George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Philip John Schuyler, 31 October 1780

Saratoga October 31st -November 1780

Dear Sir

After the enemy had taken Fort George and Fort Ann and burnt the Farm houses and barns In the northern part of this district and destroyed all most the whole of those in Kings and Queensborough townships, they retired to Ticonderoga in the vicinity of which place they Continued until the 22d Instant, and then fell down the Lake to about ten miles north of Crown point, On Wednesday the 25th the whole embarked In their batteaus and proceeded towards St Johns, but were soon met by an express boat which brought them all back, On the Evening of that day a reinforcement arrvid of between five and 14 hundred, my Informant left them on the thursday morning but without being able to learn their Intentions, he supposes they amount to about Fifteen or Sixteen hundred, Including Indians and Tories. Capt Chipman of Warners regiment who Commanded at Fort George when It was surrendered returned here yesterday, on parole as he Says to remain until May next unless exchanged, and that they have agreed to take any person whatever for him but wish to have a Dr Smith, a tory residing at Albany. What Induced this Indulgence to Chipman I know not. various are the Conjectures, and unfavorable to Chipman before his return It was reported by some of his own men that he frequently went Into the woods near Fort George alone, and Continued for hours together. I inquired of one of his officers, who declared he had heard of such report, but declared It to be false as he would have known It, being then at the fort. About Eleven this morning I received a letter from Mr John Williams concerning Copies of Letters from Colo. Eathan Allen and Colo. Webster of the Charlotte County Militia, copies whereof I have the honor to Inclose; Sending a flag to Vermont for the purpose of exchanging prisoners appears to me only as a cover to Some design of the Enemy, and gives me much uneasiness, especially as rumours prevail that the person whom Your Excellency was Informed to have been In New York In July last is negotiating with the Enemy and that he has been in New York but I cannot learn that any one can positively ascertain either of these facts I shall attempt an Investigation of the truth.

Gen. Heath in a letter of the 21st Instant to Colo. Gansevoort Intimates as If his regiment was to return to west point If he does, this part of the Country will be so entirely exposed that I make no doubt but the Inhabitants will leave their plantations. I have therefore to Intreat Your Excellency to permit It to remain In this Quarter.

November 1st About twelve last night I received another letter from Colo. Webster Copy whereof I also transmit. by these Letters from a Justice Clark and Mr Williams I find Allan has dismissed his Militia, and that It is believed a Compact has been made with him, Indeed Webster Intimates It as your Excellency will perceive by his last letter. Should this really be the Case, It will be a most disagreable Circumstance and unless a Speedy Interposition takes place the Consequences may prove extreamly prejudicial to the Common Cause; The Militia are so harrassed that I much doubt If we shall be able In time to collect a body sufficient to oppose the Enemy If their force is such as stated In the letters and Information. I have however hoped that the Severe Snow & rain Storm which now prevails, will at least retard their March if not oblige them to return to Canada. Be so good as to make my Compliments to Colonel Hamilton and the other Gentlemen of the Family and to advise the former that I cannot do myself the pleasure to answer his favors of the 17th & 21st inst; as this is the last sheet of paper I have. I have taken the liberty to leave this under flying seal for the perusal of Governor Clinton. I am Dr Sir with every affectionate Sentiment, and perfect Esteem Your Excellencys Most Obedient Hum[   ]

Ph; Schuyler

His Excellencys General Washington

I am this moment Informed that the person I have alluded to In this letter, has been in Canada about Six weeks ago, but the Information is not such as I can depend upon.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


c.31 October 1780


Head Quarters Castleton Vt. 29th Octor 1780

Last evening I received a Flag from Major Carelton Commanding the British Troops at Crown point with a proposal from General Haldermand Commanding in Chief in Canada for Settling a Cartel for the Exchange of prisoners.

Major Carelton has pledged his faith that no Hostilities shall be committed on any Posts, or Scouts within the Limits of this State during the negotiation.

