John Jay Papers
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To John Jay from Alexander McDougall, 7 March 1776

From Alexander McDougall

Head Quarters, 7th March 1776

Dear Sir,

While I am waiting for General Lee, Just at the Point of his departure, I am induced to put a few incoherent thoughts together. I fear the Confederacy will Suffer by altering General Lee’s destination, from Canada.1 The officer who is to command there should speak french, if such an officer can be procured; a frenchman’s eyes sparkles when he is addressed in that Language. Many ^reasons^ might be urged in favor of his taking that Command. The Confidence the well affected canadians would have in his experience, as well as our Troops loudly, proclaim him to be the man. The advantage of his acquaintence with the manners of the people of that Nation is among the many motives that designate him for that Colony. The object of the Enemy there will be more fixed than in Virginia, which renders it more necessary the Officer should be a man of experience. In Virginia the attacks of the Enemy must from the Nature of the Country be irregular, and may therefore be more easily repulsed by an officer of less Experience, than those made on Quebec, in the Spring. For you may rest assured the Ministry will pay particular attention to the relief of that Town & Colony, for there they have some prospect with a tolerable force to Secure the Province, not only from the Confederacy, but to gain some strengths by aiding the inhabitants to take up arms in their favor. Such an Event would be greatly increased our embarassment. If these reasons have any weight Pray reconsider the expediency of sending the General to the Southard. The Sloop we have are fitting out is ready, but wait to know from ^the^ Congress what pay you alow the officers & Saylors on board the Smalest Continental Vessel, and the description of the Continental Colours.2 I beg you to furnish me with a Copy of these, without delay as the Publick Service Suffers, without regarding at whose expense the armament is to be. Send me also a Sample of the Pikes made at Phila. I am in Great Haste. Your affectionate

Alexr. McDougall

ALS, NNC (EJ: 6923). Addressed: “To/John Jay Esquire/at/Philadelphia.” Endorsed.

1On 4 Feb. 1776, Gen. Charles Lee arrived in New York to prepare the city’s defenses for the expected British invasion. Thirteen days later he was ordered to Canada to succeed Schuyler as commander of troops in that province. However, on 28 Feb., Congress changed Lee’s orders, instructing him not to depart for Canada until further notice, and on 1 Mar. Lee was ordered to assume command of Continental forces in the southern colonies. JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1904–37) description ends , 4: 157, 175, 180.

2The Schuyler, described variously as a sloop and as a schooner in the JPC description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York (2 vols.; Albany, N.Y., 1842) description ends , had been fitted out by the New York Congress and was ordered into service 9 Mar. 1776. Salary scales for the Continental naval officers and seamen had been adopted in November and December 1775; no provisions for a Continental flag had been made. See JJ to McDougall, 23 Mar. 1776, below; JPC description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York (2 vols.; Albany, N.Y., 1842) description ends , 1: 349; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1904–37) description ends , 3: 384, 417.

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