Orders to Colonel James Clinton
[New York, 14 June 1776]
You are to repair to Fort Montgomery, and take upon you the Commd of the Posts in the Highlands. use every means in your power to provide your Regiment with Arms fit for Service—one step towards which, endeavour to Imploy an Armourer or two, or more, as the case may require.
Use every possible diligence in forwarding the Works at Forts Montgomery & Constitution, agreeable to late direction’s given to Mr Bedlow, who will furnish you with the same, as it is proposed by the Provincial Congress of New York to recall their Commissioners ⟨from⟩ those Posts & leave the care of them altogether to the Commanding Officer of the Continental Forces and his Orders.1
As these are, or may become Posts of infinite importance especially the lower one,2 I cannot sufficiently Impress upon you the necessity of putting them into a fit Posture of Defence without delay. I have desired that a Battalion, or at least five hundred of the York Militia, may be ordered to reinforce those Garrisons, as well for the purpose of defence as to assist in the Work—these are also to be under your Command.3
The whole are to be kept close to duty & not suffered to be absent on Furlough but in cases of real necessity, ⟨and⟩ then not more than two at a time ar⟨e to⟩ be absent from a Company at once.
Review the Men, Inspect the A⟨rms⟩ &ca & make a Report of the State of th⟨ings⟩ so soon as you get to these Posts. ⟨Your⟩ Lieutt Colo., Livingston, is to be sent ⟨to⟩ this place in order to proceed to long ⟨Is⟩land to take charge of the remainde⟨r of⟩ your Regiment posted towards the Ea⟨st⟩ end thereof.
Inform me if there are Barr⟨acks⟩ or Houses convenient to the Forts Mont⟨go⟩mery & Constitution in which the Militi⟨a⟩ ordered there can be lodged. make ⟨Week⟩ly returns of your Strength, and advi⟨se⟩ me regularly of all occurrances ⟨of any⟩ kind of Importance. Given under my hand at He⟨ad⟩ Quarters near the City of Ne⟨w⟩ York this 14th day of June 1776.
ALS, CSmH; LB, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Mutilated words in the ALS are supplied within angle brackets from the letter-book copy.
1. On 13 June a committee appointed to consult with GW reported to the provincial congress that “the General has, or will have, an engineer at the fortifications in the Highlands, and says he will not have occasion for the further service of the commissioners there, as he will take the sole direction of those fortifications; that such minute men as are employed at those fortifications, (only as minute men,) may be discharged; but that none who are enlisted as Continental troops in Capt. Wisner’s company be discharged.” The provincial congress promptly responded by discharging the commissioners and minutemen (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 , 1:493). Clinton chose, however, to retain two commissioners at the forts (see Clinton to GW, 22 June 1776). For the instructions given to William Bedlow, see Stirling to GW, 9 June, and GW to the Commissioners at Forts Montgomery and Constitution, 10 June 1776, and source note. For the sending of engineer Thomas Machin to the highlands, see GW to James Bowdoin, 10 June, n.2, and GW to Machin, 21 July 1776.
2. The lower fort was Fort Montgomery.
3. On 10 June General Gates told the New York provincial congress “that the commissioners who came down Hudson’s river, informed him that Fort Constitution is in a bad state of defence. That he has reason to expect the enemy will make a push up the river. That Genl. Washington desires that a regiment of militia be sent immediately there; and further, that the General requests to know what steps are taken about the militia already ordered” (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 , 1:488). The provincial congress had finished making arrangements for calling out militia reinforcements for Canada and New York City the previous day (ibid., 483–84, 486–88). For the arrival of militia at the highland forts, see James Clinton to GW, 27 June 1776 (first letter).