George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 8 August 1777

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Albany August 8h 1777.

Dr Sir

Inclose your Excellency a Letter for Congress under flying Seal, which you will please to peruse & cause to be forwarded.1

It is much to be lamented that Massachusetts and Connecticut appear so loth to afford us any assistance—Whether the Reasons given by Majors Stevens & Sedgwick are the true ones,2 I cannot determine; but I know that from their unjust and ill founded prejudices against me arose that universal Clamor which I sustained. I am Dr Sir with great Respect & Esteem Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant.

Ph: Schuyler

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

1The enclosed letter from Schuyler to John Hancock, written at Albany, N.Y., on 8 Aug. 1777, reads: “I returned here last Night to meet some Indians who are deputed to me on Business, which they are to disclose at twelve to Day—Our Army is at Stilwater twenty two Miles North of this, where we wish to make a Stand and will do it, if supported by Militia, none of which are yet arrived nor any on the March—General Burgoyne’s Head Quarters were at Fort Edward on the fourth Instant, and I am informed that he proposes moving down in a few Days—Great Sickness begins to prevail in our Army, chiefly occasioned, I believe, by living altogether on fresh Meat, we not having had any salted Meat for about twenty Days past, there being next to none, nor any to be procured—The very little we have is kept for scouting parties.

“At six this Morning an Express arrived from Tryon County advising me ‘that General [Nicholas] Herkimer marched on the 3d Instant to support the Garrison at Fort Schuyler: that on Wednesday, between Orisko and the Fort, the Militia were attacked, and according to the Information received entirely cut to pieces: the General killed with most of the Field officers—The Number of the Enemy that made the Attack is no wise ascertained, but are thought to be very numerous—The Fort by all the Accounts received was attacked before the Militia marched, but in what Manner we know not, whether by Indians firing with small arms at a Distance, to confine our people within the Fort or whether their main Body was near advanced or not, I cannot say, therefore hope you will immediately send Assistance or this Quarter must of Course, fall into the Enemy’s Hands, as the whole of the Militia was in the Engagement, except a few Guards that were stationed in different places.’ Thus far Lieutenant Colonel Deygert [John Doggett] of the [Massachusetts] Militia and I have not had a Line from any one else on the Subject—The Garrison, as the D. Commissary General informs me in a Letter of the 4th Instant is provided with 500 Barrels of Flour; sixty Barrels of salted provisions; a considerable Quantity of peas: twenty Head of fat Cattle that lately arrived there, and the Inhabitants round the Fort have near fifty Head, and that Colonel [Peter] Gansevoort had them in Charge.

“I wish I could afford the distressed people of Tryon County and the Garrison of Fort Schuyler Any Assistance, but as I have no Men to spare it is not in my power—The Militia of this County that are not with the Army are kept in continual Alarms by Bodies of Tories, who are daily committing Depredations in almost every Quarter of it—I shall however use my best Endeavors to procure as many as possible, but after all they will be very few—The Militia that are with the Army from Massachusetts Bay will leave it on Monday—The Time of Service of Colonel [Pierce] Long’s Regiment from the State of New Hampshir which was engaged for a twelve Month, expired Yesterday—and every Man went off, altho’ I ventured to offer twenty Dollars Bounty, if they would continue in the Service until the first Day of December next.

“I am this Moment advised that the Enemy’s Van has reached Saratoga.

“Major [Ebenezer] Stevens, from Canaan in Connecticut, who is just from thence, informs me that the Militia of that & of the Massachusetts refuse to act under the Command of the General Officers, who were at Tyonderoga, when it was evacuated; nor will they serve under me, because I did not arrest and try them—I should hope that this Report was without Foundation, and yet, I must confess, I have heard it mentioned several Times.

“The issuing Commissary Department here is in the utmost Confusion—Mr [Elisha] Avery much indisposed and has refused accepting the Appointment—Altho’ Congress has not given me the power to appoint one, I should nevertheless venture to do it, if I could procure a person qualified for the Office and who would accept it.

“This Moment I have received a Letter from General Lincoln, Copy whereof I do myself the Honor to enclose—The untimely Objections of General [John] Stark are a new Source of Distress to us.

“Just now Major [John] Sedgwick arrived from the County of Berkshire—He confirms the Information given by Major Stevens, and adds that three Companies of Militia were to be raised in the County of Berkshire but that only one Man, that he could learn was yet engaged in the part of the County he came from.

“The Indians mentioned above are two Oneidas & seven Caghnawagas from Canada, the latter came thro’ the Woods and left their Habitations some Days after the Evacuation of Tyonderoga—They say the Enemy, including Savages and Canadians are about eight thousand strong; that some were left at Quebec, which they are fortifying and erecting Batteries on point Levy—That they came to enquire how Matters stood with us—That the Enemy gave out that Philadelphia was taken and that General Howe was in Hudson’s River—That the Indians, which have joined Sir Johnson are chiefly Missesaques, Hurons & Chippeways with some of the six Nations. . . . The D. Muster Master General of this Department informs me that his Deputies have declined serving him on Account of the Smallness of the pay and that he cannot procure others capable of discharging the Duties of that Office, unless a larger Salary is annexed to it, nor does Colonel [Richard] Varick think that he can continue in the Service upon a pay so inadequate to the Business of his Department” (NN: Schuyler Papers).

2John Sedgwick (1742–1820), who served as a captain in Col. Benjamin Hinman’s 4th Connecticut Regiment from May to December 1775, was appointed major of Col. Burrall’s Continental Regiment in January 1776. Sedgwick served as major of the 7th Connecticut Regiment from January 1777 to February 1778, when he resigned his commission. Sedgwick also served as a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut militia.

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