George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Seth Warner, 30 October 1780

Bennington 30th October 1780

Hond Sir

Doubtless your Excellency has before now been informed of the Misfortunes that have lately befallen the Troops on the Northern Frontiers, especially the Regt I had the Honour to Command stationed at Lake George, the Particulars and Circumstances of which are too lengthy to enlarge upon by way of Letter therefore beg Leave to refer you to the Bearer Capt. Moulton for a more minute Information. However would inform your Excellency that on the Morning of the 9th Instant a Body of about One Thousand of the Enemy appeared before Fort Ann (a Piquet) and demanded the Fort, which was accordingly Surrendered by Capt. Adial Sherwood the Commander, himself and Fifty men becoming Prisoners of War; after which the Enemy took their Rout thro’ Kingsborough and Queensborough burning & destroying all before them, to Fort George then commanded by Capt. Chipman with between Sixty and Seventy Rank and File exclusive of Commissioned and Non Commissioned Officers, the Remainder of the Regt being on different Detachments on Discoveries across Lake George &c., Previous to their arrival at Fort George, the Garrison having been two Days destitute of Provisions, Capt. Chipman had sent an Express to Fort Edward for Supplies, who at a little better than a Miles distance was fired on by a party of about Thirty of the Enemy, and made his Escape and gave him the only information he had recd of their being on the Coast, he judging their Number not to exceed Forty or Fifty and being anxious to revenge the many Losses the Regt had sustained during the Season by their several detached Parties which generally consisted of an adequate Number, thought that a Number not exceeding Fifty, including Officers, under the Command of Capt Ths Sill was amply sufficient to repel those Invaders, but unhappily Capt. Sill no sooner made the Attack on the Enemies Front which gave way, but soon found himself charged in Front, [Flank] and Rere by a Superiority of British, Indians and Tories, and after a short but smart Resistance, Capt. Sill, Ensigns Eno, McLowrey with Fifteen non Commissioned Officers and Privates were killed and since found on the Ground; Lt Payne and Ensign Lighthall were wounded and taken with the rest of the Detachment, except Ensign Grant who made his Escape with about Fifteen Men by an Effort thro’ the Enemies Lines. The Enemy having thus overcame Capt. Sill and his [Party] immediately proceeded to invest the Fort and on their Arrival were several times fired at by a Field piece, they then sent a Flag to demand the Surrender of the Fort, Capt. Chipman finding the Impracticability of defending it with so small a number surrendered on Capitulation, the Articles of which are inclosed. Had Capt. Chipman recd the least Information from the Commanding Officer at Fort Edward ([who] was by an express from Fort Ann at the hour of Eleven in the Evening of the 9th Instant, advertised of their Approach) [   ] they were on their March and in so large a Number, he would not have sent out that detached Party, and by that Means might have saved the Fort, or at least have prevented it being taken till a Reinforcement might have arrived.

The remainder of my Regt being few in Number and in a destitute and naked Condition I have furlough’d to the 1st Decr next, but however few are always ready and anxious [to] persevere in the Cause and are actuated with a principle to retrieve their Losses.

I am sorry to inform your Excellency that by Reason of Mr William Sherman my late Regimental Paymaster’s Elopement, and the Loss the Regt has sustained in their Accounts and other papers at the Surrender of the Fort notwithstanding the Articles of Capictulation to the Contrary, it will be impossible for me to Liquidate the Public Accts although it is very evident there is a considerable Ballance of Cash and Cloathing in Arrears to the Regt. On my arresting Mr Sherman in order to bring him to an Acct the Civil Authority in Albany interposed on acct of his Private Debts, notwithstanding my sending an Officer to bring him to the Regt and the application of that Officer to the Commander for his assistance and representation of the Injustice of preferring a Private to a Public Settlement and recd for answer that the Military must be subservient to the Civil, by which means Mr Sherman had an opportunity to elope from his Arrest both Civil and Military, which occasioned my sending Col. Safford in Pursuit of him to Connecticut and which may readily excuse his Absence from Fort George when taken, and notwithstanding every Exertion in my power, at a very great Expence he has eluded every Search and hitherto escaped the Hands of Justice. I have to Honour to Subscribe myself Your Excellencies Most Obt & Hum. Servt

Seth Warner

P.S. I must Request your Excellency’s Warrant on the Pay Masr General for two Months Pay for the Officers of my Regiment on Account; to be delivered to Captain Moulton and that your Excellency will send me Directions concerning the Mustering of the Regt from [1st or 10th] Decr last; and how I shall conduct with the remains.


DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Fort George October 11 1780


as it is reported to me that there is a Small party of Savages near Blody pond you will immediately take forty eight men officers included and proceed on the main road untill you make discoveries of them Keeping Sufficient advanced and flank guards in such a manner as to prevent being Surrounded—if you find a large party you will immediatly retreat to the fort—except they should be Savages only, in which Case you will attack and immediatly Charge uppon them.

Jno. Chipman Capt. Commandt

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