George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 31 August–1 September 1776

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 31st August[-1 September] 1776


Adjutant General Reed’s Letter of the 24th Instant came to hand Tuesday Morning the 27th—Yours of the same Date Yesterday.1

On receiving the former I advised with my Council; We concluded to send Benja. Huntington Esqr. one of my Council, with Direction to take with him Majr Ely at New London, an Officer there well acquaint[ed] with the People on Long Island, to proceed there and consult and agree with some of the sure friends, of our Cause, with secrecy as far as the Circumstances would admit, for a Number of their Men, assured Friends and well acquainted on the Island, to join with a body from this State, if Possible to accomplish your wishes, to cause a Diversion to the Enemy to Harrass them on their rear, and to prevent their excursions in pursuit of the Provisions the Island affords—I hear they Sailed for the Island Yesterday—His return is expected the beginning of next Week.2

If he succeeds according to our hopes3 no Exertions of this State, I trust, will be wanting at this critical conjuncture to harrass and to keep the Enemy at Bay—to gain Time and every Advantage the case may admit—Shall give the earliest intelligence of our proceedings, that you may Cooperate with our Designs—The race is not to the Swift nor the Battle to the Strong—It is nothing with God to help, whether many, or with those that have no Power—He hath so ordered things in the Administration of the Affairs of the World, as to encourage the Use of Means; and yet so, as to keep Men in Continual Dependence upon him for the efficacy and Success of them—to make Kings and all men to know the reins of the World are not in their hands, but that there is one above who sways and governs all things here below.

I am closing, a Post comes in, and brings the Letters, Copies of which are enclosed4—Now expect Mr Huntington’s speedy return—Have sent for my Council, my own thoughts and such5 as come to me are to Send forward four or Five of the Companies now Stationed at New London, with Four Field peices I hope six peices, to join those men which may be ready for the Service on Long Island, 4 or 5 Companies to follow from New London as soon as they can be marched Down; and also to order on other Companies to take the Places of such as are removed from thence.

I am inclined to think, we shall fall upon some measure similar to what is mentioned,6 No Delay can be admitted at this critical Moment. please to give me the earliest intelligence, how we may best serve agreable to your Desires.

Shall send in the Morning this intelligence, to Governor Cooke of Providence, and ask his assistance in the best way he shall think the Circumstances of that State will admit.

1st Sepr. Enclosed is Copy of Another Letter dated Yesterday from Southold—that you may Observe the Contents7—I hope to pursue our Measures so as to stop the Enemy getting in to Suffolk County. I am, with Esteem and Regard Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servant

Jonth; Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

1For Joseph Reed’s letter to Trumbull of 24 Aug., see GW to Trumbull, that date, n.4.

2Benjamin Huntington (1736–1800), a lawyer from Norwich, became a member of the Connecticut council of safety in May 1775. He also served in the state’s house of representatives from 1771 to 1780 and was its clerk in 1776 and 1777 and its speaker in 1778 and 1779. Elected to the Continental Congress in January 1780, Huntington attended as a delegate later that year and in 1782, 1783, and 1788. He was a member of the state senate from 1781 to 1790 and from 1791 to 1792, and he served in the U.S. Congress from March 1789 to March 1791. John Ely of Saybrook at this time was major of Col. Erastus Wolcott’s state regiment stationed at New London and Groton.

3The LB adds: “shall proceed with vigour to put the same in execution.”

4Trumbull enclosed copies of Col. Henry Beekman Livingston’s and Rev. Samuel Buell’s letters of 30 Aug. requesting him to send reinforcements to Long Island (DLC:GW; see also Livingston to GW, 30 Aug., n.6).

5The LB reads: “and such of my Council.”

6On 1 Sept. the council ordered Col. Erastus Wolcott to embark for Long Island as soon as possible with his state regiment which was stationed at New London and Groton and to take six field pieces from the forts at those places. The council also directed the commanding officers of eight militia regiments to prepare to go to Long Island (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Don R. Gerlach. Proud Patriot: Philip Schuyler and the War of Independence, 1775–1783. Syracuse, N.Y., 1987. description ends , 383).

7This letter from the Suffolk County committee of safety reads: “We are sorry to Acquaint you that we have Rec’d several Expresses from the Middle of this Island Acquainting us of the Regular Troops having Sorrounded Our Lines at the West End and Stop’d our Communication to the Army & Provinshal Congress, their Scouting Party Consists of about 300 Light horse & 400 foot together with a Number of Tory Recruits & to all appearance are about Penetrating into this County, as they have already Marched as far as the Western part of Hemstead Plains where they took Prisoner Brigadier Genl Nathaniel Woodhull Comr in Chief of the Militia of this Island—We must beg the favour of you to Aid & Assist us with Men and Ammunition as our Men are Chiefly drawn off and are now in the Army so that we are not able to raise more than 750 Men in the whole County that are Capable to bare Arms—if you think proper to Send us Men which we think we realy need, we must beg you would send what Provisions you think they will want, all but fresh which we Can make out to Supply them with—by the best accts we Can learn of the Strength of the Regular Army now Landed on this Island, they Consist of about 15000 or 20000 Men” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries