George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 1 July 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany July 1st 1776

Dear General

On Friday Evening I received a Line from General Sullivan, Copy whereof I have the Honor to inclose; by the Contents your Excellency will perceive that we have Reasons to believe the next will announce his Arrival at Crown point.1

Yesterday Morning General Gates introduced a Mr Avery to me, who applied to me for Money to carry on the Commissary General’s Department here—I asked if Mr Livingston was superceded and beged to see, how he (Avery) was authorized to act here; he shewed me a Commission from Mr Trumbull the Commissary General with Instructions annexed appointing him Deputy Commissary in Canada, and the Instructions were correspondent to such Appointment—I told him his Commission did not by any Means supersead Mr Livingston’s, and until that was done that I must consider Mr Livingston as the Deputy Commissary General here, and that all Warrants for Money to carry on that Department here must be drawn in his Favor unless Mr Trumbull himself was present—He assured me that it was Mr Trumbull’s Intentions that he (Avery) should have the sole Management, and that Mr Livingston was only to be considered as a Contractor I sent for Mr Livingston, who produced a Letter of the 25th Instant from Mr Trumbull directly contradictory to what Mr Avery had asserted; upon which he declared that Mr Trumbull had informed him that Congress had given him full power to make any Arrangement he thought proper and displace whom he pleased, and that it was his Intention by giving him (Avery) that Commission to supercede Mr Livingston. To which Mr Livingston answered, that altho’ Mr Trumbull had no power to remove him unless authorized so to do by Congress, as he held his Commission immediately from that Body, yet if Mr Trumbull had expressed any such Intention that he would immediately resign, and he would put the Question to Mr Trumbull—I observed to Mr Avery that Nothing in his Commission or the Instructions annexed authorized him to say what he did: that Mr Trumbul’s Letter to Mr Livingston flatly contradicted it; that if he remained with the Army, provided it was not in Canada, he must be subordinate to Mr Livingston, and obey his Orders; which he chose not to do, and he is now going down—I advised him to remain until the Affair was determined & candidly told him that I should try to keep Mr Livingston in the Employment, if he chose it, because, admitting that their abilities and Integrity were perfectly equal Mr Livingston’s Conduct had met my Approbation, & that his great Family Connections in this County had enabled him to carry on the Service when others could not have done it, of which I gave Instances2—General Gates was present, and acquiesced in the propriety of what I observed, I was therefore greatly surprized to be informed that he should tell Mr Avery, that he had Nothing to say here, but that as soon as he came to the Army he would employ him, I say I was greatly surprized because General Gates knew that, that Army was no longer in Canada, and because I did not know that he then claimed a Right to controul my Orders with Respect to the Army, even if it should be at Crown point, nor could I imagine he thought so as your Excellency’s Instructions to him gave as I concieve not the least Colour for it. Your last Letter to me holds up a contrary Idea, and so does every Resolution of Congress hitherto transmitted to me. but that General Gates conceived and still does that the Army is immediately under his Command I had a very few Hours after the most convincing proof of, as your Excellency will observe from the inclosed paper, which I hastily drew up immediately after the Discourse and which I desired General Gates to read that no Misunderstanding might arise for want of recollecting what had been said, and which he acknowleges contains the Substance of what passed between us.3

By your Excellency’s Instructions to General Gates he is empowered to appoint a Quarter Master General in Canada. I observed this Morning that I believed it was founded on a Supposition that Colonel Campbell was then about quitting Canada, for that I could not imagine that an Officer being “ordered to Congress to settle his Accounts” deprived him of his Employments: that Colonel Campbell was originally appointed to this Department, and Canada now being made a seperate one and the Command of it given to General Gates, he could under the powers he had appoint whom he pleased to act there, but that unfortunately for us the Evacuation of that Country by our Troops had taken place, and that I must and should consider Colonel Campbell as the D.Q.M. General on this Side of Canada.4

If Congress intended that General Gates should command the Northern Army wherever it might be, as he assures me they did, it ought to have been signified to me, and I should then have immediately resigned the Command to him, but until such Intention is properly conveyed to me I never can: I must therefore entreat your Excellency to lay this Letter before Congress, that they may clearly & explicitly signify their Intentions to avert the Dangers & Evils that may arise from a disputed Command,5 for after what General Gates has said the Line must be clearly drawn, as I shall until then stand upon punctilios with General Gates, that I would otherwise with pleasure wave; but that the Service may not be retarded, nor suffer the least, from the Difference in Opinion between General Gates and me, I have determined to remain here; altho’ I had, before this Affair came to light, mentioned to him my Intentions of going up with him.

