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General Washington to Major-General Schuyler



Camp at Cambridge, October 26, 1775.

DEAR SIR: Your several favours of the 12th and 14th instant came safely to hand, (though not in the proper order of time,) with their several enclosures. You do me justice in believing that I feel the utmost anxiety for your situation, that I sympathize with you in all your distresses, and shall most heartily share in the joy of your success. My anxiety extends itself to poor Arnold, whose fate depends upon the issue of your campaign. Besides your other difficulties, I fear you have those of the season added, which will increase every day. In the article of powder, we are in danger of suffering equally with you. Our distresses on this subject are mutual; but we hope they are short-lived, as every measure of relief has been pursued which human invention could suggest.

When you write General Montgomery, be pleased to convey my best wishes and regards to him. It has been equally unfortunate for our Country and yourself, that your ill health has deprived the active part of your Army of your presence. God Almighty restore you, and crown you with happiness and success.

Colonel Allen' s misfortune will, I hope, teach a lesson of prudence and subordination to others who may be too ambitious to outshine their General Officers, and, regardless of order and duty, rush into enterprises which have unfavourable effects to the publick, and are destructive to themselves.

Doctor Franklin, Mr˙ Lynch, and Colonel Harrison, Delegates from the Congress, have been in the camp for several days, in order to settle the plan of continuing and supporting the Army. This commission extended to your department; but, upon consideration, it appeared so difficult to form any rational plan, that nothing was done upon that head. If your time and health will admit, I should think it highly proper to turn your thoughts to this subject, and communicate the result to the Congress as early as possible. We have had no event of any consequence in


our camp for some time, our whole attention being taken up in preparation for the winter, and forming the new Army, in which many difficulties occur. The enemy expect considerable re-enforcements this winter, and, from all accounts, are garrisoning Gibraltar and other places with foreign troops, in order to bring the former garrison to America. The Ministry have begun the destruction of our seaport Towns by burning a flourishing Town, of about three hundred houses, to the eastward, called Falmouth. This they effected with every circumstance of cruelty and barbarity which revenge and malice could suggest. We expect every moment to hear other places have been attempted, and have been better prepared for their reception.

The more I reflect upon the importance of your expedition; the greater is my concern lest it should sink under insuperable difficulties. I look upon the interests and salvation of our bleeding Country, in a great degree, to depend upon your success. I know you feel its importance, not only as connected with your own honour and happiness, but the publick welfare; so that you can want no incitements to press on if it be possible. My anxiety suggests some doubts, which your better acquaintance with the country will enable you to remove. Would it not have been practicable to pass St˙ John' s, leaving force enough for a blockade; or, if you could not spare the men, passing it wholly, possessing yourselves of Montreal and the surrounding country? Would not St˙ John' s have fallen of course, or what would have been the probable consequence? Believe me, dear General, I do not mean to imply the smallest doubt of the propriety of your operations, or of those of Mr˙ Montgomery, for whom I have a great respect. I too well know the absurdity of judging upon a military operation, when you are without the knowledge of its concomitant circumstances. I only mean it as a matter of curiosity, and to suggest to you my imperfect idea on the subject.

I am, with the utmost truth and regard, dear Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,


To Major-General Schuyler, Northern Department.