George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 25 April 1779

From George Clinton

Poughkeepsie [N.Y.] 25th April 1779

Dear Sir.

I have had the Honor of receiving your Excellency’s Letters of the 9th & 17th Instant. In consequence of the Latter I have ordered 100 Men to the northern Frontier to relieve the Detachments of Genl James Clinton’s Brigade now in that Quarter—The Officer who is to command these Men is ordered to observe such Directions as he shall receive from Genl Schuyler (to whom I have written on the Subject) as from his knowledge of the Country he will be able to make the best Disposition of this small force. The Militia in that Quarter have also my Orders to hold them selves in the most perfect Readiness; but it being a new Country they are weak and having been once in the Power of the Enemy under Genl Burgoyne are not much to be depended on.1

I formerly mentioned to your Excellency that I imagined this State might be able to raise one thousand Men for the frontier Service. The Legislature soon after accordingly provided for the embodying of that number by Drafts from the Militia; but at the same Time directed that a Proportion of them should be applied towards filling up the continental Battalions raised under the direction of this State, if a Requisition should be made for this Purpose by Congress.2 The Militia Officers are now employed in making the Drafts in their respective Regiments & I have Reason to believe they will soon be compleated & a greater part of them by voluntary Inlistments. Those which are to join the continental Regiments will be immediately delivered over to them—the remainder will be upwards of four hundred & commanded by a Lieutenant Colo. and Major I will order them to join the Troops now on the Frontiers & to such Passes as are best calculated to cover the Country from the Incursions of the Enemy until I shall hear further from your Excellency3 You will readily perceive, Sir, that without knowing the Rendesvouz of the different Parties who are to be employed in the Operations to the Westward and the Routes they are respectively to take it will be impossible for me to make the proper Disposition of the Force that may be left in their Absence, for the Protection of the frontier Inhabitants as some Parts will be rendered perfectly secure by the Movements of our Troops whilst others will be more exposed Your Excellency’s Orders therefore on this Subject will be necessary. I have the Honor to be with the greatest Respect & Esteem Sir Your Excellency’s most Obedt Servant

Geo: Clinton

P.S. Since writing the above I have received a Letter from Genl Ten Broeck with the enclosed Copy of a Letter from Mr Fonda. The disagreeable Intelligence it contains will I fear tend to retard the raising of the Drafts from the Militia as it will disconcert the Measures taken for that Purpose.4

LS, DLC:GW. The letter was carried “by Capt. [Andrew] Moodie.”

1The officer who commanded the company of 100 men that Clinton sent to the frontier was Capt. Levi Stockwell (1740–1812), who had been appointed a second lieutenant in the 4th New York Regiment in April 1776 and promoted to first lieutenant in the 3d New York Regiment in November 1776; he left the Continental service in May 1778 to become a captain in the Charlotte County, N.Y., militia. For Clinton’s letters of 24 April to Stockwell, Philip Schuyler, and Col. Alexander Webster of the Charlotte County militia, 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 , 4:751–54.

3See Clinton’s instructions of 27 April to Maj. Elias Van Bunschoten (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 , 4:764–67).

4Clinton enclosed the following copy of a letter from Capt. Jellis Fonda and Thomas Romine, addressed to Col. Abraham Wempel, Henry Glen, and the commandant at Albany, N.Y., and dated 22 April at “Caughnawaga,” N.Y.: “About three OClock in the Morning just now I received a Letter from Capt. Sacket from Johnstown informing me that a very large Party of our Enemy was seen about seven Miles from this; so I expect we will be attacked about Day break, this is certain News, One Woodward a good brave Man saw them, who was sent out for a Scout, for Gods sake come up with all Speed to our Assistance you can get, send this forward to Genl Clinton at Albany so that we may be relieved in this Church before we will be obliged to fall into the Hands of the cruel Enemy.... P.S. There is three Men taken near Fort Planck & one killed & one wounded back of Stone Rabia” (DLC:GW).

Clinton also enclosed a copy of a letter to him from Col. John Cantine of the New York militia, dated 24 April at Marbletown, N.Y.: “Since my last Judge Pawling has had Information of hostile Intentions of the Indians & Tories against this Quarter The Intelligence came to him in such a Way that it leaves us no Doubt but something is doing by them in order to attempt an Attack on our Settlements; but what their number are or where their Design is in particular we have as yet not learned We have sent three Men as Spies, & to make discoveries, to Pachkatacken—Colo. Cortland is to send a party to Morrow or next Day consisting of about Sixty to Papachton” (DLC:GW).

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