George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 14 October 1780

Pokeepsie Octr 14th 1780.

Dear Sir.

I transmit your Excellency inclosed Copies of several Letters I received last Night at Kingston from Colo. Malcom & Lieut. Colonels Lush and Livingston. They contain the only accounts I have of the disagreable Situation of our Affairs to the northward & westward. I shall immediately set out for Albany & employ every means in my Power to oppose the further Progress of the Enemy and should Fort Schuyler be invested as there is reason to apprehend I will endeavour to succor that Post. Your Excellency will be informed by one of Colo. Macolm’s Letters that Vanschaicks Regt has left Albany & are on their Passage to join the Army so that our whole Dependence at present must rest on the militia. The Levies raised for the defence of the frontiers compose the Garrisons of Fort Schuyler & Malcoms Corps occupy the other Posts on the North & Mohawks Rivers & at Schoharie & are of course very much dispersed. If it was possible for your Excellency to spare some continental Troops on this Occasion they would inspire the militia with Confidence & enable us to repel the Enemy. The want of Supplies of every kind in that quarter will greatly embarrass every Measure and I fear that with the utmost Exertions we shall fail in collecting a sufficiency of Provisions for the Troops which it may be necessary to keep in the Field on this Emergency. It is a little remarkable that we had not the least Intelligence from the Grants of the approach of the Enemy tho’ they passed their Settlements in Boats on the way to Fort Ann—This Enterprize of the Enemy is probably the effects of Arnolds Treason & when they are informed that the capital Object of it is discovered and defeated it is to be presumed they may be discouraged in prosecuting the full extent of their Designs—tho’ I think we ought not to Place any relyance on this Presumption. I have the Honor to be with great Respect & Esteem Dear Sir Your most Obedt servt

Geo. Clinton

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Albany Octr 11th 1780


A body of the Enemy—numbers very uncertain—from 400 to 850 as is said came from Canada—landed So. Bay & took Fort [Ann] on Tuesday where was a Capt. Sherwood wth 60 men—surrendered on Summons—they came to Hudsons River & burnt several Houses about Fort Edwd—yesterday they went on towards the Lake—the Militia are ordered out & I wished that Colo. Vanschaicks Regt could have marched also: but the Colo. thinks the men would desert. I expect more particulars every Hour which I wait for to determine the propriety of calling for Troops from Genl Rensselaer—Genl TenBroeck thinks it is right to reserve the City Regt & Schenectady, for Mohawk River Service in case the Enemy should attempt any Thing there which is expected—Your Excellency shall have more particular Accounts of these matters as soon as possible. Your Excellencys most Obedt Servt

Wm Malcom

If we had men we have [nor can get] Provisions—Genl TenBroeck thinks it will be difficult to get the Militia out on this Acct—We have a notice of a considerable number being on their March at Saratoga—nothing from the Grant’s—I suspect all is not sound. Since writing the above I have an Express from Major Hugh’s—the Enemy are at Oneida—An Indian Deserter says they have Cannon & Mortars—a 5 Inch Shell in every Mans Pack—that they are very strong—Sr John, Butler & Brandt are with them. It will therefore be proper to augment our force—the Militia is a poor Dependance—Vanschaicks Corps it seems cannot go on this Service—it surely then will be right to have other Troops sent on—I shall call out the Militia—Provisions must be sent on or we are ruined.


Albany Octr 12th 1780


More bad news—Mr LeRoy just now informs of the Loss of Fort George—I am very much at a Loss what to do—It is the Opinion of some that the Enemy will now return—I am not of that Sentiment—the Militia come out but very slow—what embarrasses us most is the want of Provisions—I only wrote to Genl Rensselaer this Morning for 800 Men—at that Time I had no Idea of so formidable a force being out. As Mr LeRoy can give full Information your Excellency will be thereby enable to send by him such Orders as shall appear necessary—All his Brigade will not be too many—In my Letter this Morning I mentioned the propriety of calling for some continental Troops—it seems that the Regt here cannot be carried back—they are on board the Troops and will sail in the Morning—it is of all Thing most necessary that you come up—to the Westward nothing New since my last Letter or rather Mr Lushs. Your Excellency’s most Obedt

Wm Malcom


Albany 12th Octr 1780 6. P.M.

Dear Sir,

I this Moment arrived and am now at Colo. Malcoms Quarters—Major Hughes in a Letter to him of the 10th which I have now before me—says that an Indian Deserter then just arrived brings Intillegence that a large Body of British, Tories and Indians under Sr John, Butler and Brant were the Night of the 8th Inst. at Oneida from Niagara on their way to Stone Arabia and ultimately for Fort Schuyler—that they were furnished with Mortars & Cannon & a large Number of Shells (one of which the Indian brought in his Blanket)—Major Hughes says every Preperation is making to receive them.

