 Battallions of York Troops that were in Canada last year, for instructions for that purpose. As this concerns the department more immediately under your direction and with which you must be much better acqd than I am, I did not think it right to give him any direction about it, but if the fact is so, advise that you will give him such orders, that the views of Congress may be carried into execution as you judge necessary.1 In like manner I have had several applications from officers coming from the Canada department for pay that became due them, which did not conceive myself at liberty to comply with being ignorant of their appointments or service and as they will perhaps apply to you for certificates to lay before me, I wish you to be very explicit as to the time of their being in office and from which their pay is due.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 17 June, 1776.
The enclosed came to my hands as a private letter from General Sullivan. As a private letter I lay it before Congress.2 The tendency (for it requires no explanation) will account for the contrast between it and the letter of General Arnold. That the former is aiming at the command in Canada is obvious. Whether he merits it or not, is a matter to be considered; and that it may be considered with propriety, I think it my duty to observe, as of my own knowledge, that he is active, spirited, and zealously attached to the cause. That he does not want abilities, many members of Congress as well as myself, can testify; but he has his wants, and he has his foibles. The latter are manifested in a little tincture of vanity, and in an over desire of being popular, which now and then leads him into embarrassments. His wants are common to us all—the want of experience to move upon a large scale; for the limited and contracted knowledge, which any of us have in military matters, stands in very little stead, and is greatly overbalanced by sound judgment, and some knowledge of men and books, especially when accompanied by an enterprising genius, which, I must do General Sullivan the justice to say, I think he possesses.
But, as the security of Canada is of the last importance to the well-being of these colonies, I should like to know the sentiments of Congress respecting the nomination of any officer to that command. The character I have drawn of General Sullivan is just, according to my ideas of him. Congress will, be pleased therefore, to determine upon the propriety of continuing him in Canada, or sending another, as they shall see fit. Whether General Sullivan knew of the promotion of General Gates (at the time of his writing,) and that he had quitted the department he left him in, when he marched his brigade hence to Canada, I cannot undertake to say; nor can I determine whether his wish to be recalled would be changed by it, if he did. I shall add no more than my respectful compliments to Congress, and that I have the honor to be, with every sentiment of regard and esteem, Sir, &c.1
TO THE COMMITTEE OF ESSEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY.
The absolute necessity of preventing all correspondence between the Inhabitants of this County and our Enemies, obliges me to [use] every Degree of Intelligence that lead to the Channel of such Intercourse—Doctor William Burnet of New Ark1 can inform you of certain Informations and Charges against Part of the Army under my Command, as if they were liable to Bribery and Corruption in permitting Persons to go from Staten Island to the Men-of-War at or near Sandy Hook; and as the Person from whom he has received the Intelligence resides at New Ark within the District of your Commitee, I must request it as a Matter of great Importance that your Committee will as soon as possible call on David Ogden Esqr. to declare who the Person was, who informed him, that he had engaged the Guard of the Rifle-Men at Staten Island to carry him on Board the Men-of-War with all the Circumstances within his Knowledge and also that you do call on the Person whom he points out to be his Informant to declare every Circumstance within his Knowledge relative to the Matter.
TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF PENNSYLVANIA.
New York, 17 June, 1776.
I was this Evening honored with yours of the 15 Instt., and it is with no small degree of pain, that I am under the necessity of informing you, that it is out of my power at this time to comply with the request made by your honorable body.1 The many important works carrying on for the defence of this place, against which there is the highest probability of an attack being made in a little time, will not allow me to spare from hence any person having the least skill in the business as an engineer, nor have I but one on whose judgment I should wish to depend in laying out any work of the least consequence. Congress well know my wants in this instance, and several of my late letters to ’em have pressed the appointment of gentlemen qualified for the business.
Added to this on account of the deficiency, I have not been able to secure or improve two posts in the Highlands, esteemed of the utmost importance to prevent the enemy passing up the North River, and getting into the interior parts of this colony, should our attempts to stop them here prove ineffectual. But I beg you to be assured, Sir, and to Inform the Committee as soon as it is in my power, I shall with infinite pleasure direct a person to attend them for two or three days, if the service will not admit of a longer absence, in order to trace out such works and plans for carrying them on, as shall appear necessary; and wishing you to ascribe my noncompliance to want of ability, and not inclination to comply with your request, I have the honor, &c.
18 June, 1776.
My Very Dear Jack,
You have exceedingly obliged me by your letter which I received by yesterday’s post. It discovers an attention to the great affairs now carrying on, and an information concerning them, which I own to you, I had not given you credit for. Your youth and inexperience pleaded your excuse; and though you gave me no opportunity to praise you for any active exertions, I paid you no ordinary compliments, in my own mind, for your modesty in forbearing to meddle with things which it was no reproach to you to confess, were out of your reach. Considering your rank, fortune and education, whenever it is proper for you to come forward on the theatre, it must not be any underpart that you act. You are, therefore, certainly in the right to decline taking any part at all, till you are fit for a first and leading character. And you have my full and perfect approbation of your resolution to persist in your purpose, for the present, not to accept of any rank, civil or military. I see your anxiety, lest the present opportunity for signalizing your just love for your country should, by your unnecessary caution, be suffered to slip by you, unimproved. Your ardor is commendable; and far be it from me to discourage in you a spirit I so much love. But, whilst you retain these honorable principles, there is little danger of your wanting opportunities to call them forth into action. The momentous enterprize in which your country is engaged, is not to be accomplished in this or that year. If, in no longer a period than the siege of Troy, we bring all our mighty schemes to bear, it will be the greatest work that ever was perfected in so little a time. You have set your heart, you tell me on a military employment. This is the usual bent of young men; and, as it was my own, it will be with an ill grace, that I reprehend it in you. But, with the experience that I have had of it, I should be wanting in that love and esteem I owe you, should I hesitate to tell you that, as your father, there is not a profession you could have chosen in which I should not more cordially have concurred with you. Yet, I love arms; I am married to my sword, as well as to your amiable mother; and herein is my witness, that I am in earnest when I say death alone shall divorce me from either. I am not so blindly devoted, however, to my profession, as not to see by how frail a tenure I hold the little reputation I have in it. As a statesman, as a senator, it is in the general, sufficient that you mean well, that you are careful to qualify yourself to form a right judgment of the true interests of your country, and that, with the honest impartiality of a free man, you have still exerted, your best endeavors to promote those interests. But, with a soldier, success alone is merit; and there is nothing that can atone for the want of it. The world is a worse judge of military matters than any other. It would astonish you, to find, on a minute comparison, how very little difference there was in the skill and spirit which guided Braddock and Wolfe in the last actions of their lives. But, how different has been their fate!—I think, I am not without some talents for the line of life which has fallen to my lot. But, opposed as I must be by men, probably, of infinitely superior skill, and encompassed moreover with such hosts of other difficulties and discouragements as I am, it is not mine to command success, and when either my contemporaries, or future historians, shall sit in judgment on my conduct, if, haply, ill-fortune should overtake me, seeing our miscarriages only, and having neither curiosity nor ability to investigate the thousand causes which led to them, am I not too well warranted in concluding, that they will be attributed to mismanagement? Have I not then reason to wish that your choice had fallen on the quieter but not less important calling of a private gentleman, in which as a senator, you might have given proof of your abilities, in a way, in which fortune would not have had so great a share? But notwithstanding all this, and if after all, you be irrevocably determined to try your fortune in the field, and you can gain your mother’s and your wife’s consent, I here give it you under my hand, that you shall not want mine. Most certainly there cannot be a more honorable employment: and if, (which Heaven avert) Fortune should declare against you, my consolation will be, that I can assure myself, you will deserve to be successful. I will on the opening of the next campaign, procure you an appointment to the command of a regiment, either here, or in the southern wing. And if my opinion may have any weight with you, you will for many reasons, prefer the being stationed in some of the southern states. There is no fear of its being an inactive station. I have little expectation that this year will close with aught considerably decisive on either side: and if our enemies be able to hold out another campaign, it is most likely their policy will be, by means of their naval superiority, to carry on a kind of an incursive war, by making unexpected descents in different and distant places. Meanwhile, permit me to press you to persevere in your attention to military matters. The manual exercise, which you were so justly diligent to learn, whilst I was with you, is but the A. B. C. of your profession.
Neither will you profit so much as you might reasonably expect, from the study of those authors, who have written professedly on the art of war. This is like the learning the game of Whist by reading Hoyle. I have been witness to the mischievious effects of it. A man, book-learned only, does very well in the still scenes of marchings and encampments. But when, in the various bustles of actual war, a cause arises, as must often be the case, not described in his books, he is utterly at a loss. I would not, however, have you to understand me as if I meant to discourage your reading these books at all; so far from it, I would have you read them very often, and make yourself acquainted with the subject, as much as you can in theory. My caution meant only to guard you against placing too much reliance on them. Their best commentators, next to your own experience, will be, the historians of Greece and Rome; which it is your happiness to be able to read in the originals. But, the main and most essential qualification is an high sense of honor, an elevation of sentiment and a certain dignified stile of behavior that distinguishes, or should distinguish, a soldier from every other man. It is a shame indeed, if he who undertakes to command others, has not first learned to command himself. I will not endure any thing mean or sordid either in your principles, or your manners; having determined, if it were left with me, to be as strict and rigorous in these particulars, as were the knights of old, when a candidate was to be invested with the orders of chivalry. I cannot dissociate the ideas between a soldier and a gentleman; and however common it may be to give that last appellation to persons of every character, it yet conveys to me an idea of worth I want words to express. I am not solicitous to pay you compliments, even by implication; but, I may certainly be permitted to say, that if I had not known you to be a gentlemen, you never should have had my consent to your becoming a soldier.
