George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 5 May 1777

To John Hancock

Morris Town May 5th 1777


I was this morning honored with your letter of the 3d Inst., with its inclosures.

General Arnolds promotion gives me much pleasure; he has certainly discoverd in every instance where he has had an opportunity, much bravery, activity and enterprise; But what will be done about his Rank? he will not act most probably under those he commanded but a few weeks ago.

I trust the appointment of Mr Ludwick as Superintendant of Bakers, will have the salutary consequences you mention. I have been long assured, that many abuses have been committed for want of some proper regulations in that department.

By Major Troop one of Genl Gates’s Aids, and who left Albany on Tuesday last,1 I am inform’d, the accounts of Genl Carlton’s approach towards Ticonderoga were premature. he says Genl Gates reciev’d a letter before he came away, from Brigadier Genl Wayne of the 24 Ulto, in which he mentioned nothing of it—That three thousand Troops had arrived there all in high Spirits and health, except nine, and that that Post could never be carried, without the loss of much Blood.2 The proceedings of Congress & your letter of the 29th Ulto, were the first and only information I had of Mr Carloton’s being on the Lake, having heard nothing upon the subject from Genl Gates or any other person.

In my last,3 I mention’d, that 16 Dollars bounty were given by Genl Howe to deserters with Arms; I have reason to believe from information received since, and which seems to be generally Credited, that he has advanced the bounty to 24 Dollars.

It is much to be wished, that our Printers were more discreet in many of their Publications. We see almost in every Paper, Proclamations or accounts transmitted by the Enemy, of an injurious nature. If some hint or caution could be given them on the subject, it might be of material service.

By a Person who has just arrived here, it is reported that Genl Wooster is dead of his wounds.

I would mention to Congress, that in a day or Two our Military Chest will be exhausted; I beg that a supply may be forwarded, as soon as possible, If there should be a failure, we shall have many things to apprehend. I have the Honor to be Sir with great respect Your most Obet Servant

Go: Washington

P.S. I have inclosed a List of Stores lost at Danbury. You will also receive a New York paper, by which you will see the Enemy’s Account of that Affair & how little they have regarded a True state.4 We are told5 certainly they had 47 Men killed & from the Accounts, that have been received, I think it may be fairly concluded, that their Loss was much more considerable than they make it.6

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s and Robert Hanson Harrison’s writings, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The main body of the LS is in Meade’s writing, and its postscript is in Harrison’s writing. The postscript is not included in the draft or the Varick transcript. Congress read this letter on 6 May (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 , 7:329).

1The previous Tuesday was 29 April. Robert Troup (1757–1832), who had been appointed a first lieutenant in Col. John Lasher’s regiment of New York militia levies in May 1776 and had been captured at the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug. 1776, was exchanged in December 1776, and the following February he became an aide-de-camp to Gates with the rank of major. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in October, Troup remained an aide to Gates until May 1779, when he became secretary to the Board of Treasury, an office that he held until February 1780. Troup came to GW’s headquarters at this time seeking tents for the northern army (see Gates to GW, 13 May).

2Anthony Wayne wrote Gates from Ticonderoga on 25 April: “Whether we shall Receive a visit from the Enemy or not, time alone (perhaps a few days) will determine. . . . Our whole force . . . don’t amount to 1900 men—one fourth part of whom are Destitute of Arms. . . . We have Secured the Pass between Ticonderoga and Mount Independance in such a manner as will effectually prevent the Enemies Shiping from forceing into our Rear—and in case of an Attack you may Rest Assured this place will not be Carried without the expence of much blood” (NHi: Gates Papers).

4The enclosed list of stores lost at Danbury has not been identified. An account of the stores that were destroyed there and at Ridgefield, Conn., dated 12 May 1777 and signed by Lt. Col. Giles Russell of the Connecticut militia, is in DLC:GW; see also the British return of the stores destroyed at those places in Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 129–30. The enclosed newspaper apparently was a copy of the 5 May 1777 edition of Hugh Gaines’s New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, which includes an account of the Danbury raid and a list of the destroyed stores. That account says that the British losses during the expedition were “14 Men killed, 10 Officers and 80 Men wounded, most of them slightly.”

5At this place on the manuscript of the LS, Harrison first wrote the word “know.” He then struck it and wrote “are told” above the line.

6Before the word “Loss” on the manuscript of the LS, Harrison wrote the words “killed or wounded & prisoners taken amount” and then struck them. For the British casualties incurred during the raid, see Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 4 May, n.2.

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