George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 11 September 1776

To John Hancock

New York Septr 11th 1776


I was yesterday honored with your favor of the 8th Instt accompanied by Sundry Resolutions of Congress, to which I shall pay the strictest attention and in the Instances required make them the future Rule of my conduct.

The Mode of Negotiation pursued by Lord Howe I did not approve of, But as Genl Sullivan was sent out upon the business and with a Message to Congress, I could not conceive myself at liberty to interfere in the matter as he was in the character of a prisoner and totally subject to their power and direction.

The List of prisoners before omitted thro hurry, is now inclosed, tho It will probably have reached Congress before this.1

I shall write by the first Opportunity for Major Hawsaikse to repair to Philadelphia, he is in the Northern Army and will also mention the several Appointments in consequence of Coll Sinclair’s promotion.2

As soon as Generals Prescott and McDonald arrive, I shall take measures to advise Genl Howe of It, that the proposed exchange for Genl Sullivan & Lord Stirling may be carried into execution.

Since my Letter of the 8th, Nothing material has occurred, except that the Enemy have possessed themselves of Montezores Island and landed a considerable number of Troops upon It. This Island lies in the Mouth of Harlem river which runs out of the Sound into the North River and will give the Enemy an easy opportunity of landing either on the Low Grounds of Morrisania, If their views are to seize & possess the passes above Kingsbridge, or on the plains of Harlem, If they design to Intercept and cut off the communication between our several posts. I am making every disposition and arrangement that the divided State of our Troops will admit of, and which appear most likely and the best calculated to oppose their Attacks, for I presume there will be several. How the Event will be, God only knows; But you may be assured that Nothing in my power, circumstanced as I am, shall be wanting to effect a favourable and happy Issue.

By my Letter of the 8th you would perceive that Several of the Council were for holding the Town conceiving It practicable for some time—Many of ’em now, upon seeing our divided State, have altered their Opinion and allow the expediency and necessity of Concentring our whole force or drawing It more together. convinced of the propriety of this measure, I am ordering our Stores away, except such as may be absolutely necessary to keep as long as any Troops remain, that If an evacuation of the City becomes Inevitable, and which certainly must be the case, there may be as little to remove as possible.

The Inclosed packet contains Several Letters for particular Members of Congress and for some Gentlemen in Philadelphia. They came to hand Yesterday and were brought from France by a Captn Leviz lately arrived at Bedford in the Massachusetts State. I must request the favor of you to open the packet and to have the Letters put into a proper channel of Conveyance to the Gentn they are addressed to.3 I have the honor to be with the highest esteem Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 13 Sept. and referred it to the Board of War (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:755).

1This list, which GW had intended to enclose in his letter to Hancock of 6 Sept., has not been identified.

2For Congress’s resolutions regarding these appointments, see Hancock to GW, 8 Sept., n.5. No letter from GW to Nicholas Haussegger has been found.

3This packet apparently contained letters from Silas Deane brought by a Captain Leavey or Levy who sailed out of Bordeaux in late July or early August (see Elbridge Gerry to Joseph Trumbull, 12 Sept., and Caesar Rodney to George Read, 13 Sept., in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 5:144–46, 154–55; and Deane to Robert Morris, 30 July, 4 Dec. 1776, in Isham, Deane Papers description begins Charles Isham, ed. The Deane Papers. 5 vols. New York, 1887-91. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 19–23. description ends , 1:170, 399–402).

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