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Letter from Dr. Stringer to General Gates


Fort George, July 24, 1776.

SIR: My daughter' s illness occasioned my being absent from this post a few days; and on my return yesterday evening I found Major Stewart' s letter of the 18th, also one from Colonel Trumbull of the same date, requesting a return of the sick, &c˙, who I find are greatly increased, insomuch that we are in the utmost distress for both assistants and medicines; which events I foresaw might happen, and took the timely precaution of representing it to General Schuyler so early as the 25th of October last, and to General Washington the 10th of May, together with my want of power, which (by the resolve of Congress, a copy whereof is here enclosed) is limited in so positive terms, as to render me incapable either to relieve or guard against them by any other method. Both my letters, the Generals have informed me, were sent to Congress; notwithstanding which, the matter rests as it did.

At the same time that I wrote to General Washington, I requested an augmentation of the Hospital Surgeons and Mates, and sent a list for such a supply of medicines as I


thought necessary for the campaign; and, from a letter I received from Mr˙ Giles, Apothecary-General, before I departed, I expected the medicines to be forwarded immediately; but, to my great mortification, except a few that Dr˙ Potts brought with him, none are arrived, not even a quantity that the Doctor informed me were to come from Philadelphia, under the care of Mr˙ McHenry. What we are to do, under these shocking circumstances, I know not; I say shocking, because nothing can appear more so than our present situation — men dying for want of assistance that we are not empowered to give. Besides a want of Surgeons, I am not furnished with Clerks or Stewards; one Clerk, that I took upon myself to appoint, with General Schuyler' s concurrence, is not now capable of going through the business he is obliged to take charge of. As our men' s lives are thus wasted, would it be improper (as writing answers no end) that I should leave the care of the sick to Dr˙ Potts, and go to York myself, and see the medicines forthwith forwarded by land, until they can be safely conveyed by water, and from thence wait on Congress in person, lay our situation before them, and endeavour to have my powers enlarged, or at least get their consent to provide the number of assistants that are requisite? If, sir, you should approve of such a step, I should be much obliged to you for a letter enforcing the necessity of the application. I should not, at this time of distress, hesitate to engage Surgeons, had not General Schuyler received an answer in the winter to the purport of my letter above mentioned, which was contained in a fresh resolve, "that the resolve (now enclosed) was sufficient."

I must beg, sir, that you will not impute it to neglect that you have not received returns of the sick before this time, but let the above relation account for it. Regularity and a strict adherence to duty are what I much admire, and was uneasy when I found we were still so much backward as not to be able to send you a return, a thing that I know, from long service, ought to be done weekly.

Mr˙ Potts wrote this morning respecting Mr˙ Mouse, or the gentleman sent to be examined for the Surgeoncy of the Navy. As he will not answer, you will readily conceive that it will be adding to our distresses to part with any of our gentlemen for that purpose; neither do I suppose that any place on this side of York can furnish a person properly qualified; and as it is probable the Navy will be much augmented, I think a couple of Mates, at least, would be necessary.

Doctor Potts informed me that there were twenty half-chests of medicines, already put up at York, to be sent off by the first sloop, for ten battalions in this department. I made at Albany the strictest inquiry about them, and find they are not come. Whence such a dilatoriness arises, I cannot account; but there certainly is a remissness somewhere that ought to be removed, if possible.

Just now Lieutenant Diffendorff arrived, and acquaints us that a large number of sick are coming, in addition to what we already have, (about fifteen hundred.) In the name of God, what shall we do with them all, my dear General?

Mr˙ Gansevoort, brother to Colonel Gansevoort, and member of the New York Convention, a gentleman of noted character, arrived at Albany from York, on Saturday last, and tells me that it is beyond a doubt that a French fleet of fifty ships of force, and fifteen thousand troops, are actually on their way for Quebeck; that it was reported, that it was in consequence of the receipt of our Ambassador' s letter from France, that Independence was so suddenly declared; for which event' s taking place, he was obliged to pledge the faith and honour of the Colonies, so soon as his letter should arrive, or he could not have obtained the armament. How will George like this, and what will Burgoyne now say? No elbow room. They are effectually to prevent succours from getting up, and to spare ships to secure those of our enemy and the country.

The privateers Schuyler and Montgomery took a store ship last week; two Jamaica men are also taken. One hundred thousand horned cattle, besides a vast number of hogs and sheep, are driven off Long Island.

I am, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

To the Hon˙ Major-General Gates, Ticonderoga.

P˙ S˙ We have upwards of fifty thousand men in and about York, so far as Anthony' s Nose, on both sides the river. I must write you something more. Lord Howe is


certainly arrived, with three ships; the rest behind. He sent a letter "To George Washington, Esq˙," which was not received. General Washington sent him the Declaration of Independence. The next day he received a letter directed to "His Excellency, &c˙, &c˙, Commander-in-Chief of the United Colonies;" and it is said expressed a concern that Independence was so suddenly declared; that it was probable there might have been an accommodation, his powers being very extensive. Only two frigates and three tenders are above the town as yet, and lie nearly opposite Peekskill. The man that piloted them was a Tory, and on board the Asia all winter. He landed at night, in order to go to his family, who lived a little distance from the river, and the inhabitants got knowledge of it, seized him, and tore him into atoms.