George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Patterson, 29 May 1779

From William Patterson

Philada May 29th 1779.


I received Your Letter of the 11th April last and shou’d have answered it before this day, but waited to Consult Genl Hand agreeable to orders, who agree’d with me that further attempts of Discovery cou’d not be of much service, as the enemy wou’d stop any party on that busness at their advance post1—I came this far on my Journey to Camp, but the sore in my breast is so very painful that I cant venture to proceed, shall if possible return to my family where I shall be very happy to receive Your Excellencies orders when it may appear to you that I can render any publick Service; There is a considerable Sum of publick money in my hands which I wish to return, & shall wait your directions where I am to deposit it; I waited on Governor Reed to answer the complaints lodged against me, when he refused giving up the Names of the complainants, & in short went so far as to say, no regular complaints were lodged, which differs wide from a State of particulars in a letter I recd from Colo. Cox on that head—I am agrieved at this wicked & unjust attack on my life, reputation, & family, senseable of the injury intended, & the Justice due me, must beg your Excellencies favour to write the Governor to give up the Names of the Villains be they who they may, that I may not only have it [in] my power to render them ridiculas in view of the Hone Council, but to the publick2—Inclosed is a rough coppe of circumstances which I laid before Governor Reed, as I cou’d not go further & considering it in his power to remove the disorder speedily thro’ his command of the Militia of the State.3

I have to add that from hints, we have a Strong Regimt more to dispute with than I know of when at Camp, if true it is commanded by, or raised under the enfluence of Sir John Johnson, & is past Montreal on way for Niagara, Number between 750 & 900 Men composed of his Tenants, & other Scruf from German flats, prisioners taken from us, & a few Canadians. I am with Respect Your Excellencies Obedt Humble Servant

W: Patterson


1For GW’s assignment of Patterson to gather intelligence along the Pennsylvania and New York frontiers and the controversy that Patterson provoked, see GW to Zebulon Butler, Barnet Eichelberger, and the Commanding Officer at Fort Wallis, Pa., 1 March; GW to William Patterson, 2 March; Patterson to GW, 3 April; and Questions and Answers Regarding a Proposed Expedition Against the Six Nations, March–April 1779, and n.1 to that document.

2GW replied to Patterson on 22 June without addressing these allegations (DLC:GW). For the awkwardness that arose in returning public property after Patterson’s intelligence-gathering mission ended, and the subsequent allegations of his ineptitude, see Patterson to Greene, this date, and Greene to Patterson, 11 June, Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 4:100, 143; see also GW to Joseph Reed, 8 and 19 April; GW to Edward Hand, 30 April; Reed to GW, 14 April; and Hand to GW, 26 April.

3Patterson’s enclosed, undated recommendations read: “1st That an Officers Guard be immediately stationed at Estherton to Secure the Stores & provisions there.

“2d That an Officers Guard be stationed at Middleton to Secure the Boats, plank, & other Materials there.

“3d That a faithful Officer be sent to Estherton to Superintend the Tra[n]sportation of Stores, & provisions up Susquehana.

“I Further mentioned (as indians are here) that a few Indians wou’d be useful to act as pilots with any white Men that May be employed on the Western Expidition, As the Six Nation Indians have ever Objected to white people Viewing their country” (DLC:GW).

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