George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Israel Putnam, 8 October 1777

To Major General Israel Putnam

Skippack Camp [Pa.] [8]th1 October 1777

Dear Sir

Congress having recommended it to me to send an Engineer to Fort Montgomery, I have instantly dispatched Lt Colo. Radier upon that Service.2 He is the second in command of four Gentlemen sent out by Docr Franklin and Mr Dean.

The Congress have transmitted me Copy of a letter from you to them of the 29th Sepr in which you express your doubts of being able to defend the posts upon the North River3 with the force you will have left after detatching 2500 Men to this Army.4 Before I ordered this detatchment I consulted those best acquainted with the Strength of the passes and they all agreed that about two thousand Men at Peekskill and Fort Montgomery would be sufficient to repel any force that would probably be sent against you. Now by your Return of the 5th of Sepr you would have 1800 effective rank and file left after sending off the detatchment,5 besides these the non commissioned ought to be counted upon and some of the invalids, for in the defence of Stationary posts every Man that can lift a Musket must do his duty. I think you will find that you have far over rated Genl Clintons Force at New York, I am certain you have in regard to the late Reinforcements. But I imagine the thing has been tryed before this time as Colo. Hay has sent me an Express informing me that the Ships went up the River and began to land their Men upon the 4th instant.6 I am anxious to hear from you. I have wrote to Govr Livingston desiring him to send the Jersey Militia up the North River as there can now be no danger of an invasion in that State, the Enemy having shewn that their preparations were against you.7

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Although the draft and Varick transcript are dated 7 Oct., the context of this letter indicates that it was written on 8 Oct. (see notes 1 and 2).

1On the draft manuscript the number “7” is written over the number “8.” The docket on the draft reads: “7th October 1777 to Genl Putnam,” and the Varick transcript is dated 7 October. Putnam says, however, in his letter to GW of 16 Oct.: “I have been hond with the receipt of your two favours of the 8th.” Putnam apparently included this letter as one of those “two favours of the 8th,” indicating that the receiver’s copy of the letter, which has not been found, was dated 8 October.

2A copy of the resolution of 6 Oct., in which Congress makes this recommendation, was enclosed in Hancock’s letter to GW of 7 Oct., which GW received on the evening of 8 Oct. (see Hancock to GW, 7 Oct., n.2, and GW to Hancock, 10–11 Oct., n.1). The fact that GW did not receive the resolution until the evening of 8 Oct. indicates that this letter was written on 8 Oct. rather than the previous date. See also GW to La Radière, 8 October.

3At this place on the draft manuscript Tilghman first wrote and then struck out the words: “against Genl Clinton.”

4For Putnam’s letter, see Hancock to GW, 7 Oct., n.2.

5This return has not been identified, but see Putnam to GW, 6 Sept., and GW to Putnam, 14 Sept. 1777.

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