George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 17 November 1778

From George Clinton

Pokepsie [N.Y.] Novr 17th 1778

Dear Sir,

I have just now received the inclosed very disagreable Accounts of the Desolation of Cherry Valley by the Enemy and of their having taken Fort Alden by Storm on the 14th Instant which at the Request of General Hand I now forward your Excellency by Express.

I mean if I do not hear that the Enemy have left the Frontiers to set out for Schenectady on Thursday1 to assist General Hand. I shall not therefore have an Opportunity of forwarding these Accounts to Congress.2 I am Sir with the highest Respect & Esteem your most obedt servt.

Geo: Clinton

LS, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to Henry Laurens, 21 Nov. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

1Thursday was 19 November.

2The enclosures that Clinton sent to GW had come to the governor under cover of a note from Henry Glen to Clinton. Dated 15 Nov. at Schenectady, N.Y., the note reads: “I am requested by the Honble General Hand to send the inclosed Copies of Letters to you by Express” (DLC:GW). The package of enclosures contained letters from Brig. Gen. Edward Hand, Brig. Gen. Abraham Ten Broeck, Col. Lewis Van Woert, Maj. Daniel Whiting, Col. Goose Van Schaick, Lt. Col. James Gordon, and Maj. Jelles Fonda.

The enclosed copy of a letter from Brig. Gen. Edward Hand to Clinton, dated 15 Nov. at Schenectady, reads: “Upon Information that the Enemy on the Evening of the 12th Instant had left Cherry Valley after having destroyed the Village and put a Number of the Inhabitants together with Colo. Alden and some of the Garrison to the Sword the Number of which cannot as yet be particularly ascertained I recommended it to Colo. Klock who had collected about 300 of the Militia, to pursue them if he found it practicable but a Want of a sufficient Supply of Provisions and Ammunition added to a Persuasion that the Enemy had gone too far to be overtaken induced the Colo. to lay aside all Thoughts of a Pursuit and disband his Regiment. I therefore left Cochwawaga yesterday and arrived last Evening at this Place where I had not been many Hours before I was surprized with the disagreable Intelligence of the Enemy having returned yesterday Morning and at 12 OClock took the Garrison of Fort Alden by Storm. Colo. Van Schaack’s Regiment was advanced as far as Fort Johnson this Morning and pushing forward with all possible Dispatch for Fort Plank which you will see by the enclosed Letters is reported to be likewise attacked. I shall leave this immediately for aforesaid Place and use every Means in my Power to check the further Approaches of these Savages. Time will not admit of my Writing to his Excellency General Washington shall therefore be much obliged to you Sir to forward him this Intelligence” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed copy of a letter from Brig. Gen. Abraham Ten Broeck to Hand, dated 12 Nov., 5:00 p.m. at Albany, reads: “Agreable to your Request I immediately ordered Colo. Lansing’s, Schuyler’s and Colo. Quackenbos’s Regt to Schoharry and I desired Capt. Sprout who travelled with you to desire you to give Orders to Colo. Wemple who commands the Schenectady Militia.

“The inclosed is a Copy of a Letter I just this moment received from Colo. Van Woert of my Brigade before I had recd this I had determined to set out early this morning. I now wish to receive your Directions. Some Days ago I sent Orders to the Colonels of my 4 Northern Regiments to hold their Regts ready at a Moment’s Notice & directed Colo. Van Veghter who lives at Saratoga to send an Express to Fort Edward to know from the Commandg Officer there whether the Intelligence he recd made it necessary for them to march but have not yet heard from that Quarter” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed copy of a letter from Col. Lewis Van Woert to Ten Broeck, dated 11 Nov. at Cambridge, Mass., reads: “I have just now recd an Express from Colo. Webster dated Charlotte County & the Words are as follows Novr 10th 1778—To Colo. Van Woert.

