George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 14 February 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany February 14th 1776

Dear Sir.

A few Days ago I was honored with your Letter of the 27th Ultimo by Bennet—I was so greatly indisposed then that it was with Difficulty I could do that Business which was indispensible: I am since much better—A copious Discharge from an internal Imposthume in my Breast has given me great Relief, and I have Reason to think it is healing, as my Cough is greatly abated, and I gain Strength so fast that I hope soon to be able to go to Canada, where all is in Confusion—Mr Walker I fear has too much Attention paid to his Advice, which is from what I can learn generally founded on his private Resentments for the many Hardships he has suffered—Indeed he has suffered so much that he must be more than Man to divest himself of all Resentment, but this I fear has already proved very detrimental to our Cause—I have written fully and freely on this Subject to Congress.1

Five Companies of Colo: De Haas’s and one of Colo: Maxwell’s are marched from hence—They are much thined by Sickness and Desertion and came very ill provided, the better half of their Arms required Repairs, and the whole were to be furnished with Shoes Socks Mittins &c. which causes a considerable Detention and distresses me much as hardly any Thing is to be bought in this place.2

It is extremely difficult to determine what should be done in what you mention respecting the Offer made by the Caghnawaga Indians, but if we can get decently rid of their Offer, I would prefer it to employing them—The Expence we are at in the Indian Department is now amazing; it will be more so, when they consider themselves as in our Service, nor would their Intervention be of much Consequence, unless we could procure that of the other Nations—The hauteur of the Indians is much diminished since the taking of Montreal, they evidently see that they cannot get any Supplies but thro’ us.

I have not a Mortar to send into Canada and no heavy Artillery, as your Excellency will percieve from the inclosed Return: Many of which mentioned there are unfit for Service—I have sent on half a Ton of powder which came from Philadelphia and we have none left here.3

If even the Regiment from the Massachusetts which you ordered to be raised goes into Canada; the Number of Troops there will be still short of eight compleat Regiments, as many are very deficient, and that two cannot be raised out of the Troops that remained in Canada: Numbers of whom are daily coming away.

General Arnold still continues the Blockade of Quebec, the Garrison appear to be in want of Fuel as they have attempted to break up some Vessels near the Town, but were prevented by our people who made a few prisoners on the Occasion—I am Dr Sir with the most respectful Sentiments & best wishes Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant.

Ph: Schuyler

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers.

1Thomas Walker, a Montreal merchant who had been imprisoned by the British the previous fall, set out about 11 Feb. with James Price, another Montreal merchant, to confer with Congress about Canadian affairs. See David Wooster to the Continental Congress, 11 Feb. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 161. On 10 Feb. Schuyler wrote to Hancock: “I fear General Wooster pays too much Attention to the Advic⟨e⟩ of Mr Walker who has been so ill used by the King’s Officers, that his private Resentment will hurt our Cause, and I dare confidently venture to prophesy that unless a respectable Committee of Congress be with all Expedition sent to Canada that our Affairs will not only greatly suffer, but that in all probability we shall lose the Affections of the Canadians” (DNA:PCC, item 153). Congress appointed such a committee on 15 Feb. before Schuyler’s letter arrived (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 , 4:151–52). Walker and Price reached Philadelphia by 6 Mar. when a motion in Congress to examine them “before the House on the State of Canada, was opposed as unnecessary and dropt.” On 28 Mar. Congress considered a petition from Walker “setting forth his Sufferings from [Richard] Prescott & [Guy] Carlton and praying Redress” but took no action on it. Walker returned to Montreal a short time later with nothing to show for his trip other than $400 that he was reimbursed for money lent to Wooster (Richard Smith’s Diary, 6, 28 Mar. 1776, 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 , 3:346–47, 458–59; 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 , 4:233, 238).

2Col. John Philip De Haas’s 1st Pennsylvania Regiment and Col. William Maxwell’s 2d New Jersey Regiment were ordered to Albany by Congress on 8 Jan. (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 , 4:39–40), and the companies that had arrived were now proceeding to reinforce the army in Canada. Both colonels were veterans of the French and Indian War. John Philip De Haas (c.1735–1786), a native of Holland who emigrated to Lancaster County, Pa., as a young child, seems to have served in the Forbes campaign of 1758 as a provincial officer and in 1763 fought under Henry Bouquet at Bushy Run. De Haas replaced John Bull as colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment on 22 Jan. 1776 and participated in the ensuing Canadian campaign. On 21 Feb. 1777 Congress made De Haas a brigadier general, but he did not accept that appointment. William Maxwell (c.1733–1796), who came to New Jersey with his Scotch-Irish parents about 1747, was a soldier in a British regiment at Braddock’s defeat in 1755. He became a junior officer in a provincial regiment soon afterwards and eventually a colonel in the British commissary department at Mackinac. In 1775 Maxwell was a member of the New Jersey provincial congress, and on 8 Nov. 1775 that body elected him colonel of the 2d New Jersey Regiment, which he subsequently raised in the western part of the colony. He led his regiment throughout the Canadian campaign of this year including the disastrous battle at Trois Rivières in June. On 23 Oct. 1776 Congress appointed Maxwell a brigadier general, and during the Philadelphia campaign of 1777 he commanded a light infantry brigade. Acquitted of charges of drunkenness in the fall of 1777, Maxwell remained a brigadier general until July 1780 when he resigned his commission.

3Schuyler enclosed “A general Return of Artillery, Stores and Ammunition now in the possession of the Continental Army at different places in Canada,” a long, detailed document which can be found in DLC:GW. The specific locations in Canada are St. Foy, Point aux Trembles, Montreal, Chambly, and St. Jean. The return also includes a brief summary of artillery “Remaining at Tyconderoga Crown point &c.”

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