George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 21 October 1778

From George Clinton

Pokeepsie [N.Y.] October 21st 1778

Dear Sir,

I have received your Excellency’s Letter of yesterday. The Account it contains of the hostile Intentions of the Enemy so perfectly agreeing with that communicated in Colo. Hartley’s Letter and other Intelligence is thereby rendered indisputable.1

My Brother General Clinton will have reached your Excellency before this with a Description of the different Routes to Chemung and a short Plan for carrying on defensive Operations against the Enemy in that Quarter2 and tho’ the Season may probably be too far advanced to penetrate that Distance into the Indian Settlements yet the forwarding of the Troops destined for that Service will contribute Greatly to the Security of the Inhabitants on the Frontiers and may perhaps deter the Enemy (on hearing that a considerable Force is preparing to act against them) from making any Capital Attempt.

Your Excellency may rest assured that I will afford every Aid in my Power. I am with the greatest Respect & Regard your Excellency’s most obedt servt

Geo: Clinton


1In his letter to Clinton of 20 Oct., GW had enclosed the letter from Indian agent James Deane to Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler of 10 Oct. that Stark had enclosed in his letter to GW of 16 Oct. (see note 1 to that document). Clinton forwarded Deane’s letter on this date to Col. John Cantine, writing that “The Account it contains of the Hostile Intentions of the Senecas & other Tribes of Savages, perfectly agreeing with those transmitted by Colo. Hartly from the Frontiers of Pensylvania to Congress & other Intelligence, may be relied on, and of Course we have the greatest reason to apprehend some Capital Stroke ag’t our Frontier which it is our Duty by all Means to guard against” (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 , 4:181–82).

2This plan, which is in DLC:GW, was not signed or dated by George Clinton, but GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote Clinton’s name and the date “20th October 1778” at the end of it. The document reads: “Chemung is situate on the Cayuga [Chemung] River about 12 Miles from where it enters into the [Eastern Branch of the] Susquehanah near Tioga. The Susquehanah River is navigable with Batteaus from a Lake 4 or 5 Miles distant from Cherry Valley (and to which there is an easy Communication by Land by a good Road from Colo. Frey’s Place on the Mohawk River the Distance not exceeding 17 Miles) down by the Way of Unadilla and Anaquaga to Tioga and the Cayuga is navigable from where it empties into the Susquehanah up to Chemung. The Distance from the Lake at Cherry Valley to Anaquaga is not known but Boards and other Materials for Artificers employed by Sir William Johnson at Anaquaga have frequently been transported in Boats from the former to the later Place in a Day and an half. The Distance from Anaquaga to Chemung by Land is 56 Miles to wit 16 to Chemingo from thence 12 to Shoconut or Oelepin (being the same Place by different Names) and 28 from thence to Chemung. There is a Foot Path the whole Way and but one steep Hill to rise the greater Part of the Road leading through Intervale Lands clear of Timber and Underwood and no Rivers to cross but such as may be easily forded.

“The Distance from Rochester to Anaquaga as described in Colo. Cantine’s Letter is between 60 and 70 Miles accessible by a Foot Path all that Distance with light Troops and Pack Horses to carry Provisions and Stores.

“It is reported that Colo. Butler is returned to Schoharry having destroyed Anaquaga in which Case the following Plan (if it is not too late in the Season) is proposed for carrying on offensive Operations against the Enemy at Chemung and submitted to his Excellency General Washington.

“That such Part of the Troops as are intended to be detached from the Main Army for the Frontier Service march to Rochester and continue there until the necessary Preparations can by made as to a Supply of Provision and Cloathing for the Troops which should be forwarded to that Place.

“That Batteaus be brought out of the Mohawk River into the Lake at the Head of the Susquehanah and the Preparations be made there for taking down Stores and Artillery if requisite.

“That the Troops move by their different Routes, form a Junction at Anaquaga and take Post there from whence it will be convenient to carry on the Operations against Chemung either by water or Land as it shall be found most practicable.

“By this Disposition of the Troops the Frontiers will be secured against the Incursions of the Enemy while the necessary Preparations are making for the Expedition and it will save the Troops in general a long March which they would be exposed to if they were all ordered to rendezvous at one Place and take either of the above Routes only.

“If the weather should set in cold so as to prevent an Expedition against Chemung or any other Indian Settlement (which if Anaquaga is destroyed as all the other Settlements are more remote will probably be the Case) the Troops may be cantoned in such Manner as to cover the Country from the Incursions of the Savages during the Winter and be ready for offensive Operations early in the Spring.” See also the report on this subject from Clinton, Philip Schuyler, and Edward Hand, 22 Oct., in GW to Henry Laurens, 26–27 Oct., n.6.

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