As both General Gates and myself mean to be candid and wish to have the Matter settled without any of that Chicane, which would disgrace us as Officers & Men, we have agreed to speak plain and to shew each other what we have written to you upon the Occasion, and he has accordingly read the whole of what I have abovesaid.

Since writing the above General Gates has shewn me the Resolutions of Congress of the 17th Instant, which confirm me in the Opinion I have entertained that he was only to command the Army in Canada and that I had no Controul upon him, when there.6

Your Excellency may be assured of my best Exertions to prevent the Enemy from penetrating into these Colonies—General Gates is in Sentiment with me on the Mode, that of encreasing our Naval Strength and fortifying some advantageous Spot on the East Side of Lake Champlain either opposite to Tyconderoga or between that and Crown point. Part of the Militia from this Colony is marched up—none of the others are yet moved—Their Tardiness will greatly distress us, as we have much very much to do, and few Men to do it with.

The Cannon sent by Colonel Knox are arrived Yesterday and altho’ the Indians have deferred the Treaty to the Middle of this Month, yet I have thought it advisable to take post at Fort Stanwix and all the Stores are moving from here to Day, and will I hope leave Schenectady on Wednesday Morning7—The Commissioners of Indian Affairs have prepared a Message to the six Nations giving the Reasons why we take post at Fort Stanwix: this will however not be sent until every Thing is so far advanced that there may be no Danger in communicating to them my Intentions.

Should the Enemy advance and we be under the Necessity of calling forth the Militia nearest us, we shall be at a Loss for Ball and Buck Shot, I wish therefore to have twenty five Rounds a piece for ten thousand men sent up the soonest possible if it can any where be procured with a proportionate quantity of Cartridge paper and two Tons of Oakham.

If any Cutlasses, Stink pots and Hand Grenades can be got I beg they may also be sent for the Use of our armed vessels.

One hundred thousand of the Dollars brought up by General Gates are ordered to the Army; better than half of the other are already expended, nor will any be left in two or three Days.

Mr Duane informed me and gave me Leave to make Use of his Name that the five hundred thousand voted by Congress, the 22d of May for this Department were actually charged, and he fears that they have met with some Accident on the Way up.8

I have ordered the Silver to be kept in Chest, except about £3000 which we borrowed here and must now be repaid.

4 O’Clock P.M. I am this Moment favored with your Excellency’s Letter of the 27th Ultimo inclosing Copy of a Resolution of Congress of the 24th I have immediately an Oppertunity of forwarding Copies thereof to Governor Trumbull and Mr Edwards, the latter has already received one Month’s Advance Wages for the Stockbridge Company, and which I suppose is by this Time paid to them as he informed me that they were to be here on Wednesday or Thursday next. I am afraid it will give great Umbrage if they are immediately discharged, but as the order is positive I dare not presume to defer complying with it—I shall however request Mr Edwards to do it in a Manner that will give the least Offence.

I wish Colonel Francis and Colonel Wolcott were immediately ordered up to attend the Conference at the German Flatts on the 15th Instant, as I propose going to Crown point to Morrow, having upon farther Consultation with General Gates & General Arnold since writing the foregoing determined upon it, and this Journey may detain me so long as to prevent my Attendance, in which Case there will be only two Commissioners present.9 I am Dr General most respectfully Your obedient humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

LS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 4–5 July 1776, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, DLC: Hancock Papers.

1The previous Friday was 28 June. The enclosed copy of Sullivan’s letter to Schuyler of 22 June is incorrectly dated 24 June (see DLC:GW and 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 , 1:257–59). “The Officers to a Man,” Sullivan wrote from Île aux Noix, “are daily Calling Aloud to go on to Crown Point to fortify there & Recruit the Army, I am for my own Part now Convinced that this Step must be taken or the Army will be lost not by the Enemy but by Sickness” (DLC:GW).

2Schuyler’s protégé Walter Livingston was appointed commissary of stores and provisions for the New York department by Congress on 17 July 1775, and Elisha Avery, a native of Connecticut like Commissary General Joseph Trumbull, served as a deputy commissary in that colony before his recent appointment as deputy commissary in Canada. On 8 July Congress confirmed Trumbull’s power “to appoint and employ such persons under him, and to remove any deputy commissary, as he shall judge proper and expedient” (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 , 5:527). Livingston resigned in early September and was succeeded by Avery.

