George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 15 April 1776

To John Hancock

New York April 15. 1776


I am now to Inform you that on the 4th Instant I set out from Cambridge and arrived here on Saturday last—I came thro Providence, Norwich and New London in order to see and expedite the embarkation of the Troops—The third Brigade under the command of General Green was at New London when I left It, where there was a sufficient number of Transports to embark them, and most probably wou’d have arrived here before this, had It not been for a Severe Storm which happened the night they sailed which dispersed them, and I fear has done them some Injury.1

General Spencer with the last Brigade marched from Roxbury the day I left Cambridge and would be at New London ready to embark in the return Transports which brought General Sullivans division to this place—The whole of the Troops may be reasonably expected here in the course of this Week—The badness of the Roads & difficulty of procuring Teams for bringing the Stores, baggage &c. have greatly prolonged their arrival at this place.2

I have not had time since I came to look fully about me, but find many Works of defence begun & some finished—The Troops are much dispersed, some on Long Island, Others on Staten Island &c.

I have ordered four Batallions from hence to Canada and am taking measures to have them forwarded to Albany by Water with all possible expedition—this will greatly expedite their arrival and ease the men of much fatigue—I have wrote General Schuyler of their coming that he may have necessary measures taken to hurry their march to General Thomas.3

I am informed by General Putnam that the Militia that were called in for the support of this Town in case the Ministerial Army had arrived before our Troops, are all discharged, It being unnecessary to keep them longer.

All the Ships of War besides the Asia moved out of this Harbour on Saturday, and the Asia Yesterday, some of which are now below the Narrows and the rest gone to Sea.

Your favour of the 10th Instant by Major Sherburne, directed to General Putnam or the Commanding Officer here, came to hand on Saturday evening with three Boxes of Money which I shall deliver the Paymaster as soon as he arrives and Transmit you his Receipt for the same.4

Having received Information from hence before my departure from Cambridge that Thirty peices of Heavy Cannon were wanting and essentially necessary for the defence of this place in addition to those already here, I took the liberty of applying to Adml Hopkins, whom I saw at New London, for that Number with the Mortars & Stores he brought from Providence, a List of which he had Transmitted you.5 he told me that as many were wanting for the defence of Providence river & the harbour at New London It was uncertain whether I cou’d have all I wanted, But that he wou’d send me all that could be spared.

I have not been able to get a Return of the Troops since I came as soon as I do, I will send It you. I am Sir with great respect and esteem Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 18 April (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 , 4:291).

1GW left New London on 10 April and reached New York three days later. According to Isaac Bangs, a lieutenant in one of the regiments in Greene’s brigade, unfavorable winds prevented the sailing of the brigade’s transports from New London until 14 April. After being delayed on the Connecticut coast apparently by a change in wind or weather, the convoy anchored at Turtle Bay in the East River on 16 April. “Here,” Bangs says, “wee were obliged to tarry till the next day at 9 o’clock for Orders. We set sail, & at 10 arrived in the City of New York, our desired Port, on the 17 of April” (Bangs, Journal description begins Edward Bangs, ed. Journal of Lieutenant Isaac Bangs, April 1 to July 29, 1776. 1890. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 23).

2Sullivan’s brigade arrived at New York on the morning of 10 April in twenty-three transports. Part of Spencer’s brigade reached the city on 17 April, and most of the remaining troops probably arrived within the next few days (Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 54–55). The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer of New London reported on 19 April, however, that “a few Companies” from the Continental brigades remained there.

3The letter-book copy reads: “that he may have necessary provisions made for hurrying their march to General Thomas.”

4Maj. Henry Sherburne of Rhode Island, whom Israel Putnam had sent to Philadelphia on 4 April to obtain money for the army, returned with $200,000 that the Continental Congress appropriated on 9 April (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 , 4:263). Hancock’s letter to Israel Putnam of 10 April is printed in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 3:502. See also Hancock to Putnam, 8 April 1776, ibid., 497, and Putnam to Hancock, 4 April 1776, in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 5:787.

5Hopkins enclosed in his letter to Hancock of 9 April 1776 a copy of the inventory of artillery and ordnance stores that were taken from New Providence on 3–4 Mar. (DNA:PCC, item 78). For the request for additional artillery at New York, see William Thompson to GW, 28 Mar. 1776.

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