George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 19 October 1778

To George Clinton

Head Quarters Fredericksburg 19th October 1778

Dear Sir

I last evening recd the inclosed from Congress with a request that I would take measures for carrying the plan recommended by Colo. Hartley into execution.1 The advices which I have just recd from different quarters bear the strongest marks of an immediate evacuation of New York.2 These considerations induce me, should it be deemed expedient, to make an addition to Colonel Cortlands command by sending up the whole of Genl Clintons Brigade, except Van Schaicks Regt which is to releive Gansevoorts at Fort Schuyler. In that case, Genl Clinton would go with his Brigade.3 I do not know the situation of Chemung, the place which Colo. Hartley advises to be possessed by us, and cannot therefore say whether the same body of Men which are to be employed upon the Anaquaga expedition, could afterwards break up the settlement at Chemung.4

I shall send General Hand to take command at Albany in the room of Genl Stark who goes to Rhode Island.5 perhaps by enlarging our force in the manner I have before mentioned, we may be enabled to carry on our operations upon the frontier upon a more extensive plan, by forming one expedition under the immediate command of Genl Clinton, and another under Genl Hand or Colo. Butler composed of the troops already to the Northward.

That there may be a more free and full communication upon this subject, I have desired Genl Clinton, Genl Hand and Colo. Cortland to wait upon you. As your legislature is now sitting there must be Gentlemen from every part of the State well acquainted with the Frontier—the different Routes—the resources of the Country and many matters conducive to the conduct and success of such an Expedition.

After having made the proper use of Col<o.> Hartley’s letter, be pleased to return it to me, as I have not a Copy. I am with the greatest Regard Yr Excellency’s most obt Serv<t>

Go: Washington

p.s. Be pleased to forward the inclosed to General Stark by the earliest Conveyance.6

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

1For Col. Thomas Hartley’s letter to Congress of 8 Oct. recommending the detachment of two Continental regiments to help defend the frontier, see Laurens to GW, 13 Oct., n.4. For Congress’s resolution of 13 Oct. regarding the occupation of Chemung, see note 5 to that letter; see also 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 , 12:1005–6.

2At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman wrote and then struck out the following passage: “The precise destination of the enemy is yet unknown; but as a considerable detachment is, from every account, intended for the West Indies, the remainder, should they incline to operate to the Eastward, will be inadequate to our force and that of the Militia.”

3GW countermanded these orders in his letter to Brig. Gen. James Clinton of 25 October.

4For consideration of an expedition to the Iroquois village of Chemung on the upper reaches of the East Branch of the Susquehanna River, see Clinton’s plan, 20 Oct., in Clinton to GW, 21 Oct., n.2, and the report from Clinton, Philip Schuyler, and Edward Hand, 22 Oct., in GW to Laurens, 26–27 Oct., n.6.

5See GW’s letters to Edward Hand and John Stark of this date.

6GW apparently enclosed his letter to John Stark of this date.

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