George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, 13 January 1777

From Brigadier General Benedict Arnold

Providence Janry 13th 1777

Dear General

Yesterday I arived here, haveing previously done all in my power, to forward on the Militia, from the Massachusets Bay, and Connecticut, upwards of six Thousand of which I hope are in the Jerseys, before this Time.

There is at this place & in the Vicinity, about Two thousand Men, part of six Thousand Ordered from the New England States, The others are on their March, & expected in, in a few days, The Enemies Force, on Rhode Island by the best Intelligence is five or Six Thousand, One half Foreigners, & some few Invalids, we are informed by several Persons who left New Port within a few days, that Genl Clinton is going home in the Asia, & has sent his Baggage on board,1 & that the Troops have Orders to hold themselves in readiness to embark at a minutes Notice, (perhaps for New York,) I beleive they have No Intention of penetrateing the Country at Present—I beg leave (tho late) to Congratulate your Excellency on your success at Trentown. It was a most happy stroke, and has greatly raised the sinking Spirits of the Country.

We this minute have Advice by a letter from Govenor Trumbull of your further Success near Prince Town, & report says, Generals Putnam, & Mifflin, have killed, & taken Two Regiments, Near Bristol, we beleive this true As the Intelligence comes from New Port. People In General are in high Spirits, this seems a most Favourable Crisis, to Dislodge the Enemy from the Country, Heaven grant, your Excellency may be able to effect it, & may peace, & Lau⟨rels⟩ Crown your Success’es.

About Twelve or fifteen hundred of the Enemy are dispersed, in all the Farm houses On Rhode Island, as soon as the Militia arives I hope we shall be able to give a good Accot of some of them.

I beg leave to recommend to your Excellency, Capt. Samuel Mansfield, to Command a Company of Artillery. He was a Leiut. of Artillery last Summer in the Northern Department, and Afterwards, Captain of a Gally, in Two Actions Behaved with great, Prudence and Bravery, being Anxious to Continue in the Service & much wanted here, I have desired him to engage a Number of Men. If your Excellency should think proper to Appoint him, his Company will be soon filled up, & I dare be responsible for his good Conduct.2

A Quarter Master is much wanted here, One is Appointed by the state for their Own Troops, but they are not able to furnish him with Cash.

I beg the favour of ⟨mutilated⟩ Respect to Capt: Mansfield, & am ⟨mutilated⟩ of perfect respect & Esteem Dear General Your most Obedient, Humble Servant

B. Arnold

ALS, DLC:GW. The text in angle brackets was mutilated by the seal tear.

1British general Henry Clinton left Rhode Island for England aboard H.M.S. Asia on Sunday morning, 12 Jan. (see Sir Peter Parker to Lord Howe, 11 Jan., and John Ayres to the Massachusetts Council, 17 Jan. 1777, in Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 7:923–27, 983–84). Clinton, who was knighted during his brief visit to England, returned to America in the summer of 1777, arriving back at New York City on 5 July (see Lord George Germain to William Howe, 19 April 1777, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 14:69–71).

2Samuel Mansfield, a former high sheriff of New Haven County, Conn., was Arnold’s business partner and the father of Arnold’s first wife, Margaret Mansfield Arnold (d. 1775). Mansfield served as a volunteer on the 1775 expedition to Canada, and he subsequently commanded the 3-gun gondola New Haven in Arnold’s fleet on Lake Champlain (see List of Continental Armed Vessels on Lake Champlain, 18 Aug. 1776, in Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 6:224). He received a captaincy in Col. John Lamb’s 2d Continental Artillery Regiment on 1 Jan. 1777 and raised his company in Connecticut. Mansfield served to November 1778 when he resigned his commission in a dispute over rank (see 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 , 12:1112). He apparently then went to Georgia, where he served as an aide to Gov. George Walton during the siege of Savannah in the fall of 1779. After the war Mansfield resettled in New York, where he became a successful merchant.

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