George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Philip Schuyler, 26 February 1779

To Major General Philip Schuyler

Head Quarters Middle Brook 26th Feby 1779

Dear Sir

Upon a presumption that a part of the intended operations against the Indians will be carried on by a Body of Men from the Waters of the Susquehannah it will be necessary to be well informed of the Situation of the principal Villages of the hostile tribes and the number of fighting Men that each may contain. We will suppose Chemung on the Cayuga Branch1 the first post to be attacked and carried, and will make that the point from whence our Body will proceed towards the Enemy, the Villages that this Body will probably fall in with in their march to join that from the Mohawk River & another body coming up the Alligany if th[a]t shd be f[oun]d practi[cabl]e2 is what I want principally to be informed of. I have thought of no way more likely to gain this information, than for Mr Deane or Mr Kirkland3 to endeavour to get it from the freindly Oneidas in such a manner as not to give them any suspicions of the real design. If a rough Sketch of the Country and Waters[,] situation of the Indian Villages, & their distances from each other (making Chemung the place of departure) could be laid down upon paper it would be more satisfactory than in any other Manner4—If you approve of this plan of gaining the intelligence and think it practicable, I shall be obliged to you for writing to Mr Deane or Kirkland—(or both to see how their accts agree)5 upon the subject and giving him any other directions that you may think proper to render the plan more perfect.6 I am &c.


P.S. If the rough draft of the Country containing the Indn Settlements was, besides comprehending Chemung on the Susquehanna, to take in the Alligany River, & upper landing thereon—the place of debarkation in the Seneca or Cayuga River—and Niagara and Iorondequat on Ontario it would give one a general & comprehensive view of the whole and with a knowledge of the distances from these given points to the several Towns enable one to form a plan for cooperation.7

DfS, in Tench Tilghman’s and GW’s writings, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to John Jay, 15 Aug. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 166; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. In addition to signing the draft manuscript, GW wrote its postscript and made several changes to its main body in his writing (see notes 1, 2, 3, and 5).

1At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote “Tioga.” That word was subsequently struck out, and GW wrote “Cayuga” above it. Chemung is on the Chemung River, then sometimes called either the Tioga or the Cayuga branch.

2GW inserted the previous thirteen words on the draft manuscript.

3GW inserted the previous three words on the draft manuscript.

4For GW’s own effort to sketch such a map from the recollections of an old gentleman from Northampton County, Pa., see Questions and Answers Regarding a Proposed Expedition Against the Six Nations, March–April; see also Edward Hand to GW, 31 March.

5GW inserted the previous ten words on the draft manuscript.

6Brig. Gen. Edward Hand’s letter to GW of 22 Feb., which has not been found, may have prompted GW to make this request (see GW to Hand, 28 Feb.). Schuyler wrote to James Deane, Indian agent and interpreter for the northern department, but not to Samuel Kirkland, missionary to the Oneidas who also was the chaplain at Fort Schuyler (see Schuyler to GW, 1–7 March). For Deane’s reply to Schuyler of 17 March, see Schuyler to GW, 3 April, and n.1 to that document.

7For GW’s earlier interest in these areas of New York as he contemplated an expedition against the Indians, see Schuyler to GW, 4 Feb., and n.1 to that document, and GW to Schuyler, 11 Feb., and n.4 to that document.

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