George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 21 July 1778

From George Clinton

Poughkeepsie [N.Y.] July 21st 1778

Dear Sir.

I have this Moment received the disagreable Account of Springfield and Andreas Town on the Western Frontier of Tryon County being destroyed by the Enemy Copies and Extracts of the several Letters forwarded to me on that Subject and the Copy of a Letter from Colo. Vroman to General Ten Broeck containing Information of the Enemy’s being on their March up the west branch of Delaware River against that Place your Excellency will find enclosed.1 I am extreamly apprehensive that notwithstanding the utmost exertions we shall be able to make with the Militia, the Enemy will lay waste that fertile Country. By General Ten Broeck’s Letter your Excellency will please to observe that none of the Hampshire Militia are arrived at Albany and only about 30 of the Berkshire Militia and about 50 of Colo. Beedels Regiment are now at that Place. This unexpectedly being the Case I submit to your Excellency whether it would not be most adviseable to hasten the March of Lieut. Colo. Butlers Regiment, and instead of halting them at Wawarsink let them proceed immediately at least as far North as Schoharie as it is most probable the next attempt of the Enemy will be against that Settlement. I am with the highest Esteem Your Excellency’s most Obedt Servt

Geo. Clinton


1Peter B. Vroman (Vrooman; 1736–1794), a member of the Albany County committee of correspondence from the Schoharie district in 1775, was elected a colonel of the county militia in October of that year and served in that capacity until 1781. Vroman’s letter to militia Brig. Gen. Abraham Ten Broeck of 17 July asked for reinforcement “without Delay,” in light of information gathered from an Indian “spy of the Enemy … that the Enemy are on their Way coming up the west branch of Delaware River to this place [Schoharie]” and “that they had made a wide Road … to bring field Pieces … their number is great” (DLC:GW).

Clinton also enclosed copies and extracts of letters from militia Lt. Col. Jacob Ford to Ten Broeck, 18 July; from militia Col. Jacob Klock to Ten Broeck, 19 July; from Ten Broeck to Clinton, 20 July; and from Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler to Clinton, 20 July (all DLC:GW). Ford reported from Cherry Valley “that the Enemy Tories & Indians have made a Decent upon the Settlement called Springfield about 10 or 11 oClock this Day & have burnt & destroyed the same—The greatest Part of the Inhabitants were moved but some of them were there how many are killed & taken I cannot yet tell.

“I have about 80 Men fit for Duty besides some of the Inhabitants—The People are in the greatest Distress There is Piquets made round the Meeting House and all the Women & Children and their Household Effects are crowded into that Place for Protection so thick that it seems to me they must die there and there is so few Men here that it is not in our Power to protect them except they are together.”

Klock, at Palatine in Tryon County, had “received several Expresses from Cherry Valley, Springfield and Andreastown informing that the two last mentioned Places are entirely destroyed by Indians and Tories, the Houses set on fire, several Men killed and scalped, the Fate of the Women is not known. All we could collect from Eye Witnesses agrees that the Enemy is strong This morning likewise Coll Peter Billings [Bellinger] sent several Expresses for Assistance, as the Enemy has burned Houses within four Miles from the German Flats, the continental Troops stationed amongst us are gone, the Militia under Coll Livingston is on the March for home, so that we are entirely destitute of any Assistance: I have given the necessary orders to stop the Progress of the Enemy, but the frontiers is too extensive to be guarded by the Militia alone, and if no continental Troops, or a standing force can be continued, I fear the whole County by parcels may meet the fate of the above Settlements.”

Ten Broeck, at Albany, enclosed those letters to Clinton, reported his actions in response, and added: “None of the Hampshire Militia are arrived here, the Berkshire Militia are gone home, only about 30 are come to relieve those gone home, only about 50 Men of Colo. Beedells Regiment are here. Let me beseech your Excellency to endeavor to get a Body of continental Troops sent to our western Frontiers If they do not come soon I dread the Consequences. It is now Harvest and it is with the utmost difficulty I get the Militia to turn out.”

Schuyler wrote from Albany: “An hour ago I received a Message accompanied with a Belt from the Oneida’s of Oriska informing me that the Enemy had destroyed Andersons Purchase and Springfield. that they expected the German Flatts wou’d next be attacked and when that is done they believe the Enemy will attempt Canajoharie and the other Villages in the vicinity; It is much to be lamented that the finest grain Country in this State is on the Point of being entirely ruined for want of a body of continental Troops. If any are to be sent the greatest Dispatch should be used and then perhaps they may still come in time to save part of the Settlements and numerous fine Crops of Wheat.”

Springfield, in Tryon (now Otsego) County, was located at the north end of Otsego Lake; Andreastown (Andrus Town, Andrew’s Town, Anderson’s Purchase), in Tryon (now Herkimer) County, was a few miles northwest, near present-day Warren.

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