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To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 9–10 March 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany March 9th[-10] 1776.

My dear General

I am honored with your Letters of the 25th & 27th Ultimo which were delivered me on the 7th by Mr Bennet.

I feel in the most sensible Manner the disagreeable Situation you are in, for Want of Arms: it adds to the pain, this Information gives me, that we are here in a similar Situation, and unable to assist you—The New Jersey—pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts Troops arrive here more or less without Arms, or what may be deemed next to none—I have people in every Quarter picking up the few that are to be had, at a most immoderate price, and after all I shall not be able to procure above half a Sufficiency for Colonel Van Schaick’s Regiment, which is raising to go into Canada;1 none are to be had at New York; and how to Arm the four Regiments raising in this Colony no Mortal knows—Of a thousand Stand the New York Convention contracted for, six only have been delivered, and they do not expect more than thirty of the whole—I have sent to Schenectady to Mr Duncan, but I much Doubt if he has any.2

Twelve heavy Cannon are on their Way from New York, and are got as far as poughkeepsie, where they wait the opening of the River—But what will General Lee do with them in Canada, without either powder or Ball for them, and I shall be in a similar Situation at New York, to which I am ordered by Congress, with the additional Mortification of having Men without Arms.3

I wish to be at New York as soon as possible, if it was only on Account of receiving better medical Assistance; but what is to become of the Army in Canada, if I leave this before every Thing is put into such a Train, as that it may be properly supplied? They are now so short of provisions (Altho’ if common Care had been taken, there would have been a Sufficiency to June) that I have been obliged to send between 3 & 400 Barrels of pork, in Sleds, at the vast Expence of 7½ Dollars per Barrel.

Two Companies of Colonel Burrel’s Regiment are only arrived here: one of them is gone on, and about half the pennsylvania & Jersey Troops; All greatly deficient of their full Complements—The Troops that served last Campaign in Canada are chiefly coming away, so that we shall not by any Means have that respectable Army, which was intended by Congress.

Inclose your Excellency a Return of the Troops, which were with General Arnold on the 22d Ultimo: This is the first Return I have ever received from that Quarter.4

March 10th—My Messenger is returned from Schenectady, but no Arms are to be had there.

The Ice still continues in Hudson’s River, but is not passable with Horses and Carriages. By the Time it will be navigable, and the Waters which are out subsided, the Ice in the Lakes will be too weak to venture Troops on, hence I fear that no more Men can get into Canada until the Beginning of April.

I have this Moment received a Letter from General Wooster of the 1st Instant, he says not a Word relative to Quebec—Complains of Want of Specie, and indeed not without Reason, as he is greatly distressed, the Canadians absolutely refusing to take our paper Money, and I have with much Difficulty been able to procure only about £2100 here, on my own Security, which I sent him on the 28th Ultimo but five Times that Sum, and more was already due for the Necessary Contingencies of the Army.

Inclose you Copies of some papers; which will shew how Colonel Allen was used.5

The Difficulty of procuring Specie is such, that I fear the most fatal Consequences from the Want of it, in Canada; this induces me to venture a Question—Would it be improper to ask General Howe for the Subsistance of the prisoners in our possession? If he should consent that they might draw on his Military Chest for it, the Bills might all go in Favor of an Agent of Congress, and hence, we should have a very considerable Supply.6

We have many Difficulties my dear General to encounter but I have the strongest presentement that we shall struggle thro’, and rise superior to our Enemies. May God bless & protect you. I am most sincerely and respectfully Your Excellency’s most humble Servant.

Ph: Schuyler

Since writing the above, I am honored with your’s of the 1st Ultimo by Lewis the Caghnawaga Indian, together with a Letter from Colo: Wade, advising me that some part of his Regiment had marched on the 24th Feby and desiring that provisions might be sent to Onion River. I am extreamly apprehensive that I shall not be able to procure Sleds to go there, I shall however immediately send an Express to Tyconderoga, and if Horses cannot be procured I will order the Soldiers that are there to draw it by Hand.7 Yours &c. &c. &c.

Ph: Schuyler

LS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers.

1Goose Van Schaick (1736–1789), who had been a provincial officer in the French and Indian War, commanded the 2d New York Regiment that served under Gen. Richard Montgomery during the Canadian campaign of 1775. On 9 Jan. 1776 the Continental Congress gave Van Schaick command of a new regiment that was to be raised in New York for service in Canada (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 , 4:43). When the colony’s forces were reorganized again in November 1776, Van Schaick was made colonel of the 1st New York Regiment. He commanded that regiment until the end of the war, seeing action at Ticonderoga in 1777, at Monmouth in 1778, on the New York frontier in 1779, and at Yorktown in 1781.

2Schuyler wrote to the Schenectady committee of correspondence on 11 Mar. inquiring about the arms that GW had heard were in the possession of John Duncan, and on that same date the committee appointed two of its members to investigate the matter (Minutes of the Albany and Schenectady Committees description begins Minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence, 1775–1778. 2 vols. Albany, 1923–25. description ends , 2:1055–56). No arms apparently were obtained from Duncan.

3On 17 Feb. 1776 Congress directed Schuyler “to repair, as soon as his health will permit, to New York, and take the command of the forces, and conduct the military operations there” (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 , 4:157). Schuyler had not yet learned that Charles Lee was to go to the southern colonies instead of Canada.

4This enclosure has not been identified, but the Washington Papers at the Library of Congress include “A Morning Report of the Effective Troops before Quebec in the Service of the United Colonies March 10th 1776,” which gives a total of 1,794 officers and men.

5Schuyler enclosed certified copies of affidavits sworn before Gen. David Wooster at Montreal on 14 Feb. 1776 by Levy Solomon, James Morrison, and Midshipman William Bradley, each of whom said that he saw Ethan Allen in irons aboard the warship Gaspee the previous fall. “A Gentleman known by the Name of Coln. Allen,” Midshipman Bradley testified, “was brought on Board the Gaspee Man of War then lying before the Town of Montreal some Time in the Month of September One thousand seven hundred and seventy five & pursuant to the Orders of Capt. [Maltis Lucullus] Ryall who then Commanded said Ship, I put a pair of Irons on said Allen’s Legs which he wore for seven or Eight Days during which he was kept by the Boatswains Cabbin—afterwards the Irons were taken off his Legs in the Morning and Handcuffs were put on his Hands which was the Practise for some considerable Time. Then only one Leg was Ironed in the Night & Handcuffs in the Day” (DLC:GW).

6For GW’s answer to this query, see his letter to Schuyler of 19 Mar. 1776.

7On 12 Mar. 1776 Schuyler wrote to Hancock: “By a Letter from Lt Colo: Wade of the 29th Ult: which I received on the 11th Instant, I find that part of the New Hampshire Regiment was marched on the 24th Ult:—Immediately on Receipt of Colo: Wade’s Letter, I dispatched an Express to Ticonderoga, with Directions for forwarding provisions to Onion River; where I am apprehensive the Men will arrive, and suffer, before the provisions: I am sorry that I had not more early Intelligence of their marching” (DNA:PCC, item 153). Schuyler is referring to Joseph Wait, lieutenant colonel of Col. Timothy Bedel’s regiment (see the New Hampshire General Court to GW, 21 Jan. 1776, n.3).

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