George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 21 October 1780

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters near passaic Falls 21st Octobr 1780


I have been honored with Your Excellency’s favors of the 10th and 14th Instants1—The advance of the British Army towards the borders of North Carolina is an alarming circumstance, more especially, as there is every reason to believe that the force which lately sailed from New York is intended to cooperate with them—The enemy, by several accounts, received a reinforcement from Europe in the last Fleet, it is said by some to consist of two British Regiments—about 700 German Recruits and some from Scotland. If so, this new accession is nearly equal to their late detachment—but others again say the reinforcement consists wholly of Recruits.2 I have heard nothing directly from the Northward since my letter of the 16th. There are reports that the enemy retired after destroying Fort Ann Fort George and burning some Houses. It is thought, and perhaps not without foundation, that this incursion was made upon a supposition that Arnolds treachery had succeeded.3

Colo. Brodhead has in many of his late letters expressed his apprehension of the consequences which may result from the Want of provision should the enemy, agreeable to their threats, invest the post of Fort Pitt this Winter. But, by a letter from him of the 14th of September, matters had proceeded to such extremities, that the Garrison, headed by the non Commissioned Officers, had waited upon him, and, he says, in a decent manner remonstrated upon the hardship of having been without Bread for five days—Upon being told that every thing would be done to relieve them they retired in good order—Colo. Brodhead adds—the Country is not deficient of Resources, but that public credit is exhausted, and will no longer procure supplies—Congress will therefore see the necessity of either furnishing the Commissary to the Westward with a competent sum of Money, or of obtaining from the State of Pennsylvania an assurance that the part of the quota of supplies demanded of her by the requisition of Congress of February last and directed to be deposited in the Magazines to the Westward, which w⟨ere⟩ intended for the support of Fort Pitt, shall be immediately laid in, if it has not been already done.4 The importance of that post to the whole Western Frontier is so great, as not to admit of its being left to any risque, if it can be avoided.

I take the liberty of inclosing your Excellency, for the determination of Congress, the Copy of a letter of the 18th from Brig. Genl Knox, representing the injury to the service, should the Resolve for the dismission of Lt Colo. Mason, be immediately carried into execution. I am ignorant whether the Resolve proceeded from a motive of Œconomy or any thing improper in the conduct of Colo. Mason. If only from the former, I should hope that General Knox’s request would be complied with. If from the latter, his services, however material, must be dispensed with.5

Since I began this letter I have received advices from Govr Clinton at Albany, who mentions that the party of the enemy which came from the Northward had retired by the way of Lake George, but that another party from the Westward had penetrated as far as Scoharie which valuable settlement they had destroyed. The Governor himself was going to Schenectady to make a disposition of the force in that quarter—I have sent up two Continental Regiments to his assistance which I hope will be sufficient to repel the Enemy, as they are not represented as very numerous.6 Fort schuyler is well garrisoned and has forty days provision in it.7 I therefore hope no great danger is to be apprehended from the present incursion.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; copy (extract), in DNA:PCC, item 147; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 27 Oct. and ordered “the copy of the letter from Brigadier General Knox, with so much of General Washington’s letter as relates thereto, be referred to the Board of War; and That the remainder of the letter be referred to a committee of three” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 18:982). That committee recommended against restoring Lt. Col. David Mason (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 18:1069).

1For Huntington to GW, 10 Oct., see GW to John Mathews, 9 Sept., source note; see also Huntington to GW, 14 October.

4For this requisition, see Circular to the States, 2 June, n.1.

5See Henry Knox to GW, 18 Oct.; see also the source note above.

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