George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 15 January 1776

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 15 January 1776


I have received your agreable Letter of the 7th Instant per Capt. Sears—The Condition & Circumstances of the Colony of New York gives me pain, least the Fri[e]nds to American Liberty in that Colony should be too much Neglected, and become Disheartned, and the inimical designs and mischievous Operations of others succeed—I have received credible information that the Provincial Congress there had spent some time just before they Adjourned to the 1st of Fe[b]uary in debating whether they should not address Mr Tryon for the purpose of calling the General Assembly of that Colony, to revive the old Scheme of adopting the Parlimentary insult of the 20th of Fabry last, Which was rejected1—Surely our Friends want to be strengthned, and our Enemies to be checked—The following is an Extract from a Letter from one of our Friends, to Another dated December 27th 1775—“Just after you left Town the Phenix a 40 Gun Ship, arrived and Anchored just before Mr Drake’s and in two or three days after the Asia in company of the Dutchess of Gordon came and Anchored opposite to Peeks Slip, so that we are highly honoured—General Dalrymple is on board the Phenix, and it is rumored, that they have 200 Troops concealed on board, which has for near a Week past kept us on pretty hard duty2—The Colo. has slept in the Barracks 2 or 3 Nights, If they come I hope to give a good Accot of them—We have some Excellent Field Peices, and if they Visit us the Gates will be Opened, and we’ll welcome them with a few Resolves of the Continental Congress, which is the Name of One of the Peices.[”]

I wrote a Letter to President Hancock dated the 6th Janry Inst. and Another to One of our Delegates at Congress requesting that more effectual Measures may be taken for the Security of New York, to prevent our Enemies from being supplied with Provisions, furnished with Intelligence, and from having an Opportunity to use every Artifice to insult and injure us from that Quarter3—It therefore gave me sensible Pleasure to find that you have adopted the measures mentioned in your’s—and with great Chearfulness called my Council, and with their Advice appointed Colo. Waterbury Lt Colo. Bradly & Majr Hobby Field Officers for One Regiment—Colo. Ward Lt Colo. Lewis and Majr Douglass for another, Sent a Proclamation to the Two Colonels, and Orders to them with the rest of the Field Officers, by Voluntary inlistment to raise 750 Men Each, to join and Assist Majr General Lee; with Encouragement that they should be entitled to the same Pay Wages & Billiting allowed the Troops before Boston, during the Time they Serve & to be dismissed soon, when the Service would conveniently Admit4—The Field Officers of Each Regiment to Select Capts. & Subalterns from those in the standing Militia—if needful to request the Chief Officer of the Militia Companies to call their Companies together for the purpose of Enlisting the Men with Expedition—and to pre⟨vent⟩ difficulty for want of Ammunition—have Ordred Capt. Niles, Commander of our armed schooner Spy, to take on board half a Ton of Powder, & Transport 400 lb. to New Haven—200 lb. to Norwalk, & 400 lb. to Stamford with Orders to him to follow such directions as Majr General Lee may Give for the Service he is imployed in and to Execute the Same Until dismissed by him or further Orders from Me5—wished but failed to have the pleasure of a short interview with him—when my Orders ware ready very Early on Saturday Morning last—Capt. Sears took them & I apprehend he got to Hartford by Noon—I wrote to Majr Genl Lee informing of what was done by me6—I have no doubt but the Men at the Westward part of this Colony will readily and expeditiously engage in the Service—May the Supream Director of all Events add his Blessing On our Endeavours to preserve, support, & Maintain the Constitutional Liberties of these Colonies which he hath made it our duty to do—thirteen Indians of the Cognawaga Tribe came to Visit me on the 13th and seemed well pleased to have a Conference on Our Affairs & Expressed their belief of my information & that they were Friends & Brothers—and yesterday proceeded on their Way to you.7 I am, with great Esteem and Regard Your Excellency’s Most Obedient humble Servant

Jonth. Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

1In a published letter of 4 Dec. 1775 Gov. William Tryon urged the inhabitants of New York to express “in a Constitutional manner” their sense of the plan of reconciliation proposed in Parliament’s resolution of 20 Feb. 1775 (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 4:173–74; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 2:62–63, n.1). After much debate the New York Provincial Congress responded on 14 Dec. that “it would be highly dangerous to, and totally inconsistent with the glorious plan of American union, should this Colony express their separate sense on the . . . supposed conciliatory proposal on the part of Great Britain” (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:210–12, 217–19).

2The British warship Phoenix, recently arrived from England, anchored in the East River abreast of the city of New York on 17 Dec. and was joined there three days later by the warship Asia and the transport Dutchess of Gordon, both of which had previously been moored off the battery. Gov. William Tryon was living aboard the Duchess of Gordon, having fled to it the previous fall for safety. Lt. Col. William Dalrymple, commander of the 14th Regiment, sailed to London on 10 January. He returned to America later in the year and participated in the New York campaign. In 1779 Dalrymple became quartermaster general under Gen. Henry Clinton.

3See Trumbull to Hancock, 6 Jan. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 66.

4See Trumbull’s proclamation of 12 Jan., DNA:PCC, item 66. For GW’s expectation that these volunteers would serve without pay, see GW to Hancock, 11 Jan., and GW to Joseph Reed, 26 Feb.-9 Mar. 1776. The officers were David Waterbury, Philip Burr Bradley, Thomas Hobby, Andrew Ward, Ichabod Lewis, and William Douglas.

5Robert Niles (1734–1818) of Norwich was appointed captain of the Connecticut armed schooner Spy in August 1775. Over the next three years Niles made several cruises in the Spy, performing a variety of services for the colony and the American cause. He took a number of prizes, gathered intelligence, and procured provisions and other supplies. In 1778 Niles sailed to France with dispatches including a ratified copy of the treaty of alliance with France. On the return voyage the Spy was captured by the British. Taken to England, Niles soon escaped to France, but he was captured again on his way to America. Niles did not return home until July 1779.

6See Trumbull to Charles Lee, 12 Jan. 1776, in Lee Papers description begins [Charles Lee]. The Lee Papers. 4 vols. New York, 1872-75. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 4–7. description ends , 1:238.

7For the visit of the Caughnawaga Indians to Cambridge, see Schuyler to GW, 5–7 Jan., n.8, GW to Hancock, 24, 30 Jan., and GW to Schuyler, 27 Jan., 1 Feb. 1776.

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