George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 25 July 1778

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 25th July—1778


I recieved a Letter from Majr General Sullivan of the 22nd advising that he expects the Enemy will make a Descent on Providence in a very short time—that they are now 7,000 Strong, and in a day or two will be eleven, requesting aid from this State1—Although we are exceedingly exhausted of Men &c.—and this critical moment for securing the Labours of the last and the produce of this year, which is of essential consequence, rendered it additionally distressing to take off more of our Militia—yet, I doubt not, we should have made an effort to support them—But before we had come to a full determination, Your Excellency’s Favor of the 22nd from White Plains came to hand, advising of Admiral D. Estaing’s Design at Rhode Island which has greatly relieved our anxiety for the Fate of Providence. I was this Day with my Council considering how and in what manner to raise or furnish aid &c. agreeable to your Excellency’s Requisition when I just recieved another Letter from Majr Genl Sullivan of yesterday requesting, from authority derived from you, five hundred Militia from this State, to act under his command at Providence2—So exceedingly difficult was it to take off any more from the pressing Labours in the Field, that, instead of it, we have thought it necessary to call these Companies from our Sea Coasts, which strips them from Fairfield to New-London, and leaves us none of four Regiments raised heretofore by enlistment and detachment for our own Defence, in addition to all in the various Continental Services in which so many of our Inhabitants are engaged.3

If a larger number of the Enemy’s Troops should be drawn from New-York to New-Port than Your Excellency was aware of, perhaps you may be able to spare a further Detachment from Your Army, so as to release our Men who will leave our Sea Coasts exposed.

Agreeable to your desire signified by Lieut. Colonel Laurens, I yesterday gave orders for a suitable number of Skilful Pilots to be sent out from New London in quest of the French-Fleet whose seasonable aid appears probable to be of very great importance, and with whom this State will be forward to cooperate to the utmost of our power.

I very sincerely thank Your Excellency for your friendly and affectionate good will and wishes towards my late Dear Son whom it pleased the Sovereign Arbiter of Life and Death to remove from this World about Sunrising of the 23d instant—This is a heavy and sore breach upon me and my Family, but it is my duty to be still and know that God has done it, who has a right to dispose of all his Creatures as he pleaseth, and ever exercises that Right in perfect consistence with Holiness, Justice and Goodness. I am, with great Esteem & Regard Your Excellency’s Afflicted—Obedient humble Servant

Jonth. Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers. Trumbull’s note on the cover of the ALS indicates that it was sent “perM. Genl Sullivan’s Express.” Tench Tilghman’s docket, which misdates the letter 26 July, reports that it was “Ansd 28th.”

1For Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s letter to Trumbull of 22 July, see Hammond, Sullivan Papers description begins Otis G. Hammond, ed. Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, 1930-39. In Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, vols. 13–15. description ends , 2:102.

2See Sullivan to Trumbull, 24 July (ibid., 2:110). The letter-book copy continues here with a sentence omitted from the ALS: “In consequence of which we have given Orders for eight Companies of Militia-men to be marched immediately to Providence.”

3The Connecticut council of safety began consideration of GW’s letter on 24 July and on 25 July resolved “that Col. Oliver Smith with the two companies of draughted militia, except the guard stationed at Lyme, and Lt. Col. Gallop with one company of the six battalions now at New London, Major Backus with the two companies of draughted militia at Newhaven, Capt. [ ] Pitkin with his company at Fairfield, and Capt. [ ] with his company at Fairfield, and Capt. Tyler with his company of matrosses, be ordered by the Capt. General forthwith to march to Providence and join the forces there under command of Major Genl Sullivan” ( Conn. Public Records description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends , 2:100–101).

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