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From George Washington to Major General Israel Putnam, 3 June 1776

To Major General Israel Putnam

Philadelphia June 3d 1776

Dr Sir

I received your favor by Yesterday Evenings Express with the sevl Letters and Intelligence from Genl Schuyler1 and am much concerned for the further misfortunes that have attended our Arms in Canada. I have laid the whole before Congress, who had before resolved to send a considerable augmentation to our Army there, & doubt not that Genl Schuyler may receive assistance from the Militias most convenient to him for securing the different passes & communications ’till they can be [releived]2—As to sending a reinforcemt from New York, neither policy or prudence will Justifye It, as we have the strongest reasons to beleive the day not far distant when a Large Armanment will arrive and vigorously attempt an Impression there, to oppose which the forces we have will not be more than equal If sufficient.

Congress have determined on building sundry Gundaloes and fire rafts to prevent the men of War and Enemies Ships from coming into the New York Bay or Narrows, I must therefore request that you make Inquiry after Carpenters and procure all you can with materials necessary for building them, that they may goe on with all possible expedition as soon as the person arrives from hence, whom I have employed to superintend the work, he will be there in a day or two.3 I am Dr Sir &c.

G:W.

LB, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2Although the committee of conference that met with GW between 25 and 29 May recommended that 9,000 militiamen and 1,000 Indians be furnished for the defense of Canada, Congress resolved on 1 June to call out 6,000 militiamen to reinforce the army there and “keep up the communication with that province.” Massachusetts was to supply 3,000 militiamen, Connecticut 1,500 militiamen, and New Hampshire and New York each 750 militiamen. On further considering the committee’s report on this date, Congress also authorized the employment of up to 2,000 Indians 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 , 4:399, 410–12; see also the copy of the committee of conference’s report, 29–31 May, and Congress’s resolutions, 1–3 June, DLC:GW). The word in square brackets, which was inadvertently omitted in the letter-book copy, is taken from the Varick transcript.

3Acting on another recommendation of the committee of conference, Congress authorized GW on 30 May “to direct the building as many fire rafts, row gallies, armed boats, and floating batteries as may be necessary, and suitable for the immediate defence of the port of New York, and Hudson’s river” (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 , 4:406–7; see also the copy of the committee of conference’s report, 29–31 May, and Congress’s resolutions, 1–3 June, DLC:GW). The unidentified shipwright whom GW engaged in Philadelphia arrived in New York by 7 June (see GW to Hancock, that date), but he apparently made little progress, for on 29 June Gen. Thomas Mifflin was ordered to “turn his attention . . . to the Gundaloes, Fire-Rafts &c.” (General Orders, that date), and in July an officer from New Jersey took over the construction of fire rafts (see Hancock to GW, 10 July, and GW to Hancock, 14, 27 July 1776).

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