George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 28 August 1780

To George Clinton

Head Quarters Libery Pole [N.J.]
Aug. 28th 1780

Dear Sir,

Tomorrow morning Col. Malcolm will march with the levies under his command towards Kings ferry, and will proceed himself to your Excellency to take your orders. I have sent this corps in consequence of what General Schuyler mentioned to me in behalf of your Excellency, and have requested him to write to you particularly on the subject. The immediate prospects of the campaign having changed, it cannot be more usefully employed, than in giving security to the frontiers and assisting to save the grain for the mutual benefit of the public and the inhabitants.1

The discontents prevailing ⟨in the⟩ garrison of Fort Schuyler ⟨are so alarming⟩ that it seems indispensable it should be without delay relieved by other troops.2 At this moment, it would be inconvenient to detach a regimen⟨t⟩ from the army. I leave it to Your Excellency, if you think proper to relieve the garrison by a sufficient number of the levies. They ought to consist of those, who will have at least two or three months after their arrival to serve; otherwise the post might be endangered, by the expiration of their times, before we can conveniently replace them from the army.3 A good officer acquainted with service to command the garrison will be essential.4 I request you to inform me how long the service of the new garrison may be depended upon.5

The inclosed letter to Col. Van Schaik which I beg you to forward, directs him to put his regiment under marching orders, and receive your further instructions. As soon as relieved he is to march to join the army.6 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect and regard Your Excellency’s Obedient servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, MiU-C: Schoff Collection; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Obscured material on the LS is supplied in angle brackets from the draft.

1GW no longer anticipated attacking New York City (see GW to James Bowdoin, this date). For the likely presence of New York delegate Philip Schuyler with GW’s army, see Schuyler’s letter to GW, 10 Aug., and GW to Samuel Huntington, this date, n.5. Schuyler wrote Clinton about securing the New York frontier (see Clinton to Schuyler, 3 Oct., in 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 , 6:275–76).

GW wrote Col. William Malcom from Liberty Pole on this date: “I have to request that you will put the Brigade of New York Levies in immediate readiness for a march, which will commence tomorrow Morning towards Kings Ferry—where I am in hopes you will meet with Vessels to Transport the Corps & Baggage to Albany.

“As soon as you have put the Brigade in Motion, you will be pleased to proceed yourself to His Excellency Govr Clinton, in order to make the necessary arrangements & receive his directions” (LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; GW signed the cover of the LS).

Also on 28 Aug., Malcom replied to GW from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: “I am Honord with your Excellencys Dispatches and orders of this Date—They shall be Strictly Obeyed—I shall take Lawrence’s Company on with his Regiment unless otherwise orderd before we March—it will be of use to us. … I hope to meet with provisions at King’s ferry—at this moment I have partys out Collecting it so that it will be some time in the day or tomorrow ere they join” (LS, DLC:GW; see also Malcom to GW, 24 Aug., found at GW to Malcom, 23 Aug., source note).

3These New York troops in Continental service were committed for nine months (see Clinton to GW, 7 April, and n.1 to that document). For New York troops scheduled to serve in the Continental army for three or six months, see GW to William Greene, this date, n.2; and Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 31 Aug., n.3.

4At this point on the draft, which also is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton, “I should wish Col. Malcolm to be appointed to it” is written and struck out.

6GW wrote Col. Goose Van Schaick on this date: “I yesterday received your letter of the 21st. The ravages committed on the frontier are lamentable in every point of view; but until the states will adopt the policy of having an army instead of the semblance of one, we must expect to submit to similar depredations, and evils still worse.

“Some change having happened in the general prospects of the campaign, I am induced to order Col. Malcolm with the levies under his command to proceed to the frontier—One of the objects for sending him will be to relieve the garrison of Fort Schuyler. You will therefore put your regiment under marching orders and when the relief arrives will march it to join the army. I have left the final arrangements in this matter to Governor Clinton to whose instructions you will be pleased to conform” (Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; what appears to be an abandoned start to the letter is on the verso of the draft: “The discontents prevailing in your regiment”). Troops under Malcom replaced Van Schaick’s regiment at Fort Schuyler, N.Y. (see Malcom to GW, 3 Oct., n.1; see also Van Schaick to Clinton, 12 Sept., in 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 , 6:223).

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