George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 26 April 1778

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Saratoga [N.Y.] April 26th 1778

Dear Sir

Yesterday I received a Letter from Lt Colonel Willett commanding officer at Fort Schuyler inclosing a Speech of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras in Answer to a Message I sent them in March, Copy of the Speech I do myself the Honor to inclose1—Your Excellency will percieve that some of these Nations intend to join you as soon as the Fort promised to be built in their Country shall be finished—The Marquis De La Fayette before he left Albany gave Orders for having it done and sent up two French Gentlemen to direct the Work, but I am informed that the Troops ordered for that Service did not march and I cannot learn that any others are employed about it.2

I momently expect to learn the Result of the Conference held at Onondaga3 —I have Reason to believe it will prove favorable as a late Letter from Fort Schuyler advises that three of our friendly Indians lately sent to Niagara for Intelligence are returned and inform “that Butler declared in a public Speech that his Hand was too short to do any Thing this Summer, and that he should set out the Day after the Speech to Detroit to spend the Summer there.”

Your Excellency may rest assured that I shall make use of every Exertion in Conjunction with the other Commissioners to procure the greatest Number of Indians possible to join you.

Five or seven of the Enemy’s largest Vessels on Champlain are arrived at Tyonderoga and, it is said, have debarked a Body of Troops at that place, another Body of about five hundred landed opposite Crown point and in their March towards Mount Independence fell in with Captain Allen, who commanded a Scouting party of one hundred Militia—The latter have been obliged to Retreat with some Loss.4

I do not apprehend that any considerable Body of the Enemy will attempt to penetrate into the Country, at least not until they are reinforced from Europe, but Scalping parties will probably commit Depredations, and such is the Dread of the Inhabitants on that Account that they are already leaving their plantations, not a single Soldier being left for their protection.

The Legislature of this State having appointed me an additional Delegate in Congress, I am very anxious that my Trial should be brought on5 and doubt not but that as soon as your Excellency shall receive the Directions of Congress for that purpose I shall be honored with your Orders to attend at Head Quarters—permit me to entreat your Excellency that with the Order for my Attendance Copy of the Charges may be sent and an Order for such Officers as I may want to give in their Evidence to repair to Head Quarters. I have the Honor to be &c.

Ph: Schuyler

LB, NN: Schuyler Papers.

1The enclosure has not been identified.

2For discussion of Lafayette’s orders on this subject, see Lafayette to GW, 20 Mar., and note 3 to that document. The “two French Gentlemen” were Lt. Col. Jean-Baptiste Gouvion and Capt. Anne-Louis de Tousard.

3For a discussion of the proposed conference at Onondaga, see Schuyler to GW, 22 March, n.2.

4The Connecticut Courant, and the Weekly Intelligencer (Hartford) of 28 April reported: “We have accounts from Bennington, that on Wednesday night last, an express arrived there from the Northward, informing, that the enemy with 7 vessels had crossed Lake Champlain. That a party supposed to be about 4 or 500 consisting of Indians Britons Tories and Canadians had landed at Otter Creek, and fell in with some of our scouting parties, and that some light skirmishes ensued. The militia of the State of Vermont were advancing to attack them” (see also Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, 4 May). On the New York side James Duane wrote Henry Laurens from Albany on 24 April: “The enemy with a number of vessels & troops have appeared at Ticonderoga—a party of 600 have landed & defeated the militia of that neighbourhood—The whole northern frontier is in confusion” (DLC:GW). Closer to the scene Col. John Williams at White Creek, N.Y., who on 22 April had conveyed reports that “700 of the Enemy” were threatening the frontier near Ticonderoga, wrote on 25 April that “By the best Information There is Two of the Enemies Ships at Ticonderoga, but no troops have as yet Landed” and conjectured that the enemy would “remain Quiet, till the Shiping comes up the North River at which time the Indians are to be let loose upon Our Families, and to Burn and Destroy all they can” (see Williams to the Commanding Officer at Albany, 22 April, and to George Clinton, 25 April, in Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 3:207, 213–16). Militia captain Ebenezer Allen (1743–1806) was ordered to the defense of the Vermont frontier in March 1778, and his detachment served until May. Allen, a cousin of Lt. Col. Ethan Allen, was a former lieutenant of Col. Seth Warner’s regiment of Green Mountain Boys. He captained a company in a detachment raised for frontier defense in 1776, served as a captain in Col. Samuel Herrick’s regiment of Vermont Rangers from 15 July to 6 Dec. 1777, and was formally appointed a captain of militia by the council of safety on 25 Aug. 1777. By February 1780 he had been promoted to major, and he became a colonel by October of that year (Goodrich, Rolls of Soldiers description begins John E. Goodrich, ed. The State of Vermont: Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783. Rutland, Vt., 1904. description ends , 10, 44–45, 241, 783, 785–86, 791–92, 797, 814–15).

5Schuyler is referring to the court of inquiry that Congress had ordered on the evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence (see GW to Henry Laurens, 1 April, and note 1 to that document). Schuyler’s political allies in New York had sounded him out in late February about being named an added delegate to the New York congressional representation, and after he signaled his agreement in early March, the New York assembly on 21 Mar. and senate on 23 Mar. resolved to appoint an additional delegate. The two houses met separately to nominate on 25 Mar., and Schuyler received the nomination after the Speaker cast a tie-breaking vote for him in the assembly (N.Y. Votes and Proceedings of the Assembly description begins The Votes and Proceedings of the Assembly of the State of New-York, at Their First Session, Begun and Holden in the Assembly Chamber, at Kingston, in Ulster County, on Wednesday, the Tenth Day of September, 1777. Kingston, N.Y., 1777. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 88–91; Gerlach, Proud Patriot description begins Don R. Gerlach. Proud Patriot: Philip Schuyler and the War of Independence, 1775–1783. Syracuse, N.Y., 1987. description ends , 341–42).

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