George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Stark, 15 September 1778

From Brigadier General John Stark

Head Quarters Albany 15th Sept. 1778

Dear Sir

since my last1 Capt. MacKeen has Returned from a Scout from the Unendillo and brought in three prisoners who Inform that Butler and Brant are Determined to pay us another Visit, but if that should be the Case I hope to be able to give a Good Account of them. I Enclose you a Copy of the orders I gave to Capt. MacKeen, for your Approbation he is to serve During Warr, and Where the Commander in Chief is pleased to order him2—if a Post is Necessary to be kept at Ft Edward this Winter it is Necessary to prepare Barracks, for the Troops, I wait your orders for that Purpose.3

I find no Alteration in the Qr Masters Conduct there is daily Complaints that the Troops are not Supplyed with Bread and the Season of the Year is Coming on that it cannot be Transported the Road will be so bad, I Gave him orders about a month ago, to send some Tools to Otter Creek for the Troops to fortify themselves but had not Arrived a few days since.4

Major Whitcomb who Commands at that place has sent in four British Sailors from Crown Point.5

Otter Creek is our most Northern Frontier Post within Thirty Miles from Crown Point where the Enemies Shipping Lay and ought by all means to be Secured.

There is no Pay Master Arrived as yet nor Commissary but they are much Wanted.6

the Packet from the Committee of Congress is forwarded to Colo. Alden, but the Quarter Master General, with Several Assistants, were Nine Hours in providing an Express, in the Mean Time, I was oblidged to find another, and Send the Expresses away myself, in this Manner is the Qr Master Genls Business Carried on. I am Sir with Great Respect Your Very Humble Servt

John Stark

N:B. since I wrote the above, I am Informd that one of the Inhabitants, has found a Considerable Numbr of Cannon Shot, which is Supposed to have Laid in the River since Last Warr, if they are Wanted they shall be Sent down the River, should be glad to make the man some Allowance, for his Trouble, if it should be Thought Consistant.

as above.


1Stark apparently is referring to his letter to GW of 7 Sept., which has not been found (see GW to Stark, 8 Oct.).

2Stark’s orders of 12 Sept. authorized Capt. Robert McKeen “to Raise a Company of Rangers to Consist of one Leiut. & one Ensign (Exclusive of yourself ) four Serjants Two Drum & fifes & Eighty Rank & File Compleat they are to be upon the Same Establishment as Other Continental Troops and There Inlistments to be During the war with Great Britain they are Severally to Receive Twenty Dollars Bounty on their passing muster and the Same Cloathing Rations &c. as are allowed by Congress to the Other Continental Officers and men This Company to be Compleated within Forty Days from the date hereof” (DLC:GW).

3For GW’s reply on this subject, see his letter to Stark of 8 Oct.; see also Philip Schuyler to Robert Hanson Harrison, 7 Oct., quoted in note 1 to Schuyler to GW, 7 October. Fort Edward, which the British had built in 1755 and rebuilt two years later, was in ruins by the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It nevertheless remained a strategically important place, being located about forty miles north of Albany at the point where the portage from the Hudson River to Lake Champlain began.

4For Stark’s previous complaints about Deputy Quartermaster Gen. Morgan Lewis, see his letter to GW of 21 Aug. 1778; see also Stark’s letter to Horatio Gates, 15 Sept., quoted in note 1 to Gates’s letter to GW of 23 September. For Lewis’s responses to Stark’s complaints, see Lewis to GW, 11 Sept., and Lewis to Charles Pettit, 9 Sept., in Pettit to GW, 15 Oct., n.2; see also GW to Stark, 8 October.

5Maj. Benjamin Whitcomb’s independent ranger corps was posted on Otter Creek at Rutland, Vermont. Otter Creek begins a short distance south of Rutland and flows generally northwest, entering Lake Champlain about fifteen miles south of present-day Burlington, Vermont.

6For previous correspondence about these positions, see Stark to GW, 15, 19 Aug., and GW to Stark, 29 Aug. 1778.

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