George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 1 July 1779

To Major General John Sullivan

New Windsor July 1st 79.

Dear Sir

I have just received a letter from Genl Clinton (at Connajoharie) which has filled me with inexpressible concern,1 as I apprehend the worst consequence to the Expedition under your command from the measures which have been pursued there.

My intention, and which I thought had been sufficiently explained & known to you, was, that the Troops under the command of Genl Clinton should be at Connajoharie & in the vicinity with Boats ready to proceed up the Mohawk River or across to Otsego as you should, under a full consideration of all circumstances & information, resolve on; and that, if the latter should be the choice he should move rapidly over quite light, with a sufficient Stock of Provisions and Stores only, to serve him till he could form his junction with you at Teoga, where every thing was to be provided.

Instead of this he had transported, and by the last Accts was transporting, Provisions & Stores for his whole Brigade, three Months, and 220 or 30 Batteaux to receive them, by which means, in the place of having his design concealed till the moment of execution, & forming his junction with you in a manner by surprize it is announced the enemy watching him—and instead of moving light rapidly, & undiscovered, he goes incumbered with useless supplies—has his defence weakened by the attention he must pay to his convoy, & the length of his Line at a time when more than probable the whole force of the enemy will be employed to oppose him.

I did not expressly require that Genl Clinton, in case of his forming a junction with you at Teoga, should proceed up without provisions & Stores but from the whole scope & tenor of our several conversations on this subject—the difficulties & dangers that were apprehended in the rout—the preparations that were making for the whole force on the Susquehannah & other circumstances I had, not a doubt of its being fully understood, and took it for granted when he was placed under your orders that he would have been instructed accordingly.

I inclose you a Copy of a Letter I wrote you on the 21st Ulto—lest the original should not have come to hand.2

Since writing the above, I have received Your Two Letters of the 25th & 27th Ulto—I am sorry for the new difficulties that have occurred. Although there may be a deficiency in some of the Corps which compose a part of your command and a disappointment, as to the Independent Companies expected from pensilvania, yet I should hope, your numbers, upon the whole from the Men that have joined and that will join, will be equal—or at least but very little short of what were originally counted upon.3 With respect to Cloathing, I was in hopes that the Supplies which had been sent would have answered tolerably well. They were great in proportin to our general stock—and the demands of the rest of the Army. At this time unhappily, there are no Shirts in the Cloathiers Store—or I would direct a few to be forwarded according to your request. Colo. Blain, I am persuaded, will use every possible exertion to keep you furnished with provision: I have spoken to Colo. Wadsworth upon this subject who told me that he had written to Colo. Blain and that he had upon the first information of the damage of the provision sent a Hundred Cattle for Wyoming.4 The provision with General Clinton, if he should be so fortunate as ever to form a junction with you incumbered as he is, will more than replace what is damaged at Wyoming. Your dependence cannot be upon Salt provision or Hard bread. I never had an idea that it would; because the transportation, if at any rate practicable, would embarrass you as to retard your progress—and expose you to imminent risk from the length of your line of march. Besides, Salt provisions which undergo a long land transportation through a rough Country, will always be spoilt—and so will hard bread unless it is in light covered Waggons or the casks are waterproof. A5 quantity of both—to answer exigencies, or particular occasional purposes is certainly proper and necessary, but an expedition of the nature of the one you are engaged in cannot have a fair prospect of success where these are made the chief dependence.

The Enemy have fallen down from Verplanks and Stoney points to philips’s, except strong Garrisons to occupy the Works. a Detachment left Rhode Island the 25 Ulto for New York.6

I yesterday received a Letter from Mr Chase at Boston in which is the following paragraph. “A Vessel has this moment arrived from France, which parted with Ten sail French Men of War off the Western Islands, bound to reinforce Count D’Estaing;7 likewise a Brigg, which ran away from the Cork fleet bound to New York,8 has arrived here.”9 I am Dr sir with great regard Yr Most Obedt sert

Go: Washington

Df, first four paragraphs in GW’s writing, remainder in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; copy (extract), enclosed in GW to John Jay, 15 Aug. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 166; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW probably is referring to a letter from James Clinton to him of 30 June, but also see Clinton to GW, 26 June.

2For a transcription of this enclosure, see GW to Sullivan, 21 June; see also GW to Sullivan, 10 June.

3See GW to Sullivan, 21 June, and n.6 to that document.

4This letter from Jeremiah Wadsworth, commissary general of purchases, to Ephraim Blaine, deputy commissary of purchases, has not been identified. Wadsworth, however, addressed the subject in a letter to GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison, written from New Windsor, N.Y., on 3 July. Wadsworth’s letter reads: “On the other side is an extract of Col. Blaine’s letter. Inclosed is an account of provisions and stores for the army under the command of the Honorable Major General Sullivan. On the 12th Ultimo, I had information that the beef was spoiled (or part of it) I sent express to Colonel Blai⟨ne⟩ with directions to prevent any delay to th⟨e⟩ army on account of the beef; on the 23d I ordered one hundred fat cattle from Morri⟨s⟩ Town; and I have every reason to believe Col. Blaine will make up any deficiency that has happened by the spoiling of the beef” (DNA:PCC, item 166; letters in angle brackets taken from DNA:PCC, item 169).

5At this place on the draft manuscript, Harrison wrote and then struck out the word “small.”

6See the enclosures with Horatio Gates to GW, 25 June.

7The French fleet under Vice Admiral d’Estaing was operating in the Caribbean Sea.

8A Loyalist newspaper in New York City reported that “a Fleet of 16 Sail” arrived on 11 July from Cork, Ireland, “which Place they left about the 20th of April” (New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, 12 July 1779).

9This letter from Thomas Chase, deputy quartermaster general at Boston, to GW has not been found. For Q.M. Gen. Nathanael Greene’s allusion to the same intelligence, see his letter to Silas Deane, 4 July (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 4:199–200).

Index Entries