George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General George Clinton, 5 May 1776

From Brigadier General George Clinton

New Windsor [N.Y.] 5th May 1776

Dr Sir

On my Arival here I went immediatly to Fishkill to make Inquiery about the Arms said to be stored at Wiltsys.1 I find that about a Week ago a certain Duncan Campbell a Major in the Ministerial Army taken on Board the Enemys Vessels at the Mouth of the Sorrel came to the Fish Kill on Board of an Albany Sloop landed there & put in Wiltsy’s Store a number of Chests & Trunks containing (as he said) Officers Baggage for which he took Wiltsys Rect.2 He had a pass from Genl Schuyler to go to Fredricksburgh in Dutchess County3 with his Bagage which he shew’d Wiltsy & applied for Assistance to take his Chests &ca there; but being disapointed in getting Teems for the Purpose they lay some Days in the Store in which Time some little Boys playing in the Store discovered that one of the Chests which had been nailed down & lashed with a Rope but had partly got open contained Fire Arms of which they acquainted Mr Wiltsy who immediatly gave the Committee of the Precinct Notice thereof. The Committee mett opened the Chest found it contained 13 Officers Pieces with a Paper on which was wrote the Owners Name fastened to each 7 Broad Swords & some Pistols—The Committee ordered all the Chests 9 in Number to their Chairman’s House about ten Miles back in the Country where they now are as yet unopen’d;4 but from their extraordinary weight it is probable they are all filled with Arms—The Trunks which contained Bagage only are not detained. I believe taken away by Campbell—The Committee have appointed to meet and open all the Chests on Monday next and have summoned Campbell to attend them; In this I fear they have been over prudent for if Guilty he will fly for it—It is reported & I believe he has already5—It will be out of my Power to attend the Committee to open the Chests as my Business calls me to Kingston (forty Miles distant) on that Day; I have therefore sent the Chairman your Order to me inclosed in a Letter of which I now send you a Copy6 and as he is an active Man warmly engaged in his Countrys Cause I doubt not but every Thing will be done as well for securing the Arms as Campbell (if necessary[)], and as soon as I receive their Report I will transmit it to you—Fredricksburgh is a Neighbourhood in which several Scotch half pay Officers (of Course disafected Persons) live among the rest Menos mentioned in the Letter you shewed me.7 I cant learn with certainty that he has gone off tho it is confidently said many Persons in that Place have lately absconded—I am with the highest Esteem your Most Obedt Servt

Geo: Clinton

ALS, DLC:GW. New Windsor, now a suburb of Newburgh, N.Y., is on the west side of the Hudson River almost directly across from the mouth of Fishkill Creek. GW’s headquarters were at New Windsor for part of June and July 1779 and during most of the period between December 1780 and June 1781. The Continental army made its last winter encampment there during the winter of 1782–83.

1For the intelligence regarding these arms, see GW to Clinton, 2 May 1776. Fishkill Landing (now part of Beacon, N.Y.) was at the mouth of Fishkill Creek, and the village of Fishkill, where GW briefly had his headquarters during the fall of 1778, is about five miles upstream.

2Ens. Duncan Campbell, quartermaster of the 26th Regiment of Foot, was captured in November 1775 when the British troops that had evacuated Montreal surrendered to the Americans at Lavaltrie on the St. Lawrence River about halfway between Montreal and Sorel. Campbell was allowed to stay at Montreal during the winter so that he could bring the captured officers their personal baggage in the spring (see “A List of the Officers of his Majestys Troops on board the Vessels near Montreal 21st November 1775” enclosed in Schuyler to GW, 8 Dec. 1775, DLC:GW, and Campbell to GW, 10 May 1776). The Richelieu River, which was often referred to as the Sorel River during the Revolutionary War, runs from Lake Champlain north to the St. Lawrence River at Sorel.

3Fredericksburg (now Patterson), N.Y., lies about fifteen miles east of Fishkill near the Connecticut line. GW’s headquarters were at Fredericksburg during much of the fall of 1778.

4Richard Van Wyck was chairman of the committee of safety for Rumbout Precinct, the section of Dutchess County in which both Fishkill Landing and Fishkill lay.

5The next day was Monday. Campbell did not flee but attended the meeting of the Rumbout Precinct committee of safety. See his account of the proceedings in his letter to GW of 10 May.

6See Clinton to Richard Van Wyck, 4 May 1776, DLC:GW.

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