The Enemy have also appeared to the Northward. Lt Colo. Livingston in another Letter to Colo. Malcolm (also before me) dated yesterday 5. o’Clock A.M. says he had that moment recd a particular Account of the taking of Fort ann—that Capt. Sherwood commandg there was summoned by Major Carleton of the Enemy—he refused—but after their paradg their Forces amountg to 850. British, Tories & Indians—in View of the Garrison they surrendered Prisoners of War—Colo. Livingston writes that his Intillegence is that Carleton with his party are now at Fort George & are to be joined by a party from Balls Town under Command of Sir John—And that he means if he can with safety to his Post march to the relief of Fort George.

Thus stands the Accts from our Northern & Western Frontiers—Colo. Malcom has transmitted them to you by an Express to Pokeepsie this Morning but upon my informg him that your Excellency was probable at Kingston he is gone for another Express and has desired me to write your Excellency the above Accts so as to have them in Readiness to be dispatched as soon as the Express can be obtained.

This Brigade is ordered to March immediately and are now prepairing to be disposed of as Colo. Malcom & Genl TenBroeck shall think best for the Defence of the Frontiers—Colo. Malcom has made a requisition to Genl V. Renselaer for 800. Men and intreats your Excellency if possible to have the men hastened on by your Excellency’s Orders.

The Scarcity of Provisions and the Total uncertainty of obtaining Supplies is truly alarming. If any means can be fallen upon to supply the Troops now ordered out and those already on the Frontiers—Colo. Malcom’s requests your Excellency’s Interposition—as without Supplies the Militia must disband as soon as they take the Field. and if Reinforcements of Men can be obtained from any other Quarter than those already mentioned Colo. Malcom conceives they will be wanted provided they come with sufficient Supplies of Provisions.

Colo. Livingston in a Letter of today says he is Surrounded by the Indians & Tories who have invested the Fort for the last twelve Hours—that they had not yet ventured an Attack—That he had sent out a party of 20 men who were obliged to return the Enemy proving too Numerous that they were burning abt 7. miles from the Fort—that he had only 60 Men fit for Duty—and the Enemy supposed 400. I am with the highest Respect & Esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servt

Stephen Lush

The foregoing is a tolerable Exact State of Things I have Sent a Letter to Colo. Clock requesting him to turn out the Tryon County Brigade—It is necessary that we be able to advance with 1000 Men—the Posts at the same time Guarded—Genl Renselaer is my only dependence. will you come up—it is necessary—It is yet impossible for me to know whether to go No. or West—provisions—if possible send some from Esopus &c.—& do Urge Genl Renselaer to send some on Genl TenBroecks Brigade is disposed off some to Schoharey to Fort A. & some F—Edwd.


Fort Edward Octr 12th 1780 3 O’Clock in the morning.

Dear Sir.

This moment Lieut. Barret of Colo. Warners Regt arrived here on his parole from Fort George which surrendered yesterday about four O’Clock in the afternoon to eight hundred british Troops & two hundred Indians & two Companies of Tories. Capt. Chipman sent out a man in the morning to me for Provisions—on his way he was fired upon by a Party of 25 men from whom he made his Escape & returned to the Fort. The Capt. then immagining that the Party consisted of only a small [   ] of the Enemy he sent out all his Garrison, except fourteen men—they met the Enemy between bloody Pond and Gages Hill on the west side of the Road who killed and took all the Party & then marched to the Fort which surrendered Prisoners of War. The Day before Fort Ann which Capt Sherwood commanded surrendered to the whole Party of the british without firing a shot in which I think Capt. Sherwood is not by any means to be censured. After taking Fort Ann they fully intended taking me at this Post but by what means they avoided me I cannot conjecture, unless it was owing to a man that was going up the very morning the Enemy took Fort Ann, by whom I wrote to Capt. Sherwood that I was very strong & that I would support him in case of an attack, expecting the Enemy would take the man & the Letter as I had a hint that the man was not very friendly to us—thus Sir I give you a true account of those two Fortresses that have unfortunately fallen into the Hands of the Enemy. On the 20th they came down in sight of this Fort about two Hours before Sunset—previous to that I had sent out 20 men (about one third of my Garrison) to fight the Enemy, but when my Officer came in sight of them he thought it prudent to retreat to the Fort. they shew’d no Intentions to follow him but remained back in the woods about two miles from me burning the Houses & destroying the Cattle in the night—they crossed the River and destroyed all the Houses ’till near Saratoga and then encamped about five miles from me. In the morning I sent out 20 men again who followed on their Rear for a mile or two & then returned the Enemy making the best of their way to Fort George—On my receiving Intelligence of the Enemy’s coming which I do not hear of until 12 OClock on the 10th I sent out Expresses to White Creek, Castleton Saratoga & Still Water—As yet I have only 60 militia but expect more in the morning—I believe the Enemy will march this way in the morning, if they have not too many Prisoners—I am surrounded with the wants of the militia; so must finish—we have only two barrels of Flour on hand.

3 of Colo. Warners Officers are killed

2 wounded.

4 Prisoners.

25 rank & file killed

50 taken Prisoners.

Capt. Sherwood with his two Officers

60 rank & file Levies taken

14 militia taken.

This is an accurate List of the men

35 Houses burn’t & a number of Barracks of Hay & Wheat

I am in great haste. you will please to excuse any inaccuracy. I am &c. &c. &c.

H. Livingston

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