George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 21 June 1779

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Quarters Smiths Clove [N.Y.]
June 21: 1779

Dr sir.

On the 19 Your favor of the 12th came to hand. I am sorry that you are like to be disappointed in the independent Companies expected from pensylvania, and that you have encountered greater difficulties than were looked for. I am satisfied that every exertion in your power will be made, and I hope your eventual operations will be attended with fewer Obstacles.

I have had a conversation lately with his Excellency Governor Clinton. He informs me that notwithstanding the interruption given by the movements of the Enemy up the River; a body of troops under the command of Lt Colo. pawling will still be ready for the proposed cooperation. Two hundred of these being engaged for a more permanent service, after effecting the first Object1 will meet General Clinton at Ononquaga and proceed with him to join You. It was the Governor’s intention to conduct this business in person; but as the end may very well be answered by another, and as his presence here to influence the Militia on any emergency may be essential, I have advised him to decline the command of the party—Lt Colo. pawling is a very good Officer. I have seen a Letter from General Clinton to the Governor, in which he acknowledges having received one hundred & fifty of the 1000 new levies voted by the State for the service ⟨of the frontier.2 The Governor⟩ tells me ⟨some more were on their way.

You have parts of Col. Armand’s corps and Capt. McLean’s company3 with you. As it is disagreeable to divide corps, and as the number of these is very inconsiderable, if you can with any convenience spare them I should be glad⟩ they could be sent back to join the remainder of the Corps with this Army.4 They may be employed as an Escort to any thing you may have occasion to send back to Easton—If my calculation be right, except the Independent Companies, your force in other respects will exceed some hundreds5 the original Estimate.6

The Enemy in this quarter remain much as last advised. I am with very great esteem & regard Dr sir Yr Obedt servant

Go: Washington

Copy, partially torn, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, enclosed in GW to Sullivan, 1 July 1779, NhHi: Sullivan Papers; Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; copy (extract), enclosed in GW to George Clinton, 28 June 1779, NNPM; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 166; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Text lost from the partially torn letter is supplied in angle brackets from the draft manuscript. The word “Duplicate” is struck out on the docket of the partially torn letter.

1GW is referring to a proposed operation against Indians and Loyalists at Shandaken, N.Y. (see George Clinton to GW, 18 May).

2GW is referring to a letter of 15 June from Brig. Gen. James Clinton to George Clinton, written at Albany, N.Y., which in part reads: “I am sorry to inform you that out of all the nine months men, we have received only one hundred and fifty” (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 5:86–87).

3GW is referring to Capt. Allen McLane’s independent company.

4Ebenezer Elmer, surgeon in the 2d New Jersey Regiment, wrote a journal entry from Wyoming, Pa., on 2 July: “Colo. Armands Independent Corps being directed by his Excy. Genl Washington to repair to Head Quarters, left this place for that purpose this morning” (Sullivan Expedition Journals, description begins Frederick Cook, ed., and George S. Conover, comp. Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 With Records of Centennial Celebrations. Auburn, N.Y., 1887. description ends 82).

5At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote “rather exceed, than fall short of.” He then struck out all those words except “exceed” and wrote “some hundreds” above the line.

6For Sullivan’s estimate that he required at least 3,000 troops to march from Tioga, Pa., with a prospect of success against the Six Nations, see his letter to GW, 16 April; see also GW to Philip Schuyler, 25 March. An undated return of “the Troops employed in the Western Expedition under the Command of Major General Sullivan” shows that Sullivan marched with 2,970 troops, of which 2,457 were reported as present and fit for duty (DNA:PCC, item 152).

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