George Washington Papers

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

From Major General Philip Schuyler

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

Dear Sir

Since my Letter of this Morning Mr Livingston my Aid de Camp1 whom I sent to Albany to hasten up to this place, whatever of V. Schaick’s and Wynkoop’s Regiments might be there, more than were wanted to mann the Batteaux employed in transporting provisions, is returned here, and informs me that the Men of both those Regiments at that place are not sufficient to mann the Batteaus; this Information is corroberated by a Letter from my Secretary,2 and gives me great Uneasiness lest our Army in Canada should again be under Difficulties for Want of the necessary Supplies—By the inclosed Return your Excellency will see that I have only 91 Rank and file fit for Duty,3 twenty eight of these are constantly employed in the Batteaus that bring the Timber for building others: eight in the large Boat; and ten in various other Services, so that I have only 45 left for Duty, and all raw & undisciplined. A Force so trifling that it leaves us exposed to the Insults of any very inconsiderable party who may destroy our Boats and Buildings, and thereby greatly distress if not totally render useless our Army in Canada: permit me therefore to beg your Excellency to order me a Reinforcement the soonest possible, and should I find myself hereafter in a Situation to dispense with them Colonel Van Schaick will then be immediately sent into Canada.

I forgot to mention to your Excellency that the small Note I inclosed you this Morning, I received with the other papers, but do not know whether intended for the Commissioners or me, if for me I am not in a Condition to comply with it, as I have not a person here that understands the Construction of Gundaloes.4 I wrote for such persons to the Congress in the Course of last Winter but if I had proper persons here it would be needless to build them as the Waters in a few Days, if not already are too low to get Vessels of that Construction down the Falls of Chamblé.

I shall try to procure Batteaumen at Albany and its Vicinity, they are cheaper at eleven Dollars and a Quarter per Month, than Soldiers with the additional pay of one Shilling per Day; because they are more to be depended on.

please to order up some Flints with Directions to have them forwarded to this place, without Delay.

I am so weakened by the Ague, which still continues to torment me, that I cannot bear the Fatigue of visiting the Communication to Albany, where I am much wanted. I am Dear Sir most sincerely Your Excellency’s obedient & humble Servant.

Ph: Schuyler

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

1Henry Brockholst Livingston (1757–1823), a son of Gov. William Livingston of New Jersey, became one of Schuyler’s aides-de-camp on 11 May 1776 and remained on his staff with the rank of major until sometime in the summer of 1777. In September 1777 Livingston was appointed an aide-de-camp to General Arnold, and on 4 Oct. 1777 Congress promoted him to lieutenant colonel as a reward for his services. Livingston left the army in January 1778 to study law, and in the fall of 1779 when his brother-in-law John Jay was appointed minister to Spain, Livingston accompanied him to Madrid as his private secretary. On his return voyage to America in 1782, Livingston’s ship was taken by the British. Released from captivity in May 1782, he resumed the study of law and was admitted to the New York bar in 1783.

2Richard Varick was Schuyler’s secretary.

3The enclosed return of the garrison at Fort George, dated 27 May 1776 and signed by John Lansing, Jr., shows a total of 118 officers and men fit for duty including the 91 rank and file mentioned by Schuyler (DLC:GW).

4The unsigned, undated note that Schuyler enclosed in his first letter to GW of this date reads: “have but one Gondalo—without more or a floating Battery we shall be unable to keep the Enemies Vessels from passing De Chambault—We have two a building at Chamblé, but very slowly and indifferent when built—If possible build a Gondola or a floating Battery—If the latter to fight 8 or 10, 18 pounders—Our political Salvation depends on our keeping the Enemy below. De Chambeau” (DLC:GW). For further information about this note, see Schuyler to GW, 27 May 1776.

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