Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GOVERNOR CLINTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778)
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TO GOVERNOR CLINTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VI (1777-1778).
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TO GOVERNOR CLINTON.
Camp, at Cross Roads, 16 August, 1777.
Your favor of the 13th with the inclosed papers are before me.—
I wish the accounts of the two actions near Fort Schuyler had been more clear and intelligible than they are, as more dependence could then be placed on the authoriticity of the particulars, and a stronger assurance formed of the advantages being as fully on our side as they are there represented. If the loss of some of their most spirited leaders which happened on these occasions do not operate too forcibly on the minds of the people in that quarter, I should imagine these little successes might be productive of valuable consequences. The Indians, we know are not a very persevering people, but on the contrary are apt to be discouraged by the most trifling miscarriages; and two rebuffs like these would be no inconsiderable inducements with them to abandon the British troops, and leave them to prosecute the business alone.
These little reverses of fortune will also have their influence, in abating that confidence, which their former uninterrupted success has inspired into the enemy; and will tend proportionably to revive the drooping spirits of our army—I shall be obliged to you when you receive any more explicit intelligence of what has happened to communicate it to me.
I see, with the most sensible pleasure, the exertions of your State, dismembered as it is, and under every discouragement and disadvantage. I lament, that any causes are sufficiently powerful to prevent that effectual aid from your eastern neighbors, which the interest of the public cause, and the immediate safety of your particular State, so pressingly demand at this time. But, though it is dilatory in coming, I cannot but hope it will still come, before it is too late. I imagine one cause, and not the least material, of their delay, is an apprehension of General Howe’s army. It were to be wished, his designs were once reduced to a certainty. This I should be in hopes would serve to remove that inactivity and indecision, which I believe proceed in a great measure from suspense and uncertainty. I am however advised, that a body of New Hampshire militia, under General Stark, had joined General Lincoln at Bennington, and another of Massachusetts militia, was partly arrived, and the rest arriving at the same place. A tolerable body of men once collected there would make Mr. Burgoyne anxious for his rear, oblige him to advance circumspectly, and to leave such strong posts behind, as must make his main body very weak, and extremely capable of being repulsed by the force we shall have in front. I should not be very uneasy for the issue, if I could once see our northern army recovered from their present dejection, and restored to a tolerable degree of confidence and animation.
In addition to the two regiments, that are gone from Peekskill, I am forwarding as fast as possible, to join the northern army, Colonel Morgan’s corps of riflemen, amounting to about five hundred. These are all chosen men, selected from the army at large, well acquainted with the use of rifles, and with that mode of fighting, which is necessary to make them a good counterpoise to the Indians; and have distinguished themselves on a variety of occasions, since the formation of the corps, in skirmishes with the enemy. I expect the most eminent services from them; and I shall be mistaken if their presence does not go far towards producing a general desertion among the savages. I should think it would be well, even before their arrival, to begin to circulate these ideas, with proper embellishments, throughout the country and in the army; and to take pains to communicate them to the enemy. It would not be amiss, among other things, to magnify numbers.1 I am of opinion, with the Council of Safety, that your presence to the northward might have a very happy influence, and, if it were compatible with the many other calls there are and will be upon you, I could wish to see you with the northern army at the head of the militia of your State.
From some expressions in a letter, which I have seen, written by General Lincoln to General Schuyler, I am led to infer, it is in contemplation to unite all the militia and Continental troops in one body, and make an opposition wholly in front. If this is really the intention, I should think it a very ineligible plan. An enemy can always act with more vigor and effect, when they have nothing to apprehend for their flanks and rear, than when they have; and it is one of the most approved and most universally practised manœuvers of war, to keep their fears continually awake on these accounts, and, when circumstances permit, to be actually in condition to give them serious annoyance in those parts. Independent of the inconveniences, that attend a situation, where the rear and flanks are constantly exposed to the insults of light parties, which may be at every moment harassing them; the necessity of never losing sight of the means of a secure retreat, which ought to be the first object of an officer’s care, must be exceedingly embarrassing, where there is a force in such a position as to endanger it. If a respectable body of men were to be stationed on the Grants, it would undoubtedly have the effects intimated above, would render it not a little difficult for General Burgoyne to keep the necessary communication open; and they would frequently afford opportunities of intercepting his convoys. If there should be none there, he might advance with security, leaving small posts behind, and might draw his supplies regularly and without interruption; than which nothing could tend more to facilitate his operations and give them success. These reasons make it clearly my opinion, that a sufficient body of militia should always be reserved in a situation proper to answer those purposes. If there should be more collected, than is requisite for this use, the surplusage may with propriety be added to the main body of the army. I am not, however, so fully acquainted with every circumstance, that ought to be taken into consideration, as to pretend to do any thing more than advise in the matter. Let those on the spot determine and act as appears to them most prudent. I am, &c.
P. S. It is most probable that Genl Schuyler will have put it out of the Enemy’s power to avail themselves of the convenience of Water carriage, by removing all boats out of the way. If however this necessary precaution should not have occurred to him, it would be proper to remind him that all means of facilitating their progress down the river should be cut off as speedily as possible.1
[1 ]“The people in the northern army seem so intimidated by the Indians, that I have determined to send up Colonel Morgan’s corps of riflemen, who will fight them in their own way. They march from Trenton to-morrow morning, and reach Peekskill with all expedition.”—Washington to Major-General Putnam, 16 August, 1777.
[1 ]“The great bulk of the country is undoubtedly with the Congress, in principle and in zeal; and their measures are executed with a secrecy and dispatch that are not to be equalled. Wherever the king’s forces point, militia, to the amount of three or four thousand, assemble in twenty-four hours; they bring with them their subsistence, &c., and, the alarm over, they return to their farms. The Hampshire Grants in particular, a country unpeopled and almost unknown in the last war, now abounds in the most active and most rebellious race of the continent, and hangs like a gathering storm upon my left.”—Burgoyne to Lord George Germaine, 20 August, 1777.