George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 9 April 1779

From Major General Nathanael Greene

[Middlebrook] April 9. 1779


Inclosd is a Letter receivd last Evening from Mr Patterson.1

The contents are not the most agreeable; and how it comes directed through me to your Excellency I cannot imagin.

He mentions there being a greater number of Boats upon the Susquehannah then he gave an account of when at Camp. Will it not be best to lessen the number orderd to be built; if the proper sizd ones can be had already fit for service.

I dont intend to trust any thing in the quarter masters line to Mr Patterson; as I can easily evade his offer; and dont wish to trust more to any man of a doubtful Character than cannot be avoided.

General Potter married Mr Pattersons Sister.2 From him more may be learnt respecting him than from any other person.

Is it your Excellencys intention to send great quantities of provision up to Wyoming before that Post is reinforced—Will there not be great danger of its being destroyed. I wish to know your Excellencys pleasure in the matter; as I design to send an Express to Estertown this Evening or tomorrow Morning, and will give directions accordingly. I am with due respect Your Excellencys Most Obedient humble Sert

Nath. Greene Q.M.G.


1The enclosed letter from William Patterson to Greene, dated 28 March at Sunbury, Pa., reads: “I take liberty thro’ you to inform His Excellency that I could not procure any suitable person that would undertake the Journey with Hicks however I’ve put matters on such a footing as not to doubt his bringing such information as will please, I convey’d him quite clear of the Frontiers above Fort Wallace, with the Assistance of Capn Bush in Particular & the other Gentlemen Officers in General of Coll Hartleys Regt who received & treated me with great Politeness.

“In duty to my Country request you will mention the feeble state of this County, To Genl Washington, having little to depend on for their defence, save the Regt above mention’d, the Officers are verry allert but the number of men I apprehend are too few, & from a hint dropped Yesterday Afternoon, I have reason to Apprehend that the Enemy intend soon to Attempt a surprise, at one of the Advance posts in this Quarter, in Consequence thereof, I made application to Capn Bush for a Soldier to ride my Horse express with this letter to Coll Cox in Estherton, to be forwarded from thence under his direction; If a small Blow should be struck on this frontier, the whole inhabitants, will evacuate the County in twenty four hours, which will be extremely injurious to the publick, as there are many usefull men Among them for Boating and Driving pack Horses.

“I find there are many more Boats (both large & middle Size) than I expected on this River.

“I forwarded Genl Washingtons Letter to Jammy Potter by express. must not neglect to mention that there are publick Stores of Provission & forrage in Penns Valey in this County without any force to Gaurd them.

“The people in general of the County wish for an Expedition to be carre’d on against the Indians &ca—& I have reason to beleive that there may be Vonlunteers raised if their Service is required; When I have render’d all the secret Services in my Power, I have some thoughts of excepting your kind offer in the Staff Departmt, should the Expedition you mention’d be carry’d on. I shall be verry unhappy if any thing Containd in the above Letter should give his Excellencey, or Genl Green any Offence, as the Liberty taken is thro’ love for my Country” (DLC:GW).

2Brig. Gen. James Potter’s second wife was Mary Patterson Chambers (died c.1791), who previously had been married to Thomas Chambers.

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