George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 8 June 1778

From Major General Horatio Gates

Robinson’s House [N.Y.] June 8th 1778.


By this Conveyance I have the honour to send Your Excellency, the last Accounts of the proceedings of the Enemy, as well upon Lake Champlain, as New York.1 I have long been of Opinion, that provided the ensuing Campaign, is Offensive on the side of the British, their Operations will be up the North River, and intirely bent to Attack the Eastern States; this is in some degree, an opinion supported by the intelligence from Crown Point.

General Warner from the Massachusetts; Commissioner for the Militia Drafts, & Recruits from that State; arrived here Yesterday; he says the expected reinforcements will be here in Ten Days; And by a Letter from Governour Trumbull, I am informed, that Two Regiments of Militia may be hourly expected from Connecticut.2 Happily for us, the Enemy have not yet seized the Advantage, our weak State so invitingly offered them.

On Friday, agreeable to Your Excellency’s Orders, I sent the British Surgeons, with the Convalescent prisoners, in Two Albany Sloops, with a Flag to New York; and wrote as you desired, to The Commissary of Prisoners, to Exchange them for those of Our People, who have been the longest in Confinement.3 Your Excellency’s Letters of the 29th May, & 2nd June, were both delivered me by the same Express, and at the same time, on Fryday Evening. Your injunction in regard to forwarding the Arms, is Answered already; And I acquainted Colo: Malcolm, with Your Excellency’s determination Concerning him. I have no predelection in favor of any Man, for the Office of Depy Adjt General, but would feign have a good one; as to his Regiment being sent here, it was no request of mine, but of Governr Clinton’s, who, Colo: Malcolm told me, had undertaken to recruit it.

Colo. Sheldon with Sixty of His Regiment, arrived yesterday at peeks kill. with great respect I am Sir Your Excellencys most Obedient Humble Servant

Horatio Gates


1The enclosures tended to support Gates’s contention that the British were preparing for offensive operations up the Hudson River and into New England. The enclosed copy of an intelligence report by “J.T.,” dated 1 June from Albany, N.Y., reads: “J.T. of [ ] informs that agreable to his directions he left [ ] on the 17th May that on the Saturday Morning following [23 May] he arrived four Miles North of Crown Point, that about noon a gun Boat from one of the Ships came on Shore, that he went into it, and was carried on board one of the Ships, that there were three Ships at Anchor, that he saw about 7 or 8 Gun Boats, and two Ships or Vessels about three or four Miles farther down the Lake, that one of the three Ships had three Masts, the other two, that he was on board of that which had three Masts, that she had sixteen Guns on board that he does not know how many the other had, that some of the Gun Boats had no great Gun, but had Swivels, that when he came on board the Capt. asked him from whence he came, and what Business he had there, he answered that he came to see, if any of his friends were there, and to inform them, how their families were, and he told him from what Place he came. the Capt. said he believed he was a Rebel & a Spy, and would send him to Canada, upon which the informant told him, who they were he wanted to see, and if any of them were on board they would know that he was a loyal Subject of the King. that soon after three men came into the Cabbin, and the Capt. asked if he knew any of them, he said he did not, but believed he had seen one (pointing to a small Man) in Genl Burgoynes Camp at Saratoga; that the Capt. then asked if he knew Capt. Jonathan Jones, he said he did, upon which the Capt. ordered him to be sent for, that when the Person was coming into the Cabbin, the Informant said that was not Jonathan Jones but John Jones, that he shook hands with Jones. The Capt. asked Jones if the fellow might be depended upon. Jones said he was a true man and had always been a friend to the King. The Capt. then enquired what Rebels were at Skeensboro’ or Lake George, he answered from what he could learn about one thousand He asked what News was stirring amongst the Rebels, he answered they were in high Spirits, that they said great Men were coming over to settle all Matters, but that they would not, that they had made an Agreement with France. The Capt. asked him if he had heard that the Army was coming from Philadelphia to New York, he said he had not, The Capt. reply’d they will soon be there, and asked what the Rebels intended by building Batteaus at Saratoga, he said he did not know, but believed for carrying Provisions to Fort Edward for their Men. after a variety of other Questions of no Consequence, he was sent into the Steerage, where they gave him Dinner. Late in the Afternoon was sent for into the Cabbin, and the Capt. told him that none of the People, he had particularly enquired for were on Board any of the Ships, but that Jones would inform them of what he had to say, that he might go back and tell such of the Kings friends as might be depended upon to keep themselves in readiness for that the Rebels would soon be in several Quarters That the Army from Philadelphia was to come up Hudson’s River, that the Indians were to attack the frontiers & that two thousand Men lay at Isle au Noix ready to embark on board of Batteaus, whenever the Orders should come, that one thousand of these would land near Castletown to alarm the Grants, and the others at Skeensborough & march to Fort Edward to keep the Inhabitants in this Quarter in Alarm. that the Kings friends on the Grants would join those that landed there, as soon as they were informed that the Fleet was coming up the River and the Kings friends in this Quarter those at Skeensboro’. That he saw no Soldiers except about Ten or twelve, that there were only nine Tories on board the Ship he was on and was told very few on board of the other Ships, that he Knew none but Jones and two Men that used to work at Jones’s, that he thinks he has seen one of the others whom they called Capt. Adams. that he was furnished with Provisions, Shoes and Stockings, and set off from the Shipping on Sunday accompanied by two Indians as far as near to Jessups Patent, that the Capt. of the Ship’s Name is Robinson, that they seemed to have plenty of fresh Provisions, that there were Six Indians on board. further saith not. taken before me Ph: Schuyler” (DLC:GW). Schuyler sent GW a copy of this report on 2 June.

