George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 14 October 1780

From George Clinton

Pokeepsie [N.Y.] Octr 14th 1780.

Dear Sir.

I transmit your Excellency inclosed Copies of several Letters I received last Night at Kingston from Colo. Malcom & Lieut. Colonels Lush and Livingston. They contain the only accounts I have of the disagreable Situation of our Affairs to the Northward & Westward.1 I shall immediately set out for Albany & employ every Means in my Power to oppose the further Progress of the Enemy and should Fort Schuyler be invested as there is reason to apprehend I will endeavour to succor that Post2—Your Ex[c]ellency will be informed by one of Colo. Malcom’s Letters that Van Schaicks Regt has left Albany & are on their Passage to join the Army so that our whole Dependence at present must rest on the Militia.3 The Levies raised for the defence of the frontiers compose the Garrison of Fort Schuyler & Malcoms Corps occupy the other Posts on the North & Mohawks Rivers & at Schoharie & are of course very much dispersed. If it was possible for your Excellency to spare some continental Troops on this Occasion they would inspire the Militia with Confidence & enable us to repel the Enemy. The Want of Supplies of every kind in that quarter will greatly embarrass every Measure and I fear that with the utmost Exertions we shall fail in collecting a sufficiency of Provisions for the Troops which it may be necessary to keep in the Field on this Emergency. It is a little remarkable that we had not the least Intelligence from the Grants of the approach of the Enemy tho’ they passed their Settlements in Boats on the Way to Fort Ann—This Enterprize of the Enemy is probably the effects of Arnolds Treason & when they are informed that the capital Object of it is discovered and defeated it is to be presumed they may be discouraged in prosecuting the full extent of their Designs—tho’ I think we ought not to Place any relyance on this Presumption.4 I have the Honor to be with great Respect & Esteem Dear Sir Your most Obedt Servt

Geo: Clinton

LS, DLC:GW; ADf (partially burned), N-Ar: Clinton Papers; copy, enclosed in GW to Samuel Huntington, 16 Oct., DNA:PCC, item 152.

1The enclosures from Col. William Malcom to Clinton dated 11 and 12 Oct. pertain to British incursions from Canada into New York and contain intelligence he also sent GW (DLC:GW; see also Malcom to GW, 12 Oct.).

Also enclosed is a letter from Stephen Lush, Clinton’s secretary, to Clinton written at Albany on 12 Oct., 6:00 P.M., about the incursions, with an appended note from Malcom for Clinton (DLC:GW; for transcriptions of these items, see 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 , 6:288–90).

The enclosure from Lt. Col. Henry Livingston, Jr., to Clinton, written at Fort Edward, N.Y., on 12 Oct., 3:00 A.M., reported the British capture of Fort Ann and Fort George, expressed concern that “the Enemy will march this Way in the Morning,” and listed casualties (DLC:GW). GW subsequently sent Congress the same enclosures from Malcom, Lush, and Livingston (DNA:PCC, item 152; see also GW to Samuel Huntington, 16 Oct., postscript).

Henry Livingston, Jr. (1752–1823) belonged to a prominent family in Albany County and became a New York militia major in October 1775. He rose to lieutenant colonel in May 1778, brigadier general in 1793, and major general in 1810.

2Clinton reached Albany on 16 Oct. (see Clinton to GW, 18 Oct.).

3See Malcom to Clinton, 12 Oct., in n.1 above.

4GW replied to Clinton from headquarters near Passaic Falls on 16 Oct.: “I have this moment received Your Excellency’s favor of the 14th, with its inclosures. I do not think it at all improbable that the movements of the Enemy, at this advanced season of the year, may have been upon a plan concerted to take advantage of the success of Arnolds treachery—Genl Greene, upon the first intelligence, ordered Gansevoorts Regiment up to Albany I have directed him to send either Weisenfelts or Willets Regiment after them—This is all the force I can with propriety detach from the Highland Posts, untill the views of the Enemy at New York are more fully ascertained—They have for a long time made demonstrations of an embarkation, but the sailing has been hitherto delayed. I however hope that the Troops already ordered, with the assistance of the Militia, will be sufficient to check the Enemy—They must depend upon the Country for supplies, as the Magazines are in a manner exhausted—Your Excellency will oblige me by keeping me advised of any further operations” (LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, CSmH; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). For reinforcements sent to Albany, see Nathanael Greene to GW, 15 Oct., and GW to Greene, 16 Oct.; see also The Discovery of Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 25 Sept.-24 Nov., editorial note.

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