George Washington Papers

Council of War, 12 September 1776

Council of War

[New York, 12 September 1776]

At a Council of War held at Gen. McDougals Qua⟨rters⟩1 Sept. 12. 1776.

Present His Excelly Gen. Washington. Major Gen. Puttnam[,] Heath[,] Spencer[,] Green[,] Brigr Gen. Mifflin[,] Parsons[,] McDougal[,] Nixon[,] Wadsworth[,] Scott[,] Fellows[,] Clinton.2

The General read a Letter signed by some general Officers proposing that there should be a Reconsideration of the Matter determined in Council last week with Respect to the State & farther Disposition of the Troops.3

The Question was put whether the Determination of last Week Should be reconsidered & the Opinions as follow.

To reconsider To adhere
Gen. Beall Gen. McDougal Gen. Spencer
Gen. Scott Gen. Parsons Gen. Clinton
G. Fellows Gen. Mifflin Gen. Heath.4
G. Wadsworth Genl Green
Gen. Nixon Gen. Puttnam

It was considered what Number of Men are necessary5 to be left for the Defence of Mount Washington & its Dependencies agreed that it be 8000.

D, in Joseph Reed’s writing, DLC:GW; two copies, NHi: McDougall Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The mutilated text within angle brackets is supplied from the documents in the McDougall Papers, which are certified by Richard Varick as true copies of Reed’s manuscript, one made on 13 Feb. 1782 and the other made on 15 Mar. 1782.

1After the Battle of Long Island, Alexander McDougall’s brigade headquarters apparently was at Mrs. Catharine Benson McGown’s house or tavern, located a short distance south of the village of Harlem on the post road that ran between King’s Bridge and New York City (see Champagne, McDougall description begins Roger J. Champagne. Alexander McDougall and the American Revolution in New York. Schenectady, N.Y., 1975. description ends , 113, and Hall, McGown’s Pass description begins Edward Hagaman Hall. McGown’s Pass and Vicinity: A Sketch of the Most Interesting Scenic and Historic Section of Central Park in the City of New York. New York, 1905. description ends , 14–15).

2Although Brig. Gen. Rezin Beall’s name does not appear on this list, his inclusion among the voters listed near the end of the document indicates that he was present at this council of war.

3See Certain General Officers to GW, 11 September. For the decisions of the council of war held on 7 Sept., see GW to Hancock, 8 September. Following this paragraph in the manuscript, Reed struck out a paragraph that reads: “The Question Whether this Army should take principal Post at Kingsbridge & the Neighbourhood with a V[i]ew of evacuating New York whenever it shall be found difficult or impracticable to maintain the City—was considered & debated with great Solemnity & Attention.”

4This vote to reconsider the previous council’s decision to hold New York City apparently was understood to be a rescinding of that decision and an approval of the city’s evacuation (see Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 69, and GW to Hancock, 14 Sept.). For George Clinton’s and William Heath’s reasons for dissenting from the majority on this question, see Clinton to GW, c.12 Sept., and Heath to GW, 13 September.

5At this place in the manuscript, Reed struck out the phrase “for the Posts at Burdets Ferry.”

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