George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Phillips, 10 October 1779

To Major General William Phillips

Head Quarters [West Point] October 10. 1779


I have received Your Letters of the 30th of September and 6th Instant.

I have not been honoured with any particular communication of the reasons which induced Congress to pass the Act, for suspending your and General Riedsel’s going into New York at this time; but I make no doubt they were such, as Congress deemed sufficient, and that they will appear so, whenever they are pleased to make them known.1

It gives me great pleasure to find that Mr Skinner’s conduct has been such as to merit your approbation, and I trust while it may be necessary for him to remain with you, that he will do every thing in his power for your accomodation. I am however concerned that there is one point, in which it appears by your Letter as well as his own, he has proceeded contrary to his Instructions. Bethlem was the place I pointed out for your residence, and it appearing still to me, the most eligible situation I have directed him to procure You & General Riedsel Quarters there for Yourselves and families.2 I have the Honor to be with due respect Sir Yr Most Obedt st

G. W——g——n

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1On 9 Oct., GW acknowledged the receipt of Samuel Huntington’s letter of 28 Sept., informing him that Congress had passed its resolution of the latter date (see 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 15:1114) barring Phillips and Major General Riedesel from going to New York on parole. Their intent was to prevent Gen. Henry Clinton, British commander in chief, from receiving the aid of their counsel in the case of an American combined operation with the French fleet of Vice Admiral d’Estaing against New York.

For the background of the orders to detain Phillips and Riedesel and the ultimate resolution of the affair, see GW to John Jay, 24–27 Aug., and n.12 to that document, and Phillips to GW, 30 Sept., and n.1 to that document.

2Abraham Skinner’s letter to GW has not been found. For GW’s instructions to Skinner and his instructions of this date directing the generals to Bethlehem, Pa., see GW to Skinner, 2 Oct., and n.3 to that document.

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