George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Arthur St. Clair, 7 October 1780

From Major General Arthur St. Clair

West Point October 7th 1780


I received your Excellencys letter of yesterday and am very glad that you have ordered up the Troops which are to compose the Garrison, as it is very necessary they should be here, that Things may be got into some kind of order before the Winter.1 at present they are very much deranged. The laying in a proper stock of fire wood is a very heavy, but a very essential Business, and the Militia which have been employed in cutting it, I am told, has done little more than supply the Post at Fish-Kill, and are very little ahead—I expect a Report of the quantity to day from Colonel Hughes; to whom I have recommended to allot them a moderate Task per day, as the best means to make them most usefull.

The Magazine of Provisions is very nearly exhausted, but thirty Barrells only of salted Meat, on hand, exclusive of what is in the works (about five Days for the Troops posted in them) and no Cattle; and the Men have been some days reduced to three Quarters of a pound of flour—I expect however two hundred Barrels of that Article today, and have written to Colonel Hay, to be laid before the Legislature of this State, very pressingly to have an immediate and ample supply of Provisions, thrown in, as it may not be possible to do it some time hence, from the State the River is frequently in about the beginning of Winter.2

I directed Colonell Livingstone to collect and send up here all the Boats that were not necessary for the Ferry, provided they had not been ordered there by your Excellency for some particular Purpose—his Answer is, that they were ordered there for transporting the Cannon in case it became necessary to evacuate the Posts he commands; they will therefore remain there unless I have your directions to the contrary; but I must beg leave to suggest to your Excellency, that after the Intention of the Ennemy becomes apparent with repect to them, it will most probably be too late to evacuate them with any probability of saving the Cannon and Stores—if they be evacuated before their intention is discovered, it will be in their power to occupy them after they may have failed in an attempt upon this Place. I find some heavy brass field Artillery here, which is not I suppose intended for Garrison Use, and had better be removed, some repairs have been making upon the Carriages, but that might as well be done any where else.

The Pennsylvania Brigade shall march as soon as The other Troops arrive.

The times of the Militia begin to expire on the 14th and will all be expired on the 24th—I have not heard from Major Talmage nor have any accounts from New York by any other Way. I am with the Greatest Respect Sir Your most Obedient Servant.

Ar. St Clair

ALS, DLC:GW; ADfS, OHi: Arthur St. Clair Papers.

1For GW to St. Clair, 6 Oct., see GW’s second letter to Nathanael Greene, same date, n.2.

2St. Clair’s correspondence with Lt. Col. Udny Hay has not been identified, but see GW to George Clinton, 1 Oct., n.2.

Index Entries