George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Sullivan, 23 May 1779

From Major General John Sullivan

Easton [Pa.] May 23d 1779

Dear General

Though General Hand has not yet answered my Letter Containing a number of Questions yet I think it necessary to Inclose you Copy of his Letter in answer to mine of the 8th & 10th Instant which will in Some measure Show the State of affairs in that Quarter1 I think it will be necessary to Send on two or three hundred Troops from hence to Wyoming. I Inclose your Excy Copy of a Letter from the Board of war & one from major Forrest to Show how matters go on in that Quarter.2 I also Inclose Copy of General Hands Orders to Colo. Cox of the 30 of April as also Copy of his orders to Major Prowel of the 8th Inst. which will Show the Steps he has taken to forward on the Stores.3 I fear no Delay but from the want of waggons apprehensive of this I wrote Governor Reed on the 12 Inst. but received no answer;4 I also wrote Congress on the Subject5 But I find by the Letter from the Board of war that they are as much perplexed to obtain waggons as I am.

I Inclose those papers to your Excy to Account for the Delay which I fear will take place; to Show that Every thing has been done on our part & to Enable you to Judge when we Shall be able to march. I know of no Steps Left untryed to Expedite the Business & none Shall be Left unattempted. I have the honor to be with the most profound Respect Dr General your Excellenceys most obedt Servt

Jno. Sullivan

ALS, DLC:GW; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 166; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169.

1The enclosed copy of a letter from Brig. Gen. Edward Hand to Sullivan, dated 20 May at Wyoming, Pa., reads: “I have received your favors of the 8th & 10th instant. The want of Ammunition still continues in a very great degree. I am apprehensive there is none yet arrived at Estherton, & if there was it is impossible for me to send for it, as it would not be safe for a Boat to come up without an escort of 40 or 50 Men; a number I can’t by any means spare from this Post.

“Our ordinary Guards take 96 Rank & File, besides which, there is, at this time 66 detached to repel a party of the Enemy now on the Frontiers; & I can’t expect to have a smaller number on that duty, until the Army can advance into their Country.

“The whole strength of the Post including Officers Servants, Artificers, & a large daily fatigue for erecting Store Houses, & adding to the defences of the Post is 424 R: & F., of which, one third are absolutely bare-footed. This will also account for my not being able to send a party on the Road.

“What steps I have taken to forward the Stores, you will best learn from Major Prowells instructions, & my Letter to the Quarter Master at Estherton, Copies of which, & a return of the Garrison are inclosed.

“As the Inhabitants have taken pains to find the best way of bringing a Waggon Road over the next Mountain. I will have it well marked, & some Trees fallen across the old Road where the Work-men are to leave it; of which I give Colo. Cortland notice by this opportunity.

“There will be no difficulty in finding guides to Chemung; beyond that it will be difficult to procure them, I know of one only, he is an Officer of the Garrison. Spies cannot be had at any rate, at least such as could be depended on” (DLC:GW). Sullivan’s letter to Hand of 8 May is in Hammond, Sullivan Papers description begins Otis G. Hammond, ed. Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, 1930-39. In Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, vols. 13–15. description ends , 3:16.

2The enclosed copy of a letter from Timothy Pickering to Sullivan, dated 20 May at the War Office in Philadelphia, reads: “Upon the first notice of the intended expedition we asked Colo. Mitchell the D.Q.M.G. here whether he could furnish the great number of Waggons (about 100) requisite for transporting the Military Stores to Estherton, without applying to the Goverment of this State to order out Waggons agreably to their Law, he said he could; & from time to time since has given us like assurances. We now find that he is disappointed; & that of ten Brigades necessary only two have been furnish’d. The Stores are ready for transportation, we have wrote to the Supreme executive Council on the Subject; & directed the Quarter Master to apply to them for Waggons, But this we fear will occasion very mischevious delays” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed copy of a letter from Maj. Thomas Forrest to Sullivan, dated 20 May at Philadelphia, reads: “Agreable to your Order to me the 10th Instant, I waited on the Board of War, & received from them the necessary instructions. Am happy to inform you that the stores agreable to the return are complyed with by the Commissary of Military Stores, & wait for Waggons to forward them to the places appointed.