[‘]This Moment have recd an Express from Skeensborough that the Enemy are burning on both sides of the Lake all the Houses and taking all the Men Prisoners stripping all the Women & Children the Way they go killing all the Cattle there are therefore to beg your immediate Assistance as we are on our march pray forward this to the next Colo. or Commg Officer send an Express to Genl Ten Broeck tell him to send an Express to his Excelleny the Govr that they may act accordingly.[’]” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed copy of a letter from Maj. Daniel Whiting to Hand, dated 13 Nov. at “Fort Alden Cherry Valley,” N.Y., reads: “I embrace the earliest Opportunity the present Situation of our Affairs would admit of to inform you of the State of the Garrison. On the 11th Intt the Enemy notwithstandg all our Endeavors to the contrary surprized us having taken a Scout of a Serjeant and 8 of ours and took one and compelled him to pilot them to the Officers Quarters they pushed vigorously for the Fort and had it not been for the great Activity and Alertness of the Troops they had rushed within the Lines. The Colonel fell in attempting getting to the Fort the Lt Colo. (Stacy) was made Prisoner together with one Lieut. one Ensign the Surgeon’s Mate and a few Privates we had about 6 or 8 of the Regt killed, some missing. The Enemy was very numerous burnt all the Buildings in the Settlement killed a great Number of the Inhabitants, Men Women & Children, carryed off many Prisoners some few that hid in the woods have got into the Fort. They collected all the Cattle Horses and Sheep they cod & drove off they paid us a second visit yesterday but nothing of them has been discovered this Day. Notwithstanding the earliest and repeated Dispatches to the River have had no Reinforcement from there. When we were first attacked we had not a Pound of Bread per Man in Garrison & had it not been for a Barrel of Powder and half a Box of Cartriges belonging to the Town our Ammunition wod have failed us—one Scout a Serjt & 8 men that went by the Battlements has not been heard of yet. . . . P.S. We have a Soldier with his Leg broken thats necessary to be amputated the Surgeon has no Instruments request a Case to be sent if possible” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed copy of a letter from Col. Goose Van Schaick to Hand, dated 15 Nov., 2:00 a.m. at “Mount Johnson,” reads: “The inclosed Letters this moment came to Hand I have sent forward for your Information—I shall march my Regiment for Conojoharry as soon as the Day Light appears” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed copy of a letter from Lt. Col. James Gordon to Van Schaick, dated 14 Nov. at “Fort Plank,” reads: “Colonel [Samuel] Clyde is this moment arrived from Cherry Valley and brings the Melancholly News that the Fort at that Place was taken by Storm this Day about 12 OClock he was out with a Party burying the Dead and collecting the few Effects the Indians had left when he heard three Cannon fire at the Fort he immeadiately ran towards it and did not see any one on the Outside but heard dreadful yells of Indians and Cries of Murder in the Inside you will therefore no Doubt think it necessary to march your Regiment up as quick as possible and get them in this Side of the River to be ready to assist us in Case they Should come towards the River in the Morning. Yours in haste” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed copy of a letter from Maj. Jelles Fonda to Van Schaick, or “in his Absence to the next commg Officer,” dated 14 Nov. at 11:00 p.m., reads: “Just now Jno. Ryckman Junr came to my House who was sent from Anthy V. Veghten Esqr. Colo. Fredrk Billinger and says that Fort Plank <was> attacked and that Colo. Billinger heard the Cannon Fire as also did the Bearer the Express—pray come on with all Speed with your Regiment—he will inform you further about it” (DLC:GW).

A deposition of a British deserter named Adam Brown, dated 12 Nov. at “Schohara,” may also have been included in this packet: “Adam Brown the Younger being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God deposeth & saith, that on Sunday the 7th Instant, he left the Enemy (consisting of between seven or Eight Hundred, about one Hundred and Fifty of which were Torys, Fifty Regulars, the rest Indians) about Eight Miles below Yochums (which is about 40 Miles from this on the Susquehannah) they were Commanded by a Seneca Chief (named Caderachqua) Young Butler, Brandt & Caldwell, the Deponent further says that he Heard them in a Council Held on a little on this side of Unadilla determine to Attack Cherry Valley, they had detached before they left Chamong one Captain Monture with three Hundred down the Susquehannah towards Shamokin—when he (the Deponent) left them they had Eight Head of Cattle, about twenty Pack Horses, seven Canoes went up the Susquehannah with Indians on Board . . . At the time of their determination to Attack Cherry Valley the Indians Kiled & eat four Dogs” (DLC:GW). GW sent copies of all these letters to Henry Laurens on 21 November.

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