George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 31 October 1776

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

New Haven Octr 31st 1776


Am to acquaint you that this State considering the near approach of the Enemy and the critical Situation of the Continental Army and the Danger of haveing the Communication cutt off, have thought proper to send a Reinforcment from our Militia, includeing all the able bodied Effective Men that can be raised out of four of our Militia Regiments, which probably will amount to about four hundred (exclusive of a Part of the 9th Regiment of this State, ordered to be stationed at Norwalk, Stamford & Greenwich) together with about 150 of our Troops of Horse, to be under the Command of Major General Wooster specially appointed for that purpose who is ordered and directed to repair with said Forces, to cooperate with you and to obey such orders as you shall give therein.1

Am likewise desired by the Assembly of this State, to request your Excellency to discharge as soon as may be, all the Sick in the Militia now in Service, who shall be judged incapable of further Service, and that some way might be devised to provide blankets and Cloathing for those of the Militia who have ben so unfortunate as to loose them in retreating from the Enemy or that some suitable persons might be permitted on Furlow to repair to the various Parts of this State as may be convenient to procure those Articles of the Friends of those Soldiers, who are thus deprived of them—And would also observe that we are in hopes upon the arrival of our Troops of Horse that those now in Service may be releiv’d & they supply their Place.2

We have ben amused for several days with Various Accounts of your Situation & the Movements of our Enemies, but have had no direct Intelligence, which makes us very anxious to hear from You.3 And am with Esteem & Regard Sir Your humble Servt

Jonth; Trumbull


1The Connecticut general assembly recently had resolved “that as many of the Militia as are fit for service and of others, House-holders &c. able-bodied effective men within the Limits of the 9th, 10th, 13th and 16th Regiments within this State be immediately called forth, well armed & equipped & embodied under the Command of Majr General Wooster, appointed by this State to lead them forth, command and direct them in the necessary Operations against our Enemy and to give all possible relief to our Army.” The 3d Regiment of light horse and the troop of light horse in the 10th Regiment of militia were directed by a second resolution to join Wooster’s force in western Connecticut (Connecticut assembly resolutions, 10 Oct., DLC:GW; see also Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 236, 240). Wooster wrote GW on 28 Oct. enclosing copies of those resolutions and informing him that “I immediately Sent out my orders to the Commanding Officers of each Regiment to Call them forth Without loss of Time and march immediately to Stamford and Horse Neck, the Single Troop of Light Horse Will be ready to march with me on Wedensday next [30 Oct.] for the above mentioned places and I Shall immediately Wait on you to Consult there further Opperations” (NjMoHP).

A petition from the civil authorities of Norwalk dated 25 Oct., regarding “the exposed and dangerous situation of the town,” induced the assembly to instruct Trumbull to order Wooster “to station a sufficient number of troops under his command, in the towns of Norwalk, Stamford, and Greenwich, where he should judge most needful for the safety of those towns” (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 243, 565–66).

2These requests were made by a committee of the general assembly appointed to consider measures “for the relief of the militia of the State, and to obtain their early release from service” (ibid., 238).

3Robert Hanson Harrison replied to this letter on 2 Nov., expressing GW’s “thanks for the reinforcement you have ordered him under the command of General Wooster. It will arrive very seasonably and in part make up for the deficiency occasioned by daily desertions of our men who are returning to their homes in the most scandalous and infamous manner. The roads are crowded with them.

“I am also directed by his Excellency to acquaint you, that before the receipt of your favor he had given directions to the General Officers to discharge such of the sick Militia from your State as were unfit for service and who choosed to return, rather than to remain for their recovery. As to pointing out a mode for cloathing the Militia who were injured in the several retreats it is a matter of great difficulty in this time of scarcity of Goods and such as he does not know how to remedy; nor will it be possible, consistently with the good of the service, when our numbers are decreasing, and those of the Enemy augmenting by reinforcements from Home, and the disaffected in this Province, for him to send persons upon furlow to collect Blankets. He would submit it to you, whether your requisition going to the towns from whence the Militia came will not induce the friends of those who are here to make provision for them in this instance.

“In respect to the Light Horse under Majr Backus he issued an order for their discharge on yesterday morning, on the arrival of the others under Majr Sheldon—And I am charged in a particular manner to notify you that their conduct has been extremely good, and the services they have rendered, of great advantage to their Country. Sensible of this, as a tribute due their merit his Excellency was pleased to make them a return of his thanks in the General Orders of yesterday.

“The approaching dissolution of the present Army with the uncertain prospect of raising a new one in time, provided the utmost industry is used, gives his Excellency much concern, and this is greatly aggravated by the several States delaying to send Commissioners to appoint Officers for recruiting—As yet none have come but from the Massachusetts State. This he desired me to mention to you, and also to request your kind exertions and influence to have every possible supply of provision, particularly of Flour, forwarded to North Castle and Kinos [Pine’s] bridge on Croton River for the use of this army. Our situation in this instance is by no means so agreeable as could be wished, and Demands extremely great—Nor have we a prospect of but small relief except what comes from your State. This Convention is doing something for us, but the supplies for the Northern Army will not allow them to furnish any great quantities for this.” The last paragraph of the letter contains a brief account of the Battle of White Plains on 28 Oct. and GW’s efforts to prevent Howe from seizing Pine’s Bridge on the Croton River about fifteen miles north of White Plains (Ct: Trumbull Papers).

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