George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Stark, 27 December 1781

Albany 27th December 1781.

My Dear Sir

Altho I am not the first that have addressed you, on account of the late glorious and unequaled success at Virginnia, yet be assured that I am not behind the others in the high opinion entertain of the important & very essential service rendered my country by your capital acquisition. British standards will no more be the terror of neighbouring nations, nor will their arms in future be deemed invincible, you have taught them the road to submission, and have manifested to the world that they are vulnerable, and no doubt the warlike nations with whom they are at varience, stimulated by your example, will give them further proofs of their inability to trample on the laws of equity justice, and liberty, with impunity. I hope this may be the case, and that they may shortly be brought to a sense of their duty, and relinquish to us the invaluable blessings that the great power of omnipotence has placed in our view, and have our country once more to [taste] the [sweets] of, and enjoy a tranquill peace.

My exile has not be attended with any very interesting events—The Enemy to be sure came as far as Ticonderoga, but when they became acquainted with the alacrity with which the militia turned out to defend their country, they returned with shame and disgrace without striking a blow on the northern frontiers; but the mohawk river felt some of the effects of their [inveterate] malice; however by the timely interposition of Colonel Willet they were drawn from that country with indignity, but as the particulars must have come to your knowledge before now, I shall not give you the trouble of reading them here.

During the time that the Enemy were hovering about Ticonderoga, a seargent and a scout of the Vermont militia was attacked by a scout of the Enemy, they killed the seargent and took his party prisoners—when the party was brought to ticonderoga, the commanding officer shewed great dissatisfaction at the accident, treated them with the greatest tenderness, sent for the seargent and ordered him buried with the honors of war, after which he released the party, with what provisions &c. they chose to take, and they returned home, with a letter from Colonel St Leger to Gov: Chittenden, (as it’s said) apoligising for the accident. Upon this coming to by knowledge, I addressed a letter to Gov. Chittenden (a copy of which I inclose, as likewise a copy of his answer). You will see by his answer that he apologises for not sending me the letter, by affirming that he has sent the account of it to you; if so, I should be much oblidged for a copy of the letter, I shall further be obliged if you will let me know whither he sent you the original or a copy; if he sent you the original it must be satisfactory, otherwise the matter will still be doubtfull in my opinion, and I shall think that he dare not produce the original.

The proceedings of the Vermonters has been of late very mysterious untill about ten days ago, when they in a manner [   ] of the [   ], publicly allowed their determination to continue their claim to the north river on the part of N. York, and to masons patint, on the part of N. Hampshire, and did actually send an armed force with a piece of Artillery to protect & defend the adherents on the west side of the twenty mile line—and woud have done very little less than to wage open war with the united states, who I conceive bound by every tie of justice and policy, to defend and protect all its members from the insults of any Enemy, whither in- or ex-ternal. I believe Sir I may venture to predict, that unless something decisive is done in the course of this winter with respect to those people, that we have every thing to fear from them that they are capable of in case we should be under the disagreeable necessity of making another campaign.

This may be considered as a [strength] language from me, who have ever considered as a friend to Vermont, and indeed I ever was their friend, untill there conduct convinced me that they were not friendly to the united States. Was I to judge by their professions, they are more mine, and the United states friend than ever, but their actions, and their words appear to carry a very different meaning—During the course of my command I have been promised every thing from their government and leading people, that I could [wish] for, but they have taken particular care to perform nothing, while on the other hand the militia of New york and that of Berkshire, attended to my acquisitions, with alacrity and uncommon spirit, and I believe the northern & western frontiers are in a great measure indebted to them for the preservation of their honor &c.—I most sincerely wish that matters may turn out better than I expect. And am with my best wishes for your health & happiness, your most Obedient Servant

John Stark

N.B. I set out for New Hampshire tomorrow.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Saratoga 5th Novr 1781


Ordered by his Excellency the Commander in Chief to take the command of the northern Department, and to call if necessary for the aid of the Militia of this State and those of Vermont for the protection of the Frontiers of both I have seen with great Satisfactions the Alacrity with which both have taken the field on every requisition; but accountable as I am to my Superiors, and inexcusable as I should be, If I neglected to advise them of any Occurrances which carry the Air of Mistery, I wish to receive the most authentic Information respecting the Serjeant of the Vermont Militia who was slain & his parts Captured by the British, and intreat your Excellency to put it my Power to give a minute detail of it to Congress, by affording me the perusal of the Original Letter which the British commanding Officer is said to have written you on the Occasion which will be returned by a safe Hand; and a Copy transmitted to Congress—The report as brought to me, is, that when the party arrived at Ticonderoga, the British Officer exprest great displeasure that the Citizens of Vermont should have been molested, sent for the Corps of the deceased Serjeant, and caused it to be interred with military Honors, and then dismissed the Captured Party with what Liquors and provisions they chose to carry & delivered them an Apologetic Letter to your Excellency—If this be a true account It Indicates a deep stroke of Policy on the part of the Enemy to raise a Suspection in the Minds of all Americans that the Vermonters are friendly to them, or that they have really had encouragement from some people in Vermont on whose Influence they placed a full Confidence—That the people of Vermont are indubitably attached, zealous[ly] attached, to the American cause, no honest Man can entertain a doubt of, that It’s like every other State contained lurking Traitors, is a reasonable Suposition. And if they by their Machinations have brough on Suspisions Injurious to the people, there is no doubt but the latter will severely punish them as soon as this Misdeeds of those Miscreants are fully develloped, no exertions on my part shall be wanting to eradicate every Suspicion Injurious to the people of Vermont. Your Compliance with the Request contained in this Letter will probably afford me one of the Means. And I further most earnestly wish your Acquiesence that I may detail the whole Business to Congress in the true Light.

I congratulate you with a heart full satisfaction On the glorious event by which another british Army to put into our power and which was announced on the 9th Instant by the discharge of fourteen Cannon & Yesterday by the discharge of the like No. of platoon in honor to the united States of America.

signed John Stark


Arlington 14th Novr 1781.

Dear General

Your kind favour of the 5th Inst. I rec’d by the 10 but through extreme Hurry of Business and for want of a proper Conveyance have delayed the Answer untill now.

The particular Account you have requested me to send you in regard to the slain seargent of the Vermont militia and the Return of the party with him who were discharged by the British Officer commanding I have that it my duty to transmit to his excellency General Washington together with every other public movement in this Vicinity that any way relates to the Welfare of the Independant States of America—which I doubt not will be satisfactory.

I take this Opportunity to return you my Thanks for the Honor done to this State by your directing the discharge of fourteen Cannon on your late public day of rejoicing occasioned by the Capture of Lord Cornwallis and his Army—A like Day will probably be observed in this State on the same occasion.

Signed Thos Chittenden

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