Your observations on this important contest are just and accurate, and discover a reach of thought, and a penetration beyond what I had expected of you. What you say on the subject of independency is perfectly judicious, and, no doubt, highly worthy of all our most serious consideration. Yet, I have a presentiment, that it will take place, and speedily. Open and unreserved as my conduct towards you has ever been, I have no reluctance to confess to you, that the measure is diametrically opposite to my judgment; for I have not yet despaired of an honorable reconciliation; and whilst I can entertain but an hope of that, both interest and inclination lead me to prefer it to every thing else upon earth. Human affairs are oddly ordered: To obtain what you most wish for, you must often make use of means you the least approve of.
As in bargaining, to obtain a fair and equal price, you must frequently ask more than you wish to take. I do not really wish for independence. I hope there are few who do; but, I have never heard the reasonings of those, who have proved that, if we did not declare for it we should fail to obtain the constitutional subordination to which we are entitled, fairly refuted. I would not have you, therefore, hastily conclude that if, in this struggle, we fall short of every thing we have claimed; we are worsted; perhaps, the very worst thing that could befal us, is that we should gain all. I do assure you that, in my opinion, the next misfortune to that of being thrust from our just rank in the order of freemen, would be the giving us up, and leaving us to ourselves. But, this Great Britain will never do, voluntarily: for, if even she does, whatever may become of us, from that moment she may date the commencement of her own downfall.
I am exceedingly happy in the becoming moderation which you observe and endeavor to introduce towards the unhappy men whose political creeds differ from ours. But for this blot in her scutcheon, thrown on her by two many of her rash and unworthy advocates, by a contrary conduct, this effort of America would have done her honor, even though she had failed. I am shocked at the instances of intolerance I daily hear of, and have no power to prevent. But, like the other evils of war, it is a calamity that unavoidably grows out of such a convulsion; and one might as well hope to stem the fury of a torrent, as to give laws to an outraged people. It is, however, the duty of every true friend to liberty, by every gentle and conciliatory means in his power to restrain it. And, I am happy to find this sentiment daily becoming more general amongst us. All things considered, I cannot but think, it not a little to our honor that things have not been carried to still a greater heighth in this way.
Remember me affectionately to Nelly, and tell her, that though I should be most happy to see her, I may not hope for that happiness speedily; as the din of arms, I imagine, would be but unpleasing entertainment to her; and I have little prospect of any leisure, at least before we go into winter quarters. I hope Mr. Calvert, and all the family are well; I beg to be remembered to them, I will write to your mother in a few days. You are very good in leaving her alone as little as may be. Continue to write to me frequently, freely, and fully; the hearing of my dearest friends and family’s welfare being the only true happiness I have any chance to enjoy amidst the perpetual hurry in which I live.
I am my dear Jack,
Your very affectionate Friend and Father,
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 20 June, 1776.
I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 14th and 18th instant, and the interesting resolves contained in them, with which I have been honored. The several matters recommended to my attention shall be particularly regarded, and the directions of Congress and your requests complied with in every instance, as far as in my power.
The instituting a war-office is certainly an event of great importance, and, in all probability, will be recorded as such in the historic page. The benefits derived from it, I flatter myself, will be considerable, though the plan upon which it is first formed may not be entirely perfect. This, like other great works, in its first edition, may not be free from error; time will discover its defects, and experience suggest the remedy, and such further improvements as may be necessary; but it was right to give it a beginning, in my opinion.1 The recommendation of the Convention of New York for restraining and punishing disaffected persons, I am hopefull will be attended with salutary consequences; and the prohibition against exporting provisions appears to have been a measure founded in sound policy, lest proper supplies should be wanted, wherewith to subsist our armies. I have transmitted General Schuyler the resolves about the Indians, and the others on which he is to act; and have requested his strict attention and exertions in order to their being carried into execution with all possible despatch.
I note your request respecting Mr. Hancock—he shall have such directions as may be necessary for conducting his office and are happy he will have so early a remittance for paying the Troops in his Department.
The Silver and paper money designed for Canada will be highly serviceable and I hope will be the means of re-establishing our credit there in some degree with the Canadians and also encourage our men too, who have complained in this Instance. When it arrives, I will send it forward under a proper guard.
I have communicated to Major-General Gates the resolve of Congress for him to repair to Canada, and directed him to view Point-au-fer,1 that a fortress may be erected if he shall judge it necessary. He is preparing for his command, and in a few days will take his departure for it. I would fain hope his arrival there will give our affairs a complexion different from what they have worn for a long time past, and that many essential benefits will result from it. The kind attention Congress have shown to afford the Commander-in-chief here every assistance, by resolving that recommendatory letters be written to the Conventions of New Jersey, New York, and Assembly of Connecticut, to authorize him to call in the militia in case of exigency, claims my thankful acknowledgments; and, I trust, if carried into execution, will produce many advantages in case it may be expedient at any time to call in early reinforcements. The delays incident to the ordinary mode may frequently render their aid too late, and prove exceedingly injurious.
I this evening received Intelligence of the 19th Inst. from Capt. Pond of the armed Sloop Schuyler of his having taken about 50 miles from this on the South side of Long Island, a Ship and a Sloop bound to Sandy Hook—The ship from Glasgow with a Company of the 42 Regimt had been taken by one of Commodore Hopkins’s fleet who took the Soldiers out and ordered her to Rhode Island—after which it was retaken by the Cerberus and put under the Convoy of the Sloop—As Captain Pond Informs, there were Five Commissd. officers, Two Ladies, & four privates on board—they are not yet arrived at Head Quarters—Inclosed is an invoice of what they have on board.
General Wooster having expressed an inclination and wish to wait on Congress, I have given him permission, not having any occasion for him here. He set out this morning. I have been up to view the grounds about Kingsbridge, and find them to admit of several places well calculated for defence; and, esteeming it a pass of the utmost importance, have ordered works to be laid out, and shall direct part of the two battalions from Pennsylvania to set about the execution immediately, and will add to their numbers several of the militia, when they come in, to expedite them with all possible despatch.1 Their consequence as they will keep open the communication with the country requires the most speedy completion of them. I am, &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 20 June, 1776.
I herewith transmit to you sundry resolves of Congress, respecting the Indians, the fortifying Fort Stanwix, and for rendering more easy and commodious our passes into Canada. As the resolves are of an interesting and important nature, I must request your particular attention to them, and most active exertions for accomplishing and carrying the whole into execution with all possible despatch.
I am hopeful the bounty, which Congress have agreed to allow, as you will perceive by the last resolve, will prove a powerful inducement to engage the Indians in our service, and their endeavors to make prisoners of all the King’s troops they possibly can.2 You will use every method, you shall judge necessary, to conciliate their favor; and to this end you are authorized to promise them a punctual payment of the allowance, Congress have determined on for such officers and privates belonging to the King’s army, as they may captivate and deliver to us.
June 21st.—I have this moment received your favors of the 15th and 17th, and, the post being about to depart, have not time to answer them fully. I shall only add, that Lady Johnson may remain at Albany, till further directions. I am, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 23 June, 1776.
I herewith transmit you an extract of a letter from General Ward, which came to hand by last night’s post, containing the agreeable intelligence of their having obliged the King’s ships to leave Nantasket Road, and of two transports more being taken by our armed vessels, with two hundred and ten Highland troops on board.1
I sincerely wish the like success had attended our arms in another quarter; but it has not. In Canada, the situation of our affairs is truly alarming. The enclosed copies of Generals Schuyler’s, Sullivan’s, and Arnold’s letters will inform you, that General Thompson has met with a repulse at Three Rivers, and is now a prisoner in the hands of General Burgoyne, who, these accounts say, is arrived with a considerable army.1 Nor do they seem to promise an end to our misfortunes here; it is greatly to be feared, that the next advices from thence will be, that our shattered, divided, and broken army, as you will see by the return, have been obliged to abandon the country, and retreat, to avoid a greater calamity, that of being cut off or becoming prisoners. I will be done upon the subject, and leave you to draw such conclusions as you conceive, from the state of facts, are most likely to result; only adding my apprehensions, that one of the latter events, either that they are cut off, or become prisoners, has already happened, if they did not retreat while they had an opportunity. General Schuyler and General Arnold seem to think it extremely probable; and if it has taken place, it will not be easy to describe all the fatal consequences that may flow from it. At least our utmost exertions will be necessary, to prevent the advantages they have gained from being turned to our greater misfortunes. General Gates will certainly set out tomorrow, and would have gone before now, had he not expected to receive some particular instructions from Congress, which Colonel Braxton said he imagined would be given and transmitted here.
