George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel James Clinton, 27 June 1776

From Colonel James Clinton

Fort Constitution [N.Y.]
June 27th 1776

May it Please Your Excellency

The Warrant you Sent me Against Fletcher Mathews Esqr. I Executed Agreble to Your Excellencys Directions1 and After Bringing him to New Windsor with all his Papers in Order to Send him to New York Agreable to Your Instructions of the 23d Inst. (by Express) I Received the Inclosed Order from Congress Countermanding the Warrant I had Against the Said Fletcher and Although your Letter is of a Later Date then the Inclosed I Imagine you were not Informed of the Mistake2 Therefore I Allowed him to Return Home upon his Promiseing to Appear at any time and place that I shall Appoint I have all his Papers Includeing Deeds Bonds Letters &c. but I have found nothing Material in them that would be any Evidence Agt him After I took him I Charged him with being guilty of Engageing Men for the Kings Service &c. which he Denied and Offered to Sware that he knew Nothing About the Matter and that he had not Secreted any papers from me nor Neither had he Received or Sent any Leters to his Brother David or any Body Else that Could Appear Against him to Make him guilty he Seemed to Deliver his Papers freely and said as he was not guilty he was not Concerned About his going to New York only for the fatigue which he was Afraid he would not be Able to bear as he is Unfirm his papers I will Keep for A Security of his Appearence till I Receive Your further Orders3 his Brother James Agt whom the Warrant was Intended was first taken and I Suppose is now in New York.

Your Letter of the 25th Inst. I Just now Received and will Endeavour to Act Agreable to Your Instructions but we are Intirely out of Nails. the Nailer who Suplyed the Commitioners here has Disapointed us So that we Cannot Cover the Armourers Shop the Barracks Nor Build Shades or Huts to Answer the Militia Boards I Supose we Can get out of an Albany Sloop very Soon I have Sent to Goshen for Nails but I am Afraid we will not be Able to get many there if any I Send the Bearer Lieut. Smith to New York to try to get Nails &c. and A Little Money for the Publick Service will be wanting here to Purchase Sundries.4

As for the Carpenters wages here they Agreed with the Commitioners and I believe the Best way to Lower their wages will be to Send some Carpenters from New York if they Can be Spared as we have but few here we will want more at any Rate.

I Dont know what we will Do for Arms as I understand the Militia Sent Down from the Counties Are Deficient Lieut. Coll James McClaughry Desired me to Inform you that though he had Promised to Provide Arms for all the Men that turned out of his Regt of Millitia he was Deficient and was Afraid he Could not make up the Compliment of Arms by Abt Seven5 I Propose to Send Majr Schuyler to Albany & Dutches County to try if he Can Provide any Arms there.

Inclosed is a List of Necessarys wanted here which I Send the Bearer for.6 I am Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant

James Clinton Coll

I Send Capt. Palmer with a Sloop of his Employed here for the within Articles as they Are much wanted7 I hope Lieut. Smith will be Dissmised as soon as Possible Coll Humphrey with part of his Regt is Just Come Down from Dutchess County I have Ordered him to Fort McGomery as there is more Room there than at this place8 I will Send a Return of the Garrison at both Forts the first opportunity.

James Clinton Coll


2The secret committee of the New York provincial congress wrote to Clinton on 22 June: “The Warrant you recd from us by Express from General Washington against Fletcher Matthews, was intended for James Matthews, who by an unlucky mistake we understood to be named Fletcher. Be pleased therefore to forbear executing the said Warrant. We have given one to Mr Allison against James Matthews which we are desirous should be served without Delay—as also against William Forbes a Tanner & Currier by Trade about five miles from Goshen—and one [John] Clarke who has been a Schoolmaster about Eight or more miles from Goshen—Forbes is said to be a tall, dark complectioned man, with dark Eyes, wears a homespun Coat made of thread & Cotton, & black & white mixed—Clark is a red faced, middle aged, middle sized, thick set, dark complectioned Man” (DLC:GW). For the committee’s warrants to Clinton and William Allison of 22 June ordering the arrests of those men, see Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 6:1162.

3For GW’s orders to return these papers to Fletcher Mathews, see his letter to Clinton, 29 June–1 July.

4The bearer was Israel Smith (1748–1791) who signed a receipt on 29 June for nails and other items sent to forts Montgomery and Constitution from New York (DLC:GW). Smith was promoted to captain in the 4th New York Regiment in November 1776 and became regimental quartermaster in March 1779. He transferred to the 2d New York Regiment on 1 Jan. 1781 and served to June 1783.

5James McClaghry (McClaury, McClaughry, McClaughrey) became lieutenant colonel of Col. James Clinton’s 2d Regiment of Ulster County militia in October 1775 and now commanded the regiment. Captured by the British at Fort Montgomery in October 1777, McClaghry was held prisoner on Long Island until about 1780.

6This enclosure has not been identified, but see the return of items sent to forts Montgomery and Constitution by assistant quartermaster general Hugh Hughes on 29 June in DLC:GW. Included were 5,000 shingles, 50 barrels of powder, 18 pair of hinges, 18 stock locks, and a large assortment of nails.

7Henry Palmer (1740–1806) was captain of the sloop Liberty, which was stationed at Fort Constitution.

8Cornelius Humphrey (1735–1812), who previously had been colonel of the 1st Dutches County Regiment of Minutemen, was appointed by the New York provincial congress on 10 June 1776 as colonel of one of the militia regiments being raised to reinforce New York (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 , 1:489). Humphrey and half of his new regiment, which was composed of militiamen from several different counties, served at Fort Montgomery until 1 Dec. when the regiment’s time of engagement expired.

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