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From George Washington to Philip Schuyler, 25 December 1779

To Philip Schuyler

Morris-town Decr 25th 79

My dear Sir,

Your favor of the 12th Instt came safe to hand & conveyed all that pleasure which is derived from an assurance of mutual friendship—to continue & deserve which shall be my care, & among the sincerest of my wishes.

Your Recollet has not yet appeared in this quarter—more may be gathered from his appearance, & the manner in which he tells his tale, than from the authority under which he comes, for this may cloath him with very good or very evil designs, according as his Sub-holiness happens to be affected.

Mrs Washington is not yet arrived at this place, but is at Philada on her way, & expected in a day or two1—I am sure it would give her pleasure to make you a visit—certain I am it would add much to mine, but the difficulties under which the Army labour at this moment from the scantiness of our supplies2 & the near approach in full force of those evils wch we talked of at our last interview will compel me I am perswaded to remain here & endeavour to stem a torrent which seems ready to overwhelm us.

From present appearances I see not the most distant prospect of makg any establishment at the North end of L—— C——3 this Winter—an attempt even to burn the enemy’s vessels at St Johns by surprize or stratagem from the present view of things seems scarcely within the reach of possibility; & yet, not knowing how to lay aside the idea, I am induced to beg of you (if chance should throw the means of information in your way) to enquire into the strength of the garrison at St Johns, & the Posts on this side—whether forage now is, or in an instant (by adequate exertns) could be put on the communication between Albany & lake Champlain—and whether in case a measure of this kind should suddenly be adopted at a fit season for execution a Number of sleds sufficient for the quick conveyance of 600 Men with sufficient provisions, & forage from Tyconderoga, to carry them to St Johns & back, could be collected in the course of two or three days at Albany without previous measures (which might betray the design) being taken to effect it?

I shall not apologize for the trouble these enquiries must necessarily give you, because I wish them to be made, as it were, en passant, & am satisfied none can do it so well, or will undertake them more readily than yourself.4

I very sincerely wish ⟨you,⟩ Mrs Schuyler & family5 the complim⟨ents⟩ of the Season and a return of many happy New Years. In this the Gentlem⟨en⟩ of my family join most cordially with Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Obliged, & very Affe Hble Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. I have recd the Extracts from the Annual Registr of 74. & thank you much for directing them to be sent to me. If Monsr Loriot is candid in his narrative the discovery, or rediscovery is of a most interesting nature—The only matter to be wondered at, if it is a re-discovery, is, that a cement so important & simple and wch must have been in such constant use should ever be lost.6

Will you be so good as to ask Colo. Vansoick what steps he has taken in consequence of my order to prepare a number of Snow Shoes & Mocason’s? & when they will be ready?7

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Mutilated material on the draft is supplied in angle brackets from the Varick transcript.

1For Martha Washington’s stay in Philadelphia and arrival at Morristown, see GW to John Mitchell, 6 Nov., n.3; see also Mitchell to GW, 30 October. While at Morristown on 16 Feb. 1780, Maj. Caleb Gibbs wrote an “Account of Expences when on a Journey to meet Mrs Washington” between 28 Dec. 1779 and 2 Jan. 1780 that showed expenditures of $37 at Princeton, N.J., and $75 at the Black Horse Tavern near Philadelphia (Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts 1, 1776–1780, DLC:GW, ser. 5).

2For the acute provision and supply shortages, see Jeremiah Wadsworth to GW, 8 Nov., and the source note and n.1 to that document; GW to Samuel Huntington, 15 Dec.; and Circular to the States, 16 December.

3GW is referring to Lower Canada.

4Schuyler replied to GW on 16 Jan. 1780 (misfiled in DLC:GW under 10 Jan.); see also GW to Schuyler, 30 Jan. (DLC:GW).

5Schuyler and his wife, Catherine, had three sons and five daughters who survived infancy.

6GW is commenting upon “Some Extracts, from a Practical Essay on a Cement, and Artificial Stone, justly supposed to be that of the Greeks and Romans, lately rediscovered by Mons. Loriot, Master of Mechanics to his Most Christian Majesty; for the cheap, easy, expeditious, and durable Construction of all Manner of Buildings, and Formation of all Kinds of Ornaments of Architecture, even with the commonest and coarsest Materials. Translated from the French Original, lately published, by the express Orders of that Monarch,” found in the “Useful Projects” section, pages 105–18, of The Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year 1774 (London, 1775). A second edition of The Annual Register had been published in 1778.

Antoine-Joseph Loriot (1716–1782), a versatile inventor, gained both notoriety and acclaim in France. GW later recalled Loriot’s article on cement when considering improvements at Mount Vernon (see GW to Moustier, 15 Dec. 1788, in Papers, Presidential Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 19 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends 1:182; see also Moustier to GW, 26 Nov. 1788, in Papers, Presidential Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 19 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends 1:127–30).

7GW sought a reply to a letter he had written Col. Goose Van Schaick from West Point on 28 Nov.: “Immediately upon receipt of this letter you will be pleased to procure One hundred & fifty pair of Snow Shoes, & deposit them at Fort Schuyler—subject to the delivery of my order only—For particular reasons I wish to have them made in the Indian Country—by the Oneidas or some of those tribes—but if they cannot be had there, then to get them made up the Mohawk river—A proportionate number of Mocasons are also necessary, & must be deposited with the Snow Shoes.

“The Quarter Mastr at Albany will pay the cost of these things upon your order” (ALS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). The presence of an ALS in DLC:GW suggests that it may have been an unsent duplicate or a retained copy. Van Shaick replied to GW on 8 Jan. 1780 (DLC:GW).

GW again wrote Van Schaick from Morristown on 25 Dec.: “I have been favd with yours of the 3d instant. I imagine the Governor will make provision for the protection of the small frontier posts, upon the expiration of the nine Months Men. The Cloathing for your Regiment has been drawn by your State Cloathier and has been before this sent up to them.

“I cannot direct the Commissary of Hides to deliver raw Hides to you, without infringing the regulations of that department, which puts him under the controul of the Board of War and Cloathier General” (LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NjP: De Coppet Collection; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). Van Schaick’s letter to GW of 3 Dec. has not been found.

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