George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 6 November 1780

To George Clinton

⟨Head Quarters Prekaness 6th Novemr 1780⟩

Dear Sir

The moment I receive⟨d⟩ you⟨rs of the⟩ 3d I gave Orders to General Heath to de⟨tach⟩ the remaining three Regiments of the York Brigade to Albany,1 there to put themselv⟨es⟩ under the command of Brigadier General Clint⟨on⟩ who has Orders to dispose of them as circumstances may require2—should you receive ⟨any⟩ information that they are not necessary abov⟨e,⟩ you will be pleased to communicate it to General Heath, that their march may be countermanded.

Your Excellency will perceive by the inclosed to General Schuyler, under flying seal, that I have given discretionary powers to seize and secure a certain person, should it appear upon further investigation necessary.3 I am with the highest respec⟨t⟩ and esteem Your Excellencys Most Obedt Hble Servant

Go: Washington

LS (partially burned), in David Humphreys’s writing, N-Ar: Clinton Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Burned portions of the LS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman penned. Clinton replied to GW on 8 November.

1GW wrote Maj. Gen. William Heath from headquarters at Preakness on this date: “By advices just received from Governor Clinton and General Schuyler it appears that the enemy are in very considerable force upon the Lake, and seem to threaten the distruction of the Northern Frontier. You will therefore be pleased immediately to detach the remainder of the New York Brigade, or as great a part as you can conveniently spare to Albany with direction to the eldest Officer to take his orders there from Brigr Genl Clinton. … P.S. Should you receive any Certain intelligence from the Govr, Genl Clinton, or Genl Schuyler that the enemy have gone off you need not send up the Troops” (LS, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; see also Philip Schuyler to GW, 31 Oct.–1 Nov., and Clinton to GW, 3 Nov.). Reports of this British advance proved erroneous (see n.2 below and Clinton to GW, 5 Nov., n.2; see also William Malcom to GW, 7 Nov.).

Heath wrote Brig. Gen. James Clinton from West Point on 7 Nov., 5:00 P.M.: “I have this moment ordered that 1st and 5th New York Regiments to embark with all Possible Expedition and proceed to Albany there to receive and follow your Orders.

“Please from time to time to give me the earliest Intelligence of what ⟨p⟩asses in your Quarter” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also Heath to George Clinton, same date and time, in MHi: Heath Papers). Clinton replied to Heath from Albany on 12 Nov. to report the arrival of the troops on that date, but he added that “as the alarm which occasioned their movement has subsided, and as it is his Excellency’s direction that in that case they shoud instantly return, I have ordered them to hold themselves in readiness to sail with the first fair wind” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also n.2 below).

2GW wrote James Clinton from headquarters at Preakness on this date: “From the advices which I have this day received from the Governor and General Schuyler, I have directed General Heath to detach the remainder of the New York Brigade or such part as he can conveniently spare to Albany You will dispose of them as there may be occasion.

“From some circumstances there is reason to apprehend Treachery in the Northern Quarter. I have therefore desired General Schuyler to consult with you and upon a further investigation if it should appear necessary to secure a certain person, you are to concert measures for having him apprehended suddenly and sent down the Country under a proper guard. You need not be cautioned against lisping the most distant hint of this business. … P.S. Should you receive intelligence that the enemy have gone off before the Troops reach Albany You will take the speediest method of meeting and Countermanding them” (LS, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, NHi: George and Martha Washington Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; see also n.1 above and n.3 below). Clinton acknowledged this letter when he wrote GW on 12 November.

3GW refers to Vermont militia general Ethan Allen (see GW to Philip Schuyler, this date). Writing on the reverse of the LS suggests Governor Clinton’s desire that Allen should be arrested upon “proof positive of [his] very treasonable correspondence with the enemy” (see also Stephen Lush to George Clinton, 7 Nov., and George Clinton to Lush, 9 Nov., in 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 , 6:393–95).

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