George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 25 September 1778

To George Clinton

Head Quarters Fredericksburg 25th Sepr 1778

Dear Sir

I have been honoured with yours of the 20th and 24th instants; the latter by Mr Harkermir who gives a melancholy account of the distresses of the inhabitants at the German Flatts.

To defend an extensive frontier against the incursions of a desultory Enemy1 is next to impossible; but still if you think the addition of another Regiment, ill as I can spare it, or a change of position in the troops that are already upon the frontier will answer any good purpose, I will most cheerfully comply.2

From every account, the enemy are upon the eve of some important move. Whether a total evacuation of New York will take place I cannot determine, but from a variety of intelligence preparations are making for a considerable embarkation. The uncertainty of the intentions of the enemy, who have their principal force collected at New York, renders it impossible for me to give that assistance to the frontier which I could wish, and which perhaps I might do3 were their views fully unfolded.

When the Army came up from the plains, we brought up three Inhabitants of the County of West Chester detected in first inticing our Soldiers to desert and then offering to conduct them to the Enemy. I have not punished them by Martial Law, because I did not know but the Civil might take cognizance of them. They are now in confinement, and if you think proper that they should be delivered to the Civil power it shall be done. I am with the highest Regard Dear Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, PWacD: Sol Feinstone Collection, on deposit at PPAmP; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1The draft reads: “the incursions of Indians and the Banditti under Butler and Brant.”

2At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote: “will have any good effect, I will comply”; he then changed the wording to read: “will answer any good purpose, I will cheerfully comply.”

Following this paragraph on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote and then struck out the following text: “I am so far from being satisfied myself with the present command to the Northward, but some peculiar circumstances render it very difficult to effect a change without introducing a good deal of uneasiness and confusion in the Army should Genl Stark be called down to it. You are, I dare to say, acquainted with his Resolution to obey no Officer, now a Brigadier, who was a junior Colonel, and from his promotion not taking place in course, there are several in that situation. He has for that reason been generally employed in some separate command. I know but of one way to remedy the evil at present, which is, to get the best information possible, from Gentlemen well acquainted with the Country, of what would be the proper measures to be pursued, and then direct Genl Stark to have them carried into Execution. If you will favr me with your sentiments upon the subject, you will oblige me, as I confess myself intirely ignorant of the situation and circumstances of the part of the Country which at present demands assistance.

“I am exceedingly sorry that the Gentleman in command to the northward should.”

3At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote: “could do with more safety”; he then struck out those words and wrote “might do” above the line.

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