George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 27 December 1778

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany [N.Y.] December 27th 1778

Dear Sir

In my letter of the 30th ult. I promised to transmit you Copy of the Account given me In 1758 by the persons employed to Explore a rout Into the St Laurence by the River La Famine Since my return to this place I have made a fruitless Search for It. should I not be able to find It on another I will then send for one of the persons Employed on that Occassion.

Inclose, your Excellency a number of papers containing some Information of the western Country In 1764, and An Account of Colo: Bradstreets expedition to Frontenac, when such extracts are made as you may deem servicable I should be glad to have them returned as I have no Copies.1

The two people whom I sent Into Canada In November are not yet returned I hope they will Arrive In a few days and the moment they do I will transmit any Intelligence they may bring Mr President Laurens in a letter of the 4th Instant Advised me that Congress had approved of the Sentence of the General Court Martial which tryed me2 and by this Conveyance I have fullfilld the promise I have repeatedly made Congress that I would resign my Employments assoon as a tryal had taken place and was finally determined. I think All resignations ought to go to Congress thro the Commander In chief but having understood that It is expected they should go Immediately to Congress I have Inclosed mine to them. If I am out of order In this your Excellency will be so good as to pardon It as I do not mean Intentionally to tresspass.3

I should Charge myself with great Ingratitude If I quitt the Army with out rendering you my most Sincere thanks, which I Intreat Your Excellency to Accept for the repeated In[s]tances of politeness, attention and regard which I have experienced. The Confidence which the people of this City & County honor me with will give me an Opportunity If any Military Operations are to be prosecuted from this quarter of rendering some services to my Country and I shall most willingly embrace every opportunity that may Offer to do It. Is It necessary to add that, Impelled by the Esteem I Entertain for you, & by the Affection I bear you I shall always consider myself happy on every Occassion to render you a Service, I hope It is not, let me therefore Intreat your Commands. I am with the most Sincere Esteem And regard My Dear Sir Your Excellency Most Obedient Humble Servt

Ph: Schuyler


1The enclosed table of distances to and from various locations along the Canadian frontier, taken from records compiled by British engineer John Montresor in 1764, is in DLC:GW; see also Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 252–322.

GW’s copy of Lt. Col. John Bradstreet’s journal of his “Expedition to Fort Frontenac in the year 1759” reads: “Batteauxs built & prepared at Schenectady.

“New York Regiment, New Jersey Regimt, Rhode Island Regt, & Collo. Doughteys Massachusetts Regimt with a detachment from the Train of Artillery allotted for this Expedition and ordered to Rendezvous at Schenectady.

“Batteauxs loaded at Schenectady, and carried 14 Barrels of Provisions up to the great Carrying place (Fort Schuyler).

“These Batteauxs—whaleboats—& Provisions carried across to Woods creek (Fort Newport).

“At the great carrying place (Fort Schuyler) the following detachment was ordered by Genl Stanwix under the comd of Colo. Broadstreet to be ready with Six days Provisions—viz.—Augt 11th.

Regulars 155.
Rangers 60
N. Yorkers 1,112
Williams’s 432
Doughtey’s 248
R. Islanders 318
Jerseys 412

To these were added 270 Batteau men & 42 Indians.

“Accurate intelligence received from Red head an Indian chief.

“On the 12th of Augt Captn Ogilvie with the regulars marched to Fort Newport on Wood creek distant a mile from Fort Craven and on the 13th advanced to Fort Eagle (commonly called Bulls fort[)] 3 Miles further.

“From the head of the Mohawk river to at Fort Schuyler to Fort Newport is one Mile—Navigation from this to Fort Eagle (or Bull) made by daming the Water in the nature of locks & letting the Vessels down by sluces—distance three Miles. operation slow.

“Fort Eagle. 4 Bastions—each inter<val> or side abt 60 yards in length—surrounded by a wide ditch communicating with the creek.

“On the 16th of Augt in the Morning the Troops from Fort Newport joined those at Fort Bull; from whence the whole Marched to the Mouth of Canada Creek (which empties into Wood creek) four Miles from Bulls fort.

“Here the whole Embarked on bd their respective Batteaux, 18 Men in each; The whale boats were manned by the Batteau men & different detachments of Provencials who advanced in Front. The Regulars next—& the Provencials in the order they were loaded. In this manner they proceeded to the spack-bergh about four Miles from Canada Creek at wch with difficulty they arrived by Sunset the same day—that is the 16th of August Meeting with great obstruction from fallen Trees across the Creek.

“From Canada Creek the Waters acquire a pretty good depth but very serpentine & said to be very unwholesome till you come to the Oneida lake.

“17th Imbarked at the Spack berg at Sunrise, & after encountering the same difficulties as yesterday, on acct of fallen Timber arrived at the Mouth of Wood creek (by estimation 20 Miles) at the Oneida lake—No halt was made this day.

“About half a mile from the Lake a Creek called the Fish-kill empties itself into the Wood creek—It is by the rout of this Creek the Indians from Oswegatchie come to Oneida—& from thence make incursions & commit ravages on the Inhabitants of the Mohawks Country—according to the best information their Journey to the Mouth of this Creek is performed in three days and its distance from Oswegatchie abt One hundd Miles.

“18th Embark’d on the Oneida lake passed through the same (32 Miles) & incamped 6 Miles down the Oneida River—in all 38 Miles this day without Halting.

“The Oneida lake is 32 Miles in length & 8 broad. the banks of whch inhabited by Oneidas & Tuscorora’s—the Castle of the former being 3 Miles from the Mouth of Wood Creek in a South direction.

