George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 30 July 1779

To Major General Horatio Gates

Head Quarters West Point July 30th 1779


I inclose you a letter for Capt. Clarke late of Col. Greenes Regiment, in answer to one from him, on the subject of the allowance to supernumerary Officers1—I have informed him that he is intitled to it and that I should request you on application to order payment. His claim is founded in justice and authorised by a resolve of Congress of the 22d May 79 of which I now send you a copy.2

Nothing new in this quarter. I am Sr Yr Most Obet, servant

Go: Washington

30th Since writing the above I am favored with your letter of the 25th with the inclosures—The intelligence, you transmit, is of the most interesting nature. The New York papers speak of a large fleet with troops, under a convoy of men of war, which lay at Torbay and was to sail, but after the time mentioned in the present deposition3—I have little doubt, however, that a fleet with troops for america sailed about that time: the only question is for what part they are destined— I am in hopes a considerable proportion will be for the West Indies as the french are reinforcing so strongly there. At any rate, we have great reason to wish this may be the case, for there is already an inferiority on our side and there is little prospect that our strength will be augment⟨ed⟩ in any proportion to the number said to be coming out—The negligence and abuses respecting Prisoners are really shameful; but I have little4 expectation that the business will be taken out of the hands of the State Commissaries5—I have transmitted the acco⟨unts⟩ to Congress6—The embarkation at Tarry Town mentioned in mine of the 25th proves to be nothing serious.7

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Both the draft manuscript and Varick transcript are dated 29 July. Obscured material is supplied in angle brackets from the draft manuscript.

1For the draft of this enclosure, see GW to Oliver Clarke, 29 July. Clarke’s letter to GW, dated 29 June, has not been found.

2The enclosed copy of the resolution that Congress adopted on 22 May also includes a related resolution passed on 24 Nov. 1778 (see Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ). The measures classified exchanged Continental officers who did not continue in the service as supernumerary and entitled them to one year’s pay and any state provisions (see 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 12:1156–57, 14:630).

3An “Extract of a letter from Torbay, May 23” printed in the Royal Gazette (New York) for 24 July in part reads: “Admiral Arbuthnot being now joined by the ships under the command of Admiral Darby, the fleet consists of twenty sail of the line, six frigates, two fire ships, and some armed vessels, besides upwards of 300 sail of merchant ships. The Admiral has just made a signal for all the fleet to prepare for sailing by to-morrow morning.” For intelligence that gives an earlier departure for this fleet, see Gates to GW, 25 July, n.1.

4At this place on the draft manuscript, which is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton, the word “no” initially was written. It was then struck out and “little” written above the line.

5For the alleged mishandling of prisoners at Rutland, Mass., see Gates to GW, 25 July, notes 2 and 3.

6See GW to John Jay, 29 July (second letter), and n.3 to that document.

7GW corrected this intelligence in his first letter to Jay of 29 July; see also GW to Jay, 24 July.

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