George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Israel Putnam, 16 October 1777

From Major General Israel Putnam

Fish kill [N.Y.] Octr 16th 1777

Dear Genl

I have been hond with the receipt of your two favours of the 8th and immagine before this you have recd mine of the Same date containing the disagreable intelligence of the loss of fort mountgomery after a most Spirited defence & of our evacuating Peeks kill in Consequence thereoff—I congratulate you on the bravery of your Troops in attacking & putting to flight the british army, & regret the unfavourable Circumstance that prevented its terminating in a Compleat Victory.

last monday1 Genl Parsons with about two thousand2 Troops marched down & took possession of Peeks kill & the passes in the high lands he has taken a number of Cattle horses & Sheep which were Collected by the Enemy—the Enimy have burnt the buildings & barracks at the Village & Several dwelling houses & other buildings at Peeks kill—they have demolished Fort mountgomery & Constitution—& are repairing Fort Clinton—yesterday about forty Sail passed up the river Crouded with Troops—and are now at anchor above Poughkipsie the wind not favouring—we were on our march after them when I met the agreabl[e] intelligence of the Surrendry of Genl Burgoine & his army as prisoners of war, a Copy of which is enclosed;3 & thereupon I do most Sencerely Congratulate your excellency—I have halted my Troops & am now Considering what ought to be my next movement—have Sent to Govr Clinton for his Opinion on the Subject—& ordered Genl Parsons to Spare no pains to find the Situation & Strength of the garrison at kings bridge in order to direct my future Operations most advantagiously I have about Six thousand Troops who are Chiefly militia I understand that Genl Campbell was killed at Fort mountgomery4 & Several Field officers & others of inferior rank The Enemy’s loss by the last accounts I have been able to get is very Considerable not less than a thousand killed & wounded—The Two Continental Frigates & the row Galley which lay above Fort mountgomery were burnt to prevent there falling into the hands of the Enemy for which I am very Sorrey as one I beleve might have been saved.

I have the unhappiness to Inform you that mrs Putnam after a long & tedious illness departed this life last Teusday night5—with the highest esteem & respect I am dear Sir your most Obedt humble Servant

Israel Putnam


1The previous Monday was 13 October.

2On the manuscript the writer wrote and then struck out the words “fifteen hundred” before writing “two thousand.”

3The enclosed copy of the letter that Gov. George Clinton wrote to Putnam at 10:00 P.M. on 15 Oct. from Kingston, N.Y., consists mostly of a copy of the letter prematurely reporting Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga that the chairman of the Albany committee of correspondence wrote to the president of the New York council of safety earlier on 15 October. For the text of the latter letter, see GW to Christopher Greene, 18 October. Although Burgoyne began surrender negotiations with Gates on 14 Oct., he did not sign the articles of convention until 17 October.

4Mungo Campbell, who was commissioned major of the 55th Regiment of Foot in 1770 and lieutenant colonel of the 52d Regiment of Foot in February 1776, died while leading the advance guard in the British attack against Fort Montgomery on 6 October.

5The previous Tuesday was 14 October. Israel Putnam had married his second wife, Deborah Lothrop Avery Gardiner Putnam, widow of John Gardiner and a native of Pomfret, Conn., in June 1767.

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