George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 13 June 1776

To John Hancock

Head Quarters New-York June 13th 1776


I have the Honour of transmitting to Congress a Letter, which came by Express, last Night, from General Schuyler, inclosing the Copy of a Letter to him from Col. Kirkland—I have likewise inclosed the Copy of one directed to General Putnam, or the Commanding Officer at New-York.1

The Representations contained in these Letters have induced me, without waiting the Determination of Congress, to direct General Schuyler, immediately to commence a Treaty with the six Nations, and to engage them in our Interest, upon the best Terms, he and his Colleagues in Commission can procure;2 and I trust, the Urgency of the Occasion will justify my Proceeding to the Congress—the Necessity for Decision and Dispatch in all our Measures, in my Opinion, becomes every Day more and more apparent.

The Express, Mr Bennet, was overtaken at Albany by General Schuyler, who had received Intelligence at Fort George, that a considerable Body of Mohawk Indians were coming down the Mohawk River, under the Conduct of Sir John Johnson—The General’s extreme Hurry would not allow him to write; but it seems his Intention is to collect at Albany a sufficient Force to oppose Sir John—I have given him my Opinion, that Colonel Daytons Regiment should be employed in that Service, and to secure the Post, where Fort Stanwix formerly stood.3

In Consequence of an Information, that several Merchants were exporting salted Pork and Beef from this Place, I requested the Commissary to make Application to the Provincial Congress, for a Restraint to be laid on the Exportation of those Articles; as I apprehended not only, that the Enemy might receive Supplies by the Capture of our Vessels, but that our People might shortly experience a Scarcity—the Provincial Congress have accordingly made a Resolution (a Copy of which is inclosed) to stop the Exportation for fourteen Days—they expect, Congress will, in the mean Time, frame some general Regulations on this Head—they are unwil⟨ling,⟩ they say, to subject their Constituents to partial Restraints.4

I once mentioned to Congress, that I thought a War-Office extremely necessary, and they seemed inclined to institute one for our Army; but the Affair seems to have been since dropt—give me Leave agai⟨n⟩ to insist on the Utility and Importance of such an Establishment—the more I reflect upon the Subject, the more I am convinced of its’ Necessity, and that Affairs can never be properly conducted without it.5

Tis with Pleasure I receive the Resolve inclosed in your Favour of the 11th Inst.—one considerable Grou⟨nd⟩ of Dissatisfaction in the Army is thereby removed.6

I have employed Persons in building the Gondolas and Rafts, which the Congress thought necessary for the Defence of this Place; and in Conjunction with the Provincial Congress have determined to sink Cheveux de Frizes, one of which is already begun.7 I am, with the utmost Respect and Esteem, Sir your most obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Contee Hanson’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, DLC: Hancock Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 14 June (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 , 5:440).

1See Schuyler to Hancock, 8 June, which is quoted in Schuyler to GW, 10 June 1776, n.2. That letter with the enclosed letter from Samuel Kirkland to Schuyler of the same date and the copy of Schuyler’s letter to Israel Putnam of that date are in DNA:PCC, item 153. The receiver’s copy of Schuyler’s letter to Putnam is in DLC:GW. Writing from Fort George, Schuyler informed Putnam: “I am under a Necessity of hastening to Albany to take Measures for securing the western Frontiers of this Colony, which are threatened by the Indians, and believe I shall be obliged to order Colonel Dayton to take post at the place, where Fort Stanwix was, if so, I shall want more intrenching Tools, which you will therefore please to send up: but before I order Colonel Dayton to take post there, I wish if Time will permit to hear from General Washington on the Subject and have therefore enclosed my Letter to Congress [of 8 June] that if the General should be at New York, he will please to consider it as directed to himself and give me his orders.”

4See Joseph Trumbull to GW, 9 June 1776, and the New York provincial congress’s resolution of 11 June, which is quoted in note 2 to that letter.

5Unknown to GW, Congress had recently acted on this matter. See Hancock to GW, 14–16 June 1776.

6See Hancock’s letter to GW of 10 June, which Hancock erroneously dated 11 June.

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