George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 12–13 July 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany July 12th[–13] 1776

Dear Sir

I am just returned from Crown point, to which place I accompanied General Gates—On our Way to that place we stop’d at Tyconderoga and left Colonel Trumbull to take a View of the Grounds opposite to it and on the East Side of Lake Champlain—In the Evening of the 5th we arrived at Crown point and on the 6th Colonel Trumbull arrived, who made so favorable a Report of the Ground, he had been to view, that in a Council of all the General Officers held on the 7th it was unanimously resolved to take post there as your Excellency will see by the inclosed Paper No. 11—On the 8th we returned to Tyconderoga and on the 9th we went over the Ground for the intended post on the East Side, which we found so remarkably strong as to require little Labour to make it tenable against a vast Superiority of Force, and fully to answer the purpose of preventing the Enemy from penetrating into the Country to the South of it—On the Evening of the same Day I received a Remonstrance by the Hands of General Sullivan, Copy whereof No. 2. with Copy of my Answer No. 3 I also enclose.2

The most descriptive pen cannot describe the Condition of our Army—Sickness, Disorder, and Discord reign triumphant: the latter occasioned by an illiberal and destructive Jealousy, which unhappily subsists between the Troops raised in different Colonies.3

General Sullivan is on his Way down—The Occasion of it your Excellency will see in his Letter to me; Copy of which No. 4 is inclosed, together with Copy of my Answer No. 5 the former General Gates saw soon after I received it and the latter (of which he approved) before it was sent.4

By the Advice of the General Officers I have ordered all the sick to Fort George—Two Houses capable of containing about 350 are ready for their Reception and a sufficient Quantity of Boards is collected, under which to shelter the Remainder comfortably until Hospitals can be erected.

The Waste that has been made of provision is incredible—Flour we have in plenty, but of pork not more than six hundred Barrels, and fresh Beef extremely difficult to be procured—I hope the Commissary General will send up pork.

Intrenching Tools of every Kind are wanted, no one can tell what is become of them, nor can we find above fifty of the vast Number of Axes that have been sent up—I expected to find a Scarcity of both & before I left this gave Orders for collecting all that could be got: In procuring the former we have had no Success, of the latter something better than three hundred are to be forwarded to Morrow—perhaps the Scarcity of intrenching Tools at New York no longer subsists, if so be pleased to order all that can be spared—Axes I am in hopes to procure.

Your Excellency will please to press Congress for their pleasure on the Resolution No. 6 for raising six Companies to guard the Frontiers, which we conceived could be much better done by the Inhabitants themselves than by others.5 None of the Militia from the Eastern Colonies are yet arrived, they are extremely apprehensive of being infected with the small pox, and not without Reason as it proves fatal to many of them.

The excessive high price which the Troops are to pay for the Cloathing bought for them will give great Disgust and be attended with the most disagreeable Consequences: I wish Congress could see fit to order an abatement on the first Cost, so considerable as that the Soldiers might see the Attention paid them.6

I am informed that there is a Resolution of Congress that no Officer should hold double Commissions; there are several such appointed in Canada by the Generals that commanded there: I have made one here by giving my Aid de Camp Captain Van Renselaer a Company in Van Schaick’s that became vacant by the Death of Captain Mills—If such a Resolution exists I wish to know it with your Orders for my Conduct in Regard to those already appointed.7

We have Reason to believe that the Indians will be very numerous at the ensuing Treaty. I set out to Morrow to meet them.8

We have had no Intelligence from Canada since that contained in General Sullivan’s Letters, which passed me on my Way to Crown point.

No Carpenters are yet arrived from New England—Those from Connecticut were to leave Hartford some Day this Week. Please to order up the sundry Articles mentioned in the inclosed List of naval Stores. No. 7.9

Lead is an Article we stand in great Need of, if any can be spared your Excellency will be so good as to order it to be sent up.

July 13th—The Lead is just arrived, but the Anchors & Cables I fear are by some Mistake landed at pougkeepsie—Be so good as to order Mr Hughes to make Enquiry into the Matter.

[Inclose Returns of the Army at Crown point, the Garrisons of Fort George &c.

When I was at Crown point I proposed to a Council of Officers an Expedient to procure the Return of the Deserters from the Northern Army and it was]10 unanimously agreed that I should write to the different Governments from whence Troops had been sent—intreating the Governors and Commanders in Chief to issue their proclamations promising pardon to all such as should return by a limitted Time to be fixed by such Governors &c. and to require all officers civil & military in their respective Governments to apprehend all such Deserters as should not comply with the Terms offered—which I hope will meet with your Approbation. I am Dr Sir with the most unfeigned Esteem & respect Your Excellencys most Obedient Humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

LS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 17 July 1776 (first letter), DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

1The enclosed copy of the minutes of this council of war is in DLC:GW. The council, which consisted of generals Schuyler, Gates, Sullivan, Arnold, and Woedtke, decided that Crown Point was “not tenable” and resolved that it was “prudent to retire immediately to the strong Ground, on the East Side of the Lake opposite to Ticonderoga, with all the healthy & uninfected Troops, and that the Sick & infected with the small pox be removed to Fort George.” The ground examined by Col. John Trumbull was Mount Independence, which is on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain a short distance south of Ticonderoga (see Sizer, Trumbull Autobiography description begins Theodore Sizer, ed. The Autobiography of Colonel John Trumbull: Patriot-Artist, 1756–1843. 1953. Reprint. New York, 1970. description ends , 26).

