George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel James Clinton, 4 July 1776

From Colonel James Clinton

Fort Constitution [N.Y.]
July 4th 1776

May it Please Your Excellency

The Articles Sent by Capt. Palmer for the Use of Fort Montgomery & this place I have Recd with both Your Letters and Agreable to Directions Sent an Officer to Look for Mrs Thompson who Soon found her1 She is verye willing to go Down and You may Expect her the first Opportunity.

We are makeing all the Preparations we Possibly Can to give our Enemy a Proper Reception in Case they Should Attempt to Come Up the River though I am sorry we are not better Provided but will Do all that Lies in my Power to Oppose them I have Sent Officers through Ulster Dutches and Albany to Procure Arms & Lead for the Regt but as they have not Returned yet I Dont know what Luck they have had (the Armourers will Soon be at work) You will See by the Inclosed Return that there is Some of Genl Scots Brigade has Joined me but they are without Powder & Ball & a few without arms but I have Sent An Officer back to Desire the Coll of the Millitia to Procure arms for those that are Deficient.2

we want Carriages for 6 & 9 Pounders or wheels for them if they Could be Spared from New York but if not we must make them as well as we Can—we Shall want about 1000 Wt of Iron of Diferent Dimensions for Carriages and Balls of Different Sizes for Small Arms & Lead with A Bullet Mould if it is to be had all which we would be Glad wast Sent Up by Majr Rensalare.3

I wrote Sometime ago to the Provincial Congress Requesting them to Appoint Doctr Peter Tappen from Poughkeepsie & Vanderlyn his Prentice to be Surgeon & Mate to My Regt but I have Recd no Answer Yet we are much in want of a Doctr as we have had none here Since I Joined the Regt. I have wrote to Doctr Tappen to be Ready to Come here at the first Notice in Case the Congress Approves of him as I make no Doubt they will.4 I am Your Excellencys Most Obedt Humble Sert

James Clinton Coll

ADfS, CSmH. The reverse of the document includes Capt. Caleb Bentley’s receipt of 5 July for thirteen cartridge boxes obtained from Clinton.

2The enclosed return has not been identified. Brig. Gen. John Morin Scott commanded the 3,000 New York militiamen being raised to reinforce the Continental army.

3On 10 June the New York provincial congress appointed Henry Van Rensselaer of Albany County major of Col. Cornelius Humphrey’s regiment in General Scott’s brigade of militia levies (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). He was apparently Henry Killian Van Rensselaer (1744–1816) of the Manor of Rensselaerwyck, whom the Albany committee of correspondence on 21 June named “Major of the Companys of Militia of this County for the service in New York” (Minutes of the Albany and Schenectady Committees description begins Minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence, 1775–1778. 2 vols. Albany, 1923–25. description ends , 1:465). Henry J. Van Rensselaer (1742–1814) of Claverack, however, was also a field officer in the Albany County militia during this time.

4Peter (Petrus) Tappen (Tappan; 1748–1792), whose sister was married to James Clinton’s brother George Clinton, had served during the previous fall and winter as a first lieutenant in Col. Jacobus Swartwout’s regiment of Dutchess County militia. Swartwout asked the New York provincial congress on 20 Feb. 1776 to make Tappen surgeon of his regiment, but no action apparently was taken on the matter (O’Callaghan and Fernow, N.Y. Documents description begins E. B. O’Callaghan and Berthold Fernow, eds. Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York. 15 vols. Albany, 1853–87. description ends , 15:67). Clinton’s request for Tappen’s appointment as his regimental surgeon was made in his letter to the president of the provincial congress of 22 June and was considered two days later, when the provincial congress directed its secretaries to search the minutes to see whether or not a surgeon had previously been appointed for Clinton’s regiment (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 6:1427). Although there is no record of the provincial congress subsequently naming Tappen surgeon of Clinton’s regiment, he served at Fort Montgomery during the late summer and fall of 1776 (see Tappen to George Clinton, 19 Aug., 9, 23, 27 Sept., 11 Oct. 1776, in Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 1:314–15, 342–43, 358, 363, 377–78). Tappen’s apprentice may be Peter Vanderlyn who served as surgeon of various regiments of New York militia levies between 1780 and 1782.

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