Enclosed is a copy of a letter from General Arnold, respecting some of the Indian tribes, to General Schuyler, and of a talk had at Albany with thirteen of the Oneidas. They seemed then to entertain a friendly disposition towards us, which I wish may not be changed by the misfortunes we have sustained in Canada. I have the honor to be &c.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL GATES.
The honorable Continental Congress, reposing the greatest confidence in your wisdom and experience, have directed me to appoint you to the very important command of the troops of the United Colonies in Canada, with power to appoint a deputy adjutant-general, a deputy quartermaster-general, a deputy mustermaster-general, and such other officers as you shall find necessary for the good of the service. You are also empowered to fill up all vacancies in the army in Canada, and notify the same to Congress for their approbation.
You are also authorized, until the first of October next, to suspend any officers and fill up all vacancies, transmitting to the honorable Congress such order and suspension, giving your reasons therefor, and specifying the particular charge made against such officer. You are directed, previous to your departure, to consult with the commissary-general, and concert with him the most effectual measures for continuing proper supplies of provisions for that department. You are in like manner to consult with Colonel Knox about the artillery, which may be wanted, and what may probably be procured there; and whether any brass or iron field-pieces can be spared from hence for that service.
Upon your arrival in Albany, you will consult with general Schuyler, in regard to the present state of provisions and stores, and fix upon some certain means of forwarding the regular supplies in future from that place. At the same time endeavor to learn whether supplies heretofore sent have not reached that department, and by what means such failures have happened that a proper remedy may be provided. From General Schuyler you will also receive such advice and information, respecting the operations of the campaign, as may be useful and necessary. You are to direct all the general officers, deputy quartermaster-general, local commissaries, paymaster in Canada, and all other persons there, or on the communication, without delay to render their accounts and settle them. No general officer on such settlement is to receive pay as colonel of a regiment, nor any field-officer as captain of a company.
Upon your taking the command of the troops, you will give particular orders, agreeably to a rule of Congress, that no officer shall suttle or sell to the soldiers, on penalty of being fined one month’s pay, and being dismissed the service with infamy; that all sales of arms, clothing, ammunition, and accoutrements, made by soldiers, are to be deemed void; and that the baggage of officers and soldiers is hereafter to be regulated conformably to the rules of the British army.
By a like resolve no troops in Canada are to be disbanded there, but all soldiers in that country ordered to be disbanded, or, their times of enlistment being expired, refusing to re-enlist, shall be sent under proper officers to Ticonderoga, or such other posts on the lakes, as you shall direct, where they are to be mustered, and the arms, accoutrements, blankets, and utensils, which they may have belonging to the public, shall be delivered up and deposited in the public store. You will, as soon as possible, make as accurate a return as you can procure of the troops, artillery, arms, ammunition, provisions, and stores, which you find in Canada, or upon the communication with Albany, distinguishing where stationed, and in what magazines; and, if possible, transmit such a return to the honorable Continental Congress, and to me, once a fortnight.
The distance of the scene, and the frequent changes, which have happened in the state of our affairs in Canada, do not allow me to be more particular in my instructions. The command is important, the service difficult but honorable, and I most devoutly pray, that Providence may crown our arms with abundant success. Given under my hand at Head-Quarters, New York, June 24th, 1776.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 24 June, 1776
On the 20 Inst. I received your two favors of the 15th & 17th by Bennet, and yesterday evening that of the 19 continued to the 20th, with Genl. Sullivan’s Letter and return, and the several Copies you Inclosed. The accounts transmitted by General Sullivan are truly alarming, and I confess I am not without apprehension lest the next advices should be, that the unfortunate defeat and taking of General Thompson have been succeeded by an event still more unfortunate, the destruction of a large part if not the whole of our army in that quarter. The weak, divided, and disheartened state, in which General Sullivan represents it to be, does not seem to promise any thing much more favorable, and is what General Arnold appears to be suspicious of. From the whole of the accounts, supposing the facts all true, there was nothing left to prevent their ruin, but a retreat.1 That, I hope, has been made, as the only means of saving themselves, and rendering their country the least service.
By reason of the succession of ills, that has attended us there of late, and this last one, I fear we must give up all hopes of possessing that country, of such importance in the present controversy, and that our views and utmost exertions must be turned to prevent the incursions of the enemy into our colonies. To this end, I must pray your strictest attention, and request that you will use all the means in your power to fortify and secure every post and place of importance on the communication. You are as much impressed with the necessity of the measure, as any man can be; and with confidence I trust, that nothing you can do will be wanting to effect it. If the troops have retreated, they will in a little time, I am hope-full, complete such works on the passes, as to bid defiance to the most vigorous efforts of the enemy to penetrate our country; especially when you are assisted by the militia, who most probably are on their march ere now. Had this unfortunate defeat not happened, the militia were designed, not only to reinforce the army in Canada, but to keep up the communication with that province, as you will see by recurring to the resolve directing them to be employed.1
Major-General Gates, whom Congress had appointed to command after General Thomas’s death, will set out to-morrow and take with him one hundred Barrells of powder out of which the supplies necessary for the different posts must be drawn.
I have also directed Col. Knox to send up the Cannon you wrote for, if they can be possibly spared from hence, with some artillerists, &c, a proper quantity of Ball and other necessaries for them, and will in every instance afford you all the assistance I can. At the same time I wish if there are any Cannon at Ticonderoga, or other necessaries there or elsewhere, that you may want and which can be spared for any other post or purpose, that you would get them in preference to any here, as the number we have is not more [than] sufficient for the extensive and important works necessary to be maintained for the defence of this place.
In respect to the proceedings of the Commissioners for raising two companies of the Mohekans or and Connecticut Indians, they appear to me not to answer the views of Congress, as I presume they live within the Government of Connecticut and are to be considered in the same light with its Inhabitants; and that their design was extended to those who were not livers among us, and were of Hostile character or doubtfull friendship. But in this I may be mistaken and there may be a necessity of engaging those you have to secure their Interest.
As to your doubts about the Officer Commanding in Canada, his right to punish capitally, I should suppose that necessity, independent of any thing else, would Justify the exercise of such an authority; but Congress having determined, that the Commanding officer there should inflict exemplary punishmt on those who violate the military regulations established by them has put the matter out of question and I apprehend every Commander there has such power and of right may and should exercise it.
As Colonel Parsons has requested you to send down the person, who is supposed to have murdered his brother, I have no objection to your doing it, if you judge necessary. He, from what I have been told, designs to apply to Congress for instituting some mode of trial for the offence.
I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
24 June, 1776.
My Dearest Life and Love,
You have hurt me, I know not how much, by the insinuation in your last, that my letters to you have lately been less frequent, because I have felt less concern for you. The suspicion is most unjust;—may I not add, it is most unkind? Have we lived, now almost a score of years, in the closest and dearest conjugal intimacy to so little purpose, that, on an appearance only of inattention to you, and which you might have accounted for in a thousand ways more natural and more probable, you should pitch upon that single motive which alone is injurious to me? I have not, I own, wrote so often to you as I wished and as I ought. But think of my situation, and then ask your heart, if I be without excuse. We are not my dearest, in circumstances the most favorable to our happiness: but let us not, I beseech you, idly make them worse, by indulging suspicions and apprehensions which minds in distress are but apt to give way to. I never was, as you have often told me, even in my better and more disengaged days, so attentive to the little punctilios of friendship, as, it may be, became me: but my heart tells me, there never was a moment in my life, since I first knew you, in which it did not cleave and cling to you with the warmest affection; and it must cease to beat, ere it can cease to wish for your happiness, above any thing on earth.
I congratulate you most cordially on the fair prospect of recovery of your amiable daughter-in-law; nor can I wonder, that this second loss of a little one should affect you, I fear the fatigues of the journey, and the perpetual agitations of a camp, were too much for her. They are, however, both young and healthy; so that there can be little doubt of their soon repairing the loss.
And now will my dearest love permit me, a little more earnestly than I have ever yet done, to press you to consent to that so necessary, so safe and so easy, though so dreadful a thing—The being innoculated. It was always advisable; but at this juncture it seems to be almost absolutely necessary.
I am far from sure, that, that restless madman, our quondam Governor, from the mere lust of doing mischief, will not soon betake himself to the carrying on a predatory war in our rivers. And as Potomack will certainly be thought most favorable for his purposes, as affording him scope to keep without the reach of annoyance. I have little reason, to flatter myself that it would not be particularly pleasing to him, to vent his spite at my house. Let him; it would affect me only as it might affect you; and, for this reason, among others, I wish you out of his reach. Yet I think I would not have you quit your house, professedly, from an apprehension of a visit from him. An appearance of fearfulness and timidity, even in a woman of my family, might have a bad effect; but, I must be something more or less than man, not to wish you out of the way of a danger, which to say the least, must be disagreeable to you, and could do good to no one. All this makes for your going to Philadelphia, a place of perfect security; and it would almost be worth while to be innoculated, if it were only for the fair pretence it furnishes you with of quitting Virginia, at a time when I could not but be exceedingly uneasy at your remaining in it. But I flatter myself, any further argument will be unnecessary, when I shall add, as I now do, that till you have had the smallpox, anxiously as else I should wish for it, I never can think of consenting to your passing the winter here in quarters with me.
