George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 22 June 1778

From Major General Horatio Gates

Peeks Kill [N.Y.] 22nd June 1778.
11 in the Forenoon


I have the pleasure to Own the receipt of Your Excellency’s Letter of the 12th, Instant, and find the Enemy (although ready to remove) had not then evacuated Philadelphia. Some great decisive Stroke in War, or politicks, must immediately determine the Line of Conduct the Commissioners resolve to take. I am only vexed, so much precious time is lost upon our Side, by those whose duty it is to furnish Supplies of Men, provissions, Arms, Tents, &c. &c. About Twelve Hundred of the Draughts, & Recruits from Massachusetts, have Joined; but not an Arm to put upon their Shoulders. Expresses have been sent to every State, and every Store, to entreat Supplies; but only those abovementioned are yet Arrived.

The State of our Provission Magazine is also truly Alarming, as Your Excellency will perceive by the inclosed Return, and Copy of my Letter sent to Messrs Colt, & Champion; duplicates of which, were also transmitted to Governour Trumbull.1

This moment, Your Excellency’s of the 18th Instant from the Valley Forge, is put into my Hands by an Express. General Greene’s Letter was directly forwarded to Colo: Hay at Fish Kill, with the others in Your Excellency’s packet.2

Your Excellency may be assured of my Steady Attention to the Objects you recommend, and of my exact Obedience to all Your Commands. I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servt.

AL, DLC:GW; ADfS, NHi: Gates Papers.

1The enclosed copy of a letter from Gates to Peter Colt and Henry Champion, Sr., dated 22 June at Peekskill, reads: “Inclosed I send you a Return of the Salt Provisions stored in the States of Connecticut, and New-York. I might easily account for such a Scarcity, had Nature been sparing in her Gifts to the Soil & Climate of America. But as the contrary is the Case, I am induced to believe that those Gentlemen, who act in the purchasing Department, are not quite so industrious and attentive as the public Service requires.

“In the Opening of a Campaign which would, if proper Means were used, put an End to the present War, & establish our Independence on a lasting Foundation, our Army is likely to disband. And for what Reason? Not because we are deficient in Arm⟨s,⟩ Artillery, & military Stores. With these we have been amply supplied from Europe. But because we have neglected to collect Provisions in a Land flowing with Plenty and Abundance. Should this Circumstance prove the Loss of our Freedom we shall be despised by ourselves as much as we shall be hated by Posterity. To prevent such a melancholy & alarming Event, I call upon you, in the most pressing Terms, to strain every Nerve—to exert every Sinew in purchasing Cattle and sending them to this Army, which tho’ small now, is hourly encreasing, and will be very numerous in less than ten Days. Not a Moment of Time ought to be lost—Rouse then, and endeavour to save your Country from impending Ruin!” (DLC: GW). The enclosed return of salt provisions is also in DLC:GW.

Gates also enclosed a copy of a letter to him from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., dated 18 June at Lebanon, Conn.: “Governor Clinton proposed three thousand Men to be raised in the States of N. York, Massachusetts & Connecticut for Defence of the North River—for N. York 700—Massachuts agread for 1300—this State 1000—for that End—this calculated to encourage six Battalions to inlist for that Service & Defence of the Sea Coasts—expecting they would soon fill—in this are disappointed—Colo. Enos’s have 184 privates inlisted—Colo. Hookers 242—Colo. McClell⟨en⟩ 147—No Return from Colo. Mead—say 150.

“The General Assembly observing the Appearance of such Deficiences—ordered two Battalions to consist of 728 Men each to be detatched from the Militia— & three Companys of Lt Horse to consist of 60 Men each—these, one of the last mentioned Battalions raised on the West Side of Connecticut River; & the first mentioned Numbers—total 1631—privates are ordered forthwith to march to join the Army under your Comand—The other two of the six Battalions Colo. Motts 101 privates at N. London—Colo. Cooks—133—at N. Haven or the other detatched Regiment will be ordered without unnecessary Delay to march to join the Army—the two detatched Batts. to remain in Service two months after their Arrival at the Place of their Destination.

“Major Genl Putnam is collecting Recruits for the Continental Establishment—I fancy our Regiments will be as near compleat as any on the Ground—Your Letter of ⟨15th⟩ instant came to Hand last Evening—I really hoped for more active Vigor to dislodge & extirpate our Enemies—the Zeal of the People to establish the Independance of the United States is not abated: the European Alliances, and Expectation of a French War tends to bring on a Security here, which I fear is too general a Calamity” (DLC:GW).

2Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene’s letter of 17 June to Col. Udny Hay, commiserating with him on his loss of military rank, is printed in Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 2:437.

Index Entries