George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 27 September 1776

To John Hancock

Head Qrs Heights of Harlem 27th Septr 1776


I have nothing in particular to communicate to Congress by this days post, as Our situation is the same as when I last wrote.

We are now sitting on the business, the Committee came upon, which it is probable will be finished this Evening. the result they will duly report upon their return.1

I received Yesterday, the Inclosed Declarn by a Gentleman from Eliza. Town, who told me, many Copies were found in the possession of the Soldiers from Canada that were landed there a day or Two ago by Genl How’s permission. I shall not comment upon it, It seems to be founded on the plan that has been artfully pursued for sometime past.2 I have the Honor to be Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. The Account of the Troops &c. in Canada, comes from a person who is among the prisoners sent from Canada—It was Anonymous, nor do I know the Intelligencer: according to him, the Enemy in that Quarter are stronger than we supposed & their Naval force much greater on the Lakes than we had any Ideas of. I trust he has taken the matter up on the Enemy’s report.3

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 30 Sept. (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 , 5:834).

1For Congress’s sending of this committee to the army, see Hancock to GW, 24 Sept., and note 3.

2The Howe brothers’ printed broadside of 19 Sept. criticizes Congress for having “disavowed every Purpose of Reconciliation, not consonant with their extravagant and inadmissable Claim of Independency” and declares the peace commissioners’ desire “to confer with His MAJESTY’s well-affected Subjects, upon the Means of restoring the public Tranquillity, and establishing a permanent Union with every Colony, as a part of the B[ritish] Empire.” The king, they say, is “most graciously disposed to direct a Revision of such of His Royal Instructions as may be construed to lay an improper Restraint upon the Freedom of Legislation, in any of His Colonies, and to concur in the Revisal of all Acts by which His Subjects there may think themselves aggrieved” (DNA:PCC, item 152).

3This anonymous and undated report reads: “The force of the Enemy in Canada and on the Lake is from the best Intelligence as follows. 10,000 men landed in Canada from Europe &c., 8,000 of which with many Canadians are to go against Tyconderoga &c., all Effective men and in good Order and appearance—It is without doubt General Carleton intends to command in Person, with Burgoyne, Frazier [Simon Fraser], [Valentine] Jones & Nesbit [William Nesbitt] &c. Their Naval Force is A ship built in England taken to pieces & brought out on Board the Fleet, she is put up at St Johns & launched there, has 18 Guns, 24 pounders, Swivels &c. 2 Brigs about 10 Guns each 3 schooners about 8 Ditto Swivels &c. 20 Gondolas two Guns each, from 9 to 12 pounders. 250 Batteaus all with Swivells, & many of them with Guns in their Bows. A very fine Train of Artillery of Six Companies, & at least 100 Pieces of Cannon, thought to be the finest ever sent from England—A General Officer commands it—General [William] Phillips. Every Sailor & Marine that could possibly be spared is sent to man their Fleet. Their determined Intention is, if possible, to form a Junction of their Army with General Howe, in which Case Genl Carleton will command the whole. Sr John Johnson is gone round by Oswego with near 800 Indians, McCleans [Allan Maclean’s Royal Highland] Emigrants & some Canadians & Scotch Volunteers—There is some doubt he may come in by Fort George, & cut off our communication with Tycondaroga—He is sanguine in his Expectation of taking Fort George, & getting the Command of the Lake” (DNA:PCC, item 152).

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