George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Stark, 9 August 1781

Albany 9th August 1781

Dear Sir

In complyance to your orders I arrived at Bennington on friday last—and on saturday made a Visit to their Governour; who, together with the Leading men in that Country, have promised me every assistance in their power to repell the common Enemy. And I have no reason to believe from their Conduct, that their promises are falicious: for the day before I came to Bennington, Major McKinstrey (who has the Command of the Troops at Saratoga,) sent an express, to apprise them of the Enemy’s advancing to his post. The alarm was spread, and in a few hours 530 Men on horseback Marched to his assistance. The alarm proved false, and the next day they returned; but not ’till they had visited Saratoga. On Monday last at Sunrise a Party of eleven was discovered in the southeast part of Bennington; supposed to be a party of tories from [Hourock], passing to Canada. The People were instantly in Arms, and pursued them untill about one oClock, at which time three of the Pursuers came up with them, made them prisoners, and they were marched to Bennington the same evening. (A convincing proof of the Marshall [prowes], and decided superiority of those brave men). Upon Examination I find them to be a party from Canada, which at first consisted of six; they made Prisoners of Esqr. Blicker and two servants, and were joined by two tories, so that the whole made up Eleven: Enclosed is a copy of their instructions. For my own part, I think they ought to be considered as spies, beg your Excellency’s opinion on the subject.

Perhaps you will be surprised when I inform you, that the Militia from Berkshire, and Hampshire Counties has not yet arrived at Saratoga—upon being informed of it at Bennington, I wrote General Fellows pr Express, begging that they might be hastened without loss of time—I Likewise wrote Majr McKinstrey to send me a return of the men at Saratoga, and find it to consist of but Ninety including Officers; for which reason I tho’t it most prudent for me to come to Albany, and tarry untill a larger number can be collected. But be assured that when a number arrived that will render my presence either proper, or justifiable, I shall lose no time in repairing to my post.

I should be remiss in my duty not to inform your Excellency that it was with the greatest difficulty that I procured an express to go to Saratoga for want of something to pay his expences. And in a department that requires so much intelligence to be communicated, (if possible) some provisions ought to be made; at the same time knowing that your Excellency will do all in your power for the Public good, your directions on this, and every other subject, shall be my invariable, and certain guide.

Your Letter of the 28th of June is just come to hand[.] I shew it to General Schuyler, who, is polite enough to promise me every assistance in his power, either in advice or knowledge of the Country, and Property if required.

I congratulate your Excellency on his fortunate Escape the night before last. He writes by this conveyance, otherwise I should give you the Particulars.

There is not a drop of Public Rum in the departmt. I could wish a [          ] quantity might be ordered this way as large as might amount to our proportion. Your Excellency must know that if I do my duty, I must keep scouts continually in the Woods, and men on that service ought to have a little grogg, in addition to fresh beef, and Water.

Every Intelligence worthy your Excellencys notice shall be regularly communicated, if in my power.

Most sincerely wishing your operations against our Enemies all the success that the Virtue and rectitude of our cause deserve. I have the Honor to be with much respect and Esteem, your Excellency’s Most Obedient, & very H. St

John Stark

N.B. It is not in my power to give you a true state of the departmt at present; but whenever it is in my power, I shall lose no time in Communicating it to you. Should be glad to know the Number of Troops I am to expect from the State of N. York.

J. S.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


16 July 1781

By Barry St Leger Esqr. Colonel of Infantry Commanding

his Magisties 34th Regiment & district of St John.

Done at St Johns this 16th day of July 1781

You will proceed with your party to St [Corik] &c. and bring me from thence one or more Intelligent Persons, having made them Prisoners.

you must be necessarily aware of the great address and courage required to do this Business with honor to yourself and advantage to your cause.

As I know the men I send with you to be brave and some of them Veterans, you must not think of submitting in case of being observed before you have executed this business, but to a very decided superiority of Numbers, and an Impossibility of retreating. Upon such an accident as this, you will shew your Enemies these orders, to evince, that you are come Avowed by and openly in Arms to the duty you are commanded upon and not like spies and lurking assasins as are too often for the honor of War, sent from the Enemy to this Province.

I will have no wanton mischief done to individuals whereby they may be made wretched and the great cause not being Benefited. At the same time I must inform you that every thing that tends to the General comfort of the Enemy, is to be an object of Immediate destruction, being an usage sanctioned and authorised by the [Laws] of War.

Barry St Leger


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