George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 10 July 1777

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Fort Edward [N.Y.] July 10h 1777.

Dear Sir

I am this Moment favored with your Excellency’s Letter of the 6h Instant—You will before this have received my several Letters advising your Excellency of the Evacuation of Tyonderoga and the distressed Situation we are in—We are, by no Means now in a better, rather worse, as Desertion is frequent—General Nixon’s Brigade is not yet come up, nor do I get a Reinforcement of the Militia—General St Clair, from whom I have heard for the first Time about ten this Morning (Copy of his Letter I inclose) is about fifty Miles East of me1—If he should go to Bennington, as I fear he will be obliged to do, he will still be farther off and the more he gets into the inhabited part of the Country the greater will be the Desertion from the Army, which is already much, very much diminished, by Numbers going off. I am very apprehensive General St Clair will not join me with more than one thousand Men, General Nixon’s Corps, I am informed, is under that—Thus, with less than three thousand Continental, and not quite one thousand Militia I am to face a powerful Enemy from the North—flushed with Success and pressed at the same Time from the West, by a Body which from repeated Information (Copies whereof I have not Time to send) is respectable and already at Oswego.

We have still Stores of such Importance left at Fort George, that I am very anxious to bring them off, before I order that post to be abandoned, which I must do or suffer the Garrison to fall into the Enemy’s Hands, which it inevitably will, if the Enemy, who are approaching by Wood Creek,2 throw themselves between this & Lake George.

I have brought away about twenty pieces of Artillery from Lake George, together with nearly all the powder amounting to about thirteen Tons.

General Fellows with a small Body of the Militia, but all I could get, is breaking up the Road between this and Fort Ann and felling Trees into it. I will throw every Obstacle in their Rout I possibly can and retard their progress as much as possible—for this purpose I shall disengage myself of every Thing cumbersome, the Artillery especially as I can make no Use of it.

Permit me to assure your Excellency that I shall make every Resistance I possibly can, and that Nothing shall be left undone to prevent the Enemy from penetrating farther in the Country. I am Dr Sir with every Sentiment of Esteem & Respect Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

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

1The enclosed copy of Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair’s letter to Schuyler, written at Dorset, N.Y., on 8 July 1777, reads: “Nine o’Clock about an Hour ago I received your Favor of Yesterday—I wrote you from Ticonderoga the Night before we left it to inform you that I intended to march to Skenesborough by the way of Castleton and from thence to Fort Edward, but when I got to Castleton I found the Enemy were in possession of Skenesborough which obliged me to change my Rout—On the March to Castleton we fell in with a party—commanded by Captain [Alexander] Fraser, who had been collecting Cattle in the Country—These were immediately dispersed and a few prisoners taken, but being reinforced by a strong Detachment from Tyonderoga they attacked in the Morning the rear Guard of our Army, who had imprudently stopped six Miles short of the main Body, and were, I believe rather surprised, notwithstanding which they made a very obstinate Defence, and I have good Reason to think killed and wounded a great Number of the Enemy—As they were at too great a Distance for me to support them, I sent orders to Colonel [Seth] Warner who commanded the party in Case he found himself too hard pressed to retreat to Rutland and join me. He is not yet come in, tho’ I have heard that he is coming on with about a hundred Men and a great part of the other Regiments, except [Col. Nathan] Hales are already joined us—I am in great Distress for provisions—If I can be supplied at Manchester I shall proceed directly for Fort Edward or Saratoga as Circumstances may direct—If not, I shall be obliged to go to Bennington. I account myself very happy in effecting this Retreat, as the loss of the Army, small as it is, would have been a Blow that this part of the Country would have felt severely, and that must inevitably have happened in a very few Days. Adieu my dear General—I hope to see you soon and Things in a better Train” (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 , 1:423–24).

2Wood Creek, a tributary of South Bay (Lake Champlain), flowed parallel with the road running from Fort Ann to Skenesboro, New York.

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