George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Sullivan, 3 June 1776

From Brigadier General John Sullivan

Chamblee [Canada] June the 3d 177[6]1

My Dear General

I had wrote a Letter to Congress & Expected to have the honour of writing one to you befor the Commissioners Departed but as I found them going off before I could possibly finish one to you I Sealed that & begd Mr Chase to Desire yr Excellency to open & read it which Contained the purport of what I Intended to write yr Excellencey2—I have Since that been to Montreal & find almost Every person agreed to Depart without Ever Seeing the Enemy—Genl Thompson writes that about Eight hundred of the Enemy have arrived at three Rivers 45 miles below Sorell where he is This he has by Report only I find that all the heavy baggage is Sent away with the Intrenching tools &c. on that account I have ordered them back & am this moment Embarking for Sorell where I hope to arrive by Day Break & meet them with all the force I can make I am far from fearing 800 men against Such a force as I can muster I have Desired all the General officers to be with me there who Seem well Satisfied to go on Want of time prevents my writing more fully on the State of affairs here at present which I Shall not forget to do as Soon as possible. In the Interim I am Dear General with great Respect your most obedt Servt

Jno. Sullivan


1Sullivan inadvertently wrote “1775.”

2Sullivan wrote to Hancock on 1 June informing Congress that he had reached St. Jean the previous evening with all of his brigade except Colonel Dayton’s regiment and part of Colonel Wayne’s regiment. “Upon my arrival,” Sullivan continued, “I was Informed that General Thomas was Down with the Small Pox without the Least prospect of a Recovery. General Wooster is here with his Baggage Returning to Conecticut by means of which the Command Devolves upon me. I have done Every thing I possibly could in the time to get Information of the true State of affairs—and can in a word Inform you that no one thing is Right. Every thing is in the utmost Confusion & almost Every one Frightned at they know not what—The Report is that General Carlton has advanced to Three Rivers & the Ships are Coming up the River St Lawrence other persons who have Come from Eighty miles below Quebeck Declare that there is no appearance of Men or Ships on this Side that City & for my own part I am fully convinced That the Latter Report is true—however that may be I am Surprized that an Army Should Live in Continual fear of & Even Retreat before an Enemy which no person among them has Seen. I think they might at Least have ventured Some persons in whom they could Confide to view them from the neighbouring heighths & give Some Account of their numbers & movements but nothing of this kind is Done: I Shall Set out Early Tomorrow for Montreal & will proceed till I can find with Certainty where the Enemy is & what they are about. . . . I am Extremely Sorry to Inform you that from the officers whose Business it was to give Congress the True State of matters Congress has not as I believe received any thing like it. This I conclude from the Repeated Letters Sent to Genl Washington giving the most favourable Accounts & promising a Speedy Reduction of Quebeck when there was not Even a probability of it & the Army with which this was to be done had Dwindled into a Mobb without Even the form of order or Regularity. The Consequence of which we have Experienced by the Infamous Retreat from Quebeck & the Still more Scandalous Surrender of the Post at the Cedars. . . . I Shall Immediately appoint a Court of Inquiry upon Colo. Beadle & Major Butterfield & Transmit Congress the Result. I Shall do Every thing in my power to Rectify the Disorders & get the army into Some kind of Regularity” (DNA:PCC, item 160).

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