George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 28 June 1777

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany June 28th 1777. Eleven O’Clock A:M.

Dear Sir

Your Excellency’s Favor of the 20th Inst. I had the Honor to receive at Saratoga in the Evening of the 26h.

I am this Moment favored with a Letter of the 25h Instant from General St Clair, Copy whereof I herewith transmit1—Should an Accident happen to the Garrison of Tyonderoga and General Burgoyne make a push to gain the South part of the Lake, I know of no Obstacle to prevent him, Comparatively speaking. I have not a Man to oppose him, The whole Number at the different posts at and on this Side of the Lake, including the Garrisons of Fort George and Skenesborough, not exceeding seven hundred Men, and these I cannot draw away from their several Stations, In every one of which they are already much too weak—It is therefore highly necessary that a strong Reinforcement should without Delay be sent me—If the Sloops are not yet sent to bring the Troops your Excellency has ordered to be kept in Readiness at Peek’s Kill, I shall push them off without Delay.

As it is not probable that we shall in Time be supplied with Field pieces from the Eastward I must entreat that the Reinforcements may bring some up with them.

I have this Moment also received a Letter from Mr Deane the Indian Interpreter, Extract whereof I enclose you—As the Information tallies exactly with what I had before it leads me to conclude that an Irruption will be made from the Westward.2

I shall apply for the Aid of the Militia of this and the neighbouring States, but I fear it will not be very powerful, as many must be necessarily left at Home.

I have received a Letter from the Commissary General, which I think neither so temperate or decent as it should be—I shall take the first liesure Hour to transmit you a Copy, with my Answer in which, I believe, it will be evinced from authentic Returns that the Scarcity of provisions in this Departments is in a great Measure, if not altogether, to be imputed to a Want of Attention in the persons whose Duty it was to supply this Department. I am Dr Sir with great Regard & Esteem Your Excellency’s most obedient hble Servt

Ph: Schuyler

P.S. I have sent Express to General Putnam to hasten on the Troops your Excellency had ordered to be in Readiness for this Quarter.3

Since writing the Above I have received another Letter from Genl St Clair Copy whereof is Inclosed4 I am in pain about Fort George, but have no troops to throw In and Some time will necessarily Elapse before the Militia can be got to March.

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

1The enclosed copy of Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair’s letter to Schuyler of 25 June 1777 from Ticonderoga, N.Y., reads: “I informed you Yesterday that an Encampment of the Enemy had been discovered at Gilliland’s Creek—Last night two of their vessels came up to Crown point and this Morning there are seven lying at that place: the Rest of their Fleet is probably but a little lower down as we hear their Morning Guns distinctly at different places. They have also debarked some Troops and encamped upon Chimney point—Whether they have landed at Crown point or not my Scout Boat did not discover, not daring to venture far enough down the Lake on account of the Shipping; but I have sent out a Scout on this Side, which I doubt not will bring a just account of their Situation.

“I cannot help repeating to you the disagreeable Situation we are in, nor can I see the least prospect of our being able to defend the post unless the Militia come in, and should the Enemy protract their Operations or invest us & content themselves with a simple Blockade we are infallibly ruined.

“I have Thoughts of calling for the Berkshire Militia, which are nearest to us, and will proabably be the most alert to come to our assistance—because they are in some Measure covered by this post, but on that I shall consult the other General officers. This however is clear to me, that we shall be obliged to abandon this Side, and then they will soon force the other from us, nor do I see that a Retreat will in any Shape be practicable. Every Thing however shall be done that is possible to frustrate the Enemy Designs, but what can be expected from Troops ill armed naked and unaccoutered.

“I shall write you again as soon as the Scout returns am dear General” (DLC:GW; see also Smith, St. Clair Papers description begins William Henry Smith, ed. The St. Clair Papers. The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair: Soldier of the Revolutionary War; President of the Continental Congress; and Governor of the North-Western Territory with his Correspondence and other Papers. 2 vols. Cincinnati, 1882. description ends , 1:409).

2The enclosed extract of James Deane’s letter to Schuyler of 25 June 1777 reads: “By an Indian some Time since from Canada it is reported that just before he left that Country the warriors of Aghwasasne, who took a party of our people at Sabbath Day point, fell in with a considerable Number of the Scots in the woods on their way to Canada whom they attacked and entirely cut off supposing them to have been a party from the American Army—That Sir John Johnson threatned to be revenged upon them, but that the Indians dared him do his utmost—That Montreal is full of regular Troops &c. and by two others very lately from Canada it is reported that the Vessel in which they took passe⟨ngers⟩ at Otswegatche for Niagara was wrecked in a Gale of Wind upon the Rocks between Otswegatche and Catarogue—That Sir John Johnson would be at Oswego with a large Body of Indians by the first of July, where he would be joined by Butler and his party from Niagara, from whence they were to attack Fort Schuyler and that the regular Troops were at the same Time to make an Attack upon Tyonderoga” (DLC:GW).

3Schuyler enclosed a copy of his letter to Israel Putnam, written at Albany, N.Y., on 28 June 1777, which reads: “I have this Moment recd a Letter from General St Clair, copys of which I have Transmitted to his Excely Genl Washington, & to the Council of Safety of this State. the Latter I have requested to forward a Copy to you. You will perceive our situation to the Northward. I am very apprehensive that I shall not be able to Obtain a body of Militia sufficient to make Effectual opposition—& as his Excellcy Genl Washington has advis’d me by Letter of the 20th Instant that he had orderd you to hold four Massachusetts Regts in readiness at Peeks Kill to reinforce me, you will please to Hasten them on with all possible Dispatch. I shall send Sloops from here, but if any Craft can be procur’d near you, I wish you by no means to wait the Arrival of Vessels from hence” (DLC:GW).

4St. Clair’s letter of 26 June 1777 from Ticonderoga, N.Y., reads: “This Moment I have received Information from ⟨Hoite⟩ of Otter Creek that a large Party of Indians and Tories are gone up that Creek, supposed to be five hundred, and are designed to cut off the Communication by Skenesborough—They took a pair of Oxen from one of the Inhabitants and drove them to about two Miles above Middle Berry Falls, where they halted the Day before Yesterday and killed and dressed the Cattle, and it is supposed that to Night they will be at the new Road near Castleton which is twenty eight Miles from hence and twelve or fourteen from Skenesborough—They reported that a very large party were gone on the West Side of the Lake to fall upon Fort George—They are said to consist of a thousand Indians and Canadians.

“We have also had just now, another Attack at the Mills—We have two Men killed; two taken and two wounded, one mortally—The Scene thickens fast and Sunday next, it seems, is fixed for the Attack on this place—We must make the best of it we can, and I hope, at least, to cripple them so as they may not be able to pursue their Fortune, should it declare in their Favor.

“I sent a party down last Night to reconnoitre them, who are not yet returned, which gives me some Uneasiness—I hope however they are safe and will bring me some Intelligence of Consequence—I have some Thoughts, if they are not numerous of attacking them—If they get the worst it will oblige them to recall their parties—If not there will be too many left to become prisoners.

“I have sent to the Grants to inform them of the Otter Creek party and to desire that all they can possibly spare of the Militia may be ready to march at a Minute’s Warning” (DLC:GW; see also Smith, St. Clair Papers description begins William Henry Smith, ed. The St. Clair Papers. The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair: Soldier of the Revolutionary War; President of the Continental Congress; and Governor of the North-Western Territory with his Correspondence and other Papers. 2 vols. Cincinnati, 1882. description ends , 1:410).

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