George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Marsh, 3 November 1780

From Joseph Marsh

Dresden on the New Hampshire Grants Novr 3d A.D. 1780


May it please your Excellency.

We have this moment received a paper attested by Capt. Safford of which the enclosed is a copy—its contents are to us unintelligible and alarming—we know not what construction to put on it, unless a negociation is on foot for a separate peace for the new State, which we have heard has been threatned if Congress should not acknowledge the independence of Vermont and admit them to union1—Under these apprehensions we send the enclosed to your Excellency, as the consequences of such negotiation may be speedily fatal to the settlements contiguous to Connecticut river and more dangerous to the united States than the late treachery at West-point.2

The enemy in number three hundred destroyed Royalton and part of Sharon in this vicinity about a fortni[gh]t ago and took thirty prisoners—Scouts lately returned from Onion river discovered last week about one thousand of the enemy near its confluence whose object is supposed to be Cohos or this place—our situation at best is critical and we are in danger of being totally destroyed soon unless assistance is granted for our defence.3

Our apprehensions respecting the enclosed may be groundless, but our fears are great.4

I write this in behalf of the General Committee on the grants contiguous to Connecticut river,5 and have the honor to be with highest sentiments of duty and esteem, Sir Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant

Joseph Marsh Chairman


1Congress had postponed consideration of the vexatious Vermont issue on 12 Sept. (see 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 , 18:821; see also Samuel Adams to John Lowell, 15 Sept., and James Madison to Joseph Jones, 19 Sept., in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 16:64–66, 94–95).

2Marsh enclosed an extract from Maj. Ebenezer Allen’s letter written at Fort Vengeance, Vt., on 30 Oct., to Capt. Jesse Safford at Bethel, Vt.: “I received a letter from General Allen last evening informing that the evening before he received a flag from the British troops at Crown Point with letters of importance from the commander in chief at Quebec—Major Carlton hath pledged his faith that all hostilities on his part shall cease during the negociation, and he expects the same on our part—You are therefore carefully to observe the rules of war and give strict orders to your scouts and troops to govern themselves accordingly.

“A copy of this letter you will forward to the troops stationed on your side of the mountain in this State—I shall inform you of every move necessary for you moving on this side of the mountain.

“If the spirit of this letter were made known to the inhabitants on your side of the mountain it would be well” (DLC:GW; see also The Discovery of Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 25 Sept.–24 Nov., editorial note). Fort Vengeance was in northern Rutland County roughly twenty-five miles southwest of Bethel.

Jesse Safford (1755–1834) joined a Massachusetts regiment in 1775 and moved to Woodstock, Vt., in 1777. He subsequently served as lieutenant and then captain in Vermont companies. For Safford’s own account of his military service, which ended in January 1781, see his pension application declaration given at Genesee County, N.Y., on 16 Oct. 1832, found in DNA: RG 15, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800–1900.

3For the attack on Royalton, Vt., and the erroneous intelligence of another force moving on Coos, Vt., see Jacob Bayley to GW, 28 Oct. 1780, and n.6.

4See n.2 above. Irregular communications had passed between Vermont militia general Ethan Allen and British major Christopher Carleton (see Philip Schuyler to GW, 31 Oct.–1 Nov., and notes 4, 7, and 10; see also Schuyler to GW, 12 Nov.).

5For this political entity, see Marsh to GW, 12 April, n.1.

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