I would have Lund Washington immediately remove all the unmarried and suspicious of the slaves to the quarters in Frederick. The Harvesting must be got in by hirelings. Let him not keep any large stock of grain trod out, especially at the mill, or within the reach of water carriage; in particular, let as little as may be, be left at Clifton’s quarters. It will not be too late, even in the first week of July, to sow the additional supply of hemp and flax-seed, which Mr. Mifflin has procured for me in Philadelphia; and which I hope will be with you before this letter. For obvious reasons, you will not sow it on the island, nor by the water side. But I hope you will have a good account of your crop on the Ohio. If Bridgey continues refractory and riotous, though I know you can ill spare him, let him by all means be sent off, as I hope Jack Custis’s boy Joe already is, for his sauciness at Cambridge.
My attention is this moment called off to the discovery, or pretended discovery, of a plot. It is impossible, as yet, to develope the mystery in which it either is, or is supposed to be involved. Thus much only I can find out with certainty, that it will be a fine field for a war of lies on both sides. No doubt it will make a good deal of noise in the country; and there are who think it useful to have the minds of the people kept constantly on the fret by rumors of this sort. For my part, I who am said to be the object principally aimed at in it, find myself perfectly at my ease; and I have mentioned it to you only from an apprehension that, hearing it from others and not from me, you might imagine that I was in the midst of danger that I knew not of.
The perpetual solicitude of your poor heart about me, is certainly highly flattering to me; yet I should be happy to be able to quiet your fears. Why do you complain of my reserve? Or, how could you imagine that I distrusted either your prudence or your fidelity? I have the highest opinion of them both. But why should I teaze you with tedious details of schemes and views which are perpetually varying? and which therefore might not improbably mislead, where I meant to inform you? Suffice it that I say, what I have often before told you, that, as far as I have the control of them, all our preparations of war, aim only at peace. Neither do I, at this moment, see the least likelihood of there being any considerable military operations this season; and, if not in this season certainly in no other. It is impossible to suppose, that, in the leisure, and quiet of winter quarters, men will not have virtue to listen to the dictates of plain common sense and sober reason. The only true interest of both sides is reconciliation; nor can there be a point in the world clearer, than that both sides must be losers by war, in a manner which even peace will not compensate for. We must, at last, agree and be friends; for we cannot live without them, and they will not without us: and a byestander might well be puzzled to find out, why as good terms cannot be given and taken now, as when we shall have well nigh ruined each other by the mutual madness of cutting one another’s throats. For all these reasons, which cannot but be as obvious to the English commissioners, and ours, as they are to me, I am at a loss to imagine how any thing can arise to obstruct a negotiation, and, of consequence, a pacification. You, who know my heart, know that there is not a wish nearer to it than this is; but I am prepared for every event, one only excepted—I mean a dishonorable peace. Rather than that, let me, though with the loss of every thing else I hold dear, continue this horrid trade, and by the most unlikely means, be the unworthy instrument of preserving political security and happiness to them, as well as to ourselves.—Pity this cannot be accomplished without fixing on me that sad name, Rebel. I love my king; you know I do: a soldier, a good man cannot but love him. How peculiarly hard then is our fortune to be deemed traitors to so good a king! But I am not without hopes, that even he will yet see cause to do me justice; posterity I am sure will. Mean while I comfort myself with the reflection that this has been the fate of the best and bravest men, even of the Barons who obtained Magna Charta, whilst the dispute was pending. This, however, anxiously as I wish for it, it is not mine to command; I see my duty; that of standing up for the liberties of my country; and whatever difficulties and discouragements lie in my way, I dare not shrink from it; and I rely on that Being, who has not left to us the choice of duties, that, whilst I conscientiously discharge mine, I shall not finally lose my reward. If I really am not a bad man, I shall not long be so set down.
Assure yourself, I will pay all possible attention to your recommendations. But happy as I am in an opportunity of obliging you, even in the smallest things, take it not amiss, that I use the freedom with you to whisper in your ear, to be sparing of them. You know how I am circumstanced: hardly the promotion of a subaltern is left me. And, free and independent as I am, I resolve to remain so. I owe the Congress no obligations for any personal favors done to myself; nor will I run in debt to them for favors to others. Besides, I am mortified to have to ask of them, what, in sound policy (if other motives had been wanting) they ought to have granted to me, unasked. I cannot describe to you the inconveniences this army suffers for want of this consequence being given to its commander in chief. But, as these might be increased, were my peculiar situation in this respect generally known, I forbear; only enjoining you a cautious silence on this head.—In a regular army, our Virginia young men, would certainly, in general, make the best officers; but I regret that they have not now put it in my power justly to pay them this compliment. They dislike their northern allies; and this dislike is the source of infinite mischiefs and vexations to me. In the many disputes and quarrels of this sort which we have had, one thing has particularly struck me. My countrymen are not inferior in understanding; and are certainly superior in that distinguished spirit and high sense of honor which should form the character of an officer. Yet, somehow or other, it forever happens, that in every altercation, they are proved to be in the wrong; and they expect of me attentions and partialities which it is not in my power to shew them.
Let me rely that your answer to this will be dated in Philadelphia. If I am not very busily engaged, (which I hope may not be the case,) perhaps I may find ways and means to pay you a visit of a day or two; but this I rather hint as what I wish, than what I dare bid you expect. If you still think the fragments of the set of greys I bought of Lord Botetourt unequal to the journey, let Lund Washington sell them, singly, or otherwise as he can, to the best advantage, and purchase a new set of bays. I could, as you desire, get them here, and perhaps on better terms; but, I have a notion, whether well or ill founded I know not, that they never answer well in Virginia. I beg to be affectionately remembered to all our friends and relations; and that you will continue to believe me to be Your most faithful and tender Husband.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 27 June, 1776.
I this morning received, by express, letters from Generals Schuyler and Arnold, with a copy of one from General Sullivan to the former, and also of others to General Sullivan; of all which I do myself the honor to transmit to you copies. They will give you a further account of the melancholy situation of our affairs in Canada, and show that there is nothing left to save our army there but evacuating the country.
I am hopeful General Sullivan would retreat from the Isle-aux-Noix, without waiting for previous orders for that purpose; as, from Generals Schuyler’s and Arnold’s letters, it is much to be feared, by remaining there any considerable time, his retreat would be cut off, or at best be a matter of extreme difficulty. I would observe to Congress, that it is not in my power to send any carpenters from hence to build the gondolas and galleys, General Arnold mentions, without taking them from a work equally necessary, if not more so, here of the same kind; and submit it to them whether it may not be advisable as it is of great importance to us to have a number of those vessels on the lake, to prevent the enemy passing, to withdraw the carpenters for the present from the frigates building up the North River, and detach them immediately, with all that can be got at Philadelphia, for that purpose and carrying on those here.
I have the pleasure to inform you of another capture, made by our armed vessels, of a transport on the 19th instant, with a company of Highland grenadiers on board. The enclosed extract of a letter from General Ward, by last night’s post, contains the particulars; to which I beg leave to refer you.
I have been honored with your favors of the 21st and 25 Inst. in due order with their important enclosures, to which I shall particularly attend. I have transmitted to General Schuyler a copy of the resolve of Congress respecting the Mohickan and Stockbridge Indians, and directed him to put an immediate stop to the raising the two companies.1
The Quarter Master General has been called upon for stopping the tents designed for Massachusetts bay, and ordered to forward them immediately—he means to write to Congress upon the subject and hopes his conduct will not appear to deserve their reprehension, of this they will judge from his relation of the matter.
Being extremely desirous to forward the intelligence from Canada to Congress, well knowing their anxiety about our Affairs there, I must defer writing upon some other matters I want to lay before them, till the next opportunity, which I hope will be tomorrow, when I will inform them fully upon the subject of Rations having desired the Commissary General to furnish me with some things necessary in that instance. I have, &c.2
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 28 June, 1776.
In compliance with the request of Congress, contained in your favor of the 25 Inst: and my promise of yesterday, I do myself the honor to inform you that the Cost of a ration according to the Commissary General’s estimate from the 1st of July to the 1st of December will be from 8d to 8½ York currency.
Having discharged the obligation I was under in this Instance and finding that many applications have been made for victualling the Flying Camp, I would with all possible deference wish Congress to consider the matter well before they come to any determination upon it. Who the Gentlemen are that have made offers upon this occasion I know not, consequently my Objections to their appointment cannot, proceed from personal dislike, nor have I it in view to serve Mr. Trumbull, the Commissary General, by wishing him to have the direction of the whole supplies for his emolument, because whatever rations are taken from him, save him the trouble of supplying Provisions to the amount, without diminishing his pay, that being fixed and certain; but what Influences me, is a regard to the public good. I am morally certain if the Business is taken out of Mr. Trumbulls hands and put into anothers, that it may, and will in all probability be attended with great and many Inconveniences.
