George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 13 January 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany January 13th 1776

I wish I had no Occasion to send My Dear General this Melancholly Account. My Amiable Friend the Gallant Montgomery is no more. The Brave Arnold is wounded & we have met with a severe Check, in an unsuccessful Attempt on Quebec;1 May Heaven be graciously pleased that the Misfortune may terminate here; I tremble for our People in Canada, And Nothing my Dear Sir seems left, to prevent the most fatal Consequences, but an immediate Reinforcement, that is no where to be had but from You, & the only Rout that which I have pointed out in my Letter to Congress, Copy of which You have enclosed; Nor do I think that a less Number than which I have mentioned will suffice. Should Your Excellency think proper to send the Troops, You will please to let me know It by Express, that I may send Provisions to Onion River.2

Congress has wrote to me on the Subject of my Request to retire,3 our Affairs are much Worse than when I made the Request, this is Motive sufficient for me to continue to serve my Country, in any Way I can be thought most serviceable; But my Utmost can be but little, Weak & Indisposed as I am.

The Clothing is gone to Cambridge.4 I am Your Excellency’s most Obedt & Most Humble Servt

Ph: Schuyler

LS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 19 Jan. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy (photocopy), enclosed in Circular to the New England Governments, 19 Jan. 1776, DNA: RG 93, Photocopies of State Records; copy, enclosed in Circular to the New England Governments, 19 Jan. 1776, Nh-Ar; copy, CtY: Knollenberg Collection; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, NjMoHP. GW received this letter on the evening of 17 January. See Council of War, 18 Jan. 1776.

1Schuyler enclosed copies of seven letters concerning Gen. Richard Montgomery’s plan to attack Quebec and his defeat there on the night of 31 Dec.: Montgomery to Schuyler, 26 Dec. 1775, Benedict Arnold to David Wooster, 31 Dec. 1775, Donald Campbell to Wooster, 31 Dec. 1775, 2 Jan. 1776, James Price to Schuyler, 5 Jan. 1776, Wooster to Schuyler, 5 Jan. 1776, and Wooster to Seth Warner, 6 Jan. 1776 (all in DLC:GW). Wooster, who commanded the American force at Montreal, informed Schuyler in his letter of 5 Jan. “of the Unhappy Fate of our Brave & most Amiable Friend General Montgomery who with his Aide De Camp [John] Macpherson, Capt. [Jacob] Cheesman & several Other Brave Officers & Men Gloriously fell in an unfortunate Attack upon Quebec, unfortunate indeed, for in Addition to the Loss we sustain in the Death of the General, one of the bravest Men of the Age, the Flower of our Army at Quebec were either cut off or taken Prisoners, I little expect that with the Troops that remain to be able to Continue the Seige, in Short our Situation in this Country is at present, & will be till we can have Relief from the Colonies very critical & dangerous, we really have but Very few Men in the Country & many of those few not to be depended On as we have too dearly proved.” See also Arnold to GW, 14 Jan. 1776.

2“The very great Distance of Congress from here,” Schuyler wrote to Hancock on 13 Jan., “will appologize for a Request I shall immediately make to General Washington to send three thousand Men into Canada, to march by the Way of Number four to Onion River from whence Lake Champlain is passible to Canada” (copy in DLC:GW). “Number four” is Charlestown, New Hampshire. The Onion River is the Winooski River which flows from central Vermont and enters Lake Champlain north of present-day Burlington. For GW’s response, see his letter to Schuyler of 18 January.

3“The Congress,” Hancock wrote to Schuyler on 30 Nov. 1775, “hear with Concern your Request of Leave to retire. They regret the Injuries your Health has sustained in the Service, and beg you will not insist on a Measure, which would at once deprive America of the future Benefits she expects from your Zeal and Abilities, and rob you of the Honor of compleating the glorious Work you have so happily & successfully begun” (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 , 2:415–16).

4GW requested the clothing at Albany in his letter to Schuyler of 24 December.

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