George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 15 June 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany June 15th 1776

Dear General

By Capt. Goforth who arrived this Morning I am honored with Your Excellency’s Favor of the 9th instt & by Mr Watts with that of the 10th.

The Resolutions of Congress for a farther Supply of Money to be sent here I received on the last Ult. & dispatched It by Express to Canada together with the Other Resolutions that were transmitted me by the same Conveyance.1

I am happy That Your Excellency approves of My Conduct in leaving Colo: Dayton in Tryon County, It is more than probable from the Intelligence I have sent Your Excellency in my several Letters since my Return to this Place, that he will of Necessity remain in that Quarter for some Time at least If not during the whole Campaign.

When I begged Your Excellency for a Reinforcement to keep up the Communication &ca I think I observed That if any came up & they were more than sufficient I would forward on Van Schaicks; The Exchanged Prisoners arriving I immediately sent Major Curtis & four Companies of V. Schaicks to Canada & have since Ordered the Prisoners back agreeable to a Request of General Sullivan signified to me by Major Sherburne and am now forwarding the Provisions & Garrisoning Fort George & Tyonderoga with Part of the Remainder of Van Schaicks & four Companies of Wynkoops, two being in Tryon County & two upon Duty & in Batteaus here.2

Part of what General Sullivan has informed Your Excellency respecting Van Schaicks, Wynkoops, the Waggoners, Batteaumen & Waggon master is very true3 & I doubt not but the whole of his Information would have been so, had he been truly informed, which I presume Nay I am sure he was not, to Evince which I enter into a Detail because my Feelings induce me to do Justice to Every Man, whatever his Station in Life may be And when I Censure or applaud It is always from the Heart.

The Raising of Colo: Van Schaick’s Regiment was in the first Instance left to the New York Provincial Congress, They requested me to take It in Hand & sent up the Money Congress had advanced to them for that Purpose; Least the Service should suffer by the Delay which would Necessarily be occasioned by my Refusal, I applied to the Committee of this County & intreated them ⟨to Re⟩commend such Persons out of the several Districts as were most likely to raise the Men speedily, This was done & I think the Warrants for inlisting were Granted on the 15th Febry And altho’ I incorporated Curtis’s, McCrackens & Mills’s Companies, to whom I had given Inlisting orders in November last for the Winter Service,4 Yet the Regiment is far from being Compleat; As Your Excellency has seen by Colo: Van Schaick’s Return, since which several are deserted.

When General Sullivan was at Albany, Van Schaick’s Regiment had left It & was disposed of At the Various Posts from Half Moon to Crown Point included, hence they could not furnish “A Man for Guard or any Other Duty.” But I suppose General Sullivan was informed That Van Schaick’s Regiment were there, because he was, and he is still & likely to remain, as I must have some Body here in my Absence whom I can depend on, & It is only a Piece of Justice due to him, when I assure Your Excellency That I believe the Army affords few better Colonels.

The Raising of Wynkoops Regiment I had Nothing to do with, It was an Affair deferred by Congress to the Convention at New York, & so little was I informed of what they were doing, That Your Excellency may recollect That You & I both Conceived the few that were here, belonged to Clinton’s Regiment; as fast as they Came up I employed them, & furnished such with Arms as I could find Arms for, Altho’ that too was the Buisiness of the Convention, I Cannot here for want of my Papers, determine the exact Time when the two Companies in Tryon County were furnished with Arms, However I am certain they were furnished as soon as they could be; It is true That all the Companies are very deficient in Numbers but none so low as Eleven Men; when General Sullivan was at Albany. Part of OHara’s Company (which is however the Compleatest in the Regiment) was there and amounted to the exact Number of Eleven, these were supposed to be a Company, The Remainder being by Your Excellency’s, General Putnams or the Orders of the Convention, Either at New York, or the Highlands, & they have so lately Joined as only to have Crossed Lake George on the 4th or 5th Instant.

What General Sullivan says of tapping the Pork Barrels by the Waggoners is undoubtedly Fact with Respect to some of them, but much of the Pork comes up in so bad a Condition, That It is Obliged to be pickled here & hence the Blame ought Not by any Means to be General & lay on the Waggoners that have Carried up Pork without Pickle.

