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Letter from Colonel Hartley to General Gates: When he wrote for a reinforcement, was not on any knight-errant scheme



Crown-Point, September 7, 1776 — 9 o' clock, P˙ M˙

HONOURED SIR: The wind being so hard down the Lake, I have yet received no intelligence from the fleet; neither of my boats returned. At twelve to-night I shall send off a cannon some leagues down if I do not receive intelligence sooner; in the mean time will prepare part of a letter.

When I wrote for a reinforcement, I was not on any knight errant scheme: I did not mean that with such a small force to hold this ground against ten or twelve thousand men (should the fleet have unluckily been beat.) The reinforcement as well as my own regiment might have been in such a situation as to have retreated with security, had it


been imprudent to attack the enemy on their landing. At the same time to have been prepared to take any advantage the casualties of war, wind, time, &c˙, might have put in our power, and perhaps give some check to the enemy whilst you might have been preparing above, and have reinforced us if upon all circumstances you should think it proper. There are few pieces of ground in America where our irregulars could act against the enemy with a greater prospect of success than at their attempting a landing here, unless it were in an open woody country. However, sir, to your judgment and orders I shall always submit with pleasure. It was from an intimation in one of your letters that I asked for any reinforcement.

Had the fleet been beat, my situation here would have been rather critical. A little skirmishing might have been necessary whilst I sent off the sick, and was preparing for a retreat; the four pieces of artillery, if well worked, might have been useful. I wrote for a few cartridges, &c˙, for those guns. I have not received them.

I shall send up the eighteen-pounder as soon as possible. I hope the fleet may have been successful, whatever enterprise or action it may have been engaged in. But it is always best to prepare for the worst.

I have done all I could to procure intelligence and,secure us against surprise. I have received a letter from George Campbell, Esq˙, dated at Albany the 3d of September, relating to what he knew of the action on Long-Island. He mentions something of a letter which had come to Albany, giving an account that our troops had evacuated Long-Island. I hope there may be no truth in the last. I should be much obliged to you, if you would let me know the particulars as soon as you have them from New-York.