Primary tabs

Letter from General Schuyler to the President of Congress



[Read 15th April, 1776, and referred to Mr˙ Wythe, Mr˙ Harrisun, Mr˙ S˙ Adams.]

Albany, April 2, 1776.

SIR: After an absence of five days, I yesterday returned from the northward. Nine of the cannon are arrived at Fort George, the remaining five will reach it on this day or to-morrow.

The weather is now become much more moderate, so that I hope the troops, who arc daily filing off from hence, will meet with little, if any, detention at Lake-George.

General Thomas arrived here on Thursday, and will move in a very few days. As the season is so far advanced that it might be possible for the enemy to reinforce Quebeck before he could reach it, unless he goes by water, we have both concluded that it will be most prudent to take as many batteaus as may be necessary to convey the troops, baggage, artillery, and stores, down the Sorrel and St˙ Lawrence: besides the despatch which this will give, it will relieve the men from the almost insuperable fatigue of a march of two hundred miles, in roads that will be extremely deep, and also save the heavy expense of the land transportation; nor can he do without a number of batteaus in the St˙ Lawrence, to bring provisions from Chambly. For all this service, about seventy batteaus may suffice, and we shall then have about an equal number left in the lakes — a number much too small, under the situation that our affairs will, in all probability, soon be in in Canada; for I can hardly doubt but that the enemy will send a very formidable body of troops into Canada, and the greater in proportion as they can have little or no hopes of aid from the Canadians; nor, indeed, do I expect that we shall have much from them, At all events, it would be imprudent to depend upon it; and, therefore, I most heartily wish to see a respectable body of troops immediately sent into Canada, in addition to those which Congress have destined to that service, which are so very Incomplete that General Thomas will not have above five thousand men, exclusive of Canadians; and one thousand at least of these will be occupied in garrisoning Montreal, St˙ John' s, &c˙, and in bringing on the provisions to the Army from Chambly. Five regiments would not be too many; for in that country our entire dependance must be on the soldiery; whereas, in these Colonies our armies can be almost instantaneously augmented out of the Militia, who will readily run to arms here; but I am confident that, should General Thomas call on me in an hour of distress for assistance, I should not be able to procure three hundred Militia to go into Canada. Permit me to suggest that, should Congress be convinced of the necessity of complying with my wish, some of the troops lately arrived at New-York from Boston might be sent by water. The four regiments raising in this Colony, if the terms of their inlistment were out of the question, would nevertheless be improper, as I do not suppose they will be completed in less than three weeks, if so soon, and after all will be most miserably armed. In this view of things, I have ordered thirty more batteaus to be constructed.

Enclose you, sir, a copy of a letter from Mr˙ Deane . I agree that a meeting with the Caughnawagas may be attended with happy effects; but as we shall in all probability have a conference with the Six Nations as soon as they have concluded their meeting at Onondaga, I shall, for the present, defer saying anything on the subject to him.

I also enclose copies of sundry affidavits that have been sent me from Tryon County . Though I am well aware that the Mohawks are, in general, unfriendly to us, yet I cannot imagine that there is any just cause of fear from the Indians in general. I am the more induced to this conclusion from the silence of Mr˙ Deane and Mr˙ Kirkland. I shall, however, keep a watchful eye, that we may not experience the disgrace and calamity of a surprise. As soon as I received General Washington' s letters, advising me of the precipitate retreat of the Ministerial Army from Boston, I sent a message to the Six Nations, of which you have a copy enclosed . The indefatigable industry of the Tones, who pervert every account, made it necessary that I should invite a few of them, that they might have ocular demonstration of what I asserted respecting our armies. I have great hopes that this account, which they will receive whilst in conference at Onondaga, will have a good effect on their deliberations.


As I have heard nothing more of the pork General Lee ordered to be sent here, I have requested General Thompson to send me five hundred barrels, as what will suffice until I can have the determination of Congress respecting the pork I wrote for some time since.

I am, sir, with the most unfeigned esteem and respect, your most obedient humble servant,


To the Honourable John Hancock.