George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 31 August 1776

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany August 31st 1776

Dr Sir

I am this Moment favored with a Letter from General Gates, Copy of which I do myself the Honor to inclose you, together with a Copy of a Return and sundry original Letters from Officers of our Army prisoners in Canada.1

The Musket Cartridge paper mentioned in your Excellency’s last is not yet arrived2—Every Thing that can be procured here or any where in the Country is instantly sent.

I am so accustomed to ill Usage that I am not surprised that General Gates should be informed that I had ordered the Regiments he mentions to be stopped on their March—This Report is only a perversion of an Order of mine of the seventeenth Instant sent to General Waterbury, Copy of which now inclose3—The Information on which it was founded is corroborated by a Letter of the 22d August, with which Governor Trumbull has honored me, and which was delivered me after I had began this Letter, in which he says “Innoculation for the small pox I find has been practised by Troops on the March to join your Army—I hope a practice so pernicious in every Respect will be discouraged—I have taken the Liberty to suggest my Fears and Sentiments to General Gates on this Subject—Indeed Sir if it is not timely restrained it appears to me it must prove fatal to all our operations and may ruin the Country.”4

I never neglect laying all Letters & papers which I receive from General Gates or from any other Quarter, that ought to be transmitted, before your Excellency or Congress.

The two persons mentioned in General Gates’s Letter to have come from Dartmouth College, have not yet informed me of their Business.5

As I could not procure any regular Returns of what provision was with the Army and on the Communication, and as it was necessary that I should be informed of it, on the 20th Instant I wrote to General Gates on the Subject, Extract of my Letter your Excellency will see in the inclosed to Mr Trumbull, as well as what Answer has been given to it by Mr Avery, and my Resolutions thereon which I trust will meet with your Approbation—Your Excellency will please after perusal, to order the Letter to be sealed and delivered.6

In my last, I informed your Excellency that the Stockbridge Indians had determined to go to New York.7 Many of them have changed their Resolutions and arrived here Yesterday on their Way to Tyonderoga. I am Dear Sir Most respectfully Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Hum. Servant

Ph: Schuyler

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

1Copies of Gates’s letter to Schuyler of 26–27 Aug. and his return of 24 Aug. also were enclosed in Gates’s letter to GW of 28 Aug. (see note 1 to that document). The letters from the imprisoned officers, Gates writes Schuyler, “are all, (General Thompsons excepted) wrote in so extraordinary a Stile and Manner, that I think the Authors must be either Suborned by the Enemy, or the Letters themselves a Forgery; for I can no other way, Account for Officers writing such Letters. They ought to be sent without Delay to Congress” (DLC:GW). GW forwarded these letters with his letter to Hancock of 4 September. William Thompson’s unaddressed letter of 5 Aug., which probably was written to Maj. Peter Scull, is in DNA:PCC, item 159, and Capt. Ebenezer Sullivan’s letter to John Sullivan, Capt. Thomas Theodore Bliss’s letter to Rev. William Emerson, and Capt. Ebenezer Green’s letter to Col. Israel Morey, all dated 14 Aug., are in DNA:PCC, item 78. The three captains, who were taken at the Cedars in May, condemn Congress for not procuring their release by ratifying Arnold’s cartel with Capt. George Forster, and they exonerate Forster of charges that he mistreated American prisoners.

3“I am just now told,” Gates writes in his letter to Schuyler of 26–27 Aug., “that the two Continental Regiments [from Boston] are stop’d by your order on their March from Number four [Charlestown, N.H.] hither; as I am assured by the Authority of the Massachusetts Government that they were perfectly cleansed at Boston, from all Infection after Inocculation, I have ordered them to March here [Ticonderoga] without Delay” (DLC:GW). Schuyler’s orders of 17 Aug. direct Gen. David Waterbury “to dispatch three or four trusty Officers to the different roads which the Militia take in their way to Skeensborough, with positive Orders to remove all Officers and Soldiers infected with the Small Pox to a distance from the roads, no excuse is to be taken, no plea of danger to the infected is to be attended to, the Life of individuals is not to be put into Competition with that of the States. . . . They are also strictly to forbid any Officer or Soldier, or any other person whatsoever that has lately had the Small Pox from Joining the army unless such person can produce a certificate from some surgeon or Physician, countersigned by the Committee or magistracy of the town in which such surgeon or Physician resides, and sworn to by the Party himself, that there is no danger of communicating the Infection” (DLC:GW).

4For the full text of Trumbull’s letter, see Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:1115–16.

5These two unidentified men, who brought Gates’s letter of 26–27 Aug. to Albany, subsequently gave Schuyler a copy of Dartmouth president Eleazar Wheelock’s memorial to Congress, requesting financial support for the Indian boys enrolled at the college. Schuyler wrote Hancock on 2 Sept., recommending that Congress make “some Allowance for those Boys” (DNA:PCC, item 153), and on 19 Sept. the delegates appropriated $500 for that purpose (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 , 5:787).

6In his letter of 20 Aug. to Gates, Schuyler writes: “It is impossible for me to judge of what provisions, &c., may be wanted with the Army and at the different posts, without returns from the Commissaries, &c. These must come to me through the proper channel. Mr. [Walter] Livingston is the Deputy Commissary-General in this department; and in the absence of Mr. Trumbull, the Commissary-General, he is to furnish me with a general return, made out of the returns of the Commissaries at the different posts. This he cannot do, unless the Commissaries at those posts send him the returns. Be pleased to order Mr. Avery immediately and weekly to make returns to Mr. Livingston, that I may know how the Army is supplied with provisions. If he should refuse this, you will be pleased immediately to advise me thereof, that I may take proper steps to enforce a compliance with my orders” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:1083–84). Commissary Elisha Avery, a Gates protégé who refused to acknowledge Walter Livingston’s authority, sent Schuyler two returns, copies of which were enclosed in this letter: a return of provisions on hand at Ticonderoga on 23 Aug. and a return of the number of men who drew provisions there on 24 Aug., supplemented by estimates of the rations drawn by the men at Crown Point and Skenesboro and aboard the vessels on Lake Champlain (DLC:GW). The letter that Schuyler enclosed for Trumbull has not been identified.

Index Entries