Least your State should suffer an invasion in the Interim of time I have this day dispatched a Flag to Major Carelton Requesting that he extend Cessation of Hostilities on the Northern posts & frontiers of New York—you will therefore Conduct your affairs as to Scouts &ca only on the defensive untill you hear further from me. I am &c.

Ethan Allen

Colo. Webster to be Commanuated to Col. Williams and the other posts on your frontiers. } a Copy.

The above I received the 30th instant & immediately dispatched a copy for the perusal of General Schuyler, and by him to be sent to Colo. Gansevort making no doubt but the General would make it Circular in the proper Channel—I called a Counsel of my Officers—to see what we had best do (as General Allen had dismissed his Militia) upon the whole our fears were rather increased as diminished—The best accounts of the Enemys numbers is 15 or 1600 Hundred and has got a fresh Supply of provisions &c. with a reinforcement as to numbers uncertain—In writing of this I have recieved the following Express.

Fort Warner October 30th 1780 7 OC. P.M.

By certain intelligence received by Lieut. Cox of my detachment who return’d this day at 1 O’Clock at Fort Vengeance from a Scout he informs that yesterday at 2 O’Clock past meridian he saw five Ships some Gondolas a great number of batteaus so that the Lake look’d black for a mile in length all sailing to the Southward—he saw them from their March at Crown point Sail some Miles. A great number of fires [   ] towards Putnams point now burning—These are to notify you to give a good look out for I believe that they intend to make a forced march on the New York frontiers. I am &c.

Ebr Allan Majr Commandg

a Copy

N.B. General Allan is on his way home. I am afraid the Enemy have out Genera’l him.

Alexr Webster

I remain at [Granvail] near Skeensborough and about three hundred Men of the Enemy comes this way which is very likely to me unless I am imediately reinforced they will be upwards of 5 to one. I keep a good Scouts from South to East bay. I shall be glad to be Informed by the returning Express what I have to depend upon. I am with due respect Your Humble Servt

Alexr Webster

General Schuyler will please to read the above & if Col. Gansevort [at] Fort Edward will please to send him a Copy & Send one to Gen. Ten broak who is requested to forward it to the Governor.


31 October 1780


Rheeport Vt. about break of day of the 31st Octo. 1780

Majr Ebr Allen who Commands at Pitsford has sent an express after me to this place informing me that one of his Scouts at one or two of the Clock P.M. of the 29th out from Chimney point discovered.

Four or five Ships & Gun boats & batteaux the lake Covered black all making Sail to Ticonderoga [Ships] flying to & from the Vessels to the [batteau] giving orders & the foregoing is quoted from his letter Verbatum.

But I cannot imagine that Majr Carelton will violate his Truce I have sent Majr Clark with a flag to Majr Carelton particularly to confirm the Truce on my part I have given him to understand that no hostilities will be permitted on my part & likewise to intercede on the behalf of the frontiers of N. York.

That the motion of the british may be on their design I know not you must judge for yourself & Send out scouts to further discover the condition of the enemy. Major Allen thinks they have a design against your state from Your Humle Servant

Eathan Allan

true copy

Received this about this day eleven o’Clock A. M. and am persuaded our situation is truly dangerous. I expect to hear by some of my Scouts Every moment that the Enemy is at hand and If we are obliged to leave this place the Inhabitants will move off, and there is no telling where It will end. I make no doubt but at first sight It will appear that the Grants have left us to ourselves either to stand or fall. I hope the most speedy exertions will be used to oppose the Enemy. I have out strong and active Scouts and beg a Speedy answers. I am with great Esteem Your Humble Servant

Alexr Webster

N:B: Gen. Schuyler will please to read the Inclosed and give the Commander at Fort Edward notice and Immediately send this Forward to Gen. Ten Broeck who is [required] to give the Governor notice I hope you have received mine of this date and will take of the difference, pray faver me with a little writing paper or I shall be prevented giving Information.

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