George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Fellows, 10 November 1779

From Brigadier General John Fellows

Albany 10th November 1779


Since my arrival here have endeavour’d by the Assistence of the Majestrates to put the Troops in as good Quarters as may be altho they are scattered up and down the River fifteen Miles for the want of Barra[c]ks, owing to the prin[c]iple Barracks being occupied as Hospitals.1

Your Excellency will perceive by the Returns herewith transmitted that the detachemt ordered from the Massachusetts State have not as yet all arrived, they are coming in hourly.2

Our Expectations are much disappointed having flatter’d ourselves with a Junction of the Army under your excellencys immediate command, and coopperating with the Fleet of the Count in reducing the last Garrison of any importence in these States occupied by the British Troops, the Consequence of which would undoubtedly Secure Independence & restore Peace to all Parties Concerned.3

I have ordered the Commissaries to deliver the Troops of my Brigade 1 lb. Flour & 1 ½ lbs. Beef for a Ration untill further Order—by Reason of the Scarceness of the first mentioned Article.4

We are waiting with Expectation every Moment to hear of the arrival of the Count5 and at the same time anticipate the Severity of a Winter’s Blockade. I am with the greatest Respect your Excellency’s most Obet Humble Servt

John Fellows


1Fellows and his Massachusetts militia had arrived at Albany on 8 Nov. (see Goose Van Schaick to GW, 9 Nov.; see also GW to George Clinton, 29 Oct., and notes 1 and 2 to that document).

2Only one enclosure, dated 9 Nov. and titled “Return of a Brigade of Levies from the State of Massachusetts Bay under the command of John Fellows Esqr Brigadr Genl from said State,” has been identified (DLC:GW). This return enumerated “Officers present fit for duty” and “Rank & File” for the regiments of colonels Israel Chapin, Samuel Denny, and Jacob Gerrish. The regiments totaled 88 officers and 1,330 men ready for duty. The rank and file also included eighteen soldiers “Sick present,” five soldiers “Sick absent,” eleven soldiers “On command,” and one furloughed soldier.

3The militia under Fellows had been called out as part of GW’s preparations for possible combined operations with a French fleet under Vice Admiral d’Estaing (see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct., editorial note, and GW to Clinton, 4 Oct., and the source note to that document).

4For the scarcity of flour, see GW to Jeremiah Wadsworth, 29 Oct., and n.1 to that document, and Wadsworth to GW, same date and 8 Nov.; see also GW to Anthony Wayne, 9 November.

5For official notice that the French fleet under Vice Admiral d’Estaing would not come north, see Samuel Huntington to GW, this date; see also GW to Duportail and Hamilton, 11 Nov.; to Henry Knox, 12 Nov.; to Huntington, 20 and 24 Nov.; and to Philip Schuyler, 24 November.

GW wrote Fellows from West Point on 16 Nov.: “The operations at the Southward having employed his Excellency Count D’Estaing much longer than was hoped—and brought us to a season too far advanced for commencing Any in this quarter, of an extensive nature, with a good prospect of success, even if some other unfavourable accidents had not occurred to render it still more unadviseable—I take the earliest occasion to inform you by Express—both from a desire of accomodating the Militia and of saving the public expence—that their services for the present will not be required—and that they are at liberty to return to their Homes. You will be pleased to have the Regimental Pay Rolls made out as early as possible—and properly signed & certified—and presented to Mr Reed—the Deputy Pay Master at Albany—who will pay them. A Muster Master will attend to muster the Troops in order to facil⟨i⟩tate the business, and you will not therefore dismiss them before that has been done. I can not conclude, without making an Offer of my warmest thanks to You and the whole of the Officers and Men of the Militia under your command for the great activity and zeal manifested in turning out upon this occasion” (Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

GW also wrote Thomas Reed from West Point on the same date: “I have written by this Conveyance to Genl Fellows or Officer commanding the Massachusetts Militia—upon the subject of their returning home & requested that their Regimental Abstracts might be presented to You for payment. A Muster Master has been directed to attend and muster them & you will require the usual & necessary Certificates to the Abstracts. I inclose a Copy of an Act of Congress of the 9th Ulto on the subject of subsistence, as I apprehended that you might not have received it, which may be necessary for your government” (Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Harrison inadvertently dated the draft “1776”). The act of Congress passed on 9 Oct. prohibited militia from receiving “subsistence money granted by the act of the 18th August” (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 15:1156; see also GW to Huntington, 2 Oct., and 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 14:977–78).

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