“This lake abounds in Fish—the Banks are low & well timbered. The Tuscarora River, & Oneida Creek empty’s into it on the South side, which has large Marshes abounding in wild fowl. On the North side the Swarte kill (i.e. black Creek) empties—the Water of the lake is tolerably good in spring. but in Summer is unwholesome being generally covered with a thick scum. Several Islands about 4 Miles from the Oneida River.

“At the entrance of the Oneida River is a Rift of Rocks.

“19th Embarked and at 10 oclock reached the three Rivers (distance abt 14 Miles)—these in fact are but two R<s.> but the Seneca River coming into the Oneida River at this place, both take the name of Onondago from hence downwards & therefore called at this place the three River.

“At four Oclock this day (viz. the 19th) we arrived (& in a little time) at the Oswego Falls twelve Miles from the three Rivers making in all this day 26 Miles.

“The River from the Oneida lake to this Fall is about 250, or 300 Yards wide; Its course in some places rapid—in others gentle, according to the depth of the Water wch is various. The Lands on each side are rich & level—covered with hiccory, Butternut, & linwood—they appear to be annually overflowed.

“The usual landing place is very near the Falls where is a small cove into which the Batteaus are brought, in order to be drawn over the carrying place wch is abt 50 Yds across. We landed half a mile above in order to scour the Country—the River below the Fall for near a Mile is full of Rocks & a succession of Rifts wch makes the Navigation both difficult & hazardous till you come below them.

“20th at day break began to draw the Boats, which were not unloaded, over the carrying place & nearly compleated the whole.

“21st The few remaining boats were brot down & the fore part of the day spent in caulking them—the latter part in reaching lake Ontario which was performed in an hour and an half—the distance twelve Miles—Incamped on the level grounds near the old Fort where it was impossible to build any defensible work as the ground is commanded by eminencies on every side—On the opposite shore the land is much higher & more advantageously situated—The Lands near Oswego & bordering on the No. Et banks of it are but ordinary in quality, that is for cultivation, but are however well covered with Pine Timber—A few Miles Southwestward the Soil is very different—there the Barren Sands gives place to a strong black Mould & instead of Pine tall Oaks hiccory & Chesnut rear their tops—But further westward (abt 100 Miles from Oswego at a place called Irondequot which is the Mouth of a River near 200 Miles in extent (the source of which is near the Ohio) taking its course Northerly thro the Countrys called by the Indians Chenesie & Conasadage, these Lands by description are as rich fertile & luxurient as perhaps any in the Universe. This Country & that of the Senecas & Cayugas which borders on it is said abound with rich plains some of them many miles in extent equal in quality to the best lands on the Mohawks River.

“The Harbour of Oswego is very commodious, formed by a point of Land projecting from each shore at the Mouth of the River—here Vessels may lie in the greatest safety, tho by a sand bar which extends across the harbours Mouth no large Shipping can be admitted there being not more than 10 or 12 feet water over it—Plenty of Fish here.

“By this Journal it appears that from Fort Schuyler (formerly Fort Craven)

To Fort Newport is 1. Mile    
  Fort Eagle (Bullsfort)  3.    
  Mouth of Canada Creek  4.    
  Spackberg  4.    
  Oneida Lake 20 32.  
  length thereof   32.  
  3 Rivers   20  84
  Oswego Falls 12.    
  Lake Ontario 12    

“On the 22d at 11 oclock Imbarked in 123 Batteaus & 95 Whale Boats in the following order—the Indians & Rangers in Whale Boats advancd—then the Batteau men and detachments from the different Corps of Provencials also in Whale Boats forming the front of the main body—The Regulars in Batteauxs next—then the New York Regiment, the Jersey Regiment, the Train of Artille[r]y in the Center, The Massachusetts & Rhode Islanders in the rear of the Main body, and the rear guard in whale boats.

“The Weather being calm and favourable the opportunity of advancing as far as possible was not to be neglected for on the least Wind the swell is very great, this obliged us to keep along shore that we might land & draw up our Boats whenever the Wind heightned—We continued Rowing till about 2 Oclock in the Morning & then came too in a fine Bay.

“23d at 8 Oclock Imbarked but the Wind & Sea rising we were obliged very soon to put ashore again—at 3 in the Afternoon Imbark’d again & at 10 oclock Halted.

“24th Wind very high till 4 Oclock in the Afternoon when we imbarked & in the Evening landed on the So. side of an Island which lies in the Mouth of the St Lawrence fronting Cadoraqui abt Six Miles distant.

“25th At five Oclock this Afternoon Landed near the Fort—which surrendered on the 27th.

“28th In the afternoon Imbarkd on our return.

“30th at 12 Oclock at Night after interuptions by Wind arrived at Oswego.

“31st after some delay got to the 6 Miles Creek.

“Septembe<r 1>st—Proceeded to the Oswego Falls.

“2d & 3d Imployed in getting the Boats above the Falls at the carrying place.

“4th Advanced 15 Miles.

“5th proceeded to the Islands in the Oneida lake on one of which Incamped.

“6th Crossed the lake & proceeded about four Miles up Wood creek.

“7th In the Evening arrived at Canada Creek.

“8th In the Morning advanced to Bulls fort where a destribution of the Plunder that was brought from Cadaroquie was made” (DLC:GW).

2Henry Laurens’s letter to Schuyler is in DNA:PCC, item 13.

3Schuyler wrote to Congress on this date tendering his resignation from the army (DNA:PCC, item 153). Congress was slow to take action, and on 5 March, Schuyler wrote again on the same subject, after which the delegates decided to reject his resignation. Schuyler had to write yet another letter of resignation 2 April before Congress finally accepted it on 19 April; he also resigned his seat in Congress (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:27–28, 332–35, 473; see also Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 11:469–70).

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