From the New York Convention
March 18, 1777.
SIR—The Convention are very happy to find, by the gentlemen that waited on your Excellency, that their plan for the security of the forts, meets with your approbation; and that the gentleman they propose to recommend to Congress, is agreeable to your Excellency. They take the liberty to request that you express your sentiment on this head to Congress, and urge their speedy adoption of so salutary a measure.1 The Convention finding a great deficiency of cannon ball at the fortresses, have ordered 4,000 to be cast; many other articles necessary for their defence, being wanting, they have taken the liberty to write to Genl. McDougall, for the proper supplies from the Continental stores.2 Your Excellency’s distance, and the variety of the cares which divide your attention, will sufficiently apologize for the interference of the Convention in a matter of such great importance to the common interest. I have the honor to be, &c.
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 , 2:400. For the drafting of this letter by the New York convention, see ibid., 1:840.
1. A committee of the New York convention consisting of Albany delegates Jacob Cuyler and John Taylor, which was appointed by the convention on 26 Feb. 1777, visited GW’s headquarters in early March 1777 following a tour of the American defensive works along the Hudson River. According to the committee’s report to the convention of 12 Mar., the committee inspected the river obstructions supervised by Gen. George Clinton and conferred with Gens. James Clinton and Alexander McDougall about defending forts Montgomery and Constitution against a possible British attack before proceeding to Morristown to discuss their findings with GW. “Your committee ... laid before his Excellency the information they had obtained; mentioned the impracticability of calling out the militia of this State; assigned the reasons; hinted to His Excellency the propriety of appointing a discreet and vigilant officer to command the posts in the Highlands; observed to him that the Convention esteemed General James Clinton as a brave officer—a gentleman willing to obey every order from his superior—one who would appear to more advantage in the field than in a garrison; that a more active officer ought to command so important a pass as the Highlands. Your committee mentioned to His Excellency that it was the wish of Convention that General George Clinton might be appointed, with the advantages that would result from such an appointment. Your committee mentioned to His Excellency the impossibility of procuring cannon for the frigates in this State, or at Salisbury, in any convenient time; that from the information of Henry Livingston, and other corroborating circumstances, Convention were led to believe the enemy intends penetrating up Hudson’s river, in which case those frigates, if properly fitted, would be of the utmost importance.
“His Excellency answered, that it was out of his power to appoint general officers; that he had the highest opinion of General George Clinton’s abilities; that nothing on his part should be wanting to forward the wishes of Convention in respect to that gentleman; that the same complaint prevailed to the southward, in respect to cannon, as with us; that he would answer us more fully, and appointed a time for that purpose.
“Your committee waited on His Excellency at the time appointed, and were informed that he could not be seen—being taken ill the day before with a fever, which obliged him to keep his room” (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 , 1:813, 831–32).
2. For the convention’s letter to McDougall of this date requesting cannonballs and a “proportionate quantity of powder and wads,” as well as paper to make more musket cartridges for the garrisons in the highlands, see ibid., 840–41.