George Washington Papers

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

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Saratoga [N.Y.] October 29th 1776

Dear Sir

Your Excellency’s obliging Favor of the 22d Instant, I had the Honor to receive Yesterday—I read with sensible Satisfaction your judicious Remarks on the Militia—I assure you they are reallized in this Quarter and if General Gates was not so very importunate to have them at Tyonderoga, I should certainly dismiss many of them, as they move with much Reluctance, and will neither assist in fortifying or mounting Guard—Those from New England are ordered to Tyonderoga by the Way of Skenesborough—Those from this County I have distributed in such a Manner at the different posts on the Communication, as to prevent any Interruption from the Enemy in sending on Supplies, excepting near one thousand which I have sent into Tryon County1—By Advices from thence we learn that the Enemy meditate an Attack in that Quarter, and this Account is corroberated by the Departure of several of the principal Tories, who are gone to join the Enemy—It is very probable that General Carlton may have detached a party of Indians Tories and Canadians to penetrate into that part of the Country, in Order to embarrass [us] and draw off our Attention from him.2

Inclose you Copy of General Gates’s last Letter to me—Your Excellency will percieve that he believes General Carlton will make an Attempt upon him3—I really think he cannot do it at any Time this Campaign, in which we shall be in a better Condition to receive him: but if he defers it to another, I think our Works may be so strengthened and such precautions taken as will render it utterly impossible for almost any Army to penetrate by the Way of Tyonderoga, and an Army that shall attempt to march from Crown point, so as to leave Tyonderoga on the Right, will find itself involved in such a Variety of Difficulties as are inextricable and must prove fatal.

Every precaution your Excellency has suggested shall be taken, and not a Carriage or any Sustenance left for the Enemy, in Case our Troops should be obliged to retire from Tyonderoga.

Barracks are erecting at this place and I hope will be finished in three Weeks capable of receiving a thousand Men—I propose some others on the Communication, if Time and Circumstances will permit. Adieu my dear General! I am with every Wish, that Esteem & Affection suggests Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

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

Robert Hanson Harrison at GW’s direction wrote Schuyler on 4 Nov.: “Your Favor of the 29th Ult: inclosing a Copy of General Gates’s Letter came safe to Hand, Yesterday Evening. Just as the Express arrived the Southern Post was setg out for Philadelphia, by whom Your Letters for Congress were transmitted. The furnishing the Garrison at Tionderoga with proper Supplies of Provisions, is a Matter of the last Importance, and his Excellency esteems It a most fortunate Circumstance that You will be able to prevent them from being intercepted” (NN: Schuyler Papers). Harrison’s rough notes for his reply are written on the last page of Schuyler’s LS. The letters forwarded to Philadelphia apparently were the ones that Schuyler wrote on 30 Oct. to Hancock, Richard Peters, and a committee of Congress (DNA:PCC, item 153).

1“The Militia are deserting in great numbers,” Schuyler wrote Gates on 30 October. “General Washington advises that if they are not absolutely wanted, to dismiss them, as he fears they will distress us as much as they have him, by eating our provisions and doing no service. Those at Fort George continue to refuse their aid in erecting the picket around the Hospital and in mounting guard” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 2:1299, first letter). For the calling out and disposition of the militia, see Schuyler to Abraham Yates and the Berkshire, Mass., committee of safety, both 16 Oct., ibid., 1087; Schuyler to Gates, 17, 20, 25, and 28 Oct., ibid., 1103, 1142, 1243–44, 1274; and Schuyler to Hancock, 30 Oct., DNA:PCC, item 153.

2“Several of the principal Tories,” Schuyler wrote Gates on 28 Oct., “are gone to Sir John Johnson, who commands a body of troops and Indians destined for the Mohawk river; and the inhabitants threaten to lay down their arms unless they can be assisted with men” (ibid., 1274; see also Schuyler to Gates, 30 Oct., second letter, ibid., 1299). Col. Goose Van Schaick commanded the reinforcements that Schuyler sent to Tryon County (see Schuyler to Hancock, 30 Oct., DNA:PCC, item 153).

3The enclosed copy of the letter that Gates wrote Schuyler from Ticonderoga at 7:00 P.M. on 26 Oct. says: “Two Men taken prisoners by a Scout of the Enemy’s Indians the Night before last, are this Moment returned by permission of General Carlton. . . . By every Information they give an Attack may hourly be expected here—The Wind is now against the Enemy’s Fleet, as it providentialy has been for this Week past, and it is to be wished it may continue so, until those tardy Succours arrive, which I have been told so long ago to expect” (DLC:GW).

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