George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Philip Schuyler, 12 November 1780

From Philip Schuyler

Saratoga [N.Y.] Novr 12th 1780

Dear Sir

Your Excellencys favor of the 6th Instant I had the honor to recieve last night.1

I have had several emissaries on the Grants since my last letter, they have all returned, but without that full Information, which I expected, some of these have Obtained the Inclosed copies of letters. the first of which is An answer to one Carried into Canada by the suspected person, at least so the reports generally go on the grants, tho perhaps It would be not easy, to prove It;2 On the day the British flag arrived he was heard to say “the time is at length come that we shall be freed from the domination of New Yorkers” this can be ascertained. My agents say—that It is generally believed large offers have been made the people of the Grants, but that nothing will Induce the bulk of the people to defect from the Common cause—That the flag returned on thursday3 accompanied by a deputation of three members from the vermont Assembly—That the people there are in great ferment—That Capital Charges were exhibited against Allen, & That he was cited to appear before the Assembly—that when the Charges were read he behaved with the utmost Impropriety drawing his Sword & threatning to cut off] some of their heads If they did not immediately desist, That the Command of the Militia, was taken from him.

General Clinton left this before Your Excellency’s letter came to hand, hence I had not an opportunity to advise with him on the Contents; that a certain person is engaged In the Enemys Interest, I make little doubt of, but I do not think It either prudent or politic that he should be siezed at present. a little time will probably furnish us with sufficient testimony for a Conviction. It certainly will If a person who has been employed in a public Character in the grants Adheres to his promise, which is to give every Information relative to the business of the flag as soon as he Can go to Albany without Suspicion; from the nature of this persons Office, he must be Intimately4 Informed of every particular.

The Enemy were preparing to move on Monday last, only waiting the Arrival of their flag. which could not reach Crown point before Friday, or Saturday the 11th Instant. The Militia returned from here yesterday morning And I believe we shall have no visit from Canada until the lakes are passable on the Ice,5 but yet If the troops in their way to Albany can possibly be Spared I think It would be best they should come up, as a few days ago Information was given me that a Conspiracy was formed to burn Albany, this I communicated to General Ten Broeck and at daybreak this Morning I recieved a letter from the Commissioners for detecting Conspiracies advising me “that a dangerous plot had been discovered and requesting my aid” wether It be that which I have alluded to, or some other, I cannot determine.6

The distractions which have prevailed In this part of the Country have prevented me from Attending the Convention at Hartford My Colleagues Benson & Hubbard are fully Impressed with the necessity of Immediatly compleating the Army with permanent troops, and they are clearly In Sentiment with me on some other Matters, which I do not detail for reasons which I believe do not need to be mentioned.7

Two Indians whom I sent Into Canada the day after my arrival at Albany from Poughkepsie returned a few days ago, they Inform that all the troops in Canada proper “were out” In the parties which have desolated the frontiers In the last month, except the Garrison of Quebec, that the Enemy are arduously employed in strenthning Quebec and the fortifications in the environs. that they have erected a strong work below the Isle of Orleans. I suppose at L’isle De Coudre—that no troops have this year arrived in Canada, that the Canadians have had a good harvest—that the Indians of Canada have been Generally out with the british parties but that very few Canadians had Joined them—that one of the persons to Whom they were to have delivered a paper from me was in Goal and had been for some time on suspicion of a Correspondance to this quarter, the other was at Quebec. that they left Mr De Rocheambeaus Speech to the Canada Indians;8 and my letters with a trusty Caghnawaga, who has heretofore served us.9

Can it be possible that Arnold is a Brigadier in the British line, as we are Informed here, If he is, they must be lost to every sense of delicacy & honor. I rejoice with you my dear Sir at the happy discovery of that Abandoned Mans Infamous designs.10

Be pleased to make my best wishes to the Gentlemen of Your family.11 I am Dear Sir with the most Sincere sentiments of respect esteem and Affection Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

ALS, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman docketed this letter: “recd at N. Windsor 11th Decr.”

2The suspected person was Vermont militia general Ethan Allen, who had written British major Christopher Carleton on 27 Oct. (see Schuyler to GW, 31 Oct.–1 Nov., n.4). Schuyler enclosed a copy of Carleton’s letter to Allen written at Crown Point, N.Y., on 26 Oct. with an authorization for prisoner-exchange negotiations: “During the continuation of this Negociation no Attacks or insults shall be Offered to any Post or Scout belonging to your State or in your Boundaries—I Expect you will Observe the same and recall as far as lies in Your Power your Scouts” (DLC:GW). The authorization came from Frederick Haldimand, governor of Quebec, who wrote Vermont governor Thomas Chittenden from Quebec on 22 Oct. explaining his motive as “Humanity at Large and my particular Inclination to Alleviate as much as Falls to my share the Miseries inseparable from the unnatural War. …

“If you will send a proper person with full power to Major Carleton at Crown Point or St. Johns to confer upon this Business, I shall Authorize the Major to receive him” (DLC:GW). The Vermont legislature and council considered this correspondence on 31 Oct. and approved the negotiation. The council named two men “to Treat” with Carleton on 2 Nov. (Walton, Vermont Records description begins E. P. Walton, ed. Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont. 8 vols. Montpelier, 1873–80. description ends , 2:47–50, quote on 50).

3The previous Thursday was 9 November.

4Schuyler rendered “Inimately” for this word.

5Reports of renewed British attacks along the New York frontier proved erroneous (see George Clinton to GW, 5 Nov., and notes 1 and 2 to that document; see also William Malcom to GW, 7 Nov.).

6For orders sending Continental troops to Albany, see GW’s second letter to Clinton, 6 Nov., and n.1 to that document.

Schuyler’s letter to New York militia brigadier general Abraham Ten Broeck has not been identified. The threat to burn Albany did not materialize.

7Delegates from New England states and New York met at Hartford in early November to discuss more effectual prosecution of the war (see Henry Babcock to GW, 24 Oct., and n.3 to that document, and GW’s first letter to George Clinton, 10 Dec., n.1). The New York legislature had chosen Schuyler, John Sloss Hobart, and Egbert Benson as delegates (see N.Y. Senate Proc., 7 Sept.–10 Oct. 1780 description begins Votes and Proceedings of the Senate [of the State of New-York], &c. At the first Meeting of the Fourth Session. [Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 1783]. description ends , p. 19; see also Hobart to Clinton, 6 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 , 6:387–88).

John Sloss Hobart (1738–1805) graduated from Yale in 1757 and participated actively in New York politics before becoming a justice on the state supreme court in 1777. His property on Long Island was ruined during the war.

8For Lieutenant General Rochambeau’s message to the Indians, see his letter to GW, 31 Aug. 1780, and n.2 to that document.

9Schuyler’s letters have not been identified.

10British general Henry Clinton had appointed Benedict Arnold to be colonel of a regiment but brigadier general in the provincial forces (see The Discovery of Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 25 Sept.–24 Nov., editorial note).

11Schuyler added different inflections to some of his observations when he wrote GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton on the same date (see Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 2:498–500).

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