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General Schuyler to the Committee of Albany


[No˙ 2.]

Ticonderoga, November 2, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: I did myself the honour to address you on the 26th ultimo; since which, I am informed that the virulent tongue of scandal has been sporting with my reputation, and that my character is attempted to be injured by imputations equally groundless and wicked, or frivolous: that I have refused to pay persons employed in the publick service by the direction of Mr˙ Phelps and others. As your respectable body is composed of gentlemen from every part of the County of Albany, I cannot state matters to any others with so much propriety as to you, and therefore entreat your attention.

I might have been justified, if I had refused to pay Mr˙ Phelps for any expenses incurred by him since the appointment of Mr˙ Livingston, as after that I could not consider Mr˙ Phelps any longer in the character in which he had acted until then; but as the honest creditors of the publick ought to be paid, although not employed by the proper officer, I scorned the distinction, acting upon principles which I have the conscious happiness to approve, and which when known, I trust, will entitle me to the good opinion of you, and all honest men; and such only I wish to stand well with.

On Sunday, the 17th September, I met Mr˙ Trumbull, the Paymaster-General, on Lake Champlain, on his way to St˙ John' s. In the same boat was Mr˙ French, the younger, who, as his business lay only with me, stepped into my boat. Mr˙ French delivered me a letter from Mr˙ Phelps, copy of which, (No˙ 1,) and a copy of an account which enclosed No˙ 2, I herewith transmit you. On the 18th, in the afternoon, I arrived at this place. On the 19th, Mr˙ French called on me for an answer. Sick, and deeply engaged in answering letters from Congress, General Washington, and Governour Trumbull, &c˙, I begged him to wait a day or two. On the 20th, at night, I completed my despatches, and on the 21st I delivered him a letter to Mr˙ Phelp' s, of which No˙ 3 is a copy, and verbally recommended to Mr˙ French to draw out the particulars of his brother' s account, as I could not pay it on so general a charge, which you will perceive, in No˙ 2, is in one round sum, £1,638 15s˙ 8

About the last day of September or first of October, Mr˙ Trumbull returned here. He remained here indisposed and crossed Lake George on the 5th October; and on the 6th I sent Mr˙ Phelps a warrant for ten thousand Dollars,


enclosed in a letter of which No˙ 4 is a copy, which went by express, together with letters to the Congress, &c˙,and which reached Albany on the 9th, Mr˙ Phelps being then here, or on his way to this place. Hence it is evident, that had Mr˙ Phelps been at Albany, he would have received the money as early as it had ever been in my power to have paid it, even if I had not had any objections to his account; and I ordered this money to be paid to him, although I was by no means satisfied with his accounts, as I hint in my letter No˙ 4, but merely for the reasons given in the same letter, to wit: "lest the service should suffer, through the uneasiness of the publick creditors."

About the 9th or 10th ultimo, Mr˙ Phelps arrived here, and delivered me his accounts, which, as they required only copying from his own book, I might with great ease have had on the 1st ultimo.

I now found that the dissatisfaction which I had expressed at his account, and which arose from a comparison of it with some returns I had in my possession, was well grounded; and that I had with great propriety declared to him, in my letter No˙ 3, "that the abstract which you have sent me will not justify me to pay so large a sum upon; you must, therefore, send me a very particular account of what is due to every person whom you have employed, or from whom you have purchased any article for the publick service, and then I shall give a warrant to have the publick creditors satisfied." But having said that I had acted with great propriety in making that declaration to Mr˙ Phelps, and that my dissatisfaction was well grounded, it is incumbent on me, gentlemen, now to demonstrate this to you, which I hope to effect with so much perspicuity and clearness as not to leave a doubt on your minds, if, unfortunately, any should be entertained on account of this business, and therefore I entreat your further attention.

You will see by Mr˙ Phelps' s account, marked No˙ 2, which I beg you will particularly observe to be dated the 11th of September, that it amounts to £5,535 3s˙ 5 1/2 You will also please to observe that his account marked No˙ 5 is dated on the 5th October, and the charges made up to the 29th September, amounts to only £3,560 5 2d˙; to which add Mr˙ French' s account, marked No˙ 6, amounts to £1,612 0s˙ 11d˙, and the whole will make, together, only £5,172 6s˙ 1d. The last account, therefore, less than the first, by £362 17s˙ 4 1/2d.

