George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 14 July 1777

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 14th July 1777


I have received your Letters, that of the 7th Inst. on the 10th That of the 2d with the P.S. on the 4th, the next day Thankfully acknowledge the Attention paid to mine and the Intelligence given for our direction.

The Evacuation of Ty— and the Northern Posts are Truly alarming—Altho’ before you receive the Intelligence I send you enclosed, you doubtless will have received more full and Authentic accts of this affair yet conclude it best to let you have Copies of the Letters I have received—they may be of some Use The accounts they contain are such as give us surprising Ideas of our dangers1—Internal Enemies are always to be Considered the most dangerous and to be watched with the greatest Attention; I Cannot forbear expressing my fears of Such being concern’d in this Surprising Event Our utmost Exertions are certainly necessary at this time to keep up the Spirits of our People, & to stop the progress of the Enemy—The Lord reigns, Let us rejoyce with thankfullness before him for the mercies we have received and with hope of those we Stand in need of. Future Events are in the Safe hand of the Supreme director of all, Let us wait and patiently hope and trust in him for our Salvation—He Setts one thing over against another, that we may find nothing after him, Altho’ it be comparatively smal, yet the Acquisition of Majr Genl Prescot as a Prisoner, with his Aid de Comp and a Centinal at Rhode Island is of some consequence as it may serve to release Majr General Lee from his Captivity by way of exchange.

Majr Genl Spencer informs me of this, and that it is his design to send these Prisoners to my care, to keep them in Safety ’till your pleasure is known as it will be verry difficult to keep him here I think it will be best at least to send Genl Prescot forward under Strong Guard to you—even if he Should be sent back again, but possibly he may not be here before the return of this express which [I] wish may be as speady as possible On the extraordinary Emergency from the Northward I Shall directly send to Springfield for the Thousand Armes you are kind enough to allow me to take on Loan—How it is with other States as to Armes, Sure I am the representation from this State in my letter is just—We have possibly Erred on the Safer hand of being righteous overmuch Please to direct Mr Bowdinot to write me concerning the Prisoners—Ours are in unhappy Circumstances with the Enemy please to give me every Information and direction needfull. I am with great Esteem & Regard Sr your most Obedient Humble Servt

Jonth; Trumbull

LS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

1Trumbull enclosed a letter that he received from his son, Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., written at Albany, N.Y., on 8 July 1777: “Tyconderoga and Mount-Independance are in Posession of our Enemies; Att a Council of War, it was determind to Evacuate to those posts—This Resolution was effected last Fryday with such Precipitancy and hurry that almost all the Stores Provision, Amunition, Cannon and Baggage was left behind; A few Men with such Articles as could be thrown into the small Number of Boats they had, are come by Way of Skeensborough And are now at Fort Ann: The main Body of the Garrison are gone off by Way of Castleton fetching a Circuit through the Country to Skeens: These we have not heard from since their Leaving the Posts; Our Misfortune is heigthened by the Loss at Skeensborough.

“The Pursuit of the Enemy was so rappid that our little party by Water was overtaken at that place—with the same Hurry and Confusion in which they sett off—they abandoned the Vessells and Boats with every thing on board them, these the Enemy have posessd them of; among which I am told was one Vessel loaded with Powder—These are the principle Circumstances I am yet posesd off, I dare not make any Observations. I have given you facts which I submit to your own Reflections.

“I will only say that I must be posesd of some very material Circumstances in Addition to what I now know before I can conceive the Necessity, a Garrison well filld with provisions, Amunition, military Stores, above on[e] hundred Cannon &c. &c. & between three & four thousand Men should be under, of abandoning their Posts; at the Appearance only of not more than Twice their Number I say the Appearance only because I Dont Yet Learn that a Gun had been fired Save by Scouting Parties &c., but Heaven has thus Decreed, it must be so—This Misfortune will I fear be the Most Important in its Consequences of any thing that Providence has Yet Cast into our Lot, at one Blow it lays open all New England to the Incursions of the Enemy (who are prepared with their Savages) as well as Exposes this whole State now Possessed at Each Extremity by the Foe, The Horrid Work of Murder is also begun at the Western Posts, Yesterday brought us also an Account of a Second Scalping Match at Fort Stanwix alias Schuyler.

“Genll Schuyler with the little Handfull of Fugitives From Ty. and the Small Body of Militia already Collected, is forming his Stand at Fort Ann where they are in Want of Every thing that Can be Conceived Necessary for the Subsistance of an Army.

“Without Speedy and Effectual Support they will not be Able to Maintain themselves there and if Running Comes in Vogue I know not where they may Stop If N. England is not Roused now they must be seized with a fatale Lethergy which must perhaps end in their Destruction.

“While I am writing Genl Nixons Brigade from below are Coming into Town This is some Releif I Dont know that any more Troops are yet under Orders from Genl Washington Expresses are gone to Every Quarter. The Kind Interposition of Providence is my Support as little Reason as we have from our Crying Sins to hope for this Mercy, yet I Do not give up this Hope.

“Genll Gates’s Opinion of the Enemy’s Opperation this Campaign is, I think verifying fast, We Expect to hear an Attempt below, The Old Gentleman told me little before he left us that the Enemy from the Northward would not be Down till July, That Genll Howes Ar[m]y below if not lost to Every Idea of their most Important Interest or some Unforeseen Accident Did not Intervene would Certainly Coopperate with Motions Above and Spoke with some Uneasiness of the Innattention paid by Superior Powers to his Opinion But! Misfortunes some Times teach us our Mistakes at Great Expence—I wish we had a Correspondence from this to Connecticut This must go by an uncertain Conveyance. My best Regards attend all Friends & Connections” (DLC:GW; see also Trumbull Papers description begins The Trumbull Papers. 4 vols. Boston, 1885-1902. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., vols. 9–10; 7th ser., vols. 2–3. description ends , pt. 3, pp. 72–74).

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