George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Sullivan, 20 August 1779

From Major General John Sullivan

Tioga [Pa.] 20th Augt 1779

Extract of a letter from General Sullivan,1 dated Tioga, August 20,2 1779.

“I have the pleasure to inclose your Excellency a copy of a letter from General Clinton, by which you will find that the much desired junction will be formed tomorrow. I inclose you a copy of my orders to General Poor who, in company with Gen. Hand and 1000 chosen troops, have joined General Clinton. I hope, on Monday the 23d inst. to begin a rapid movement into the Indian country.3

“I suppose the Indians must be collecting their force about French Catharine’s or Conosadago; but I am convinced, that no force they have can now injure us. General Clinton burnt a small number of towns as he came down the river, which seemed to have been forsaken some time. Brandt was wounded in the foot at Minisink, and had arrived at Chemung before we burnt it; we took the mare he rode home, but he escaped, leaving her loaded with beans and corn: He is said to be rendered unfit for service for this campaign.”4

“The provisions brought here by Genl Clinton will I hope enable us to compleat the Business, but even this will not answer unless more provisions are sent on to Wyoming to be transported to this place for support of the Garrison here and for our subsistence when we return: But Colo. Butler informs me that none have yet arrived.5 We have been obliged to cut up a number of our best Tents in order to make Bags to transport Flour—The Flour having been sent up in Barrels in preference to the Kegs designed for us.”

Partly Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser (Philadelphia), 18 Sept. 1779, and partly copy (extract), in Tench Tilghman’s writing, probably enclosed in GW to Jeremiah Wadsworth, 29 Aug. 1779, CtHi: American Revolution. The Pennsylvania Packet portion of the letter consists of the first two paragraphs, and the CtHi portion consists of the last paragraph. Copy (extract), PHi: Chaloner and White Collection. The PHi copy (extract) consists of the last paragraph only.

1The additional text “to Genl Washington” appears at this place on the CtHi extract copy.

2In place of the previous two words, the extract copies in CtHi and PHi have “20th Augt.”

3Brig. Gen. James Clinton’s letter to Sullivan and Sullivan’s orders to Brig. Gen. Enoch Poor have not been identified. Poor’s command rendezvoused with Clinton’s brigade on 19 August. Poor and Clinton, delayed by heavy rain, did not join Sullivan until 22 Aug. (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 70–71, 93, 153). For the strength of Brig. James Clinton’s brigade and that of the brigades with Sullivan, see GW to Jay, 15 Aug., n.30.

4Sullivan had described his army’s advance to Chemung and the destruction of the town in his letter to GW of 15 August. Joseph Brant received a minor wound during a skirmish on the Mohawk River, where he had gone with a small party of Indians to scout after his 22–23 July raid on Minisink, N.Y. (see GW to John Sullivan, 1 Aug., and n.1 to that document). The wound did not prevent him from leading his party to Chemung, where he arrived just in time to witness Sullivan’s destruction of the town on 13 Aug. and to skirmish with the departing Americans. Brant stayed in the vicinity of Chemung to gather Indian warriors and await the arrival of Maj. John Butler with his ranger battalion (see Kelsay, Brant, description begins Isabel Thompson Kelsay. Joseph Brant, 1743–1807: Man of Two Worlds. Syracuse, N.Y., 1984. description ends 252, 256). On his march down the Susquehanna River, Clinton had burnt the Loyalist settlement of Albout, N.Y., and the Indian towns of Oquaga and Owego, New York.

5As a result of Sullivan’s earlier letters, GW had already given orders to the commissary general of purchases, Jeremiah Wadsworth, to have supplies forwarded to safe locations on the frontier (see Sullivan to GW, 6 and 7 Aug.; and GW to Wadsworth and GW to Sullivan, both 15 Aug.).

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