George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lord Stirling, 15–17 March 1776

From Lord Stirling

New York March 15[-17]th 1776

My Dear General.

On wednesday last I received Mr Moylans letter of the 9th and Immediatly sent forward to Philadelphia the Express who brought it.1 I communicated the Intelligence to the provincial Convention then Sitting; we have ever since been taking every measure in our power to Secure this place and Long Island in Such a manner as will prevent the enemy from making any Lodgement in either of them. The Convention has very Chearfully & Spiritedly come into every measure I proposed to them as you will See by the Inclosed paper which will best inform you of the Steps we have taken.2 370 half barrels of powder arrived here yesterday from Philadelphia for your Camp, but the Casks are in Such a Shattered Condition that one half of it would be lost before it could proceed one hundred miles further, I have therefore Ordered the whole of it to be Started into good Strong light Casks, which will be done by monday next, by which time I hope to have directions from Congress either to Send it forward or detain it at this place, you will by same Inclosed paper see the State of that article in this place.3

March 17: I have this evening received dispatches from the Congress by which I find they have Resolved that Eight Thousand men be Ordered for the Defence of this Colony,4 But as I know the Incomplete State of most of the Regiments ordered for this Service are now in, I am Sure that not one half of them will be here and fit for ⟨S⟩ervice these four or five weeks, I have therefore been obliged to call in some Millitia ⟨(p⟩erhaps two thousand may come) to act in the mean time as fatigue in Carrying ⟨on⟩ the works; I mention this Circumstance that In case the Ministerial Troops do ⟨a⟩ctually leave Boston, it may not be Supposed that the Troops voted are or can be ⟨h⟩ere in any probable time to Oppose them, We have in the whole here at present ⟨b⟩ut about Two thousand men exclusive of the Millitia of the City which may amount to About as many more, the latter have very Chearfully turned out on Fatigue for the last Three days, and we are all hands employed in Fortifying Such posts as were thought most proper by General Lee and myself after several times viewing the whole ground, on Long Island as well as on this. I am Your most Obedient humble Servant



1For Stephen Moylan’s letter to Stirling of 9 Mar., see GW to Stirling, 14 Mar. 1776, n.1.

2Moylan’s letter to Stirling was read in the New York provincial congress on 13 Mar. (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:356–57). Stirling failed to enclose the paper describing the steps that he and the provincial congress were taking to defend New York (see GW to Stirling, 24 Mar. 1776). He probably intended to send GW a copy of the “Regulations agreed to for the defence of the city of New-York between Lord Stirling, general of the Continental, and a committee of the Provincial Congress of the Colony of New-York,” which the provincial congress approved on 14 Mar. (ibid., 360–61).

3This enclosure has not been identified. For GW’s instructions regarding the gunpowder, see his letter to Stirling of 24 Mar. 1776.

4The Continental Congress passed this resolution on 14 Mar. (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 , 4:204). Hancock wrote to Stirling the next day: “Three Battalions, & a Company of Rifle-Men from Pennsylvania, and one Battalion from New Jersey are ordered to join you with all Expedition. Col. [William] Irvine’s Battalion and the Rifle Company are said to be compleatly armed. The Rest are not so well provided as could be wished. But by the Resolve for taking the Arms out of the Hands of the disaffected and Non-associators, it is hoped, they may be soon supplied” (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 , 3:378–79).

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