George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Stark, 19 August 1778

From Brigadier General John Stark

Albany, 19th August, 1778.

Dear Sir—I yesterday wrote you concerning clothing for Major Whitcomb’s corps of rangers, and sent a return of the said corps.1 The bearer hereof waits on you for clothing, and can inform you of the sad condition of the men.

I understand that Colonel Winship, deputy commissary general, has resigned. I know of no person so attentive to his business as Bethuel Washburn, assistant deputy commissary general at this place.2 I hope he may be appointed, as his fidelity may be relied on.

Inclosed is the report of Lieutenant Colonel Wheelock, who has been upon a scout to Unadilla, which will inform you of the situation of the enemy.3 If an expedition should be made to that quarter, a number of pack-saddles will be necessary. Colonel Wheelock’s information may be depended on, as he is a gentleman of undoubted character. I am, sir, your ob’t serv’t,


Stark, Memoir of John Stark description begins Caleb Stark. Memoir and Official Correspondence of Gen. John Stark, with Notices of Several Other Officers of the Revolution . . .. 1860. Reprint. Boston, 1972. description ends , 187–88.

1The letter has not been found. An undated “State of Three Independent Companies of Rangers under the Command of Major Benjamin Whitcomb” from about this time is in DLC:GW. It records twenty commissioned and noncommissioned officers, fifty-four rank and file, and six deserters. The companies were at Rutland, Vermont. Whitcomb (1737–1828), who had been promoted to major in November 1777, continued to command troops on the New Hampshire frontier until January 1781, when the independent companies were disbanded and he retired on half pay.

2Bethuel Washburn, an Albany merchant, remained the assistant commissary of issues at that city at least until 1780.

3The enclosed report of Lt. Col. John Wheelock has not been identified, but his expedition was summarized in a letter from Albany of 22 Aug. published in the Connecticut Courant, and the Weekly Intelligencer (Hartford), 8 Sept.: “Col John Wheelock, accompanied by Major Clyde, and a small number of men, as a reconnoitring party, at the request of General Stark has penetrated the Indian country to the enemy’s lines at Tunadilla, above fifty miles south west of Cherry Valley. His business was to view the nature and situation of the country, and, if possible, the strength and designs of the enemy. … He is now returned and brings the following intelligence, viz. That the number of the enemy Indians and Tories is about 1000 men, under the independent command of Capt. Joseph Brant: That they expect us to attack them; but if not, are determined on a vigorous and fatal attack upon some part of the frontiers of Mohawk River; That there are from two to three hundred men about the mouth of Tunadilla River; but their chief place of rendezvous is at Onoughquago; That the Indians are now disaffected to [John] Butler and that he is not at Tunadilla, but in some part of the western country; That some of Butler’s party have joined Capt. Brant; That Brant’s party are in high spirits, eager for action, and that he conducts his affairs with as much secrecy as possible; That scouting parties from the enemy are continually out, especially up the Susquehannah; and a rambling guard from Flax Island in the Susquehannah River, over the barren mountains to Tunadilla River, by which means the inhabitants and refugees are environed, and think themselves entirely secure.” Wheelock (1754–1817), a son of Dartmouth College president Eleazer Wheelock, was commissioned in November 1777 as lieutenant colonel of the regiment of volunteers raised for the proposed invasion of Canada and commanded by Col. Timothy Bedel. John Wheelock became president of Dartmouth College in 1779.

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