Here, gentlemen, it is clearly demonstrated that his last account is £362 17s˙ 4 1/2d˙ less than what he charged the publick with in his first; and yet, what is very remarkable, that between the 11th September and the 29th of the same month, inclusive, the article for transportation to Fort George, as charged Mr˙ Phelps in his last account, and by me marked A in the copy, amounts to £309 15s˙; besides several additional charges, made in other parts of the account, for sick, &c˙, and by me marked M in the copy, amounting to £121 5s˙ 7d˙ — making £793 17s˙ 11 1/2d˙ (See abstract D˙) So that it is here proved, to a demonstration, that the first account was overcharged in the sum of £793 17s˙ 11 1/2d˙; and yet, in his letter to me marked No˙ 1, he asks me for the additional sum of five or six hundred Pounds.

You will please to observe that none of the baggage carriages are charged in either the first or last accounts, as he had not received the certificates, which he acknowledges in the note at the bottom of his last account, by me marked X; consequently, they have no influence on this state, the one way or the other.

Whence, then, it may be asked, does this amazing difference arise? An attention to what has been observed will point it out; but, for the greater perspicuity, I will state and particularize it another way:

In his first account, of the 11th September, he charges six hundred and five wagon loads carried to Fort George, as per receipts, amounting to £2,117 10s˙; seventy-four ox-cart loads, as above, amounting to £518 — making £2,635 10s.

By his last account, which I beg you will please to examine, you will find that all the wagon loads carried to Fort George, to the 11th September, inclusive, as charged in his last account, were only four hundred and sixty-seven and a half, which, with one omitted on the 28th August, noted as such in the foot of his account, amounts to £1,638


14s˙; and the cart loads were only fifty-two and seven-tenths, amounting to £366 9s˙ — making £2,005 3s˙ The last account of carriages (to the 11th September, inclusive) less than the first, by £630 7s˙; to which, if there be added the aggregate of the sundry other articles in his first account, which in the copy are marked with the letter L, many of which in the last account are charged less than in the first, and some totally omitted, for what reason I do not pretend to say, and which amount to £166 7s˙ 11d˙, (see abstract E˙) the whole will be £796 7s˙ 11d˙; which is only 56 11 1/2d. more than what I made it by the first state, and occasioned, probably, by mistakes in summing up the accounts.

It is worthy of observation, that although so much wagonage and cartage was performed between the date of Mr˙ Phelps' s first account and the day to which his last is made up, yet the sum of the whole does not amount to his first charge, by £318 3s. How, then, Mr˙ Phelps could say, as he has done, that these charges in his first account were made from receipts, I leave him to reconcile.

But perhaps it may be said, that Mr˙ Phelps gave Mr˙ French a considerable quantity of stores to carry to Fort George, and that he charged these in the first accounts; Should this subterfuge be attempted to be taken, it will not by any means do; for the transportation of all these articles is fully charged in Mr˙ French' s account, as I can most clearly evince, and as you may see by recurring to it. And indeed, gentlemen, I have now in my possession the most indubitable proof that Mr˙ Phelps, or his clerks, knew that these articles were charged by Mr˙ French, and included in the £1,638 15s˙ 8d˙ charged the publick. This proof, gentlemen, I do not now transmit you, but shall lay them before you on some future day, should Mr˙ Phelps contest what I have asserted.

But I am charged with refusing to pay seventy shillings for carrying a load to Fort George. No part of my letter of the 21st September, to Mr˙ Phelps, could ever authorize such an assertion. I was willing to allow what the Crown had, and no more; and although I am still in doubt whether that was sixty or seventy shillings, yet, when Mr˙ Phelps was here, I told him that, at any rate, if he had promised seventy shillings, they must have it, however it might go with him. He said he had not, but that he had been informed that that allowance had been made them heretofore. I replied, if it was so, they should have it now, but that I was not certain what had been given. He then asked me if the Committee of Albany would advise the payment of that sum, if I would allow it; to which I answered, positively, yes; and the like answer with respect to those who had kept sick soldiers, which I conceived were charged too high.

