George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 25 June 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany June 25th 1776 1 O’Clock A.M.

Dear General

About an Hour ago General Arnold, who is arrived here from Canada sent me a Letter from General Sullivan inclosing one from General Arnold to him, another of Colonel Hazen and a third from Lieutenant Colonel Antill; Copies of all which I do myself the Honor to enclose1—The Grief I feel on the Evacuation of Canada by our Troops, is greatly alleviated by the little Loss sustained in the Retreat and the Hope I have that we shall maintain a Superiority on the Lakes.

Your Excellency will observe that General Sullivan intimates that farther than the Isle aux Noix he could not retreat without your Excellency’s or my Orders; previous to which he observes that the Council of War were unanimous for coming to Crown point—I do not hesitate to say that I wish he had retreated, at least as far South as point au Fere or Isle la mott, as I am afraid that the Enemy will throw themselves between him and the broad part of Lake Champlain and render it extremely difficult, if not impossible to send on a Supply of provisions, as they can with light Cannon and even Wall pieces command the Waters from Shore to Shore in most places, for six Miles South of Isle au Noix and in many even with Musquetry.

Did not the Danger of remaining there, especially with an Army broken and spiritless, and who wish so much to come farther South, that the officers as General Arnold informs me have already in a Body intreated him to come away appear to me too great to admit of the Delay of waiting your Excellency’s Orders—I should not send mine for a farther Retreat untill your pleasure could be known; but I trust I shall be justified in doing it, and yet I believe the Order will meet the Army on this Side of Isle au Noix.2

Be pleased to order up six Anchors and Cables for the Gundaloes that are constructing of the Size of what is called the small Anchor and Cable of an Albany Sloop.

I shall immediately write to Governor Trumbull to procure fifty Ship Carpenters if he can, and send for a like Number to the Massachusetts Bay.

If any Dutch Mill Saws can be procured at New York be pleased to order up four Dozen with six Dozen of Files for them.

Having learned that General Gates is upon his Way up I have ordered a Boat down to meet him. I am Dear General with Every Sentiment of Esteem & respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Hue Servt

Ph: Schuyler

LS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 27 June 1776 (first letter), DNA:PCC, item 152.

1Schuyler enclosed copies of Sullivan’s letter to him of 19 June and the letters that Arnold, Moses Hazen, and Edward Antil wrote to Sullivan on 13 June (DLC:GW). The postscript to Sullivan’s letter to Schuyler reads: “As I don’t write to General Washington or the Congress, I beg You to forward a Copy of this Letter.” In the letter, which was written at Île aux Noix, Sullivan announces “the sad Necessity of Abandoning Canada” and gives a detailed account of his reasons for retreating from Sorel to Île aux Noix. Arnold’s, Hazen’s, and Antil’s letters support that decision as did a council of war that Sullivan held with Baron de Woedtke and the field officers at Sorel. A second council of war at St. Jean, Sullivan writes, decided that “It would be best to remove to Crown Point, fortify that Post & build armed Vessels to secure the Navigation of the Lake, Upon this We Immediately stripped the Garrison [at St. Jean] of Every Article, took our Batteaus & retreated to this Island; Farther than this I could not go, Without Your or General Washington’s Orders or the Directions of Congress, I therefore send on the Sick, the Looks & Numbers of which, will present You with the most dismal spectacle Ever furnished from one Army in this Quarter of the Globe: I have sent on General Arnold to give Directions at Crown Point & Receive Your Orders, The Men who are fit for Duty I shall retain here, ready to Execute Any Orders You will please to Communicate.”

2Schuyler wrote to Sullivan at five o’clock this morning directing him “to retire at least into the Broad Part of Lake Champlain, perhaps Point au Fere, or Isle au Motte might be thought Eligible Places until General Washington’s Pleasure can be known.—But should you retire to Crown Point, It may be proper to keep all the Armed Vessels & some Batteaus with swivels fixed upon them to Cruize about Isle au Motte & prevent any Attempts the Enemy may make to harrass the settlements on the East Side of the Lake” (Hammond, Sullivan Papers description begins Otis G. Hammond, ed. Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, 1930-39. In Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, vols. 13–15. description ends , 1:264–65).

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