As to the Batteaumen, I believe I know when Men Work to Advantage as well as any Man (Excepting Your Excellency) in the Service, And I do upon My Honor declare That a better Sett of Batteaumen I ne[v]er knew than what were at Albany when General Sullivan was there (Except some of the Troops who were Employed as such) & I have employed Thousands of them & Can consequently speak from Experience; But the Fault did not lay with the Batteaumen, It lay with the Troops that were Marching up. The first Regimt was ordered off at Six OClock in the Morning, Their Baggage did not come down till twelve, At two the Officers Complained that they could not find the Batteaumen, they were answered, “Here some of Us are, We have been here all Day, the Rest are gone up to their Dinner.” I was present, reprimanded The Officers & Afterwards Meeting General Sullivan I expressed my Dissatisfaction at the Tardiness of the Troops, he immediately ran to push them off, & I suppose the Officers to excuse themselves, faulted the Batteaumen, as they did when I was there: But to cut the Matter short, the Batteaumen were Obliged to make a Trip to Half Moon Every Day & they did It, When the Troops would permit them, which was not often the Case, Altho’ they sometimes forced them back Without suffering them to Eat a Mouthful, Until the Batte⟨au⟩men (tired of the Ill Usage) All threatned to do what some actually did, Leave the Service & forfeit their Wages rather than to be Ill treated as they were, And Nothing prevented It, but My Coming in the Very Moment when they were swinging their Packs & by Promises to prevent such Ill usage for the future, I prevailed on them to stay.

Nor were the Waggoners that Carryed Baggage tre⟨ated⟩ one Wit better, As soon as I can get to Fort George I will send Your Excellency Copies of my Orders on the Occasion, which I think were pointed clear & Reasoning & which however did not prevent a Repetition of Abuses, For Colo: Irvine & Others, in direct Defiance of those Orders, which he saw at Albany & which were shewn him on the Road by one of the Assistant Qur Masters, took away the stationed Waggoners from the Portages, without Provender for their Horses, Provisions for themselves or a Blanket to cover them, nor could those escape who had Discharges to return home to recruit their Horses, worn out in the service, For this Conduct which deranged my Affairs & threatned a total Stop to Transportation, I put Colo: Irvine & Anot⟨her⟩ Officer under Arrest, until the Matters was setled with the Waggoners.

As to the Waggon master he is an Industrious Active and I believe an honest Man, But It is not in his Power, nor any Mans whatsoever to procure Waggons at all Times & at that Time It was peculiarly difficult both on Account of the Scarcity of Forrage the Badness of the Roads and the extravagant Abuses the Waggoners had met with from some of the Troops that preceded General Sullivan’s Brigade.

But5 My Dear Sir, Nothing is more Common than for some Officers when they have neglected their Duty, to impute It to Others, & I suppose when General Sullivan reprimanded the Officers & spurred them on, which he Certainly did, they flew to that unjustifiable & Ungenerous Subterfuge.

I am well aware My Dear General of the Truth of Your Observation, That Men uninfluenced by the Principles of Honor & Justice will abuse their Trust; From a full Conviction of this Truth, which It is Necessary for Every Man in Buisiness to know, I have made It the Invariable Rule of My Conduct to Watch Every Man⟨’s⟩ Conduct with Attention & by Making the Most of Every moment I find Time to do It too.

I have already Observed to Your Excellency in Mine of the 10th—That I had taken Measures for forwarding Flour, a Sufficient Quantity for the present is I hope arrived.

As to fortifying Tyonderoga & Fort George & Opening the Road by Wood Creek, It is utterly impossible with the Men I have now left, they are so fuly Employed in the Batteaus &ca That I do not believe there is Now a Relief at Fort George for a Subalterns Guard.

I have Not a Prospect of procuring an Engineer in this Country, I have a Relation of a Mathematical Turn & Very Ingenuous, But he wants Activity, besides him, I know Not Another in this Quarter.

Your Excellency may depend upon It, that no Prisoners shall be sent by Me by the Way of New York, Permit me to remind You That Dundee was Ordered from Ulster County before I received Your Excellency’s Letter of the 21st Ult. & that I took Notice of It in mine in Answer.6 I shall write to Every Committee agreeable to Your Orders.

I am really at a Loss to what Place to send the Prisoners that are in Ulster County, Connecticut will be much burthened, sixty at least are going there in a few Days that were lately sent here from Tryon County & apprehended in this, & I expect a considerable Number from Canada.

