George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 2 November 1777

From Major General Horatio Gates

Albany 2nd November 1777.


Inclosed I have the Honor to send Your Excellency a Letter I received last Night from General George Clinton, with my Answer thereto;1 The Regiment of Rifle Men, under Colonel Morgan, Marched from Saratoga the day After the Convention was signed;2 they will very soon be in the Neighbourhood of Your Excellency’s Camp. Congress having been requested, immediately to transmit Copies of all my Dispatches to them, I am Confident Your Excellency has long ago received all the Good News from this Quarter.3 That Conquest, and Triumphs, may be the final Results of Your Excellencys Campaign, is the Ardent Wish of, Sir, Your Excellencys most Obedient Humble Servant

Horatio Gates

LS, DLC:GW; ADf, NHi: Gates Papers.

1Gov. George Clinton’s letter to Gates, which was written at Fishkill, N.Y., on 30 Oct., reads: “I arrived here about noon when I met your favour of the 25 Inst. My Letter of the 26th informing you of the enemies fleet having fallen down below New Windsor, must have reach’d you before this—I have therefore only to add that the enemy have demolished Fort Montgomery and all the other posts in the Highlands and moved down with their whole force towards New York and to ask how I am to dispose of the troops belonging to your department which you have been so good as to place under my Direction—as it is probable Genl Putnam may think it prudent to make an Attempt against New York, I am the more anxious to have your directions in this respect that I may govern myself accordingly. . . . P.S. your troops had not reached N. Windsor yet the last I heard of them they were at Kingston, since which to this day I believe the weather has prevented their moving” (DLC:GW). Gates’s reply to Clinton, dated 2 Nov. from Albany, reads: “Upon my Return last Night from boeymans I had the Pleasure to receive your Excellency’s Letter of the 30th of last Month.

“If Sir Henry Clinton is directed to reinforce the Army of Sir William Howe, which I believe to be the Case, he will either land his Troops at Amboy and march by the lower Road to Mount Holly to support any designed Attack upon Fort Mifflin, and the fortified Pass of Delaware River: or he will land at Elizabeth Town, and march by Brunswick, and Princeton to Trenton, in Order to facilitate Sir William Howe’s Retreat across the Delaware, and through the Jerseys. In either Attempt I am clearly of Opinion that all the Troops I sent to your Assistance with all that can properly, from your Neighbourhood, be added to them—should march without Delay to Morris-Town—and for their further Operations be governed in great Measure by the Movements of the Enemy. Of these the commanding Officer should procure the best Intelligence.

“If Sir Henry Clinton marches towards Mount-Holly our Army will of Course move directly to Princeton; and hang upon his Rear, and right Flank—If he marches towards Trenton our Army will march to Sommerset Court-House and be ready to move, as he moves, towards Trenton our General carefully acquainting General Washington with his own, and the Enemy’s Motions, and receiving his Directions for the Co-operation of his Army.

“The Governor of the Jerseys should, at the same Time, be required to order the Militia of that State to second the Motions of our Army. If Col. Morgan, and his Rifle Regiment are marched it would be right to send an Express to stop them at Van Camps, and order him to march from thence to Sussex Court House, and to Morris-Town.

“The heavy Brass Artillery I sent down the River should be sent up again by Water, or so disposed as to be secured from any surprize. The light Brass Field Guns, which you mentioned in a former Letter, should be sent with the Troops to Morris-Town. I have the best Reason to believe, that with the Troops I have here, I can secure every Thing this Way until June, and perhaps do more.

“If the public Affairs of this State do not require your Excellency’s immediate Attendance upon them, I wish you could be spared to command the Army to be assembled at Morris-Town. But if your meeting the Legislature here cannot be dispensed with, I wish General Parsons might be ordered for that service, and now take the Liberty to recommend it to General Putnam by this Express. Nevertheless I wish you would immediately cross the River to General Putnam, and shew him this Letter, and confer with him upon this Important Movement of the Troops.

“As I have sent General Putnam a very fine Brigade from hence, with two excellent Regiments of Connecticut Militia I think he will be able to spare one Brigade of Continental Troops from his Side with General Parsons.

“I utterly disapprove of any Attempt upon New-York, knowing that while the Enemy’s Ships of Force occupy the East, and North Rivers and there is a tolerable Garrison on the Istmus, the taking the City would be very doubtfull, and when taken would be found without any Military Stores of Consequence, for those you may be assured are afloat—and is also so commanded from the Water that it cannot be held until we are superior at Sea.

“If you cannot wait upon General Putnam yourself, send him a Copy of this Letter and your Sentiments thereupon with my Letter to him inclosed” (DLC:GW).

2The articles of convention was signed at Saratoga on 16 October. On the following day Burgoyne’s army surrendered its arms and Daniel Morgan’s rifle corps began its march south.

3For Congress’s official notification to GW of Burgoyne’s capitulation at Saratoga, see Charles Thomson to GW, 31 Oct., and note 2.

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