George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel William Malcom, 3 October 1780

From Colonel William Malcom

Fort Renslaer [NY.] Octr 3. 1780


I returned to this post last Night with Vanscheacks Regt—on Thursday they will reach Albany—I have push’d them on to Albany without one Moments delay—There Col. Vanscheak will take Charge & Move as he thinks proper.1

On my way up to Fort scuyler, with Harpers Regt I Met with a body of the Enemy, Sent to destroy the Settlements which remain on the River, they were well posted, but I Orderd the Troops to charge and they Rushed forward in a moment and broke through the Enemy who fled in all directions—Two savages were Killd on the field—upwards of Thirty blanketts, a Number of axes ⟨Kett⟩les, & other Indian Equipage were collected which in their flight they threw away.

I have Relieved Vanschaack’s with Harpers Regt—Nine Month men & Major Hughs is Comdr. they Serve untill the begining of December2—Inclosed is a Return of the Regt—much the Same Strength as the one they Relieve.3

I carried up 120 barrells of flour & 40 Cattle with me—the Roads are very bad. The Bridges broke down. so that in the fall it will be almost impracticable to pass.

I have reported to the Governor, and I also take Leave to Suggest to you Sir, the propriety of abandoning Fort scuyler, & Establishg the Garrison thirty Miles lower down the River—for So low are the Inhabitants—The Garrison is Subsisted at a very great Risque & Expense—both increasing—and it by no means Answers the purpose intended by it, If the war shall continue another Season—I am very Certain that this Garrison must be withdrawn—for more troops will be Necessary to protect the Communn4 than can be Spared—& before that—this fine Country which is able to furnish bread to the Army will be depopulated—If the Garrison Shall be established where I propose, half the Number of men will do much more than what will be done in the present Situation—I must go down in a few days to Albany in order to Collect another Quantity of provissions to Send on by the Three Months men before their time of Service is expird5—and I could wish to Know whether I am to Command in the Departt afterwards—the Regt now in Fort Scuyler belongs to the Brigade so does Pawlings—but perhaps Your Excellency may think proper to send an Officer of Higher Rank to direct the different Services in the department—it is perfectly equall to me, only I could wish to Know that I might prepare for the winter while the River is open.

I believe it would be right to remove Warners Regt from Fort George—I am told that there is not many of them to be found at one time there—I think they would do with very little addition for a Winter Garrison to Fort scuyler—At all events Officers that are fond of Trading with Indians are improper (for a Number of reasons easily Suggestd) to Command Such a Frontier Garrison.

It is said that the Enemy in Canada are preparing three bodys to penetrate into the Country by different Routes—on the Western & Northern Front[i]ers—I send a man immediately from Canada down to the Governor who no doubt will convey to your Excellency his informations.6 I have the Honor to be with the greatest Respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedt & very Hble Servant

W. Malcom

Lawrence’s Company which I took up at Dobbs ferry being 9 months men, I have annexed to Harpers Regt & also Some good officers from the other Corps. of 3 mos men.7

I can find no paper to make the return of the Regt—the present force of it is 250.

ALS, DLC:GW. GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Malcom on 16 October.

1The next Thursday was 5 October. After overcoming problems, a new garrison replaced Col. Goose Van Schaick’s regiment at Fort Schuyler, N.Y. (see GW to George Clinton, 28 Aug., and Clinton to GW, 1 Sept.; see also Malcom to GW, 8, 18, and 22 Sept.).

2For these nine-month troops, see Clinton to GW, 7 April, and n.1 to that document.

3Malcom did not enclose the return of Lt. Col. John Harper’s New York state regiment (see postscript; see also Malcom to GW, 8 Oct., and n.2 to that document).

4This contraction presumably expands to communication.

5For these three-month troops, see GW to William Greene, 28 Aug., n.2.

6For British incursions into New York, see Clinton to GW, 14 Oct.; see also Malcom to GW, 12 Oct., n.4.

7See Malcom to GW, 28 Aug., found at GW to Clinton, same date, n.1.

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