I have already given Your Excellency an Account of the Number of Batteaus & of their Disposition.

Your Excellency has great Reason to be surprized That You have had no particular Account of Bedels Affair, And You complain with the highest Justice of not receiving Returns, which are certainly Essentially Necessary; As to the first, I have not had a Line upon the Subject from any Person Whatsoever, In Canada Nor have I seen any Account of It, Other than that in the Letter from the Commissioners, which was left open for my Perusal & which I left open for Your Excellency, If You should have returned to New York by the Time It reached that Place;7 And Your Excellency may be assured That as I have Never Yet neglected to give You Copies of any Letters of the least Consequence that were sent to me, That I shall not now begin to be Guilty of Such an improper Conduct. And I give You my Honor that I have had Intelligence from Canada Conveyed to me by the New York Papers, which I think ought to have come immediately to me; As to returns I have already informed Your Excellency in mine of the 11th & 12th instant that I never have had any Except the One from General Wooster which I then sent You, But I dare say, I shall soon have the Pleasure of transmitting You one, As General Sullivan promissed me before he left Fort George, That he would do all in his Power to have them regularly transmitted, And as he now Commands, I think we can depend upon having them.

I have long since Given Orders for a sufficient Supply of Provisions, I have mentioned the Number of Barrels of Pork & Flour that was necessary, None or a very Trifle of Pork is to be procured here, I shall again immediately draw an Estimate of what is Wanting & transmit It to Mr Trumbull.

I am fully Convinced That Your Excellency intended Me all possible Justice, on the Subject of the Complaint preferred against Me, And since You think It so Absolutely Unnecessary for any Enquiry to be made I shall rest satisfyed, Contenting Myself with Giving Your Excellency’s Opinion of the Matter, whenever It may be Necessary.

By the Inclosed Your Excellency will see what Progress has been made on the Resolution of Congress of the 3d Instant, Whether Your Excellency & Congress will approve of our mode of raising these Indians, I know not Or whether I shall be Justifyed in Issuing Warrants for the Money, But all present agreed That We should not be able to get Any to the Eastward on better Terms, what our Success will be to the Westward I cannot Guess, I fear not much, as Even the Oneydas who are our best Friends do not Chuse to leave their own Country.8

It is the General Opinion of the People in Tryon County and here that whilst Lady Johnson is kept a Kind of Hostage, Sir John (who can by Means of the Mohawks receive Intelligence from her as often as she may please to send It) will Not Carry Matters to Excess, and I have been Intreated to keep her here, But as It was a Matter of Delicacy, when Mr Watts delivered Me Your Excellencys Letter,9 I proposed that Security should be given that Lady Johnson should be forthcoming when called upon, and Besides the above Reasons I was the more induced to this request as I was informed from Good Authority that she exults in the Prospect she has of soon hearing that Sir John will ravage the Country on the Mohawk River, Mr Watts declined giving any Security and soon after wrote me a Note, Copy of which inclose, with Copy of my Answer, And afterwards a second which I also answered, as You will see by the inclosed.10

I find that since It has been hinted that she is a Good security to prevent the Effects of her Husbands Virulence, That she is very anxious to go down & which induces Me to wish to keep her here.

The Villain that murdered Colo: Parsons Brother is here. The Colo: desired Me to send him to New York I wait Your Excellency’s Directions.11 I am Dear Sir with Every Friendly Wish & Every Respectfull Sentiment Your Excellency’s most Obedient Humble servt

Ph: Schuyler

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

1Congress resolved on 22 May to send the commissioners to Canada all of the specie in the treasury and as much more as could be procured, not exceeding $100,000, to pay American debts in Canada, and two days later Hancock forwarded £1,662.1.3 in hard money to Schuyler (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 , 4:376–77; Hancock to Schuyler, 24 May 1776, in 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 , 4:66–67).

2The exchanged prisoners were apparently the troops that had surrendered at the Cedars in May. Eleazer Curtis (1736–1788) served as a captain in Col. Benjamin Hinman’s 4th Connecticut Regiment during 1775 and was stationed with his company at Ticonderoga when the men’s enlistments expired in December 1775. Schuyler gave Curtis recruiting orders to raise another company and incorporated it into Van Schaick’s regiment in February 1776 (Schuyler to Hancock, 15 Feb. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 153). Curtis apparently left the army later this year, and in 1778 he became a major of a Connecticut militia regiment.

