Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL SCHUYLER.
Head-Quarters,Middlebrook, 18 December, 1778.
1. I beg you will accept my thanks for your obliging letter of the 30th ulto. and the polite expressions of your friendship which accompany it. At the same time I am happy to congratulate you on your honorable acquittal with the approbation of Congress.1 2. The information and remarks you have favored me with are very full and satisfactory, and I must request, as you are good enough to promise, that you will continue your reflections and inquiries on the subject, and communicate from time to time the result.
3. The difference of circumstances, which you have enumerated, between the time of General Amherst’s operations and the present, is certainly very striking, and the difficulties of an expedition into Canada by the route he took, as things are now situated, great and many. The more, however, I consider the subject, and examine into the state of our resources, the more I am convinced, that if an expedition is carried into that country, in the course of the next Campaign, it must of necessity be done through that channel. The advantages of penetrating by Lake Champlain make the practicability of doing it infinitely desirable; but, upon the whole, I still am of opinion, that the prospect of effecting it is too small and precarious to warrant the attempt. I could hardly rely upon the success of any expedient, that might be adopted to gain the superiority of the Lake in the Summer. And I have greater reason, than when I had the pleasure of writing you the 20th ulto., to believe that an undertaking for that purpose this winter is entirely out of our power. My earnest desire of a Winter expedition has led me closely to investigate our means of prosecuting it; and I find, after the fullest examination, from the concurrent and definitive reports of the Quarter Master and Commissary-General, that our resources are unequal to the preparations necessary for such an enterprise.
4. How far it will be in our power to extend our operations into Canada the next campaign, must depend on a variety of events, which cannot now be foreseen with certainty. It is to be lamented, too, that our prospects are not so favorable as we could wish. But I agree with you in the importance of reducing Niagara, at least, if practicable; and I think it prudent to be taking preparatory measures to enable us to attempt this, and as much more as the future situation of our affairs and resources may permit. I am the more induced to this, as the emancipation of Canada is an object that Congress have much at heart. 5. Conformably to this principle, I have directed the Commissary-General to lay in as large magazines of flour and salt provisions &c. at Albany and any other places, which may be thought proper, as he possibly can; and, in like manner, I have instructed the Quarter-Master-General to provide all the materials requisite for building vessels, together with forage and every other article, which comes under the direction of his department. A copy of my instructions to him is enclosed.
6. You will perceive I have referred the Quarter-Master-General to you for advice and directions in making his arrangements. I have done the same with respect to the Commissary. Every consideration induces me to wish and request your assistance in this business. No person, I know, has it more in his power to judge of the measures proper to be taken; and I am persuaded you will readily afford your aid in a matter of so great importance, as far as may be consistent with the situation of your public and personal concerns.
7. In forming the magazines, I wish regard to be had as far as the primary intention will permit to an easy transfer and appropriation of them, to the use of the army in this quarter, lest our operations to the Northward should be disappointed, and the scene of action still continue in our present front.—As a large supply of hard bread will be essential, you will, please among other things to direct the Commissary, to provide such a quantity of this article as you deem sufficient. The most speedy and complete repair possible of the arms in the hands of Mr. Renselaar will require immediate attention. 8. Though we cannot now determine what will be the extent of our northern plan, nor consequently what number of troops will really be employed, yet, as it is necessary to fix some precise idea on this point, by which to regulate our preparations, you will adapt them to an army of at least ten thousand effective rank and file, with a proportion of Artillery-men, attendants, and retainers of every kind, according to the nature of the expedition.
9. On account of the difficulty you suggest in transporting the vessels from the place mentioned in my last, my present intention is to have the iron work rigging Sails &c. prepared at Albany, and the vessels built at Oswego, agreeable to the plan you propose.—10. unless upon a more full considn. of ye matter you shall think the former plan of building on Hudsons River can be executed in the whole or part with more ease than at first view.
11. It would be of the greatest moment, however, to employ every artifice to cover the real design, and beget false expectations in the enemy. I leave this to your management.
12. You will observe by my instructions to the Qr. Mr. Gl., that I have not absolutely decided on the kind of vessels to be constructed. I wish first to take the opinions of some persons of experience in maritime affairs before I finally determine. With respect to the batteaux I leave the construction of them wholly to your judgment and you will give every direction accordingly.1
13. I shall be under a particular obligation for the journals you mention, if you are fortunate enough to find them.
14. Before I conclude There is one or two things, in particular, which I must beg you will endeavor to ascertain—Whether, there is not another River below la famine which empties into the St. Lawrence, and what kind of a River it is?—I have an idea of one which enters as low as Oswegatchie.—Also where the enemy’s vessels on Lake Ontario are stationed during the Winter, and how they are defended and secured in the frozen state of the Lake?
15. It is not unlikely I may be at Albany in the Month of January. This, in the mean time, I desire to be known only to you; but I must insist, that you will not suffer it to make the least alteration in your private plans. I am, with the truest esteem and regard, dear Sir, your obedient humble servant.
[1 ]The charge against General Schuyler was neglect of duty, in not being present at Ticonderoga, when it was evacuated by General St. Clair. The entire proceedings of the northernc ampaign of 1777, while General Schuyler had the command, were investigated by the court-martial at his request. He submitted in detail his letters, instructions, and orders. He was unanimously acquitted by the court “with the highest honor,” and this acquittal was confirmed by Congress.—Journals, December 3d.
[1 ]“In a letter, which I had the pleasure of writing you the 18th Inst, I requested you to take the direction of the magazines, &c., that were to be prepared towards a certain expedition. I should have extended the idea to your taking the full command in the northern department; but I was restrained by a doubt how far the measure might be agreeable to your own views and intentions. The same doubt still remains; but as it is very much my desire you should resume that command, I take occasion to signify it to you. At the same time, if you have any material objections against it, I would not wish to preclude their operation. If you have not, you will be pleased to consider this as an order for the purpose. As you are fully acquainted with all the objects of the command, it is unnecessary to enter into a detail of particular instructions.”—Washington to Major-General Schuyler, 31 December, 1778.