It is likely, during the continuance of the War between us and Great Britain, that the Army here or part of it, and the Troops composing the Flying Camp will be frequently joined and under the necessity of affording each other mutual aid. If this event is probable, and most certainly it is, the same confusion and disorder will result from having two Commissaries or one Commissary and one Contractor in the same Army, in the same department, as did between Mr. Trumbull and Mr. Livingston on the coming of the former to New York.
I cannot discriminate the two cases, and not foreseeing that any good consequences will flow from the measure but that many bad ones will, such as clashing of Interests—a contention for stores, Carriages and many other causes that might be mentioned if hurry of Business would permit, I confess I cannot perceive the propriety of appointing a different person or any but the Commissary. I would also add, that few Armies, if any, have been better supplied than the Troops under Mr. Trumbull’s care in this instance which I should suppose ought to have considerable weight, especially as we have strong reasons to believe that a large share of the misfortunes our Arms have sustained in Canada, sprang from a want of proper and necessary supplies of provisions.
Mr. Trumbull too I am informed, has already made provision in New Jersey for the Flying Camp which will be stationed there, and employed proper persons in that Colony to transact the business incident to his department, in obedience to my orders and his full confidence that it was to come under his management. My great desire to see the Affairs of this important post on which so much depends, go on in an easy smooth and uninterrupted course has led me to say thus much upon the subject, and will I hope, if I am unhappy enough to differ in opinion with Congress, plead my excuse for the liberty I have taken.
I would also beg leave to mention to Congress the necessity there is of some new regulations being entered into, respecting the Chaplains of this Army. they will remember that applications were made to increase their pay which was conceived too low for their support, and that it was proposed, if it could not be done for the whole, that the number should be lessened, and one be appointed to Two Regiments with an additional allowance. This latter expedient was adopted and while the Army continued altogether at one encampment answered well, or at least did not produce many Inconveniences. But, the Army now being differently circumstanced from what it then was,—part here,—part at Boston—and a third part detached to Canada, has Induced much confusion and disorder in this Instance; nor do I know how it is possible to remedy the evil but by affixing one to each Regiment with salaries competent to their support no shifting no change from one Regiment to another can answer the purpose and in many cases it would never be done, the Regiments should consent; as where details are composed of unequal numbers or ordered from different posts. Many more Inconveniences might be pointed out, but these it is presumed will sufficiently shew the defect of the present establishment, and the propriety of an alteration.—What that alteration shall be Congress will please to determine.
Congress, I doubt not, will have heard of the plot, that was forming among many disaffected persons in this city and government for aiding the King’s troops upon their arrival. No regular plan seems to have been digested; but several persons have been enlisted, and sworn to join them. The matter, I am in hopes, by a timely discovery, will be suppressed and put a stop to. Many citizens and others, among whom is the mayor, are now in confinement. The matter has been traced up to Governor Tryon; and the mayor appears to have been a principal agent or go-between him and the persons concerned in it. The plot had been communicated to some of the army, and part of my guard engaged in it. Thomas Hickey, one of them, has been tried, and, by the unanimous opinion of a court-martial, is sentenced to die, having enlisted himself, and engaged others. The sentence, by the advice of the whole council of general officers, will be put in execution to-day at eleven o’clock. The others are not tried. I am hopeful this example will produce many salutary consequences, and deter others from entering into the like traitorous practices.1
The enclosed copy of a resolve of the Provincial Congress will show, that some of the disaffected on Long Island have taken up arms. I have, agreeably to their request, sent a party after them, but have not as yet been able to apprehend them, having concealed themselves in different woods and morasses. General Gates set out on Tuesday with a fine wind, which has been fair ever since, and would soon arrive at Albany. I this moment received a letter from Lieutenant Davison, of the Schuyler armed sloop, a copy of which I have enclosed; to which I beg leave to refer you for the intelligence communicated by him.1 I could wish General Howe and his armament not to arrive yet, as not more than a thousand militia have yet come in, and our whole force, including the troops at all the detached posts, and on board the armed vessels, which are comprehended in our returns, is but small and inconsiderable, when compared with the extensive lines they are to defend, and, most probably, the army that he brings. I have no farther intelligence about him, than what the Lieutenant mentions; but it is extremely probable his accounts and conjectures are true. I have the honor to be, &c.
P. S. I have Inclosed a Gen’l Return—& It may be certainly depended on that Gen’l Howe & fleet have sailed from Halifax—
Some of the men on board the prizes ment’d in the Lt’s Letter were on board the Greyhound & saw Gen’l Howe.1
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 28 June, 1776.
Your favor of the 25th and its Inclosures with Gen’l Arnold’s of the same date I received by yesterday morning’s Express—that of the 24th came by today’s Post. I am sorry General Sullivan in the Situation our affairs were in should have stopped at the Isle-aux-Noix, until he could obtain orders for retreating further, thereby hazarding his army without a prospect of success, and rendering his retreat liable to an interception, or at least difficult, in case the enemy were in a condition to pursue their victory. For these reasons I cannot but approve your directions, and I hope they have arrived in time, if he had not before left the Isle-aux-Noix, by the advice of his council of war, and joint intercession of his officers. My letter of the 24th would show you, had it been received, that from his representation of matters I thought a retreat the only means left for the security of his army, and doing the least essential service to their country. If he gets off, I shall be happy that our loss was so inconsiderable in numbers, though I regret much the captivity of General Thompson.
I have wrote Congress about Carpenters on General Arnold’s letter, and having none to spare from hence, have pointed out the necessity of their sending some from Philadelphia if not there, withdrawing for the present those employed up the North River, deeming it a Matter of Infinite Importance to have a considerable number of Gundaloes on the Lakes to prevent the Enemy passing.
I have directed the Quarter Master General to procure and forward you the Anchors and Cables, Mill saws and files if to be had. I have also requested Colo. Knox to examine whether some more field pieces cannot be sent up, and I design to order a further Quantity of Powder to be forwarded you, to Answer two purposes, One, that you may have proper supplies for the several Posts and every contingency—the other because I do not wish to keep a larger stock here than may be necessary, least any unfortunate event should cast up, and we be deprived of more than we are yet able to loose.
I would have you make ready every thing necessary for taking post at Fort Stanwix; and, when you are prepared, to use your utmost industry for erecting and completing the work. Our most vigorous exertions will be required in every instance. I am convinced our enemies will strain their every nerve against us this campaign, and try to injure us wherever we may be unprovided. It will be extremely proper to forward on the militia for reinforcing the several garrisons on the communication, and securing the different passes. I wish they were not so slow in repairing to the places of rendezvous; but I would fain apprehend they will be in time to prevent any attempts our enemies may have in view. I am extremely sorry for your indisposition, and that you should be so harrassed by the ague and fever; and wishing you a perfect recovery from it and a speedy one, I am, dear Sir, &c.
P. S. Congress by a Letter I received from the President last night have resolved up on four Thousand men more to augment the Army in the Northern department and recommended the colonies of New Hampshire immediately to send one Regimt. of militia—Massachusetts two and Connecticut one—they have also resolved on a bounty of Ten Dollars for every Soldier that will Inlist for three years and requested the Several Governments who are to furnish militias to do it with all possible expedition.1
Our Armed Vessels at the Eastward have taken some valuable prizes,—and also three more Transports, safely brought in with about 320 or 30 Highland Troops well accoutred. Captain Nedel, one of Commodore Hopkin’s fleet took two also with about 150 more—he put all the prisoners on board one of the prizes we fear she is retaken—the arms he took into his own Vessell—the other prize was retaken and again taken by another of our Vessels—Yesterday I received a letter from Lt. Davison of the Schuyler Armd Sloop advisg that she with another of our Cruizers, had retaken 4 prizes, which had been taken by the Grey Hound Man of War—the prisoners on board the prizes Informed the Lt. that Genl. Howe was on board the Grey Hound and sailed from Hallifax the 9 Inst with 132 Transports—that they saw a Vessel the Evening before standing towards the Hook which they imagined was the Grey Hound, there is reason to conclude he is now there—The Militia ordered for the defence of this place come on slowly—not more than a thousand yet arrived—our force by no means so strong as It should be—It is said and I believe with authority that 20 Tons of powder and 2000 Sterlgs worth of goods have got into Providence.1
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 29 June, 1776.
I was last night honored with your favour of 26th Inst. and agreable to your request shall pay proper attention to the Resolves It inclosed.
I observe the augmentation Congress have resolved to make to the forces destined for the Northern department and the bounty to be allowed such Soldiers as will Inlist for three years. I hope many good consequences will result from these measures, and that from the latter a considerable number of men may be induced to engage in the service.
I should esteem myself extremely happy to afford the least assistance to the Canada department in compliance with the desire of Congress and your requisition, were it in my power, but it is not. The Return which I transmitted yesterday will but too well convince Congress of my Incapacity in this instance, and point out to them, that the force I now have is trifling, considering the many, and important posts that are necessary and must be supported if possible. But few militia have yet come in; the whole being about Twelve hundred Including the Two Battalions of this City and One Company from the Jerseys. I wish the delay may not be attended with disagreable circumstances, and their aid may not come too late, or when It may not be wanted. I have wrote, I have done everything I could, to call them in, but they have not come, tho I am told that they are generally willing.