Mr˙ Phelps asked me what allowance he should make those wagoners that had carried baggage. I replied, twelve shillings per day. He said he had intended them only ten. I then gave the following reason why they should have twelve: because, with troops, they were obliged to halt whenever the troops did, and could not carry a sufficiency of forage, which they often were obliged to purchase; that when they had no troops they stopped when and where they liked, and took the advantage of places where they could get provisions and forage cheap.

I am informed he says he has no money for those that carried baggage. He has no money from me to discharge any particular account. What he has is on account, and to pay every creditor of the publick, as far as it goes; and when I get the remainder of his account, which he promised immediately to send, and which I have not yet got, (although he has been gone about twenty days from here,) I shall pay what is due.

Reports have prevailed, that I refused to pay the carpenters employed in the publick service. When the first carpenters were discharged, I had not sufficiency of money to pay them all, and some returned without their pay; those that were paid had their accounts made up from the day of my arrival at Fort George, and I certified it so on the back of their accounts or discharges. But it is asked why they were not paid from the time they entered into the service. For this most evident reason: because they were engaged


by the Committee of Albany, previous to my taking the command; and I could not, without the spirit of divination, know what money, or whether any, had been advanced them by that respectable body, as I was not possessed of their accounts.

A considerable number of Mr˙ Bratt' s party were discharged in my absence; these, therefore, I could not possibly pay. When Mr˙ Bratt left this, I gave him, unasked, £150; because, as I observe to him, killing time was approaching, and the carpenters might want some money before I could reach Albany. I dare say Mr˙ Bratt will do me the justice to acknowledge this.

I am also charged with refusing to let some of them return home when they applied for it, and that I kept them contrary to their inclinations. This charge I frankly avow to be well founded; but, gentlemen, if the Army had not been able to proceed, or if, after having proceeded, it had been under the necessity of returning for want of provisions, which could only be carried in boats, would you or any other of my judicious countrymen have allowed it as a sufficient excuse, if I had said the carpenters wanted to go home, and I would not prevent them, lest I should give offence. I have the fullest confidence, gentlemen, that no such excuse would be taken; and, consequently, I shall be justified in this. And indeed, gentlemen, that I have had a hard, a very hard task to procure a sufficiency of craft for both purposes, I can bring a variety of gentlemen to attest.

I am also charged with giving them but barely time to eat their victuals, and setting them to work at sunrise, and obliging them to work till sunset. Here, too, so far as it relates to that period previous to my departure hence with the Army, I also plead guilty. I reached this the 18th July, and, except thirteen or fourteen batteaus that were built at Fort George, not one earthly thing was prepared. I had saw-mills to repair, timber and every other individual thing to procure, gun-carriages to build, vessels of force to construct — the season far advanced, and had orders to penetrate into Canada with an Army. In this situation, under the sanguine expectations of all the Continent, let those that find fault with my conduct in this instance conceive themselves in my situation, and reflect coolly on what would have been their duty in such a case, as I trust that they would justify me without the least hesitation.

I am not so totally ignorant of mankind as not to know that the character of every man sustaining a publick office becomes the subject of general animadversion. In a free Country it ought not to be otherwise. It is, however, a duty every man owes to himself to justify his conduct, that the envious, whose food is venom and detraction, and who are continually spewing out poison, may not mislead the honest, the ignorant, and the unwary. I hope I have succeeded in this.

I have, gentlemen, detained you long, and trespassed much upon your patience, for which I have to entreat your pardon. I hope I have made good my assertion, that the imputations were "equally groundless and wicked, or frivolous." If you are of the same opinion, you will be so good as to do me the justice to contradict the reports in any manner you may think proper. If your opinion should not coincide with mine, your justice and your candour will induce you to let me know in what particulars; and if I cannot gainsay it, I shall penitentially kiss the rod, being ever willing to abide by the judgments of so respectable a body.

I am, Gentlemen, with sentiments of esteem and respect, your most obedient humble servant,


To the Committee of Albany.

P˙S˙ As I mean to be frank with all men, I write Mr˙ Phelps by this opportunity. I have taken the liberty to enclose him a copy of this letter.



*In a letter to Walter Livingston, Esq˙, of the 14th ult˙, I say, "I think 70s˙ too much; but, since the wagoners have been promised it, they ought to have it." This, alone, would be a refutation of that charge.