George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 5 July 1777

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany July 5h 1777.

Dear Sir,

I do myself the Honor, to transmit you Copies of General St Clair’s Letters to me of the 30th June continued to the first July, together with Copies of those of the 2d & 3d Instant, and two papers inclosed in the last, all of which are numbered in the Order of Time I received them.1

Such of the Militia as are passed this or might be at Fort Ann, I have ordered on by the Way of Skenesborough, with Directions, if possible to throw themselves into Tyonderoga, but should they, with such as might join them in that part of the Country be too weak to attempt it, then to remain at Castle Town or other place in that Neighbourhood where the Militia not yet come up may join them.

The Troops from Peek’s Kill have not yet appeared—I wait their Arrival with Anxiety, and the Moment they do, I shall move with them—If they do not arrive by to Morrow I go without them and will do the best I can with the Militia.

The Enemy have had a party at Fort Schuyler, who scalped a Captain & Corporal of Gansevoort’s Regiment, this with the Threatnings of Joseph Brandt, a natural Son of Sir William Johnson, who commands a party of about two hundred Indians,2 and the Prospect of being attacked by the Way of Oswego has so dispirited the Inhabitants of Tryon County that I have been obliged to leave Colonel Van Schaick, who has about 150 Continental Troops with him, in that part of the Country, and apprehend that I shall soon be under the Necessity of reinforcing him, if so, I propose to send him some of the Militia destined to the Northward, that we may keep the Continental Troops as much together as possible.

Inclose your Excellency a Return of the Army at Tyonderoga3—Should an Accident befal us in that Quarter and the Troops be lost we shall be in a disagreeable Situation, with little else besides Militia; with not a single piece of heavy or light Artillery, and not one Artillery Man. If it be possible, I wish your Excellency to order as many Artillery Men and Field pieces to this Quarter as can be spared, with a competent quantity of fixed Ammunition, as we have no Cartridge paper, and very little of any other.

As part of the provision I sent by the Way of Lake George is returned to that post, I shall now be under the Necessity of drawing it from thence to Fort Ann, that we may attempt to supply the Garrison of Tyonderoga by the Way of Wood Creek and Skenesborough; but should we be incapable of getting a Supply of fresh provisions into that Fortress, I dread the Consequences, as the Hopes I have of obtaining any considerable Quantity of salted Meat are next to none, unless it can be sent from below, a good Deal of what was in this Department being spoiled.

I have transmitted Congress Copys of General St Clair’s Letters.4 I am Dr Sir respectfully and Sincerely Your Excellency’s most Obedient Humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

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

1These enclosures, which include Maj. Gen. St. Clair’s three letters to Schuyler and two intelligence reports from Ticonderoga, N.Y., are in 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 , 1:413–16, 419–20). St. Clair says that on the morning of 30 June 1777 a small enemy force consisting of Canadians, Indians, and British and Hessian troops arrived at Three Mile Point and began entrenching while two British warships, eighteen gunboats, and three sloops awaited off the point. Minor skirmishing with American scouts followed, enabling the Americans to obtain intelligence from two deserters and a prisoner. The deserters, Charles Stump and Leonard Maybuss of Maj. Friedrich Albrecht von Barner’s light infantry regiment of Brunswickers, were examined on 2 July: “They say General Reidsal commands the German Troops, five Regiments, and one Battalion of which are come from Canada The Regiments consist of five Companies from 100 to 130 Men. In general their Regiments consist of 500 Men—The Battalion is about 600 strong—Besides these there are four Companies of Dragoons of 100 each not mounted—They came in Expectation of getting Horses for them here—They are allowed seven Batteaus to a Company—He does not know what Number of British Troops there are nor how many Batteaus they have brought with them, as the German Troops were always kept in Front. There are no Germans left behind in Canada—General Burgoyne commands—Carleton is in Canada—They left the Thunderer mounting 24 Guns and two Mortars at Crown Point, lest they should not be able to get her off, in Case they were obliged to retreat—The Quantity of Provisions they have brought with them they do not know—At St John’s they received ten Days Provisions, and at Crown Point six Days, and but little remained at that Place—At St John’s they were several Days without any Provisions, but were made to believe there was much in Store at Quebec—A Report prevailed in the Army before it left St Johns that they had lost 24 provision Vessells. The general Opinion among the Soldiers is that they will attack our Works on Tyonderoga and Mount Independence at the same Time—They think we will only give them one Volley and then run, upon which they are to rush on us with fixed Bayonets, and make us Prisoners—Every Regiment has two Field Pieces with it—They had cut no Fascines or thrown up any Works when he left them, which was at two oClock this Afternoon—No Troops had left Canada to join General Howe—Their Allowance of Provisions for some Time past has been eight Pounds of Meat & 10 lb. Flour for 14 Days per Man They were billitted all last Winter among the Canadian Farmers” (DLC:GW).

American officer Andrew Hodges Tracy gained the confidence of the unnamed prisoner and made the following report on 3 July: “Andrew Hodges Tracey being desired to make Enquiry of the prisoner of War taken Yesterday of the State of the Army and Navy now before us, reports that being taken by the prisoner for a Spy he was ready to answer him to any Thing he asked—In the Course of the Night he informed him, that Generals Burgoyne and Carlton were with the Troops: that he himself had been out with Scouts within these three Days past and had taken six prisoners and killed a Number more, which the Indians scalp’d. That the Enemy was five thousand six hundred strong—including Britons, Hessians, Canadians & Indians—That they had eighteen Sail of Vessels coming down the Lake, one of which was called the Thunderer & mounted eighteen brass twenty four pounders, two thirteen Inch Mortars with three hundred Shells fitted for them, four eight Inch Hoitr’s and several Cohorns, with a Number of Carcases—That they intended to surround us, and cut off all Communication, for which purpose they intended to divert us by attacking our Lines every Day and by that Means draw off our Attention from their real Design—Eight hundred Indians was to harrass us continually—which were joined by the Light Infantry—This, he thinks, was the most material part of the Conversation” (DLC:GW).

2Mohawk leader Joseph Brant (1743–1807) was not the son but the brother-in-law of Sir William Johnson (1715–1774), the British superintendent of Indian Affairs.

3Schuyler apparently enclosed returns giving both the number of Continental army troops at Ticonderoga, N.Y., and the number of militia troops at Mount Independence, which is on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain across from Fort Ticonderoga. The return of the Continental army troops under Maj. Gen. St. Clair’s command, made on 28 June 1777, accounts for 3,604 troops, including 115 commissioned officers, 169 subalterns, 50 staff, 2,089 enlisted men present and fit for duty, 571 sick, 937 on command, and 6 on furlough (DNA: RG 93, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775–1783). An attached return of the same date of the artillery and artificers under the command of Maj. Ebenezer Stevens shows an additional 303 men at the post. A return made by Deputy Mustermaster Gen. Richard Varick on 18 June 1777 and located in DLC:GW shows that approximately 700 men from two Massachusetts militia regiments were posted at Mount Independence. That return also indicates that the regiments’ terms of enlistment were to expire on 5 July.

4See Schuyler to Hancock, this date, in DNA:PCC, item 153.

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