The accounts communicated yesterday through Lieutenant Davison’s letter are partly confirmed, and, I dare say, will turn out to be true on the whole. For two or three days past, three or four ships have been dropping in; and I just now received an express from an officer appointed to keep a look-out on Staten Island, that forty-five arrived at the Hook to-day; some say more; and I suppose the whole fleet will be in, within a day or two. I am hopeful, before they are prepared to attack, that I shall get some reinforcements. Be that as it may, I shall attempt to make the best disposition I can of our troops, in order to give them a proper reception, and to prevent the ruin and destruction they are meditating against us.
As soon as the Express arrived last night, I sent the Letters for the Northern Colonies to the Qr. Master General with orders to forward them immediately.
When Monsieur Wiebert comes, (I have not seen him yet), I shall employ him as Congress have directed.—The terms upon which he offers his service, seem to promise something from him.1 I wish he may Answer, and be skilled in the business he says he is acquainted with.2
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 30 June, 1776.
I had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 29th early this morning, with which you have been pleased to honor me, together with the resolves for a further augmentation of our army. The battalion of Germans, which Congress have ordered to be raised, will be a corps of much service; and I am hopefull that such persons will be appointed officers, as will complete their enlistments with all possible expedition. I shall communicate to Colonel Stephenson and one of his field-officers what you have requested, and direct them to repair immediately to Philadelphia. It is an unlucky circumstance, that the term of enlistment of these three companies, and of the rifle battalion, should expire at this time when a hot campaign is, in all probability, about to commence.1
Canada, it is certain, would have been an important acquisition, and well worth the expenses incurred in the pursuit of it. But as we could not reduce it to our possession, the retreat of our army with so little loss, under such a variety of distresses, must be esteemed a most fortunate event. It is true, the accounts we have received do not fully authorize us to say, that we have sustained no loss; but they hold forth a probable ground for such conclusion. I am anxious to hear it confirmed.2
I have the honor of transmitting to you an extract of a letter received last night from General Ward. If the scheme the privateers had in view, and the measures he had planned, have been carried into execution, the Highland corps will be tolerably well disposed of; but I fear the fortunate event has not taken place. In General Ward’s letter was enclosed one from Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, who was made prisoner with the Highland troops. I have transmitted you a copy. This will give you a full and exact account of the number of prisoners on board the four transports; and will prove, beyond a possibility of doubt, that the evacuation of Boston by the British troops was a matter neither known or expected when he received his orders. Indeed, so many facts had concurred before to settle the matter, that no additional proofs were necessary.
When I had the honor of addressing you yesterday, I had only been informed of the arrival of Forty five of the fleet in the Morning, since that I have received authentic Intelligence from Sundry persons, among them, from Genl Greene, that One hundred and Ten Sail came in before night that were counted, and that more were seen about dusk in the offing. I have no doubt but the whole that sailed from Hallifax are now at the Hook.1
Just as I was about to conclude my Letter, I received one from a Gentn.1 upon the Subject of calling the Five Regiments from Boston to the defence of Canada, or New York, and to have Militia raised in their lieu. I have sent you a copy and shall only observe that I know the author well, his handwriting is quite familiar to me—he is a member of the General Court, very sensible, of great Influence, and a warm and zealous friend to the cause of America, the expedient proposed by him is submitted to Congress. I have, &c.2
[1 ]On the 3d, Hancock conveyed to Washington the thanks of Congress for the “unremitted attention you have paid to your important trust; and in particular, for the assistance they have derived from your military knowledge and experience in adopting the best plans for the defence of the United Colonies. . . . Having, therefore, fully accomplished the views of Congress in requesting your attendance in this city, I am commanded to inform you that they submit to your choice the time of returning to head quarters, well knowing you will repair thither when ever the exigency of affairs shall render your presence there necessary.”
[1 ]See this letter in Wilkinson’s Memoirs, vol. 1., p. 43.
[2 ]It was resolved, June 1st, that six thousand militia should be employed from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York, to reinforce the army in Canada.
[3 ]Congress had voted the raising of two thousand Indians for the Canada service. In reply, General Schuyler very naturally inquired where they were to be found, and added, that, instead of raising this number for the American cause, he thought that if they could be prevented from joining the enemy it was more than could be expected. The Indians had but one maxim in their alliances with the whites, which was to adhere to the strongest side, where they were paid the most liberally, and ran the least risk. Congress had small means, and were parsimonious from necessity. They were moreover averse at first to employing this kind of aid, and sought only to keep the savages in a peaceful neutrality. As this was not possible, from the fierce and warlike nature of these sons of the forest, and as the enemy has no scruples on the subject, it was deemed necessary by Congress to seek their assistance. No moment, however, could have been more unpropitious for such an attempt, than the present, when the declining state of affairs in Canada held out feeble encouragements to a people, who acted upon the principle and with the ultimate aim of the savages.
[1 ]General Schuyler soon afterwards went to the German Flats, where he met a large number of Indians from the western parts of New York, with whom a treaty was formed.
[2 ]From a letter of Jedediah Huntington to Governor Trumbull, dated the 6th, it is learned that the “army is as well prepared to meet the enemy (for its numbers) as ever it has been since its commencement—better discipline, more ammunition and good arms; although as to the latter article, there is too great a deficiency. . . . I count large to put down the number of our men fit for action here at five hundred each regiment, which amounts to nine thousand five hundred. Indeed I do not think we could turn out eight thousand well armed. . . . The inhabitants promise us three thousand of City Militia; but we do not believe we shall see half so many.”
[1 ]Sir John Johnson resided at Johnstown, in Tryon county, about forty miles northwest of Albany, and possessed large patrimonial estates in that neighborhood. Adhering to the royal cause, and having many of the Indians in his influence, as well as two or three hundred Highlanders, who were his tenants, an eye was kept upon his conduct. In January he had given his parole, that he would take no part against the colonies. See Remembrancer, vol. iii., p. 45. But General Schuyler received such intelligence as convinced him, that Sir John was secretly instigating the Indians, by which he had virtually broken his parole, and was likely to produce much mischief on the frontiers. To prevent such a calamity, he thought it advisable to secure Sir John, and quell the rising spirit of hostility, which he was fomenting among the inhabitants and Indians in that quarter. Colonel Dayton, with a part of his regiment then on its way to Canada, was despatched to prosecute this enterprise. But Sir John, getting notice of the preparations, and suspecting the object, made his escape to the westward, and sought security with the Indians, and a small British force on the lakes. Sir John’s papers were examined by Colonel Dayton, in compliance with his orders, and Lady Johnson was removed to Albany, where she was retained as a kind of hostage for the peaceable conduct of her husband. She wrote to General Washington, complaining of this detention and asking his interference for her release; but he left the matter with General Schuyler and the Albany Committee. Colonel Dayton was stationed for several weeks at Johnstown, with the troops under his command. Sir John Johnson returned not again; in the January following he found his way to New York, then in possession of the British army. He was a son of Sir William Johnson, so well known in the history of the last French war.
[1 ]Read June 10th.
[1 ]Duane had told Palfrey, the Paymaster General, that Boston was considered within his department, and that his accounts were to be audited in Philadelphia; but Congress does not appear to have made any formal announcement of the mode of payment. On the 7th Washington advised Major-General Ward to borrow the necessary money from the General Court, if the soldiers were turbulent and very importunate for their pay. On the 12th Congress elected Ebenezer Hancock deputy paymaster general for the eastern department, and sent him 150,000 dollars. He was a brother of John Hancock.
[1 ]Colonel Bedel, of New Hampshire, had been sent by Arnold to hold a narrow pass known as the Cedars, about forty-five miles above Montreal. An English force appearing, Bedel went to Montreal for reinforcements, and Butter-field, whom he had left in charge, surrendered on May 19th, almost without a show of fighting. Some reinforcements from Arnold, under the command of Major Henry Sherburne, were met and routed.
[1 ]“Resolved, That the pay of the Continental troops, in the middle department, be henceforth the same as that of the troops in the eastern.” Journals, 10 June, 1776. The pay of the Eastern forces being higher than that allowed those of New York, it was found that many from New York were enlisting in the regiments of New England. The Congress of New York, upon receiving a requisition from the Continental Congress, for more troops, sent Gouverneur Morris to Philadelphia to determine, if possible, this “odious discrimination,” with the above result.
[2 ]Arnold had marched against the British with the object of regaining by force the 470 Americans captured in the two engagements at the Cedars; but the British officer asserted that a massacre must ensue upon such an attempt, and Arnold was forced to be content with obtaining the Americans (save four officers, retained as hostages) on the condition of returning an equal number of British prisoners. This agreement was set aside by Congress. Journals, 10 July, 1776. This report was drawn up by Jefferson.
[1 ]Read on the 10th; referred to the committee appointed on the 6th, viz., Sherman, Wythe, Sergeant, F. Lee, and Gwinnet.
[2 ]The President of Congress had written two days before; “The enclosed letter from the Commissioners in Canada, I am commanded by Congress to transmit to you. The contents of it are alarming. Our army in that quarter is almost ruined for want of discipline and every thing else necessary to constitute an army, or keep troops together. The Congress, in this situation of our affairs, have resolved that General Wooster be recalled from Canada. I am therefore to request you will immediately order him to repair to head-quarters at New York.”
