George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 21 March 1779

From George Clinton

Poughkeepsie [N.Y.] March 21st 1779

Dear Sir.

In consequence of your Excellency’s Letter of the 15th Instant I have ordered General Ten Broeck of Albany to confer with Generals Schuyler and Clinton on the Matters contained in it, and to call out such Proportion of the Militia of that and Tryon County as they may on such Conference esteem necessary to cover the western Frontier and thereby prevent the Enemy drawing Supplies from thence: Similar Orders are dispatched to the Militia in the Vicinity of Colo. Cortland’s Regiment.1

Previous to the Receipt of your Excellency’s Letter I had (at the Request of General McDougall) so far placed the Militia of Westchester County and the southern Part of Orange under his direction as to enable him to call the whole of them to his immediate Assistance in case any Movement of the Enemy should render it necessary; and the Militia of Ulster Dutchess and the Northern Part of Orange are under Orders to hold themselves in the most perfect readiness to march on the Signal of alarm (fixed by Genl McDougall’s Orders and communicated to them) being given; those of Ulster and Orange (the frontier Companies excepted) to strengthen the Post at West Point and those of Dutchess to rendesvouz at Fishkill and there wait for further Orders.2 This appears to me to be the best disposition that can be made at present.

I observe by a Resolve of Congress of the 9th Inst. transmitted me by the President, that the Infantry of the United States for the next Campaign is to consist of eighty Battalions;3 whence I conclude, the sixteen additional Regiments are to be reduced. If this is the case I beg leave to remind your Excellency that Colo. Warners and a considerable part of Colo. Malcomb’s were raised in this State as if they4 are to be annexed to other Regiments, those of this State appear to me to have the most equitable Claim, especially to such of them as were Inhabitants of this State.5 I have the Honor to be with great Regard and Esteem. Dear Sir. Your Excellency’s most Obedient Servt

Geo: Clinton

LS, DLC:GW. The version of this letter that is printed in Hastings and Holden, 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 , 4:655–56, apparently was taken from a draft manuscript that has not been found. It varies significantly in wording in only one place; see n.4.

1Clinton wrote from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to his brother Brig. Gen. James Clinton on 20 March: “Last Night I rec’d a Letter from Genl. Washington in which he expresses some apprehensions founded upon Intelligence from Genl. Schuyler that an attack is meditated by the Savages ag’t the Frontiers of the State. I have transmitted Copies of this Letter & its Inclosures to Genl. Ten Broeck & requested him to consult you & Genl. Schuyler upon the Propriety of ordering out such a Proportion of his Brigade as may be deemed necessary to reinforce the Continental Troops” (Hastings and Holden, 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 , 4:652). Brigadier General Clinton replied on 24 March that after consulting with Brig. Gen. Abraham Ten Broeck of New York militia and Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler it was deemed “most prudent to order, that that Part of the militia which are nearest the Object of the Enemy’s attention, shou’d keep themselves in readiness to act on the shortest notice; and that two hundred Men from Livingston’s Mannor who have done the least Duty, shou’d hold themselves in readiness to march on the shortest notice of the Enemy’s movements, which we expect can be easily discouvered, as Genl. Schuyler hath engaged a number of friendly Indians, who are actually employed on that Business” (Hastings and Holden, 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 , 4:663–64).

2For Clinton’s order of 18 March concerning signals to alert New York militia units, see Hastings and Holden, 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 , 4:648–49 (see also Clinton to Alexander McDougall, 18 and 27 March, and McDougall to Clinton, 24 March, Hastings and Holden, 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 , 4:644–46, 664–66, 671–73).

4The text in Hastings and Holden, 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 , 4:655–56, reads: “[and] if they.”

5For the consolidation of Col. William Malcom’s Additional Regiment with that of Col. Oliver Spencer and the postponement of any change to Col. Seth Warner’s Additional Regiment, see GW to Clinton, 9 April, DLC:GW.

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