George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 26 May 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Fort George [N.Y.] 26th May 1776

Dear Sir

Since my last of the 24th I have received sundry Letters from Canada, of which the inclosed are Copies.1

The five Batteaus sent with provisions on the 14th arrived at St John’s on the 17th, as I have already observed to your Excellency in my last.2

I have now three hundred Barrels of pork here, part of which will go in the large Boat, which I momently expect, but I cannot send any in Batteaus for Want of Men, nor can Colonel Wynkoop to whom I sent for two Companies, supply any without stoping all there—I have sent for Troops to Albany but do not expect to procure many.

Mr Deane, who left Montreal on Thursday last informs me, that a part of the eighth Regiment with about 170 Indians had actually arrived near the Cedars; that the Caghnawagas are friendly, but refuse to take up arms in our Favor.3

I wish it could be so managed that the Indians on the Visit to your Excellency were detained, as long as possible, and by some Means or other induced to go to Philadelphia and other places, that they might serve as a Kind of Hostages, for the peaceable Demeanor of the others.

Yesterday I received the inclosed from Colonel Dayton. From the Declaration of Lady Johnson, that we shall soon hear where he is, I suspect he is only gone towards Oswego to meet with Major Hamilton, who I find from an intercepted Letter to one of our prisoners was to fall on the Colony in that Quarter,4 this has induced me to order Colonel Dayton to remain in Tryon County until farther Orders, altho’ he is much wanted in Canada—Your Excellency will please to signify your pleasure on this Measure.

The two last Corps of General Sullivan’s Brigade have thrown all the Communication on Hudsons River in the greatest Confusion: they took the Waggons stationed at the different Carrying places, and consequently stopped the Transportation in Batteaus, and all this directly contrary to clear and explicit Orders given them before I left Albany and in Spite of the Quarters-Masters & Commissaries who shewed and read my Orders—This infamous Maneuvre has greatly retarded the provisions in their way up—I am fully determined to suspend the next Officer that shall offend, until the pleasure of Congress is known: I know this to be a Stretch of power, but Necessity will oblige me to it. I am—Dr General with the most respectful Sentiments Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

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

1Schuyler enclosed copies of a letter written to him by Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Samuel Chase, 16 May, one from Col. Elias Dayton, 24 May, and three letters of 15 May from Gen. Benedict Arnold, two of which are addressed to the commissioners to Canada and one to Samuel Chase. “The army here is suffering for want of provisions, particularly pork,” commissioners Carroll and Chase wrote to Schuyler from Montreal. “None or next to none is to be procured in Canada, for God’s Sake send off pork or our Troops will be greatly distressed for want of provisions and may mutiny & desert to the Enemy. . . . General Thompson & Colonel Sinclair [Arthur St. Clair] sailed from this place Yesterday for the Mouth of the Sorrel, which place we hope he reached last Night—They intended to proceed to Dechambault immediately—We hope we shall be able to maintain that post if Carleton has no more Forces than mentioned in Arnold’s Letters” (DLC:GW).

Arnold, in his first letter of 15 May to the commissioners, relays intelligence received from a Mr. Bonfield who “left Sully on Thursday last [9 May] De[s]cham[bault] on Saturday Morning where General Thomas was with only nine hundred Men[.] Colonel Maxwell was at Jacques Cartier, but the Number of Men with him Mr Bonfield could not tell—Mr Bonfield saw a Number of the regular Officers and Inhabitants of Quebec before he left Sully, who acquainted him that on Monday the 6th Instant arrived at Quebeck one Sloop of war of fourteen Guns, one twenty and one fifty Gun Ship from England, with two Companies of the 27th Regiment and one Company of Marines, which were immediately landed, who with the Garrison that came out the same afternoon made a Body of one thousand Men commanded by General Carleton, from whom our people made a most precipitate Retreat without ever firing a Gun. on the 8th arrived a Frigate of thirty Guns and a large India Man, with five hundred Men from Hallifax part of General Howe’s Army the whole of which were on their passage for Quebec & six thousand Hessians it is said are on their way from England—If the latter is true we shall doubtless have our Hands full” (DLC:GW). For the short unsigned and undated note that Schuyler also enclosed with this letter, see his second letter to GW of this date, note 4.

3About sixty men from the 8th or King’s Regiment of Foot were sent to the Cedars. The preceding Thursday was 23 May.

4Col. Elias Dayton reports in the letter that he wrote to Schuyler from Johnstown on 24 May that he had recently examined Sir John Johnson’s papers at Johnson Hall in the presence of Lady Johnson. “Since Mr Caldwell left this place,” Dayton writes, “I am more assured that Sir John with his party marched from these Settlements on Monday last [20 May] for Niagara or Canada, that we soon shall hear where he is. As the Guards and Sentries round the House must increase the pain of her [Lady Johnson’s] Situation, I have requested her to remove to Albany, where as I understand she has several Friends, to this she seems averse, but for what Reason I know not & I would therefore be glad to receive your Directions on this Head” (DLC:GW). Mary Watts Johnson (d. 1815), daughter of a prominent New York City family, was forcibly taken to Albany a short time later in hopes that her detention there would cause her husband to act more moderately (see Schuyler to GW, 15 June 1776). Mrs. Johnson wrote to GW from Albany on 16 June soliciting her freedom, but he declined to order her release at that time (see GW to Schuyler, 20 June 1776).

“Major Hamilton” may be a reference to Henry Hamilton (c.1734–1796), the recently appointed British lieutenant governor of Detroit, who later in the war gained widespread, although undeserved, notoriety as the “hair-buyer general” for his alleged role in encouraging Indian atrocities against settlers on the western frontier. Henry Hamilton was only a captain in the 15th Regiment of Foot in 1775 when he sold his commission to accept his civil office at Detroit, but in 1767 he had acted as a brigade major under Gen. Guy Carleton in Canada. Maj. Isaac Hamilton of the 18th Regiment of Foot commanded the British garrison in New York City until July 1775 when Gen. Thomas Gage gave him permission to go home to England on account of ill health (Cadwallader Colden to Dartmouth, 3 May, 7 June 1775, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 9:117–18, 159–63; Gage to Barrington, 25 July 1775, in Carter, Gage Correspondence description begins Clarence Edwin Carter, comp. and ed. The Correspondence of General Thomas Gage with the Secretaries of State, 1763–1775. 2 vols. 1931–33. Reprint. Hamden, Conn., 1969. description ends , 2:694). Isaac Hamilton does not appear on the rolls of the British army in 1776.

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