[1 ]Read 11 June, 1776. General Lee suggested that every effort be made to get possession of Detroit and Niagara, but Congress decided to attempt only Detroit.
[1 ]Read in Congress June 11th.
[1 ]Trumbull wished for a commission on his purchases; but Congress raised his pay to 150 dollars a month. Journals, 17 June, 1776.
[1 ]General Howe wrote from Halifax to Lord George Germaine, on the 7th of June, informing him, that the admiral had given orders to the cruisers off the northern coast to direct all the troops from Europe to proceed to New York, from whence they might be ordered to their respective destinations for the campaign; and he added, that he should himself precede the fleet in a frigate to New York, where he might consult Governor Tryon, gain information, and be prepared to concert measures for further operations. The plan was to make a landing upon Long Island, in order to secure the passage of the shipping into the harbor, which could only be effected by the possession of a commanding height near Brooklyn, which Howe had been given to understand, had been fortified. On the arrival of Clinton the “rebels” were to be forced from the island of New York. In case of such an event, it might be anticipated, that there would be some difficulty between General Carleton and General Howe, as to the command, since the former was older in rank, but General Howe assured the minister, that no such difficulty would arise, that he should yield the precedency to General Carleton when their forces were united, suggesting that the armies might be encamped separately, each general retaining command over his own division in whatever related to its internal management, subject to a single head in what pertained to the whole, as in the case of allied armies.—MS. Letter. Tryon was circulating a printed fly sheet, offering a bounty of land to all who should enlist in his Majesty’s service.
[2 ]“On Monday afternoon [May 27], Gen. Washington, the Members of Congress, Gen. Gates and Mifflin, reviewed the four battalions, the rifle battalion, the light horse, and three artillery companies of the city militia, amounting to near 2500 men, when they went through their manœuvers to general satisfaction. At the same time two battalions of the Continental troops were reviewed by the General. The Indians, who are come to town on business with the Congress, attended the General in reviewing the militia, &c.”—Boston Gazette, 10 June, 1776.
[1 ]After much hesitation I have concluded to print in this collection the so-called “forged” letters of Washington, first issued in 1777-’78. I have been not a little surprised to have had my attention many times seriously called to these forgeries, and to find how often they are referred to as genuine matter, in spite of the recorded denials of Washington, and of his intimates who were cognizant of his having repudiated them. In a letter to Timothy Pickering, 3 March, 1797, Washington in detail points out the forged letters, and in another to the historian William Gordon, 13 October, 1797, he reverts to them and his disavowal of their authorship. The purpose of the letters is apparent on their face, and it is said they were “industriously distributed” by the British when they first appeared; but they produced little effect. In the Du Simitiere collection in Philadelphia is a single folio leaf, on which is printed “an intercepted original letter from General Washington to his Lady in the year 1776.” This leaf was issued in 1777, but the matter had been derived from an English source; for in the same year a London printer (J. Bew) had printed “Letters from General Washington, to several of his Friends in the year 1776. In which are set forth a fairer and fuller view of American Politics, than ever yet transpired, or the Public could be made acquainted with through any other Channel.” The editor of that volume claimed to have received the letters from a friend “serving in a loyal corps under Brigadier-General De Lancey of New York.” This friend gave the following explanation of the manner in which he had become possessed of them: “Among the prisoners at Fort Lee, I espied a mulatto fellow, whom I thought I recollected, and who confirmed my conjectures by gazing very earnestly at me. I asked him, if he knew me. At first, he was unwilling to own it; but, when he was about to be carried off, thinking, I suppose, that I might perhaps, be of some service to him, he came and told me, that he was Billy, and the old servant of General Washington. He had been left there on account of an indisposition which prevented his attending his master. I asked him a great many questions, as you may suppose; but found very little satisfaction in his answers. At last, however, he told me that he had a small portmanteau of his master’s; of which, when he found that he must be put into confinement, he intreated my care. It contained only a few stockings and shirts; and I could see nothing worth my care, except an almanack, in which he had kept a journal, or diary of his proceedings since his first coming to New York: there were also two letters from his lady, one from Mr. Custis, and some pretty long ones from a Mr. Lund Washington. And in the same bundle with them, the first draughts, or foul copies, of answers to them. I read these with avidity; and being highly entertained with them, have shewn them to several of my friends, who all agree with me, that he is a very different character from what they had supposed him. I never knew a man so much to be pitied. If I remember right, you have seen, and have some knowledge of him; but it is impossible you could form so just an estimate as these letters will give you. They contain also, as you will find, a deal of information, not to be had anywhere else. I assure myself, therefore, you will thank me for the trouble I have taken in copying them for your perusal.”
[1 ]Congress had resolved on the 3d of June to reinforce the army at New York by thirteen thousand eight hundred militia, to be drawn from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey; and to establish a flying camp in the middle colonies, to consist of ten thousand militia from Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. These troops were called new levies.
[1 ]“Immediately upon receipt of this order, you are to repair to Long Island, and take upon you the command of the companies belonging to your regiment, posted toward the east end thereof, for the defence of the inhabitants, protection of the stock, &c. To effect these ends, you are to use every means in your power, as it is of great importance to prevent the enemy from obtaining supplies of fresh provisions and other necessaries. You are also to prevent, as far as in your power lies, every kind of correspondence and intercourse between the inhabitants and the enemy, seizing upon, and carrying before the Committees of Safety for trial, all those who shall be detected in such infamous practices.”—Washington’s Instructions to Major Peter Schuyler 10 June, 1776.
[1 ]He died of the smallpox, having taken the disorder without inoculation at Sorel. During his illness, General Thompson was at the head of the army. On the 4th of June, General Sullivan arrived at Sorel, and took the command.
[1 ]Read 15 June. Referred to the Committee of War and Ordnance.
[1 ]“The poor captain has since lost his life in a desperate engagement with thirteen boats from the men-of-war, which attacked and attempted to board him; but by a most brave resistance they sunk four of the boats and fought so warmly with their spears and small arms as to oblige them to quit him, though he had but twenty-seven men, and they five times his number.”—Abigail Adams to John Adams, 27 May, 1776.
[1 ]On May 13th Washington had called General Ward’s attention to a complaint made by Colonel Varnum in which it was charged that Ward had refused to order fifteen or sixteen men enlisted for Varnum’s regiment to join that regiment, and had allowed them to be re-enlisted in Colonel Phinny’s regiment, giving as a reason that Varnum’s had gone to New York. “If the facts are as set forth therein,” Washington wrote, “he must be redressed: for if such practices as he complains of are given the least countenance to, it will have the worst of consequences, by encouraging soldiers to shift from one regiment to another, and throw the whole army into confusion.” The petition of Varnum has been lost, but it implicated a Lieutenant Merril, of Phinny’s regiment, for enlisting men who had before been enlisted in another regiment. A court of inquiry was held, and Merril was declared to be not guilty of the charge laid against him, nor in any way culpable in the matter.
[1 ]“You are to repair to Fort Montgomery, and take upon you the command of the posts in the Highlands. . . . Use every possible diligence in forwarding the works at Forts Montgomery and Constitution, agreeable to late directions given to Mr. Bedlow, who will furnish you with the same: as it is proposed by the Provincial Congress of New York to recall their Commissioners from those posts, and leave the care of them altogether to the commanding officer of the Continental forces, and his order.
[1 ]Considering the actual state of things in Canada, General Sullivan’s letters were very extraordinary. In his description of affairs, they bore the most flattering aspect: yet twelve days afterwards the whole American army was driven out of the province, which all the officers on the spot, except General Sullivan, had foreseen and predicted.
[1 ]Capture of a transport with a company of Highlanders on board.
[2 ]“I do myself the honor to transmit to Congress a Copy of a letter covering Copies of other Letters which I received yesterday from General Sullivan.
[1 ]“I am informed that a Number of Persons on Long Island (by Character not the most friendly to the Cause of the United Colonies) have in their Hands considerable Quantities of Pork and other Provisions which they refuse to part with for Continental Bills.—they may have other reasons for their conduct still more detrimental and therefore I must beg the Interposition of your Congress in this Matter so as to prevent the Evils which are much to be apprehended—The Commmissary General will purchase all their Provisions at good Prices, and give them Continental Bills in Pay—Gold and Silver he has none—The Provisions are wanted for the Army, and those who are Well Wishers to the Cause, and live in exposed Situations will undoubtedly be glad to dispose of them.—the Disadvantages which may result to the Public by leaving them in the Hands of Men of a different Complexion are too obvious to need animadversion.—
[1 ]“Col. Bedel and Major Butterfield (for their bad conduct) are cashiered, and rendered incapable of bearing a commission in the army of the United States.”—Extract from a letter from Ticonderoga, 3 August, 1776.
[1 ]The Indians were to be engaged in the service of the colonies, to a number not to exceed 2000. (MS. Journals.) To encourage the Indians General Washington was authorized to offer them a reward of one hundred dollars for every commisioned officer, and thirty dollars for every private soldier of the king’s troops, taken in the Indian country or on the frontier. (MS. Journals, June 17th.)
