George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 13 June 1779

To Major General Horatio Gates

Head Quarters Smith’s Clove [N.Y.]
June 13th 1779


I yesterday received your letter of the 8th. Mine to you of the 11th will accompany this to which I refer you. No opportunity having offered, it has been delayed.

I have directed General Knox to send you a reinforcement of Artillery men. One company he informs me is all that the general exigencies of the service will permit him to spare.1

By the establishment of the ordnance department, when you stand in need of supplies in ordinary cases, The Commanding officer of Artillery under you, with your direction and concurrence is to apply to The Board of War, with an estimate of your wants and they will give orders accordingly. In extraordinary emergencies, a demand may be made immediately on the nearest magazines.2

You will find that as soon as I received your former letter, I made an instant application to Congress for a supply of money to you. The President in a letter of the 7th instant says “The extract of a letter from Major General Gates to your Excellency is referred to the treasury, who will take order thereon.” I shall repeat the application.3

You will be pleased to address you⟨r⟩self to The Board of War and to The Clothier in Boston for the articles necessary from time to time, to supply the wants of the troops under your command.

A report has prevailed for several days past of very important successes to the Southward. There are so many concurring circumstances, that but for the want of regular information, the fact could hardly be doubted. I send you the copy of a piece of intelligence transmitted me by the President of Congress on the 7th and the extract of a letter I have just received from Col. Mitchell.4 If true, it is one of the most glorious events that could have happened and will reflect the highest honor on our arms.5 I am Sir Yr most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 154; copy, DNA:PCC, item 171; copy (extract), NhHi: Langdon-Elwyn Family Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The extract consists of only a reshaped version of the letter’s third paragraph that reads: “By The Establishment of The Ordnance Department, when you stand in Need of Supplies, in Extraordinary Cases, a Demand may be made on the Magazines.”

In a letter of this date written at Providence, R.I., Col. Ephraim Bowen advised Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene that Gates “takes every Opp’y to Speak Slightly of His Excellency, and is aiming as can Plainly be Discoverd at the Chief Command” (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 4:154–55).

1No correspondence between GW and Brig. Gen. Henry Knox on this subject has been found.

2See 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 13:201–6.

3See GW to John Jay, 3 June (first letter), and Jay to GW, 7 June. For notice from Gates that he received the requested money, apparently without another appeal from GW to Congress, see Gates to GW, 21 June.

4The enclosed copy of an intelligence report indicating an American military success near Charleston, S.C., dated 7 June, is in NHi: Gates Papers. The original report came to GW in a letter from John Jay to him of that date, and GW incorporated its text into his letter to James Clinton of 13 June. For what appears to be GW’s earliest admission that this news might be erroneous, which ultimately proved the case, see his letter to John Augustine Washington, 20 June, and n.7 to that document.

The extract of deputy quartermaster John Mitchell’s letter to GW has not been identified, but it also reported an American success in the South (see Gates to GW, 21 June).

5The draft manuscript includes a postscript that reads: “P.S. The enemy remain as mentioned in my last.”

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