Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, 20 August, 1776.
I was yesterday morning favored with yours of the 17th, accompanied by several resolutions of Congress, and commissions for officers appointed to the late vacancies in this army. I wrote some days ago to General Schuyler, to propose to Generals Carleton and Burgoyne an exchange of prisoners, in consequence of a former resolve of Congress authorizing their commanders in each department to negotiate one. That of Major Meigs for Major French, and Captain Dearborn for any officer of equal rank, I submitted to General Howe’s consideration, by letter on the 17th, understanding their paroles had been sent to him by General Carleton; but have not yet received his answer upon the subject.
In respect to the exchange of prisoners in Canada, if a proposition on that head has not been already made, and I believe it has not, the enclosed copy of General Carleton’s orders (transmitted to me under seal by Major Bigelow, who was sent with a flag to General Burgoyne from Ticonderoga, with the proceedings of Congress on the breach of capitulation at the Cedars, and the inhuman treatment of our people afterwards) will show it is unnecessary, as he has determined to send them to their own provinces, there to remain as prisoners; interdicting at the same time all kinds of intercourse between us and his army, except such as may be for the purpose of imploring the King’s mercy. The assassination, which he mentions, of Brigadier-General Gordon, is a fact entirely new to me, and what I never heard of before. I shall not trouble Congress with my strictures upon this indecent, illiberal and scurrilous performance, so highly unbecoming the character of a soldier and gentleman, only observing that its design is somewhat artful, and that each boat-man with Major Bigelow was furnished with a copy. I have also transmitted Congress a copy of the Major’s journal, to which I beg leave to refer them for the intelligence reported by him on his return from the truce.1
By a Letter from Genl Greene yesterday Evening he informed me, he had received an Express from Hog Island Inlet advising that 5 of the Enemy’s small vessells had appeared at the mouth of the Creek with some Troops on board—also that he had heard Two pettiaugers were off Oister Bay, the whole supposed to be after live stock and to prevent their getting it, he had detached a party of Horse & Two Hundred & Twenty men, among ’em Twenty Rifle men. I have not received further intelligence upon the subject.
I am also advised by the examination of a Captain Britton (master of a vessel that had been taken), transmitted to me by General Mercer, that the general report among the enemy’s troops, was, when he came off, that they were to attack Long Island, and to secure our works there if possible, at the same time that another part of their army was to land above this city. This information is corroborated by many other accounts, and is probably true; nor will it be possible to prevent their landing on the Island, as its great extent affords a variety of places favorable for that purpose, and the whole of our works on it are at the end opposite to the city. However, we shall attempt to harass them as much as possible, which will be all that we can do. I have the honor, &c.1
[1 ]The events attending the capitulation at the Cedars, and the agreement for the exchange of prisoners entered into by Arnold, were of so extraordinary and irritating a nature, in regard to the conduct of the enemy, that Congress, at the same time they confirmed Arnold’s stipulation, resolved, “that, previous to the delivery of the prisoners to be returned on our part, the British commanders in Canada be required to deliver into our hands the authors, abettors, and perpetrators of the horrid murder committed on the prisoners, to suffer such punishment as their crime deserves; and also to make indemnification for the plunder at the Cedars, taken contrary to the faith of the capitulation; and that, until such delivery and indemnification be made, the said prisoners be not delivered.” Journals, July 10th. This was in effect a refusal to confirm the treaty, and was so considered by the commanding officers in Canada. The report of the committee of Congress on this subject, and the resolves respecting the treaty, were forwarded to General Burgoyne. The despatch was sent under the charge of Major Bigelow from Ticonderoga. He proceeded down the lake to Isle-aux-Noix, which was then a British outpost, where he was detained, and the despatch was forwarded to General Burgoyne then at St. John’s. Major Bigelow stayed ten days at Isle-aux-Noix, where he and his party were treated very civilly by Captain Craig, the commander of that post, and by the other officers. At length the messenger came back from St. John’s, with a letter directed to “George Washington, Esquire,” which was handed to Major Bigelow, and with which he returned immediately up the Lake to Ticonderoga, being escorted on his way as far as Gilleland’s by a boat with two British officers and nine Canadians.
[1 ]Read August 22nd. Referred to the Board of War.