George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Fellows, 18 July 1776

From Brigadier General John Fellows

Head Quarters Peekskill [N.Y.] 18th July 1776.


On the 15th I Received the inclosed, (which is post dated)1 and altho I have the honor of a colonial2 Appointmt to serve in the Army, under the imediate Command of your Exelency; yet as my Brigade was not then ready to march, I thought I might render my Country some service by repairing hither, I accordingly ordered Col. Hopkins to march with one third part of his Regt, and came here myself with all possible Dispatch; where I shall continue untill I receive further Orders from your Exelency.

As to the state of our Affairs here the Enemy’s shiping lies about 8 or 9 Miles below this in a vary wide Part of the River, where it is impossible they should be annoyed from the shore.

I have viewed Fort Constitution and am sorry to observe, that the Garrison there appears to be in a vary defenceless State, the Works slender, the largest Cannon Nine pounders, & there is a heighth of Land on the west side the River within point blank shot of the Fort unocupied & which will greatly Annoy the Fort should the Enemy get Possession of it,3 the Garrison is badly armed and thinly Manned; I have ordered there a Reinforcement of three hundred Men. should the Enemy send any considerable Number of Men into this River, it will I have no doubt be very necessary that a considerable force should be stationd here.

I have not yet veiwed Fort Montgomery; but am this Moment going there to assist at a Council of War, the Result of which will be imediately transmitted to your Exelency. I am Sir, with the greatest Esteem, Your Exelency’s most Ob. & very hume Servt

John Fellows B. Genl

P.S. I imagine my Brigade will begin their March generally next Week.


John Fellows of Sheffield, Mass., who had commanded a regiment in the Continental army at Roxbury until the end of 1775, was appointed by the Massachusetts General Court on 25 June 1776 to be brigadier general of the militia reinforcements that the state was raising for the Continental army at New York (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:291).

1The enclosure is Col. Joshua Porter’s letter to General Fellows dated 16 July, which covers a copy of Egbert Benson’s letter of 14 July to the commanding officers of the militia in the western towns of Connecticut, requesting them on behalf of the Dutchess County committee of safety to march immediately with whatever force they could collect to defend the forts in the Hudson highlands against the perceived threat of the British warships that had recently ascended the river. Writing from Salisbury, Conn., Porter concluded his brief note to Fellows with the plea: “Hope you will Be good Enough to Join us as Soon as Possible with what men you Can Raise” (DLC:GW; see also Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:375).

2Fellows inadvertently wrote “colonian” in the manuscript.

3Fellows is referring to West Point.

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