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Colonel Wayne to General Gates



Ticonderoga, 1 December, 1776.

MY DEAR GENERAL: I anxiously waited for your directions for my line of conduct as commander of this post until the 27th ultimo, when I was favoured with instructions from General Schuyler, viz: That sentries were necessary in an Army; that cleanliness was conducive to health: that chimneys ought to be swept; to send advice if soap and candles were wanting, &c. Indeed, the chief purport of them were to let me know that I had no power to do any one act, however necessary, without first obtaining permission in writing from Head-Quarters at Saratoga or Albany. Notwithstanding, I shall endeavour to recollect the heads of such matters as you recommended to me viva voce, and to render this place as tenable as possible during the time I remain on the ground.

I must take the liberty to remind you that the term for which the Pennsylvanians are engaged expires the 5th of next month; no time is therefore to be lost in relieving them. We shall be hard set to get the sick away; our hospital, or rather house of carnage, beggars all description, and shocks humanity to visit. The cause is obvious: no medicine or regimen on the ground suitable for the sick; no beds or straw to lay on; no covering to keep them warm, other than their own thin wretched clothing. We can' t send them to Fort George as usual, the hospital being removed from thence to Albany, and the weather is so intensely cold that before they would reach there they would perish. It lays much in your power, by a proper representation to Congress, to have these defects supplied, and many other abuses redressed that tend to render the service almost intolerable to men and officers. But as you are a much better judge of those matters than me, I shall say no more on the subject.

Enclosed is the return of this garrison for this day, together with some of the references omitted in the unfinished plan of Mount Independence and Ticonderoga.

I have advice that Colonel McGaw and Colonel De Haas (two very good officers) are likely to be promoted, over me. (Their being younger in rank than myself is a


circumstance which, perhaps, you were not acquainted with.) If Congress see cause they undoubtedly have a right to do it; and for my own part, I shall with the utmost composure retire to my Sabian field, where love, where peace, and all that man can wish fondly, waits my return. I never will submit to be commanded by the man whom I commanded yesterday. I may be wrong, but I have custom and prejudice in my favour, and a pride common to a soldier, that will not be easily eradicated — Inter nos.

Whilst I am writing, an express brings advice of Fort Washington being in the hands of the enemy, and the whole garrison, consisting of two thousand men, killed or prisoners. My heart bleeds for poor Washington. Had he but Southern troops he would not be necessitated so often to fly before an enemy, whom, I fear, has lately had but too much reason to hold us cheap.

I wish to God that it was possible to lead the fifteen hundred hardy veterans you left with me to your assistance, but for one day; I would risk my life that they would sell their lives or liberties at too dear a rate for Britons to make many purchases. But as that is out of my power I can only wish you success, and assure you that the post you left to my charge shall be maintained; and that I shall always be ready to serve you with the best service of, dear sir, yours most sincerely,


Major-General Gates.

As I was beginning to seal this, Captain Church, whom I had sent down the lake to gain intelligence of the situation of the enemy, returned and informed me that about four miles below Crown-Point he discovered a large topsail vessel coming up the lake. He made all the sail he could with his boat, and by the help of his oars got clear of her. She came to anchor at Crown-Point. I sent off two parties immediately by land to make further discoveries. They have not yet returned. Whether this is only a single vessel come on some scheme, or the advanced guard of the enemy, I can' t determine. I think it is quite too late for an attack; however, I am preparing for the worst, and will, at all events, defend this place until succours can arrive. I would by no means have this occasion any alarm until you hear further from your humble servant,


3d December, 1776.