George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 16 August 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany August 16th 1776

Dear Sir

About eight last Night I returned to this place after a Month’s Absence; on a Business the most disagreeable to a Man accustomed to Civil Society that can possibly be conceived.

On the 11th Instant, I was honored with your Excellency’s Favor of the 7th, but was unable to answer it from the German Flatts, altho’ I several Times attempted it being ever interrupted by a Croud of Savages.

Last Evening I received Dispatches from General Gates, Copies of which I inclose, by which you will percieve that General Carlton has put it out of our power to have any Intercourse with him on the Subject Matter contained in the Resolves of the 22d Ultimo or indeed on any other1—With what Degree of Justice Carlton can bestow the infamous Epithets he has so freely dealt out in his Orders of the 7th Instant, his barbarous Conduct to Colonel Allen the infamous Manner in which he engaged the Savages to act against us last Year; the Murder of the Officers and Men lately near Isle aux noix in which British Troops were joined with Savages and other Actions of a like Nature can Witness.2

The Works at Fort Stanwix are going on with great Expedition, and by the inclosed Return your Excellency will observe that near eighty Days pork and Flour for the Garrison is in Store there, a considerable Quantity of the latter is on its Way up from Schenectady, and as they had on Monday last twenty three Head of fat Cattle and will receive a constant Supply of fresh Meat, I am under no Apprehensions that the Garrison will be under any Difficulty in the Article of provisions.3

The Anchors for the Vessels on Lake Champlain will be procured in this Quarter but we greatly fear to fall short in many of the other Articles, as Capt. Bacon is returned without being able to procure any Thing and not even a Sailor.

Mr Edwards returns this Morning & will engage all the Stockbridge Indians he can, and as you do not direct what pay is to be given we have thought it expedient and as what will best promote the Service and raise these people with the greatest Dispatch, that they should be officered & paid agreeable to the former Resolve of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs and that such as were raised in Consequence of that Resolution should have their pay continued from the Time they were discharged, which is about a Month ago.4 They shall be disposed of agreeable to your Orders.

Colonels Elmore & Nicholson’s Regiments are here they have refused to march until they receive pay and Necessaries—The former they will now have, but where to procure the latter I know not—I will furnish them as well as I can, and keep them here until I receive the Report of two Scouts that are sent one to Oswego, and the other towards Oswegatche.

I shall immediately order Copies of the Transactions of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs at the late Treaty to be made out and transmit them to you—I believe the six Nations will not fall on our Frontiers altho’ I believe a few will always join the Enemy in Canada. I have some Matters that concern Officers in the Army to communicate but I am at present too much indisposed to write any more. I am Dr Sir with the greatest Respect Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

P.S. I am just now informed that Lieut. McMichel of Colonel Dayton’s Regiment is deserted to the Enemy—I had Information of his Intentions the Evening before I left the German Flatts and sent to have him brought before me but he was supposed to have gone to the Regiment, to which I had ordered him the Day before. Yours &. &. &c.

Ph: Schuyler

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

1Schuyler is referring to Congress’s resolutions of 22 July empowering departmental commanders to negotiate prisoner exchanges and directing that Ethan Allen and the persons captured with him be exchanged (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 , 5:599; see also GW to Schuyler, 7 Aug.).

The enclosed copies of Gates’s letter to Schuyler of 11 Aug. and its enclosures concern the recent attempt by Maj. John Bigelow of the Connecticut independent artillery company to deliver to General Burgoyne copies of Congress’s report and resolution of 10 July censuring British treatment of the Americans who surrendered at the Cedars in May (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 , 5:538–39). The enclosed abstract of Bigelow’s journal for 23 July to 10 Aug. is an account of his journey under a flag of truce from Ticonderoga to Île aux Noix, where he encountered a British detachment and was obliged to wait while a British courier carried his dispatch to St. Jean and Quebec (DLC:GW).

Bigelow received no reply from Burgoyne, but he was given a copy of the general order that Gen. Guy Carlton issued at Chambly on 7 Aug., instructing “the Commanding Officers of Corps” to “take special Care, Every one under their Command be informed, that Letters or Messages from Rebels, Traitors in Arms against their King, Rioters, Disturbers of the Public Peace, Plunderers, Robbers, Assassins or Murderers, are on no Occasion to be admitted; that should Emmissaries from such Lawless Men again presume to approach the Army, whether under the Name of Flag of Truce men, or Ambassadors, Except when they come to implore the King’s Mercy, their persons shall be immediately seized & Committed to Close Confinement, in order to be proceeded against as the Law directs; their Papers & Letters, for whomsoever Even for the Commander in Chief, are to be delivered to the Provost Marshal that unread & unopened, they may be burned by the Hands of the Common Hangman.” Carleton condemns the recent American “Assassination” of Brig. Gen. Patrick Gordon and “the late Notorious Breach of Faith, in resolving not to return the [British] Troops & Canadians taken at St Johns in Exchange for those Rebels who fell into the Hands of the Savages at the Cedars & Quinchen, [and were] purchased from them at a great price & restored to their Country.” The blame for such misdeeds, Carleton says, should not “be imputed to the Provincials at large, but to a few wicked & designing Men, who first deceived, then step by Step mislead the Credulous Multitude to the Brink of ruin.” Carleton announces that all American prisoners in Canada “who chuse to return home, are to hold themselves in Readiness to embark at a short Notice.... They are to look on their respective Provinces as their Prisons & there remain till further Enlarged, or summoned to appear before the Commander in Chief of this Province, or any other Commander in Chief for his Majesty” (DLC:GW). For GW’s views on this order, see his letter to Hancock, 20 August.

In his covering letter to Schuyler of 11 Aug., Gates says that Bigelow also brought a letter addressed to “George Washington, Esqr.” from Île aux Noix. The resolution of Congress forbidding the receiving of letters so addressed, Gates explains, had not arrived at Ticonderoga before Bigelow departed on his mission (DLC:GW). This letter to GW has not been identified.

2For the attacks on two American parties near Île aux Noix, see Sullivan to GW, 24 June.

3The enclosed copy of Henry Glen’s provision return for Fort Schuyler, formerly Fort Stanwix, shows that on 13 Aug. there were “180 Barrels of Pork[,] 226 Barrels of Flour & 23 Head Cattle” at the fort (DLC:GW). The previous Monday was 12 August.

4For the Indian commissioners’ resolution of 13 June 1776 regarding the raising of two companies of Stockbridge Indians, see Schuyler to GW, 15 June 1776, n.8. For the discharge of the Stockbridge Indians who had been previously enlisted, see Schuyler to GW, 1 July 1776.

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