George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 1 August 1777

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Saratoga [N.Y.] August 1st 1777.

Dr Sir

Your Favor of the 27th Instant I received Yesterday Morning, at Fort Miller, on my Way to this place with the Army which I moved by the unanimous Advice of all the General Officers—The most unaccountable panic has seized the Troops that was ever heard of—A few Shot from a small party of Indians has more than once thrown them into the greatest Confusion—The Day before Yesterday three hundred of our Men, who were advanced about a Mile & a half, came running in, being drove by a few Indians, certainly not more than fifty, thro’ General Fermois Brigade and a Body of Militia into great Confusion.

Inclose your Excellency Copy of a Letter I have received from Colo: Brown—You will percieve that he does not advise me whether Mr Arthur, whom he mentions was the Express or not from General Burgoyne, nor what Intelligence he gave—Colonel Van Schaick has not yet sent me the Examination of the other.1

General Howe’s sailing from the Hook, at a Time when he must undoubtedly have been informed of what had happened at Tyonderoga and of General Burgoyne’s Intentions is extremely unaccountable—perhaps that Movement, as well as his Letter may be with a Design to draw your Excellency to such a Distance from Hudson’s River as to render it impossible for you to reach it in Time, should he return to sail up it—I am the rather induced to believe that that is his real Intention, as I cannot conceive that Burgoyne would venture down to Albany if he had not Hopes of being there joined by General Howe; for altho’ it is probable that the Enemy will penetrate to Albany, unless we are supported by a considerable Body of Militia, yet they cannot long remain there if the Country will exert themselves and a Retreat from thence would be found extremely difficult.

General Lincoln joined me the Day before Yesterday, and this Morning set out to take the Command on the Grants—Unhappily Warner’s Numbers have decreased since I had the Honor to write you last, the Massachusetts Militia having chiefly left him—I suppose it is that which has induced the Enemy to abandon Castleton and to leave only three hundred Men at Tyonderoga and Mount Independance, and to send their whole Force this way. General Lincoln was present when I received this Information from a Soldier of our’s who was taken near Fort Ann carried to Skenesborough and thence to Tyonderoga which he Left on the 26h Ultimo.

General Arnold has received a Letter from a Member of Congress, advising him that it is not probable that he will be restored to his Rank, and has asked my Leave to retire2—I have advised him to delay it for some Time—Should he leave me and General St Clair be ordered down, I shall be without any General Officer, except such as have Brigades, viz. Fermois, Nixon, Poor, Patterson and Learned and their Attention is fully taken up by their respective Commands. I am Dr Sir most respectfully Your obedient humble Servt

Ph: Schuyler

P.S. Inclose your Excellency Messages just received from Oneida.3

LS, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 7 Aug. 1777, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169. Congress ordered a copy of this letter to be sent to Horatio Gates on 7 Aug. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 8:621).

1The enclosed copy of John Brown’s letter to Schuyler of 27 July 1777 from Kinderhook, N.Y., reads: “I have the mortification to inform You that after having executed Your Orders so far as to take Mr Auther and one of his Confederates, and delivered them to the Capt: of the Light Horse, who was coming on from Genl Washington to join You with his Troop that he kept his Guard in such a negligent manner that notwithstanding his being repeatedly by me cautioned & charged to keep the strictest watch, yet he suffered the Prisoner to escape the last night, about Midnight thro’ a small window in a Bedroom in the Chamber—He went out headlong & fell on the Roof of a Stoop from whence he rolled into the mud & so escaped—I take the Liberty to give You this particular Account as I wash my hands of any neglect whatever—This has entirely frustrated the plan laid for catching Taylor the other Express from Genl Howe who is expected in this day—The other Prisoner I have sent on to Colo: Van Schaick agreeable to your Orders—And am now returning home chagrined & disappointed after great trouble and fatigue. I could find no letters on either of the Persons taken Prisoners and believe they had none, as I searched their houses & Chests effectually” (DLC:GW).

2Georgia delegate George Walton, in a letter not identified, had informed Arnold that the Continental Congress most likely would deny his request for a new commission restoring his seniority (see James Lovell to William Whipple, 8 Aug. 1777, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 7:443). Congress voted to deny Arnold his seniority on 8 Aug. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 8:623–24; see also Henry Laurens to John Rutledge, 12 Aug., in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 7:466–72).

3Schuyler enclosed Thomas Spencer’s letter to him of 29 July 1777 from Oneida, N.Y.: “At a Meeting of the Chief they tell me that there is but four Days remaining of the Time set for the Kings Troops to come to Fort Schuyler and they think it likely they will be here sooner—The Chiefs desire the commanding officers of Fort Schuyler to exert themselves in their Defence not make a Ticonderoga of it: but they hope you will be courageous—They desire General Schuyler may have this with Speed and send a good Army here—There is Nothing to do at N. York. We think there is Men to be spared—We expect the Road is stoped to the Inhabitants by a party through the Woods—We shall be surrounded as soon as they come—This may be our last Advice as their Soldiers are part of those that are to hold a Treaty. Send this to the Committee. As soon as they receive it, let the Militia rise up and come to Fort Schuyler. To Morrow we are going to the three Rivers to the Treaty—We expect to meet the Warriors and when we come there & declare we are for peace, we expect to be used with Indifference and sent away—Let all the Troops that comes to Fort Schuyler take Care on their March as there is a party of Indians to stop the Road below the Fort—About 80 or 100—We hear they are to bring their Cannon up the Creek—We hear there is a thousand going to meet the Enemy—We advise not, the Army is too large for so few Men to defend the Fort—We send a Belt of eight Rows to confirm the Truth of what we say. It looks likely to me the Troops are near. Hope all Friends to Liberty and that love their Families will not be backward but exert themselves, as one resolute Blow would secure the Friendship of the six Nations and almost free this part of the Country from the Excursions of the Enemy. Your very humble Servant & well Wisher” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries