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Letter from Governour Trumbull, of July 4, to General Washington


Lebanon, July 4, 1776.

SIR: The retreat of the northern Army, and its present situation, have spread a general alarm. By intelligence from Major General Schuyler, received last evening, I have reason to conclude that they are now at Crown Point and Ticonderoga, in a weak state, and under the necessity of an immediate reinforcement to enable them to make a stand, and preventing the enemy from passing the lake and penetrating into the country. The prevalence of the small pox among them is every way unhappy; our people in general have not had that distemper. Fear of the infection operates strongly to prevent soldiers from engaging in the service; and the battalions ordered to be raised in this Colony fill up slowly. Are there no measures may be taken to remove the impediment? May not the Army soon be freed from that infection? Can the reinforcements be kept separate from the infected? Or may not a detachment be made from the troops under your command, and the Militia raising in the several Colonies and ordered to New York of such men as have had the small pox, to be replaced by the troops raising for the Northern Department? Could any expedient be fallen upon that would afford probable hopes that this infection may be avoided, I believe our battalions would soon join the northern Army. I shall omit nothing in my power to expedite them.

The retreat of the Army from Canada exposes the northern frontiers of New York and New Hampshire to the ravages of the Indians, who will doubtless be spirited up to fall upon them. Some of the settlements on Onion River, I am informed, are breaking up and removing, and the whole filled with the most disquieting apprehensions. Some powder and lead, upon application, has been supplied them from this Colony; but the settlers there, from their infant state,


and consequent poverty, are unable to devote themselves to the defence of their frontiers, unless they should be enabled to hire labourers to carry on the business of their farms in their absence. I could therefore wish that your Excellency might think proper to recommend it to the Continental Congress to order a battalion to be raised and stationed there for the defence of those settlements. It would, I trust, be immediately filled up with a hardy race of men in that quarter, to repel the attacks of the savages, and be ready to join and support the northern Army upon occasion, and who at all times may scour the woods, and furnish intelligence of the enemy' s motions.

If these settlers are driven back, besides the loss of their property, a much heavier expense will fall upon some of the Colonies for the support of their families than the charge arising from the raising and maintaining a battalion of Continental troops, and we shall still have a frontier to defend. The anxiety of the friends and relations of many, if not most of those settlers who emigrated from this Colony, and the importance of the matter, will, I trust, be my sufficient apology for wishing to engage your influence with Congress to support the motion I judge advisable, and shall make, to have a battalion raised out of and stationed on these frontiers.

By a letter from General Schuyler of the 1st instant, received last evening, I am advised that Generals Schuyler, Gates, and Arnold, were to set out on Tuesday morning. I trust they are by this time at the end of their journey, and hope their presence may have a happy effect towards affairs in that quarter.

I am, with great truth and regard, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

To His Excellency General Washington.