2The remonstrance to Schuyler of 8 July signed by twenty-one field officers at Crown Point protests the council of war’s decision to retreat to Ticonderoga. Crown Point, the officers say, could be defended “against any Force our Enemy can send against Us” and appears to be the only post “where We can maintain a Naval Superiority upon the Lakes.... By admitting the Enemy to get the Possession of this Place, It not only entirely destroys the Communication with the Lower Parts of the Lakes but opens a place & Easy Passage for them, into the Heart of the four New England Governments & Frontiers of New York” (DLC:GW).

Schuyler replied to the field officers at 9 P.M. on 9 July: “The Reasons which induced the Council of General officers unanimously to give their opinion to remove the main Body of the army from Crown point, I cannot conceive myself at Liberty to give without their Consent: for myself I declare with that Frankness which I wish always to characterize me that the Measure seemed not only prudent, but indispensibly necessary for a variety of Reasons against which those you have given do not in my opinion bear a sufficient Weight to alter it” (DLC:GW). GW found much merit in the field officers’ arguments, however. See GW to Schuyler, 17–18, 31 July, GW to Hancock, 17 July, and Schuyler to GW, 24 July.

3This statement prompted Congress to resolve on 19 July that “a letter be written to General Schuyler, requesting him to recommend, in the strongest terms, harmony between the officers and troops of the different states; to discountenance and suppress all provincial reflections and ungenerous jealousies of every kind, and to promote, by every possible means, discipline, order, and zeal in the public service” (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 , 5:591).

4Sullivan objects in his letter to Schuyler of 6 July to being superseded as commander of the army at Crown Point by Gates. “I . . . would willingly have served under him had he in the first Instance held a Commission superior to the one Congress was pleased to honor me with,” Sullivan wrote. “But this not being the Case & the procedure so strong an Implication against my Conduct or Abilities, I must beg Leave to quit this Department . . . & shall as soon as possible repair to Congress and petition for Leave to resign my Commission” (DLC:GW).

Schuyler replied to Sullivan on 7 July: “Altho I most sincerely wish You to remain with the Army, Yet as I wish to evince the utmost tende[r]ness to the feelings of every Gentleman who conceives himself Injured, I cannot withold my Consent to your waiting on the Commander in Chief” (DLC:GW). GW could not dissuade Sullivan from proceeding to Congress later this month and submitting a letter of resignation, but Sullivan withdrew his resignation after talking to Hancock (see GW to Hancock, 17 July, and Hancock to GW, 26, 31 July).

5Enclosure 6 that accompanied this letter is a copy of the minutes of a council of war held at Crown Point on 8 July. These companies were to be raised among the settlers living east of Lake Champlain (DLC:GW).

6On 19 July Congress requested Schuyler “to enquire into the complaints of the soldiers under his command, and give strict orders, that no higher price be charged for the goods furnished to the soldiers, than the first cost of them, and five per cent. for charges” (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 , 5:591).

7Congress resolved on 19 July that its resolution “prohibiting any officer from holding more offices than one, be sent to General 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 , 5:591; see also ibid., 781, 784–85, GW to Hancock, 21 Sept. 1775, and GW to Schuyler, 17–18 July 1776). Capt. Daniel Mills, a captain in Col. Goose Van Schaick’s 1st New York Regiment, died on 22 April 1776. James Van Rensselaer (1747–1827), the youngest brother of Schuyler’s wife Catharine, became an aide-de-camp to Schuyler in July 1775. That fall he served as an aide to Gen. Richard Montgomery in Canada, and after Montgomery’s death at Quebec on 31 Dec. 1775, Van Rensselaer was appointed deputy mustermaster for Canada by Gen. David Wooster. In June 1776 Van Rensselaer again became one of Schuyler’s aides and apparently remained with him until sometime the following year.

8Schuyler arrived at German Flats on 16 July for a conference with the Six Nations.

9Schuyler’s undated “List of articles wanted for Gundaloes[,] armed Vessels & Batteaus” is in DLC:GW.

10The text within the square brackets appears in the LB but was omitted inadvertently in the LS. See also Schuyler to GW, 24 July. The enclosed returns have not been identified.

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