Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. V (1776-1777)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. V (1776-1777) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. V (1776-1777).
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 MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
Morristown, 12 March, 1777.
It is of the greatest importance to the safety of a country involved in a defensive war, to endeavor to draw their troops together at some post at the opening of a campaign, so central to the theatre of war, that they may be sent to the support of any part of the country, which the enemy may direct their motions against. It is a military observation, strongly supported by experience, “that a superior army may fall a sacrifice to an inferior, by an injudicious division.” It is impossible, without knowing the enemy’s intentions, to guard against every sudden incursion, or give protection to all the inhabitants. Some principal object should be had in view, in taking post, to cover the most important part of the country, instead of dividing our force to give shelter to the whole, to attempt which cannot fail to give the enemy an opportunity of beating us in detachments. As we are under the necessity of guessing at the enemy’s intentions and further operations, the great object of attention ought to be, where the most proper place is, to draw our force together from the eastward and westward, to cover the country, prevent the enemy’s penetration, and annoy them in turn, should our strength be equal to the attempt. There is not a State upon the continent, but thinks itself in danger, and scarcely an officer at any one post, but conceives a reinforcement necessary. To comply with the demands of the whole is utterly impossible, and, if attempted, would prove our inevitable ruin.
From the enemy’s situation in Jersey, (collecting their force at Amboy and Brunswic, and from their intentions last fall, confirmed by every piece of intelligence we obtain this spring,) it scarce admits a doubt of Philadelphia being an object in view at the opening of this campaign. If this be their aim, it appears to me highly probable, (their army being greatly reduced since the commencement of the last campaign,) that they will bring round all the troops from Canada to reinforce ’em here. What serves to confirm me in this opinion is the facility with which a Junction can be made this way, the necessity they are under of a reinforcement, and the great security the command of the Lakes gives them against our incursions into Canada. Under these considerations, I cannot help thinking much too large a part of our force is directed to Ticonderoga. Peekskill appears to me a much more proper place, where, if the troops are drawn together, they will be advantageously situated to give a support to any of the eastern or middle States. Should the enemy’s designs be to penetrate the country up the North River, they will be well posted to oppose them; should they attempt to penetrate into New England, they are well stationed to cover it; if they move westward, the eastern and southern troops can easily form a junction; and, besides, it will oblige the enemy to leave a much stronger garrison at New York. But, even admitting the enemy pursue their first plan, they will be by no means disadvantageously posted to reinforce Ticonderoga, and cover the country of Albany. I am very sure the operations of this army will in a great degree govern the motions of that in Canada. If this is held at bay, curbed, and confined, the northern army dare not to attempt to penetrate.
It appears to me of great importance to the success to the next campaign, to give this army some capital stroke in the early part of the season. Nothing can enable me to do this, but a junction of the eastern and southern forces. The recruiting service to the southward has been so protracted, for want of a Regular arrangement amongst the recruiting officers, that, with the difficulty of clothing and arming the troops, it must unavoidably be late in the season before a sufficient force can be drawn together to check their progress, without the assistance of a very considerable part of the eastern troops. The ruin of this army is desirable for many reasons. It will free the country from their present distress, and prevent the army in Canada, (if it continues there,) from making any movements. But above all, should the enemy be coming from England with a strong reinforcement, to destroy this division of their force will totally ruin their plan of Operations for the next campaign, and perhaps discourage them from any further attempts. But suppose the enemy should, contrary to our expectations, (which I cannot help thinking is against all probability,) attempt to penetrate the country by the way of the Lakes, the forts being properly garrisoned and supplied with provisions, the cattle and carriages drove off, it will be impossible for them to effect it.
If we should draw a large force together at Ticonderoga, and the enemy make no movement upon the Lakes, but collect their whole strength here, they would be an useless Body of Troops there, while the service here might suffer an irreparable injury for want of ’em. The disaffection of Pennsylvania, which I fear is much beyond anything you have conceived, and the depression of the people of this State, render a strong support necessary to prevent a systematical submission; besides, the loss of Philadelphia would prove a very great and irreparable injury, as we draw from thence almost all our supplies. It will signify nothing to have our frontiers strongly guarded, while the enemy are ranging at large in the Heart of the Country. For these and many other reasons, that will readily occur to you upon reflection, I have come to a resolution to alter the route of some part of the Bay forces, and to draw eight regiments of them to Peekskill, from whence (by water) they can soon proceed to Albany if occasion shall require, or move elsewhere, according to circumstances. This measure I have been more inclined to adopt, as I find part of the York regiments are gone to Ticonderoga, contrary to my expectation or design. * * *
I am, dear Sir, yours, &c.1
[1 ]“I concur with you in opinion that every reason is against making any allowance in cash to such officers as may not chuse to keep the number of horses allowed them. No person must think of drawing a single shilling of public money as a perquisite.”—Washington to Major-General Mifflin (Q. M. G.), 13 March, 1777.