George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel William Malcom, 30 July 1778

From Colonel William Malcom

Westpoint [N.Y.]. July 30 1778


I have the Honor to Inclose herewith the Returns of this Garrison.1

your Excellency will perceive that when we add to the detail of Batterys & redoubts, those on the East side of the River, where there are six Cannon already mounted, that I have but one Artillerst to a Gun.

Capt. Brown’s Company, and the detatchments of Bay dfts, called greaton’s are Station’d at Fort Constitution—When Armant’s Regt arrives, McLelan shall relieve the latter, and they shall be sent to Camp.2

The Estimate contain’d in my last will turn out vastly short, I have examined the different Works Since I had the Honor to write to your Excellency and find that there are several very important ones omitted in that Calculation.3

There are Two brass cannon (one a 12 pd) in Putnams Redoubt, I propoze to Substitute an Iron Gun. of the same Size, and if your Excellency pleases it may be orderd to Your park or FishKill as in our present condition I really think it too Valuable to risque in an out work.

Your Excellency may depend that the Troops shall be Kept to duty and every thing done to put the post in a respectable State.

The Out works are so many distinct Forts—they may support each other but in case of an attack—cannot reinforce—I remark this that your Excellency may callculate the Garrison Accordingly.

I presume again to request the Service of Mr Lawren[c]e, every day convinces me of the necessity of such an appointment4—and when I inform Your Excellency, that the Troops are encamp’d on the Groun[d]5 where they work—remote from each other—one party aCross the River—that we are oblidg’d to parade them ourselves every morning when they turn out to Work—& to be about amongst them through the day—besides a Variety of [Revu] & other bussiness. I hope your Excellency will consent.

The Tory prisoners appear to be decent people—I have them and some others of the same Kind at Work by themselves—& think there is no danger—I shall consult the Governor about them as your Excelly directs.6

Inclosed is the proceedings of a Garrison Court Martial7—I wish Mr Tilghman woud Send me a Copy of the Articles of war, and the Late Act of Congress concerning Rations—I give 1¼ lb. of beef & the same Quantity of flour.8

There are a World of Artifficers employd from New Windsor to Kings ferry—I believe to little Account—unless to the projectors—I cou’d Wish your Excellency would be pleased to order proper Engineers and Mr Erskine, to View their work & to report to your Excellency—I imagine thereby the public money would be saved & we shoud get 150 good men at this far more important Service. I Have the Honor to be with great Respect May it please your Excellency Your Excellencys Most obedient and very Humble Servt

W. Malcom


1GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison wrote on the last page of this letter, “return delivd Colo. Scammell,” and the enclosure has not been identified. However, it was apparently a duplicate of the “Return of the Garrison at West Point, Commanded by Col. William Malcom,” dated 25 July, that Malcom transmitted to Congress on 1 Aug. (DNA:PCC, item 78).

2Jonathan Brown of Connecticut was commissioned a captain of the 1st Continental Artillery in January 1777 and resigned in September 1779. Samuel McClellan (1730–1807) of Woodstock, Conn., who had been a lieutenant in the French and Indian War and a captain in the Lexington Alarm, was appointed a major in the 11th Regiment of Connecticut militia in October 1775 and promoted to lieutenant colonel in December 1776. On 13 Aug. 1777, the general assembly appointed him colonel of a volunteer regiment being raised to serve in the northern department. McClellan was promoted to colonel of the 11th Regiment in January 1779 and was appointed a brigadier general of militia in May 1784. McClellan also represented Woodstock in the Connecticut general assembly, 1776–78.

4Malcom was referring to Jonathan Lawrence, Jr. (1759–1802), who had been commissioned a second lieutenant in Malcom’s Additional Continental Regiment in March 1777. He was appointed an assistant adjutant general at West Point in August 1778 and served in that capacity to the end of the year. Lawrence, who was promoted to first lieutenant in October 1778, became a supernumerary officer in April 1779. In January 1780 he was commissioned a captain of the miners and sappers, a position he held until resigning from the army for reasons of health in November 1782.

5Malcom wrote “Groung.”

7The enclosed proceedings of a court-martial held on “Tuesday Morning” [28 July] recorded the trials for desertion of privates Christopher Springsteel of Malcom’s Additional Continental Regiment and Michael Camel of Patton’s Additional Continental Regiment (DLC:GW).

8Congress had not revised the ration it specified in a resolution of 4 Nov. 1775, which included one pound of beef and one pound of flour per day ( 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 , 3:322). However, GW’s general orders of 16 April 1778 had directed a ration of a pound and a half of flour and a pound of beef.

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