An enclosed copy of a letter from Col. Morris Graham to Gates, dated 2 June from White Plains, N.Y., reads: “The within Intelligence may be depended upon, the Number of Troops they have at the Bridge is difficult to be obtained, as there is no Person permitted to enter their Camp, but those that belong to the Army” (DLC:GW).

Colonel Graham was referring to the next enclosure, a copy of an intelligence report dated “Tuesday Morning 11 O Clock” on 2 June: “Intelligence obtain’d Yesterday from New York, that the New Levies were embarked and gone up the Sound the 25t Day of May—That 2 Ships were loaded in the Harbour with the Heavy Cannon—That 30 New Waggons were put on Board the Shipping a few days ago, and that the Troops at the Bridge consisted of the 52nd Regt, some Highlanders, Hessians and Emmericks’ Corps of 50 Men” (DLC:GW).

An enclosed copy of a letter from George Clinton to Gates, dated 5 June from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., reads: “I send you inclosed a Copy of a Paper I just now recieved from Albany, containing Information given by a Person, who was sent out as a Spy to Crown Point, about the Middle of last Month and returned the 1st Inst.—I believe the fullest Credit may be given to the Informants Account, as far as it respects himself—But whether the real Designs of the Enemy, have been communicated to him, must as yet, remain uncertain—There are some concurring Circumstances which in my Opinion gives it a Degree of Credibility, such as the Spirit of the Tories on the Northern Frontiers being greatly elated, considerable Numbers of them daily going to the Westward, supposed to join the Indians—The Appearance of an Intention of the Enemy to evacuate Philadelphia—Their Movements and Preparations in New York—I have nothing new from the Northward and not a Word from any other Quarter”(DLC:GW).

The same packet of letters apparently also included the following intelligence report from Philadelphia, dated 3 June at 7:00 p.m. and addressed “with Speed” to colonel “Ellis, Shreeves or Hilliman”: “I this moment Recd Inteligence from good athority, that the Brittish are part to Land at glossester, part to go from Billings port, and a party from cooper ferrey, & they are Determined to Surround you & take you at all Events. they have a number of guides with them that know the Contry well, take this hint & Act Accordingly, I am with much Respect yours that Recd a line from you to Day” (DLC:GW).

2Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.’s letter to Gates of 30 May is in NHi: Gates Papers; see also Ct: Trumbull Papers, 2:235–36.

3Friday was 5 June. For letters relating to the prisoner exchange, see Gates to Daniel Jones, 4 June; Gates to Lewis Pintard, 4 June; John McNamara Hayes to Gates, 4 and 5 June; Angus McDonell to Gates, 4 and 5 June; and Daniel Jones to Gates, 7 June (NHi: Gates Papers).

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