4A note in Schuyler’s writing at the bottom of the manuscript page reads: “Curtis is promoted, Mills dead, V. Renselaer and Martin have Succeeded.” Joseph McCracken (1737–1825), who had been a captain in Van Schaick’s 2d New York Regiment in 1775, reenlisted his company in February 1776 to continue serving under Van Schaick during this campaign (Schuyler to Hancock, 15 Feb. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 153). In November 1776 McCracken became a captain in Van Schaick’s new 1st New York Regiment. He transferred to the 4th New York Regiment in May 1778 and had his arm shot away at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. It was undoubtedly that injury that caused McCracken’s resignation from the Continental army in April 1780, but he became lieutenant colonel of a militia regiment in Charlotte County, N.Y., in July 1782. Daniel Mills, who served as a captain in Col. James Holmes’s 4th New York Regiment during 1775, died on 22 April 1776. Nicholas Van Rensselaer (1754–1848) and Moses Martin (1746–1792) joined Van Schaick’s 2d New York Regiment as lieutenants in June 1775. Van Rensselaer became a first lieutenant in Van Schaick’s 1st New York Regiment in November 1776, and in September 1778 he was promoted to captain. Van Rensselaer served until the end of 1779, while Martin left the army in November 1776.

5The writer inadvertently wrote “Byt.”

8Schuyler enclosed a copy of the Indian commissioners’ proceedings at Albany on 13 June. This meeting, which was attended by Schuyler, Volckert P. Douw, and Timothy Edwards, considered Congress’s resolution of 3 June authorizing the employment of up to two thousand Indians in Canada and resolved to raise two companies from the Stockbridge and Connecticut Indians, each to consist of a captain, 2 lieutenants, 3 sergeants, 3 corporals, and 75 privates. The pay, provisions, and billet money for those companies was to be the same as for the Continental troops, and arms were to be supplied from the public stores for recruits who could not furnish them. If sufficient Indians could not be obtained, the companies were to “be Compleated with white men living in the Vicinity of said Indians & Accustomed to the Woods, Provided That the White Men do not Exceed in Number the One third Part of the Indians.” The commissioners also approved both a message to the Six Nations inviting them to a conference at German Flats on 1 July and a letter to the Continental Congress “advising them that daily Expences incur in the Indian Department for which money must be immediately paid, and that as No Fund is Established to pay the Necessary & Contingent Expences, that they will be pleased to lodge a Credit with the Deputy Paymaster General of the Army for Such Sum as that Honorable Body shall deem Meet” (DLC:GW).

10In his first note to Schuyler of this date Robert Watts wrote that he would leave Albany that evening and would inform GW of Schuyler’s reasons for refusing to let Mrs. Johnson go to New York. Schuyler replied to Watts that he would “take the Earliest Opportunity” to write to GW about the matter, and that “you will therefore pleas Not to give Yourself the unnecessary Trouble of giving General Washington My Reasons.” Watts’s second note to Schuyler of this date reads: “As You will not consent to Lady Johnson going to New York without giving two Gentlemen as Securitys, I shall take It as a favour if You will let Me know as soon as possible by a Line what Engagements they are to be under, as I cannot apply to any Gentlemen untill You inform Me.” To that note Schuyler replied: “You cannot fail of recollecting what Engagements I expected the Gentlemen should enter into who might become Securitys, but as by Your former Note of this Days Date You seemed altogether to decline Entring into such a Measure, I have since again Given My Sentiments to His Excellency General Washington on Lady Johnsons Situation in a fuller Manner than I did in my former Letter to him [of 10 June]. And I shall therefore Not proceed any farther until I receive his Commands” (DLC:GW).

11Samuel Holden Parsons accused Basil Bouderot of murdering his brother in Nova Scotia about four years earlier. In July Parsons petitioned the Continental Congress to order Bouderot to be tried in Massachusetts, and on 21 Aug. Congress recommended that the Massachusetts council hear the case if the state’s laws permitted trials for crimes committed outside the state. If not, the council was asked to confine Bouderot “until the situation of public affairs will admit his being removed to Nova Scotia” for trial (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 , 5:609, 661, 692–93; Parsons to John Adams, 24 July 1776, in Taylor, Papers of John Adams description begins Robert J. Taylor et al., eds. Papers of John Adams. 17 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1977–. description ends , 4:409–11).

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