George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Israel Putnam, 3 November 1777

From Major General Israel Putnam

Fish Kill [N.Y.] Novemr 3d 1777

Dear Genl

I am sorry that I am under the disagreeable Necessity of acquainting you that there is the greatest Necessity of Money in this Department, the Troops suffer for want of Pay, the Commissary, and Quarters Departments are exceedingly embarress’d and perplexed in their Business, greatly involved in debt, and the Public Faith will be prejudiced unless a Considerable supply of Cash is speedily sent—I must Request you to Order some to be forwarded with as much Dispatch as possible.

The large spy Glass I took from Col: Morris last Year, and which Your Excellency had, I exceedingly Want, as I have none Neither can I get any, Mrs Morris Wrote me the other day, and Requested I would take it, I should be extreamly Obliged if it might be sent by the Bearer.

Col: Hamilton Arrived here Yesterday, and in Consequence of your Orders, I have directed the Detachments of the several Regiments with you, to March and Join their Corps—Genl Winds I have Orderd to March to Red Bank, Lt Colonels Cobb and Smith; with the Detachments from Cols. Jackson and Lee’s Regiments—Genls Poor, Learned, Patterson, and Warners Brigades I have Orderd to March and Join you, and have only Genl Parsons’s Brigade, and three York Regts of Continental Troops left—Yours of the 26th Ultmo Came to hand after writing the Above. I am Dear Genl verry Respectfully Your Mos. Obt Hume Servt

Israel Putnam

P.S. B. Genl Parsons is now in the Neighberhood of White Plains, last Thersday he Detachd a party into West Chester, took about 40 of the Horse Theive, four of Delancy’s Lt Horsemen & thirty horses besides sevral other articles1—Burnt three Vessels of about 50 Tuns Burthen Laden with Butter & Cheese for New York.


1James De Lancey (c.1750-1804), a former sheriff of Westchester County, N.Y., was colonel of the Westchester County Loyalist militia and captain of the Westchester County Chasseurs. According to an entry in Col. Samuel Blachley Webb’s journal for Saturday, 29 Nov., De Lancey was captured on the night of Friday, 28 Nov., when the house he was staying at was surrounded by one of Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons’s scouting parties (Ford, Webb Correspondence and Journals description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed. Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blachley Webb. 3 vols. New York, 1893–94. description ends , 1:239). After De Lancey’s arrest, the Westchester County committee of safety sent a petition to New York governor George Clinton denouncing De Lancey as a traitor and demanding his close confinement for having broken an earlier parole and for “acting with the Greatest Vennom Imagionable against the Good People of this County, as a Col. Commanding the Militia . . . and as a Capt. in Raising a Company of Light Horse, Incourageing a number of Horse Thieves to Steal Horses for Said Company” (Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 2:564–66). Clinton wrote to Putnam on 12 Dec. to pass on the information that De Lancey had broken a previous parole, adding, “I am perswaded you wont put it in his Power to do it a second Time” (ibid., 569–74). De Lancey nevertheless was paroled a second time and exchanged by March 1780. In the summer of 1781 GW ordered an attack on De Lancey’s corps after he led a surprise raid on a Continental encampment at Croton River, N.Y., that resulted in the death of Col. Christopher Greene (see GW to Benjamin Lincoln and to La Luzerne, 1 July 1781). After the war De Lancey settled in Annapolis, Nova Scotia, where he became a member of the council in 1794.

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