George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 29 August 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany August 29th 1776

Dear Sir

Yesterday I was honored with your Excellency’s Favor of the 24th Instant.

The Articles mentioned in your Letter to Captain Varick are arrived and forwarded to Tyonderoga—Those sent by Philo Sentford are not yet arrived, detained I suppose by Northerly Winds which have prevailed for some Days.1

Our Carpenters at Skenesborough sicken very fast—Captain Titcomb’s Company from the Massachusetts Bay consisting of fifty had only ten at Work on the 25th Instant2 and many of the others were also incapable of Duty—We have however got so far a Head of the Enemy in our Naval Force that I hope they will not be able to equal it this Campaign, notwithstanding the Indisposition of our Carpenters.

The Reasons your Excellency assigns for proceeding against the Officers of Colonel Dayton’s Regiment by Court Martial are incontrovertable.

I am happy to learn that our Troops had the Advantage in the Skirmish on Long Island—Indecisive as these little Rencounters are, they are however attended with good Consequences—The Express advises us that before he left New York and after he had received the Letter for me Accounts arrived that we had killed and taken sixty of the Enemy with six Field pieces—I hope it may be confirmed.

Congress have ordered me to make Enquiry of and to bring to Tryal the persons concerned in the plunder of General prescott’s and Captain Anstruther’s Baggage—I am informed by Lieut: Colonel Brown that Lieutenant Johnson last Year of Captain Lamb’s Artillery Company and now in some Corps at New York was principally concerned in taking Anstruther’s.

As the Evidences are in this Quarter, your Excellency will judge of the propriety of sending Johnson up, or ordering the Witnesses down.3

Most of the Stockbridge Indians inclined to go to New York—I ordered them provisions and I believe they are now on their passage.

The Committee of this place did not chuse to send the Boards Mr Hughes wrote for on their Risk—They informed me of this, and I did not hesitate to assure them that they would be considered as shipped on the public Account—This Day they informed me, that not more than ten thousand Boards were as yet gone and that they could not prevail on any more Masters of Sloops to carry them further than peek’s Kill—Apprehensive that you would be greatly distressed for Shelter for the Men, I have requested them, if they cannot do otherwise to send them to peek’s Kill, and to advise Colonel Moylan, of the Number that will be landed there, by this Express.4

I perceive that Congress has resolved on inlisting Men to serve three Years—I fear very few Recruits will be obtained in the Country at this Time, and very few out of the Army, if the Inlistments are not attempted until the Time of those now engaged is nearly expired—Would it not be well immediately to appoint recruiting Officers in every Corps to enlist those for three Years, who are now engaged until the Fall or Winter only—In the Course of three Months an alert Officer will have it in his power with the Bounty he may be authorized to give to engage a good Number—The Home-Sickness begins to prevail about the Middle of October, and when that unconquerable Distemper once takes place every Consideration gives Way to it—I shall communicate my Ideas on this Subject to Congress in a Letter I have occasion to write them to Day.5 I am Dr Sir with Every Affectionate wish Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

LS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers. The extract mentioned in note 4 has not been found.

1See GW to Richard Varick, 10 Aug., and the list of articles sent to Albany aboard Philo Sandford’s schooner Union, 19 Aug., cited in GW to Schuyler, 24 Aug., n.4.

2“Captain Titcomb’s company of carpenters,” David Waterbury wrote Gates from Skenesboro on 25 Aug., “are all sick, except four, and applied for discharges. The tools they brought with them are private property, and they mean to carry them off” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:1154). Titcomb’s company apparently arrived at Skenesboro on 24 July, and by 23 Aug. it had built a row galley and was working on another one. Titcomb was promised command of the second row galley, but it apparently was not finished before his company disbanded (see Arnold to Schuyler, 24 July, Gates to Arnold, 23 Aug., and Arnold to Gates, 23 Aug., in Clark and Morgan, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 5:1197–98; 6:283; and Gates to Waterbury, 2 Sept., in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 2:127).

3Congress on 30 July directed Schuyler to investigate charges that “some licentious persons” had plundered Gen. Richard Prescott’s baggage after his capture in Canada the previous November (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 , 5:618). The accused included Col. James Easton and Lt. Col. John Brown, who asserted their innocence and demanded a court of inquiry (see Arnold to Hancock, 1 Feb. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 162; Easton to Hancock, 8 May 1776, DNA:PCC, item 78; Brown to Congress, 26 June 1776, DNA:PCC, item 153; and 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 , 4:313–14, 5:485). Although Schuyler requested Gates in a letter of this date to convene a court of inquiry on the charge against Brown, no formal investigation was conducted before Brown resigned from the army in March 1777 (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:1221–22; see also Brown to Gates, 3 Sept., 1–2 Dec. 1776, ibid., 2:143, 3:1158–60; Gates to Brown, 2 Dec. 1776, ibid., 1160; Brown to Hancock, 10 Dec. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 78; GW to Schuyler, 19 Feb. 1777, NN: Schuyler Papers; 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 , 7:181).

William Anstruther (d. 1778), a captain in the 26th Regiment, was among the officers captured with Prescott (see list of British officers on vessels near Montreal, 21 Nov. 1775, DLC:GW). On 17 Aug. 1776 Congress read a letter from Lt. Martin Johnson of that date, in which he admitted having in his possession a diamond ring belonging to Anstruther but denied breaking open his trunk. Johnson “found the ring,” he said, “sometime after the garrison capitulated, and thought it to be a prize.” Congress ordered Johnson to deliver the ring to the secretary of the War Office, who was to send it to Anstruther (ibid., 5:664). Johnson, who had served in Canada during the previous fall and winter as first lieutenant of Capt. John Lamb’s independent New York artillery company, was appointed first lieutenant of Capt. Alexander Hamilton’s independent New York artillery company in February 1776. Hamilton informed the New York convention on 12 Aug. 1776 that Johnson had been promoted “to a captaincy of one of the row-gallies, (which command, however, he has since resigned, for a very particular reason)” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 1:187–88). The reason probably was Johnson’s involvement in plundering Anstruther’s baggage.

4At GW’s direction, Robert Hanson Harrison on 3 Sept. sent Stephen Moylan a copy of this paragraph. “His Excellency,” Harrison wrote Moylan in his covering letter of that date, “desires that you will take measures not only for getting those [boards] they have sent to Peeks Kill down to King’s Bridge or some place near It, But also that you will exert yourself to have a pretty considerable quantity provided as many will be wanted in all probability to Shelter the Troops that may be stationed there & at the posts about It” (DLC:GW). Asst. Q.M. Gen. Hugh Hughes requested these boards in a letter to the Albany committee of correspondence of 18 Aug., which the committee read three days later (Minutes of the Albany and Schenectady Committees description begins Minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence, 1775–1778. 2 vols. Albany, 1923–25. description ends , 1:527; see also Schuyler to GW, 2 Sept., and note 2).

5Schuyler’s letter to Hancock of this date is in DNA:PCC, item 153.

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