3GW’s orders and instructions to Gates are dated 24 June as is the most recent letter that Schuyler had received from him. The enclosed memorandum of Schuyler’s conversation with Gates at Albany on 30 June concerns Gates’s expressed desire to appoint Morgan Lewis as deputy quartermaster general in place of Donald Campbell, who had been “ordered to Congress to settle his Accounts.” Schuyler replied “that if Colonel Campbell quitted the Department, he should willingly appoint any person General Gates thought proper, but that the Army being now out of Canada he concieved that it was under his Command and he could suffer no Appointment to be made by General Gates—General Gates conceived the contrary, upon which General Schuyler . . . declared that he conceived the Army to be altogether under his Command, when on this Side of Canada, subject however to the Controul of General Washington; . . . and pointedly observed that if he was with the Army (which he always would be when his Health or other indispensible public Business did not call him from it) and ordered it to remove from once [one] place to another that he expected to be obeyed.” Congress, Schuyler conceded, could make whatever arrangements it wished, but he contended that Congress’s resolutions to date did not authorize Gates to command the army when it was in his department and he was present. If the delegates did so resolve, Schuyler said, he would resign, for “they could not put him under the Command of a younger officer, nor oblige him to be a Suicide and stab his own Honor.” Schuyler “frankly confessed General Gates’s superior military qualifications,” however, and the two generals concluded their conversation by agreeing to “lay the Matter before Congress to prevent any Evil Consequences from a disputed command in a critical Moment” (DLC:GW).

4Donald Campbell, whom Congress had appointed deputy quartermaster general for the New York department on 17 July 1775, was cashiered by a court-martial during this month, and the verdict was referred to Congress for approval (see Gates to GW, 21 July, and GW to Hancock, 12 Aug. 1776). Although no immediate determination was made on Campbell’s case, Congress named Morgan Lewis as deputy quartermaster general of the army in the northern department on 12 Sept. 1776 (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 , 5:753).

5GW enclosed a copy of this letter in his letter to Hancock of 4–5 July.

6See 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 , 5:448.

7The following Wednesday was 3 July.

8James Duane (1733–1797), a conservative lawyer from New York City, was a delegate to the Continental Congress almost continuously from 1774 to 1783, but he was absent from Congress between 31 May 1776 and the following April. Duane served as mayor of New York from 1784 to 1789, when GW appointed him a federal judge. For the appropriation of the $500,000, see 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 , 4:378.

9Turbutt Francis (1740–1777) of Philadelphia and Oliver Wolcott (1726–1797) of Litchfield, Conn., were appointed Indian commissioners for the northern department in July 1775. The other commissioners, besides Schuyler, were Volckert P. Douw and Timothy Edwards. Neither Francis nor Wolcott attended the conference at German Flats, which did not begin until 8 August. Wolcott, who was a Connecticut delegate to Congress, returned home about this time to recover his health, and in August he commanded a brigade of fourteen Connecticut militia regiments that reinforced New York (see Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 13 Aug., and General Orders, 18 Aug.). Wolcott resumed his duties in Congress on 1 Oct. 1776 and remained a delegate for the rest of the war except during 1779 when he commanded a militia division that defended the Connecticut coast against British raids. Francis’s relations with the other commissioners at this time were less than cordial because in December they had accused him of surreptitiously inducing an Indian chief at the Albany conference the previous summer to introduce the issue of the Susquehanna lands that were disputed between Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Although Francis petitioned Congress on 4 June 1776 for an investigation of the charges against him, the matter was dropped several days later for lack of Indian cooperation (see Extract from the Proceedings of Indian Commissioners at Albany, 14 Dec. 1775, in Taylor, Susquehannah Company Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd and Robert J. Taylor, eds. The Susquehannah Company Papers. 11 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., and London, 1930–71. description ends , 6:416–20; Turbutt Francis to Schuyler and Volckert P. Douw, 23 April 1776, ibid., 7:11–12; Oliver Wolcott to Timothy Edwards, 29 Nov. 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 , 5:554–56; 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 , 4:415, 5:458). A native of Philadelphia, Francis had served as a lieutenant in the 44th Regiment of the British army during the French and Indian War and had been designated lieutenant colonel commandant of the 1st Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment in 1764.

Index Entries