George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General James Clinton, 23 November 1780

From Brigadier General James Clinton

Albany Novr 23d 1780.


The enclosed I this moment received, which I transmit for your Excellency’s perusal.1 Tho’ I do not believe this Alarm proceeds from anything else, than a small hunting party, yet the People in that Quarter are in such Consternation, that unless a party of Men are stationed there to inspirit them, they will infallibly leave the remainder of that Country, (which is still well worth preserving) to be desolated; and Schenectady, and Albany must become the Frontier.2

But however pressing our necessity for Troops may be (and without them we cannot support the Communication to Fort Schuyler,) yet unless we can be put in a train to supply them with Provision, their Presence will only add to our Calamity. Our flower is only from hand to mouth, and tho’ we expect a drove of Cattle in tomorrow, they will not be sufficient to repay the Debts contracted with the Inhabitants by loan.3

I shall be happy to receive your Excellency’s directions on the Subject as soon as convenient. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect Your Excelys most obt Hble Servant

James Clinton

P.S. Harper’s field is about eighteen Miles S.W. from Schoharie.4


1The enclosure was a copy of Col. Peter Vroman’s letter to Clinton written at Schoharie, N.Y., on 22 Nov.: “I this moment received Intelligence that the Enemy were burning Harper’s feild last night. The Information is come with all possible speed from that place. Time will not permit me to write you the Perticulars. Please to shew this to Genl Ten Broeck—If any thing new occurs, I will inform you immediately if possible” (DLC:GW; see also the postscript to Clinton’s letter).

2The alarm proved exaggerated (see Clinton to GW, 5 Dec.).

3GW received other dismal reports regarding provisions along the New York frontier (see William Malcom to GW, 18 Nov., and William Heath to GW, 22 Nov.).

4John Harper founded the town of Harpersfield in 1768 in what is now Delaware County, New York.

GW replied to Clinton on 29 Nov.; see also n.1 above.

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