George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant Colonel William Butler, 24 August 1778

To Lieutenant Colonel William Butler

Head Quarters White plains 24 Augt 1778


I recd yours of the 13th instant dated at Schohary, giving me an account of events in that quarter since your arrival there.1 I am very glad to hear of the success of your two scouting parties, and I hope that these checks, tho’ small, and the appearance of a force upon the Frontier, will give spirit to our friends, discourage the disaffected, and establish the confidence and friendship of those who have been frightened or deluded. I have desired General Stark not to send any Officer of superior Rank to interfere with you in command, as I have great reliance upon your activity and skill in conducting such an expedition as that which you are now upon. The inclosed were sent here by some of your friends to be forwarded.2 I am Sir Yr most obt Servt.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Butler’s letter to GW of 13 Aug. has not been found, but Butler probably conveyed the same information as in his letter to George Clinton of that date. There Butler wrote: “On my Arrival here I found three Forts erected by the Inhabitants for their Protection within 4 Miles of each other. I took Post at one I thought most liable to be Attacked & immediately sent out a Subaltern with a small Scout to reconnoitre the Country, & to make what discoveries he cou’d of the Enemy.” This party shot “one Services [Christopher Servos], a Noted Villain who had Constantly supply’d the Enemy,” and took four prisoners. Having received intelligence “of one Smith who had raised a Number of Tories and was Marching to Join the Enemy,” Butler “immediately detached Capt. Long of the Rifle Choir [corps] with a party to intercept their March.” Long’s detachment killed Smith, took one prisoner, and captured documents indicating that the Tories intended to meet at Servos’s “& there divide one party to Attack Cherry Valley & the other” Schoharie. Butler “detached Major Church with 120 Men … to lay in Ambuscade” for the Tories, who did not come. “The Major then drove off all the Cattle in that Neighbourhood as their principal supplies was from that Quarter.” Butler added that “Except in these Instances I have been Obliged to Act totally on the Defensive” and that the most recent intelligence reported the enemy “about 1500 in Number at Unindilla about 80 or 90 Miles distance from” Schoharie (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 , 3:630–32).

2The enclosures have not been identified.

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