[1 ]John Nicholson’s petition may be found in Force, American Archives, Fourth Series, vi., 823.
[2 ]The letter referred to is that dated 7 June, 1776, printed in Force, American Archives, Fourth Series, vi., 938. Compare letter of 5 June, on page 921 of the same volume.
[1 ]Read June 18th. Private.
[1 ]Chairman of the Committee of Essex County.
[1 ]Congress had authorized the Committee of Safety in Philadelphia to erect a redoubt at Billingsport, and throw obstructions across the Delaware at that place, for the purpose of opposing the progress of the enemy’s ships up the river, and had agreed that the same should be constructed at the Continental expense. The Committee had requested the Commander-in-chief to send them an engineer to plan and superintend these works.
[1 ]New York, June 24, 1776. Last Tuesday an elegant entertainment was given by our Provincial Congress, to his Excellency General Washington, and his suite, the General and Staff Officers, and the commanding officers of the different regiments in and near this city, when the following toasts were drank.
[1 ]The Board of War and Ordnance consisted of five members, with a secretary and the necessary clerks. It was the duty of this Board to obtain and preserve an alphabetical register of all the officers in the Continental army, with their rank and the dates of their commissions; to keep exact accounts of the artillery, arms, ammunition, and warlike stores, and to have the same under their particular charge; to provide for the forwarding of all despatches and moneys transmitted by Congress on the public service; “to superintend the raising, fitting out, and despatching all such land forces, as should be ordered for the service of the United Colonies; to have the care and direction of all the prisoners of war, according to the orders and regulations of Congress”; and to keep a careful record of all their letters and transactions.
[1 ]A point of land on the western shore of Lake Champlain, between Isle aux Noix and Isle la Motte.
[1 ]These works were of great importance in keeping open a communication with the country. They embraced the fort on an eminence near Hudson’s River, called Fort Washington, the redoubts at Jeffrey’s Point, and on the hills north and east of Fort Washington, breastworks at Kingsbridge, and Fort Independence on the north side of Haerlem Creek near its junction with the Hudson.
[1 ]Read June 24th. Referred to the Board of War and Ordnance.
[2 ]This resolve authorized General Washington to employ such Indians, as he should take into the service, in any place where he should think they would be most useful, and to offer them a reward of one hundred dollars for every commissioned officer, and thirty dollars for every private soldier of the King’s troops, that they should capture in the Indian country, or on the frontiers of the colonies.
[1 ]Several British armed ships had kept possession of Nantasket Road, from the time Boston was evacuated. On the 13th of June, in the evening, General Ward ordered five hundred men, and a detachment of the train of artillery with a thirteen-inch mortar, two eighteen-pounders, and some small cannon, under the command of Colonel Whitcomb, to take post on Long Island, and annoy the British ships. The necessary works were thrown up in the night, and the next morning the cannon and mortar opened a fire, and soon drove the vessels out of the harbor. The fleet consisted of thirteen in number, the Renown, of fifty guns, several smaller ships of war, and transports with Highland troops on board. They blew up the light-house as they went off, and put to sea.
[1 ]Two days after General Sullivan’s arrival at Sorel, he sent General Thompson, at the head of three regiments, to meet and attack the enemy at Three Rivers. By an unlucky series of accidents, his party was assailed and beaten, and himself and other officers were taken prisoners.
[1 ]Read June 25th.
[1 ]General Washington had been directed by Congress, on the 17th of June, to send General Gates into Canada to take command of all the forces in that province. He enjoyed a high popularity in Congress at this time. Richard Henry Lee, writing to Washington, June 13th, says: “It is more than probable, that Congress will order our friend Gates to Canada. His great ability and virtue will be absolutely necessary to restore things there, and his recommendations will always be readily complied with. You will find, that great powers are given to the commander in that distant department. The system for Canada, since the arrival of the Commissioners here, will, I hope, be of essential service to our officers. All good men pray most heartily for your health happiness, and success, and none more than your affectionate friend.”
[1 ]Arnold’s letter to Sullivan is printed in Force, American Archives, Fourth Series, vi., 796.
[1 ]Mr. Hawley pressed this subject in his letters of 21st and 27th of June:
[1 ]“The letter said to be the General’s, is partly genuine and partly spurious. Those who metamorphosed the intercepted original committed an error in point of time, for Mrs. Washington was with the General in New York at the date of it.”—John Laurens to his father, 23 January, 1778.
[1 ]“Although the commissioners have undoubtedly mistaken the intention of Congress, yet the terms, in which the resolve is conceived, viz.: ‘That the General be empowered to employ in Canada a number of Indians not exceeding two thousand,’ may at first view seem to confine their employment to the limits of that Province, and to give a latitude of construction as to the place in which they are to be raised. And in this sense they must have been understood by General Schuyler and the other Commissioners. I am, however, to request, you will give orders to have a stop put to raising the Mohickan and Stockbridge Indians as soon as possible.”—Hancock to Washington, 25 June, 1776.
[2 ]Read July 1st, and referred to the Board of War.
[1 ]“After Orders. Thomas Hickey belonging to the General’s Guard having been convicted by General Court Martial whereof Col. Parsons was President of the crimes of ‘Sedition and mutiny, and also of holding a treacherous correspondence with the enemy, for the most horrid and detestable purposes,’ is sentenced to suffer death. The General approves the sentence, and orders that he be hanged tomorrow at Eleven o’clock.—
[1 ]Lieutenant Davison gave intelligence, that he had taken four prizes, and that one of the prisoners said a fleet of one hundred and thirty sail left Halifax for Sandy Hook on the 9th of July, General Howe himself being on board. When the prisoners arrived at head-quarters, they confirmed this report, stating that they had been on board the Greyhound, one of the vessels of the fleet, and seen General Howe.
[1 ]Read July 1st.
[1 ]In communicating this intelligence, President Hancock wrote June 26th:— “It is scarcely necessary to mention the motives on which Congress acted, or to explain the propriety of the measure. The arrival of General Burgoyne with a large reinforcement, the known character of that officer for action and enterprise, the defeat of General Thompson with the troops under his command, and his being made prisoner, are so many circumstances, that point out the absolute necessity of being more expeditious in our preparations for the defence of that Province [Canada], and of increasing our force there. In this light I have represented the matter to the Convention of New Hampshire, and the Assemblies of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut, to whom I have wrote by this express in the most pressing language, urging them to send forward their Militia. As an additional encouragement, the Congress have resolved that a bounty of ten dollars be given to every soldier who shall enlist for three years.”
[1 ]“Officers are without delay to inspect the State of the Ammunition which the men have and get their Arms in good order for service and strongly to inculcate upon all Sentries especially upon night duty the greatest vigilance and attention. The soldiers on their part to be very attentive, and obedient to these orders, as a carelessness and neglect may be of the most fatal consequence.
[1 ]Antoine Felix Wiebert, a French engineer, who came “with such ample recommendation of his skill, that the Congress are desirous of having him placed in a situation where he may have it in his power to shew it.” Hancock to Washington, 1 July, 1776. His service appears to have been short, as General Putnam wrote, 12 December, 1776, of his “being confined in the Provost guard in New York because he refused to enter into the service of the Enemy.” In November, 1779, Commodore John Paul Jones appointed a Colonel Wiebert, “in the service of the United States,” governor of the sick, wounded, and prisoners in the island in the Texel.
[2 ]Read July 1st.
[1 ]Congress resolved, that four companies of Germans should be raised in Pennsylvania, and four companies in Maryland. They also resolved, that six companies of riflemen should be enlisted, four of them in Virginia, and two in Maryland, to serve for three years, and be formed into a regiment with three companies already raised in New York. Captain Stephenson was appointed colonel of this regiment.
[2 ]President Hancock had written:—“The loss of Canada is undoubtedly on some accounts to be viewed in the light of a misfortune. The Continent has been put to a great expense endeavouring to get possession of it. That our army should make so prudent a retreat, as to be able to save their baggage, cannon, ammunition, and sick from falling into the hands of the enemy, is a circumstance, that will afford a partial consolation, and reflect honor upon the officers, who conducted it. Considering the superior force of the British troops, and a retreat unavoidable, every thing has been done, which in such a situation could be expected. In short, Sir, I am extremely glad, that our army is likely to get safe out of Canada.”
[1 ]“Since Colonel Reed left this place, I have received certain information from the Hook, that about forty of the enemy’s fleet have arrived there, and others are now in sight, and that there cannot be a doubt, but the whole fleet will be in this day and to-morrow. I beg not a moment’s time may be lost, in sending forward such parts of the militia, as Colonel Reed shall mention. We are so very weak at this post, that I must beg you to order the three companies, which I mentioned in my last for Staten Island, immediately to this city. If Colo. Heard is the commanding officer, I must request you will lay my several letters, written to you, before him without delay.”—Washington to Brigadier-General Livingston, 29 June, 1776.
[1 ]Joseph Hawley. A quotation from the letter is given on p. 175, and the whole letter may be found in Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, i., 229.
[2 ]Read in Congress, 2 July.