George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 13 November 1778

From Major General Horatio Gates

Boston 13th November 1778.


This letter will be presented to your Excellency by Mr Dodge, who has lately escaped from Quebec, in company with a Sachem of the Cognawaga Nation of Indians; he brings your Excellency the latest, and best intelligence from Canada.1 I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Servant

Horatio Gates

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, NHi: Gates Papers.

1John Dodge’s undated report, which GW docketed “John Dodge’s acct of the Strength of the Forts & Vessells on Lakes Erie & Ontario[;] Note—he left Detroit in May—& Quebec in October 1778,” reads: “Acount of the Situation of Canada—Meeshelenmacksna [Michilimackinac] is a Small Stockaded fort has Eightty Solders rank and file and is Commanded By Majr S.C. Deposter [Schuyler De Peyster] from thenc Crose lake Huron one hundred leige in to the river Snt larance Pass fort SinClear which is abandoned Down the river three leige to fort Detroit—A Stockaded in has a trench aboyte half way Rond it Some Vesh<e>nes within five Block houses has four nine Pounders in Each two feild Peices Six Pounders within the fort Between Eightty and ninety Solders rank and file and is Commanded By Capt. Lenolt thare is Eightty Vellenteers mostly Canadians Command By Captt. Lemote a french man he is Keep out upon Scouting Parteys with as many Saveges as he Can Prousade to Join him the Said Detroit is G<over>nd By one Henry Hambelton who was Captt. in the fifteenth Regt from thence Down the river Snt larance Six leigs into lake ary [Erie] Cross that lake ninety five leigs to fort Ea[r]e a Smal Stockaded fort has one Block ho[u]se with two Six Pounders in it and fifty Solders Command By one <Cusine> on those lakes thare is five Vessels which Careyes Cannon the gage Sixteen Six and four Pounders the Dunmore twelve Six and four Pounders the hope ten the angellic four But has Several Swevels thare is three Small Vessels on those lakes likewis which goese Past fort Eare Down the river Six leigs to fort Slusher thare is a Carring Place Past the falls which is Seven miles and then Down a Steep Bank whare thare is a Cradel Erected for Drawing up Goods & Provisions thare is at the foot of the Cradel a wharf whare the Vessels Can load and unload with out Any Difaculty the[n] Down the river three leigs to fort nigary which is a Very Strong fort it is Bult with Stone and morter the river is on one Side and the lake untareo [Ontario] on the otherr next to the woods thare is a trench and Stockades the woods is Cleard a way for half a mile in the fort thare is two large Block houses Bult with Stone and morter and Six twelve Pounders in Each thare is twelve or fourteen twelve and nine Put on the rampers likewies Besides ten or twelve morters of Diferent Sizees thare is Betwen two & three hundred Solder in the fort rank & file mostly Recruts that Come from England a twelve months Post theay are Commanded by Colo. Powel the Said Colo. Butler that Commands a Party of toreys a Bought a hundread and as many Saveges he Can Proswade to Join him then Cross lake untareo Eightty leige to Catarockway which is Abandoned Down the river four leigs—But full of Small Ilands and Very litt[l]e Currant to Dear Iland whare thare is one hundread and fifty Solders Commanded By a lieut. no fort thare nor Barroucks But a Brest worck flung up with loggs and Some Peices of Small Cannon thare is two Vessels that goese from nigary to Dear Iland which Carreys Eightteen gun Ech—Six and four Pounders thare is one Small Vessel Ditto that Carreys Some Swivels those Vessels on lake Ere and lake Huron are Very Poorly mand from Dear Iland Down the river Seventy miles to fort Swagorcha a Small Stockaded fort has three Block houses thare is Betwen thirty and forty Peices of Cannon which was fecht from an Old fort that was a Bought two leigs Below on an Iland But is now Vacuated this fort Swagorcha is on a Point the river Snt Larance on one Side and Black Crick on the other which heads almost at fort Stanwicke and is navigabel allmost to the head the Said fort is Covred By a Hill that lays Jest Back of it a Bought fifty Rods Distance then Down the river Snt Larance a Bought fifty miles Past the Ceaders to <lashehene> whare thare is a Command of men laying to gard the Stores and Provisions no fort nor Barracks from that to mountreall the river is Very rapete So that theay are O Bleged to Carry all thare Stores and Provisions in wagons it is Eight miles from that to mountreall thare is Betwen three and four hundread thare over the river to long Gale thare is a Command of men a Bought a hundread Down the river to three river thare is Between three and four hundread—from thence to Surrel thare general Halderman lays and St John Johnson with the main Body he has fortyfied it Very Strong Cut a way the woods for Better than a mile and taken one of the french Churches and Every Bulding that he thought would Be Dettermental to him But Keeps Vessels thare So as to make his retreat good to Quebec he has Bult Barroucks and hospitels thare and has Said that he would winter thare all the heavey Cannon from Snt Johns and all the Valuabel Bagage is Brought to Quebec at Snt franceway thare is a Compene of hessens and at Snt <Ga> is a Compene of the 34 and twenty yankey torey which is keep Continnually out as Spyes and are Conceald By the tory women on the grants So theay find out the movement of the hole Country in Quebec three hundread and twenty Solders mostly hessens theay are in general Sickley and Dye Very fast theay are Very Short out for Provisions theay Depend upon Enhabitants for thair Supply the Enhabitants in general are Very unesy mostly in favour of the United States thare is four Ships of war to winter at Quebec Garlin triton how and Viper theay mount Between Eightteen and twenty t[wo] guns Ech the mereens are to Come on Shore and Do Duty—the hole forse of Canada is five thousand three hundread and thirty three Encluding Neavey artifitch toreys” (DLC:GW).

John Dodge (1751–c.1800), a native of Connecticut who became an Indian trader before the war at Fort Sandusky in the Ohio Country, was captured by the British in January 1776 and held at Detroit, then moved to Quebec before escaping from there in October 1778. His lurid memoirs of captivity and ill-treatment were published as A Narrative of the Capture and Treatment of John Dodge, by the English at Detroit (Philadelphia, 1779). GW was impressed by Dodge and his report (see GW to Henry Laurens, 26 Nov.), and after appearing before Congress, Dodge went to Virginia, where he secured an appointment as agent to the Illinois Country. He quickly ran afoul of the French inhabitants of that region, who accused him of plundering and profiteering (see Alvord, Cahokia Records description begins Clarence Walworth Alvord, ed. Cahokia Records, 1778–1790. Springfield, Ill., 1907. In Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, vol. 2, Virginia Series, vol. 1. description ends ; and Alvord, Kaskaskia Records description begins Clarence Walworth Alvord, ed. Kaskaskia Records, 1778–1790. Springfield, Ill., 1909. In Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, vol. 5, Virginia Series, vol. 2. description ends ).

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