George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Mckay, 9 April 1776

From Samuel Mckay

Hartford 9th April 1776


I flattered myself I should have had the pleasure of presenting you personally with the inclosed Letter of General Putnam’s;1 but as I understand your Route will not lie thro’ this place, and the Committee here will not allow me the honor of waiting on you at New-Haven, I am obliged to convey it to you in this manner. My Wife, & a large Family which were left at Montreal, are subjected to many Inconveniences during my Absence, and are the sole reason of my taking the Liberty of troubling you with this Application on their Account. If an Exchange can be effected with any of the Gentlemen mentioned in the General’s Letter, or any other that you may chuse to point out amongst the Prisoners at Quebec, I will apply to General Carleton for that purpose: If this is either not agreeable to you, Sir, or cannot be effected, I here pledge my Honor that I will return again to Hartford as soon as I have settled my Family Affairs. I have the Honor to be Sir, with great respect your most obedient & very humble Servant

Samuel Mckay


Samuel Mckay (Mackay; d. 1779) served as a lieutenant in the British 62d Regiment during the French and Indian War and afterwards became surveyor of woods in Canada, a position in which he was responsible for selecting masts for the Royal Navy. In the spring of 1775 Mckay raised a small corps of volunteers at Montreal and took post at St. Jean (St. Johns), where he was captured when the garrison surrendered on 2 Nov. 1775. In considering Mckay’s case, GW may have been influenced by remarks that Gen. Richard Montgomery made in his letter to Schuyler of 19 Nov. 1775, a copy of which Schuyler apparently sent to GW. “Capt. McKay,” Montgomery wrote from Montreal, “generously offerd Mr Carlton if he would give him Two hundred Men, to go & burn the New Church at Saratoga last Summer, he is so inveterate a fellow that I think if the other prisoners shoud be indulged in returning to their familys this winter, he ought not to be permitted to enter this province” (DLC:GW). For Mckay’s escape from Hartford later this spring and his prompt recapture, see Israel Putnam to GW, 24, 31 May 1776. Sometime during the ensuing several months Mckay succeeded in escaping to Canada, however. In February and March 1777 he reconnoitered the area around Ticonderoga for Gen. Guy Carleton, and later in the year he commanded a small provincial corps on campaign with Burgoyne. After Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga, Mckay returned with the military chest to Canada, where Carleton subsequently relieved him of his provincial command, an action that Mckay vigorously disputed.

1This enclosure has not been identified.

Index Entries