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General Schuyler to President of Congress



[Road March 5, 1776.]

Albany, February 37, 1776.

SIR: I am honoured with your letter of the 20th, by express, advising me of the new arrangement in command. I shall ever, sir, be contented to remain where Congress thinks I can be of service. My disorder is become very alarming lo the physicians here, but I do not think that it is so dangerous as they imagine; and I hope a little relaxation from the business of the closet, and a moderate degree of exercise, will re-establish me tolerably well.

I shall not be able to leave this until all the troops destined for Canada are passed, and until the batteaus are built at Fort George, and every thing got into such a train as that General Lee' s intended military operations in Canada may not be retarded, nor the Army suffer for want of provisions.


The Convention of New York, in a letter of the 22d, advises me that they are unable to supply me with either arms, blankets, or clothing, for Colonel Van Schaack' s Regiment. I hope I shall be able to equip them, although it will be very difficult to procure arms.

In a letter from the Committee appointed by the New York Convention to convey the heavy cannon destined for Quebeck, they ask me what shot there is at the posts above. I have answered, "none for the cannon they have in charge;" and as they have said nothing about carriages, I fear they have not attended to it. I have, therefore, wrote them on the subject, that the cannon may not be detained, on their arrival here, until the carriages are constructed. The best of the common carriages in the country are insufficient to transport the least of them.

There is scarcely pork sufficient to be got on the east side of Hudson' s River to supply the small quantities intended to be stored near that river. What is gone to Canada, and remains at the posts above, will serve the Army but a very short time; and no supplies of the meat kind can be had, even with hard cash, in Canada, from the beginning of April until the middle or latter end of September; hence, a very considerable quantity of provisions will be wanted. I shall, therefore, order the Commissary-General to send for one thousand barrels of pork to New Jersey; but, being apprehensive that the men-of-war will not suffer any vessels to pass, I have directed that it should be sent by water to Hackensack, from whence I believe the traverse to Hudson' s River is short, and sloops may be sent down to transport it to this place. But as this will be far from being a sufficiency, I propose, if agreeable to Congress, and that they judge fresh meat cheaper than salt pork, (which is very doubtful with me, on account of the numbers lost in driving, extra waste in issuing, &c˙,) that a continued supply of cattle should be sent to Onion River, to be from thence conveyed in our vessels and row-galleys to St˙ John' s; but not to be put on board at Onion River until there is a fair wind, lest they should suffer in the passage. I do not mean that the cattle should be sent before there is grass sufficient for their subsistence on the road, and sedge, or something, to be got to feed them during the passage.

Since writing the above, I have considered, that as Hudson' s River is not yet open, the delay of laying the matter about the pork before Congress, for their determination, cannot be attended with any evil consequences, and they may probably adopt a better mode. If they can give orders to some person in Jersey to purchase the pork, and send it as above, Mr˙ Peter Zabriskie, of Hackensack, a real friend to our cause, might be employed to see it transported to Hudson' s River.

Enclose the orders I have issued for regulating the issuing of provisions. These are, in a great measure, similar to those I made on the 20th of July last. An immediate punishment on the first offender, will, I hope, have the desired effect. I shall order a strict watch to be kept, and the first Commissary that breaks the orders I will cause to be turned out of the employ.

The best of the batteaumen may be got for three shillings a day, currency, which is cheaper than to employ soldiers; for, in thirty days, it amounts to only six shillings and eight pence more than a soldier' s pay and fatigue-money, and they will transport nearly double the quantity of stores, in the same time, that a like number of men would do who are unaccustomed to the business; and they are employed as soon as raised, which will take only four or five days. If the Lakes should open before I can hear from Congress, I will venture to raise a company of one hundred, for I foresee that great quantities of provisions must be sent into Canada.

I am, sir, most respectfully, your obedient, humble servant, PHILIP SCHUYLER.

To the Honourable John Hancock, Esquire, &c.