George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 7 June 1776

To John Hancock

New York June the 7th 1776


I do myself the honor to Inform Congress that I arrived here yesterday Afternoon about One OClock, and found all in a state of peace & quiet.1 I had not time to view the works carrying on & those ordered to be begun when I went away, but have reason to beleive from the report of such of the General & other Officers I had the pleasure to see, that they have been prosecuted & forwarded with all possible diligence and dispatch.

I am much concerned for the situation of our Affairs in Canada and am fearfull ’ere this, It is much worse than was first reported at Philadelphia. The Intelligence from thence in a Letter from Captn Wilkinson of the 2d Regimt to Genl Greene is truly alarming; It not only confirms the account of Col. Bedle & Major Sherburn’s defeat, but seems to forebode General Arnolds with the loss of Montreal—I have Inclosed a Copy of the Letter which will but too well shew that there is foundation for my apprehensions.2

On Wednesday Evening I received an express from Gen. Schuyler with sundry papers respecting Sir John Johnston, which I have not time to copy as the post is just going off, but will do myself the honor of transmitting you as soon as I possibly can.3

Before I left Philadelphia I employed a person to superintend the building of the Gondoloes which Congress had resolved on for this place,4 he is arrived and all things seem to be in a proper channell for facilitating the work, but when they are done, we shall be in much want of Guns, having never received any of those taken by Commodore Hopkins. Be pleased to mention me to Congress with the utmost respect and I am Sir with every sentiment of regard and esteem Your & their Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. I this minute received your favor of the 5 Inst. I am in need of Commissions and beg Congress to point out precisely the line I am to pursue in filling ’em up—this I mentioned in my Letter of the 11 Ulto. I am much pleased at the fortunate captures and the generous conduct of the owners & masters for the tender of the money to Congress.

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, DLC: Hancock Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 10 June (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 , 5:427–28).

1GW’s return to New York City was marked by a military review according to Lt. Isaac Bangs who wrote in his journal entry for 6 June: “Our whole Brigade, consisting of 5 Regiments,—Viz., Learnards, Reeds, Prescotts, Baileys, & Baldwins,—marched into the City to take their Alarm Post, excepting Prescotts regiment, which is stationed on Governors Island. Genl. Heath Marched at our Head. Genl. Washington had been at Philadelphia to consult with the Congress upon some weighty Affairs; while he was absent it had been circulated by the Tories that he had gone to resign his Office. This believed by many in the Army. Nevertheless, he arrived in the City just before we marched into the City. Through Broad Way we marched round the King’s Statue [at the Bowling Green], & went back to the Parade, where we formed the Batalion, & Genl. Washington, with several other Genls, the Judge Advocate, &c., Marched by us, the Officers Saluted, & our Regt receivd the Particular thanks of the Genl. for their good conduct” (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 , 39–40).

2“We are now in a sweet situation,” Capt. James Wilkinson wrote to Greene from Lachine on 24 May. “A part of the Garrison at Detroit in Conjunction with Indians & Canadians to the Amount of one Thousand men have made themselves masters of Colonel Beattes [Timothy Bedel’s] Regiment who were stationed about nine Miles from this place among the Cedars, and have Cut off our Freind Major [Henry] Sherburne with 140 men who were Detached to releive the Regiment which defended itself in a little Fort. the Major with that Courage which marked his Character pushed his way after an ingagement of four hours into the Fort, and was afterwards Obliged to Yeild for want of Amunition & provision, since which time General Arnold with a handfull of men have been throwing up a Breast work here in Order to stop the Enemies progress & had indeed meditated a plan of Attacking them but Alass so Astonishingly are matters Conducted in this Quarter that Notwithstanding the Generals most pressing solicitations & the length of time since he took possession of this post we cannot now muster more than 450 men whilst the proximity & movements of the Enemy Assure us that we shall be Attacked within Six hours” (DNA:PCC, item 78).

3See Schuyler to GW, 31 May 1776. GW enclosed a copy of this letter in his letter to Hancock of 8 June. The previous Wednesday was 5 June.

4For Congress’s resolution on this subject, see GW to Israel Putnam, 3 June 1776, n.3.

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