George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel William Butler, 27 September 1778

From Lieutenant Colonel William Butler

Albany Septr 27th 1778

May it please your Excellency

Your letter of the 11th Instant came to hand the 20th; the Contents of which I shall punctually observe.

Inclosed I send your Excellency Copies of some depositions concerning one of my parties under the Command of Major Posey Killing one Demon who Attempted making his escape after the party had made him Prisoner of which I wrote your Excellency in my last1—Complaint having been made to Govr Clinton by the relations of Demon he has Ordered me to deliver the Guard<s> who Shot him to the Civil Authority which I shall Comply with altho’ I think the men not the least Blamable But rather deserve commendation for doing their duty so well—With the same propriety they may demand the persons who Kill’d Service & Smith the Genl Character of Demon (as an Enemy) being almost equally bad.

Major Posey has wrote your Excellency fully on the Subject.2

Upon hearing the Enemy had Burned the German Flats3 & recieving a letter from Genl Stark wishing that Offensive Operations might be carried on against the Enemy I thought it a favorable Opening for my doing something Clever & immediately came to this place to Consult the Genl on that Subject, But found it impossible to send a large Body against them, No Necessaries being prepared for such an Expedition we therefore concluded to detach 150 of my best troops to destroy the party at Unundilla & destroy that Settlement whi<ch> will throw them a greater distance off & prevent them from being so Handy in Annoying the Frontiers.

A few days ago four of my Men who I had out as Spys returned with three Prisoners which they had taken at Unundilla, they say their Number at Unundilla is 300, 400 at Achquaga & a Number at Chamong which they cou’d not Ascertain—I think 150 good troops sufficiant to destroy Unundilla as (from good Accounts) they have None to encounter but the Merest undisciplined Rabbl<e> I ever heard of—I would have wrote to your Excellency more fully but am Just Setting off on my return & Genl Stark has promised me to inform your Excellency of the Affair at the German Flats which lays a great distance from my Quarter, & to write Minutely <mutilated> Subject. I remain Yr Excellen<y’s> Hbl. Servt

Wm Butler

ALS, DLC:GW. Butler wrote on the addressed cover: “N.B. After Sealing Opened. W.B.”

1Butler enclosed the affidavits of John Barrow, 5 Sept.; Catherine Vanwaggoner, 15 Sept.; Alexander Harper, 16 Sept.; Gabriel Long, 16 Sept.; Thomas Posey, 16 Sept.; and Alexander Ramsey, 16 Sept., all of which are in DLC:GW. Butler’s previous letter to GW is dated 31 August.

2See Thomas Posey to GW, 23 September. Gov. George Clinton, to whom Butler on this date also sent affidavits about Harmonus Dumond’s death, gave his judgment on this matter in his letter to Butler of 5 Oct.: “I never understood from the Complaints made to me of the Unhappy Affair, the least Intention of charging any of your Officers with Misconduct, and Please to assure Major Posey that I entertain too good an Oppinion of him to doubt the Propriety of his Behavour on that Occassion. It is not, however, so clear to me that Mr. Harper Judging from his own Account, did not make Use of some Deception which might have betrayed a better Man than Dumond into Imprudent Expressions in his Situation which if so is wrong. The Soldiery who had Dumond in Charge, were Right in obeying Orders even tho at the Expence of his Life, as he was wrong in attempting to Escape out of their Custody. And tho’ it is my Duty to guard the Rights of the Subjects of the State, I shoud be sorry were they to suffer for doing their Duty” (Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 4:103–11, 140–41).

3For the burning of German Flats on 17 Sept. by an Indian and Loyalist force, see George Clinton to GW, 20, 24 Sept., and note 1 to both of those documents.

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