George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 12 April 1779

From Major General Horatio Gates

providence 12th April 1779 One o Clock P.M.


Since I had the Honour to write Your Excellency my Letter of this morning I have received the inclosed intelligence from Canada and Rhode-Island.1

By a Letter the Issuing Commissary has this moment received from Mr Colt, There is hopes the Supply of Flour will be continued; Though we have only Twenty Barrells in Store at present I cannot persuade myself there has been any Natural Scarcity of That Article, Avarice, and Monopoly, must have Caused the Emptyness of Our Magazines of Bread. I hope some Sensible, and Spirited Measures, will be Speedily Adopted by The Legislatures of the Different States; to prevent the further banefull Effects, of these pernicious Evils, I am Sir Your Excellencys most Obedient Servant

Horatio Gates


1There were two enclosures. The first was an undated report from Joseph Louis Gill, Peter Josephs, and Joseph Gamelin: “Joseph Lewis Gill, and Peter Josephs his Son, with Joseph Gamelin, commonly called Châteauvieux, brought by Joseph Traversy, a Captain in the Army of the United States, formerly employed in Canada, Report—

“No more than 5,000 Regulars, or Tories. About 3000, of them who were Germans, would lay down their Arms, when they heard the French had joined the Americans.

“The Canadians being much Oppress’d wish to be delivered from British Bondage; the Abenaques of St Francis wish likewise to declare for the Congress; and there are but three or four of them who have joined the English Army; but these were forced by Circumstances, or they pretend to have been forced; so that they would renounce the British Interest, if they thought they could do it with Safety.

“There are about Six field pieces, or other Cannon, at Head Quarters, at Fort Sorrel, a place so called, but which is not now fortified, the name of Fort being given it, on Account of its having been a kind of Stockade Fort, in Ancient Times. There are about 180 Houses there, built by the Canadians, who were pressed to do this Work, were not paid, and obliged to find their own Provisions, which Embitters them against the English.

“Mr D—— C——a M—— of M——, desired Pierre Joseph, to let the first American General he would meet with know, that he was the Brother of the Americans; that he had 800 Bushells of Wheat concealed, which he reserved for the Americans.

“Sir John Johnson is somewhere about Oswego, or Niagara.

“It is reported Father Flocquet is dead at the Seminary of Quebec, where he had been removed by the Bishop’s Order.

“Father Germain of St Francis was ordered to Trois Rivier; in Order to Answer for his Conduct, having recommended to the Canadians to go a Hunting during the Winter, which was Construed by General Haldimand, as an Advice intended to prevent the Canadians from being in the way of being pressed, to assist the English, in Case of an Invasion from the Americans during the Winter Season.

“A friend to the Congress, who is a Priest, and whose name is well known to General Gates, directed somebody to put near the Alter, Count D’Estaing’s Manifesto, sent by General Gates’s Emissaries. The Priest would neither read, nor touch the Manifestos, his intention being to swear, if called upon, that he had neither read nor touched them; but he found means, (without reading them, though they were read within his hearing, by Different persons he could trust) to distribute the Manifesto’s up, and down the River St Lawrence. The Messengers do not know, what is the Effect which the Manifesto operated in Canada, but they believe it must have confirmed them in their Attachment to the American Cause” (DLC:GW).

The second enclosure was a copy of a report by Cornelius Phoenix and John Coates, dated 12 April at Providence: “Cornelius Phonix, Mate, and John Coates, a Mariner late belonging to the Sloop Lady Washington, which was captured by the Enemy and carried into Bermuda, say that they came as passengers from Bermuda to Newport, where they Arrived about three Weeks ago, and were permitted to go to Work for some time, when they were put on board the Raisonable; that they obtained leave to go on shore for their Cloaths on Saturday last, when they took an Opportunity to escape, and in the Evening got a Boat and Arrived the next morning at Swansey: That the Raisonable hath not more than 100 Men of all sorts; that they have on board no bread, and are at two thirds Allowance of meat, &c. She lies back of Fort Island: That the Troops on Rhode-Island are served with Dry Fish two Days in the Week, & with Rice three; and consist of the same Number as the last Fall, excepting that Four Companies of Grenadiers & Light Infantry were sent to New York in January last: That there is not any other man of War there nor more than nine Transports: And that they do not know how the Troops on shore are Victualled, nor whether they are at short Allowance or not. That they have upon Fort Island Seventeen flatt bottomed Boats capable of Carrying sixty men each: That they hear the Enemy have built a great Number of such Boats at the East End of Long Island” (DLC:GW).

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