George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel William Malcom, 8 September 1780

From Colonel William Malcom

Camp near Albany Sepr 8 1780


Notwithstanding a Number of Difficulties (some of which I have reason to think were very unnecessarily cast in my Way) I got to this Place Yesterday Morning and the Brigade is now encamped near the Town—I find but very few Persons here which manifest a Disposition to forward the Service, although they express great Apprehensions about the Indians—His Excellency the Governor’s Instructions to me are very Extensive, and I shall most certainly carry them into Effect by some Means or other—and I am very confidentially furnished with all that the Powers of the State can give.1

I have found no Provisions here—and I enclose written Reports both from the State Agent in this District, and from Mr Cuyler the Continental Purchaser2—I have therefore only to avail myself of the Impress Warrant.

I hope to relieve Van Schaack’s Regiment in ten Days at farthest.3

I am informed that the Winter Establishment of the Garrison of Fort Schuyler ought to be compleated by the tenth of November—It will be therefore necessary for me to have Orders from your Excellency upon that Subject—I shall for the present put about 350 of the Men into the Fort whose Times of Service will be up about the first of December, and untill I be otherwise directed shall suppose the Winter Garrison to be at least that Number4—I send forward one Regiment Tomorrow— they go entirely upon the Prospect of obtaining Provisions from the Country—there is no Magazine at Schenectady—not one Ration—I find that there are a very large Quantity of Provisions issued there and also at this Place—I have not as yet been able to gain proper Returns and Information about the Propriety of such Expenditures—but shall think it my Duty to do so very soon—because it will be with the greatest Difficulty that the Troops and Armourers (which I find under good Regulations) can be supplied.5 I have the Honor to be with all possible Respect Your Excellencys Most Obedt & very hu[mbl]e Servt

W. Malcom

The deputy State Agent (after promising) says “the law does not require that he give me his answer in writting.”6


1Malcom’s difficulties apparently involved Lt. Col. Udny Hay, state agent for New York (see Benedict Arnold to GW, this date, n.1; see also GW to George Clinton, 28 Aug., n.1, and Clinton to GW, 1 Sept., n.3).

2Malcom enclosed a letter he wrote Jacob Cuyler, deputy commissary general for the northern department, from Albany on this date: “The public Service requires that a very considerable Quantity of Provisions should be instantly provided at this Place or Schenectady—I have called upon the State Agent—but have no Prospect of obtaining the least Supply from him—Considering you as a Continental Officer and unconnected in your Purchases with this or any other State; I apply to you and request to know whether you can supply me with any or with what Quantity of Flour, Beef, Pork and Salt—a few Hogsheads of Rum will also be wanted—I ought at least to have 20,000 Rations in 10 Days—I beg your immediate Answer which I shall communicate to His Excellency the General, and therefore request that you explain and account for the Difficulties which arise at present in the Commissary Department.

“I have Reason to believe that the Grand Army will have Occasion for the Cattle from Connecticut—and therefore I could wish that none may be drawn from that State untill I know the Generals Pleasure on the Subject” (DLC:GW). Also enclosed is Cuyler’s reply to Malcom on this date explaining his inability to obtain provisions (DLC:GW). The assistant state agent, probably Isaac Stoutenburgh, evidently refused to write a reply (see the postscript).

3For the replacement of Col. Goose Van Schaick’s regiment at Fort Schuyler, N.Y., see Malcom to GW, 3 Oct., n.2.

5Malcom apparently enclosed a “Return of the Daily Issues at Albany Septr 8th 1780.” After listing 230 rations for the “Deputy Quarter Master Genls Dept,” 130 for the “Armory Dept,” 43 for “Canadian Refugees,” and 97 for sundries, it adds: “The above is Nearly the No. of Rations Issued in this Place Daily. Very little Provisions on hand & Know not what Measures to Take to Furnish the Store with any further Supply” (DLC:GW).

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