“I have made every necessary application to the Q.M.G. & reported to the Board of War the reason of their not moving” (DLC:GW).

3The enclosed copy of a letter from Hand to Col. Cornelius Cox, dated 30 April at Easton, Pa., reads: “I beg you may forward all the stores you now have, & all such as hereafter may be sent to your care, either in the Quarter Master or Commissary Department, for the use of the Troops to be employed on the Susquehanna, to Sunbury to the care of the Quarter Master, & Commissary there, as speedily as possible, except the pack Saddles you shewed me a few Days ago. You will also please to forward 12 compleat setts of Horse Harness; you will please to send by the first opportunity to Philadelphia for a sett of Mathematical Instruments; & a pocket or other perspective for me to be forwarded by some careful Person” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed copy of a letter from Hand to Maj. Joseph Prowell, dated 8 May at Wyoming, Pa., reads: “That part of the 11th Penn: Regiment which was Commanded by Colonel Hartley before the late Regulations now occupies three posts Vizt Sunbury Fort Muncy on the West & Fort Jenkins on the East Branch of Susquehannah as their is no field Officers at present at any of these posts, & as the number of men in each is too Small to answer the purpose for which I continue them, you will please to march to morrow morning with the party under your immediate Command to strengthen & take command of the abovementioned posts, Fort Jenkins & Muncy you are to augment to 100 Privates & a proportion of Commissioned & non Commissioned officers each the remainder to be at Sunbury where the Commanding Officer is to continue till further Orders.

“The Troops at Sunbury are to Guard the Stores at that post & escort them to fort Jenkins on the way to th⟨at⟩ Place, those at fort Jenkins are to Escort Stores from that post to this & use every measure in their Power to cover the inhabitants in its Vicinity from the Incursions of the Enemy—this last will be best effected by Ranging Parties sent from thence frequently to meet others from fort Muncy to prevent the Enemy penetrating the Settlements undiscover’d & alarm each Garrison & the Inhabitants if they make any discoverie⟨s⟩ that warrant it—which will give both an oppertunity of Exerting themselves to repel the Enemy.

“Fort Muncy is for the Sole purpose of covering that part of the frontier & will therefore send Scouts to meet those from fort Jenkins & to the Settlements higher up the we⟨st⟩ Branch—there are a chain of little forts kept up by the Inhabitants between fort Muncy & fort Jenkins Vizt Fort Brady at Muncy Creek at Freelands Mill on Warriors Run at Bosleys Mill on Chilisquaky & fort Wheler on fishing Creek—The Scouts from both Forts should often touch at Places & always meet or leave messages for each other at Bosleys Mills. you will have two men at each of these out posts Acquainted with the Country to conduct your Scouts.

“When you send a party to Escort the Stores from Sunbury to fort Jenkins you will order them to continue at that post Till the Return of the Escort sent from thence to this place by which means fort Jenkins will be less weakend & the men the advantage of returning by Water as often as their is a Sufficiency of Stores at sunbury to load 4 or 5 Boats forward them & give me notice when the Boats will be at Nanticoak falls that I may send a party to meet them.

“Give me the Earliest intelligence of every Occurence in your Command worthy Attention particularly the Appearance of an Enemy & let me have regular Returns of your Regt by the 20th of every Month” (DLC:GW).

4A letter of 11 May from Sullivan to Joseph Reed on the subject of impressing wagons is in Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:388; Reed’s extensive reply, dated 21 May, is in Hammond, Sullivan Papers description begins Otis G. Hammond, ed. Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, 1930-39. In Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, vols. 13–15. description ends , 3:28–32.

5Sullivan’s letter to Congress, dated 20 May, is in DNA:PCC, item 160; Congress read the letter on 22 May and referred it to the Board of War (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 , 14:626).

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