Primary tabs

General Schuyler to President of Congress



[Read March 4, 1776.]

Albany, February 23, 1776.

SIR: At two, yesterday afternoon, an express arrived here, in three days, from General Wooster, and brought me a letter, of which the enclosed is a copy.

I was apprehensive that we should meet with difficulties in supplying the Army in Canada with provisions, as I had been informed that much waste had been committed; and, on the 29th ultimo, I desired General Wooster to "send me a return of the names of the Commissaries of Provisions now in Canada, and to advise me how the Army was supplied with provisions." I am, in sentiment, with him, that it is necessary to send a quantity of provisions immediately; for I am morally sure that our cause will suffer, if it is not done; and, as the winter is on the point of leaving us, a delay may be dangerous. I shall, therefore, venture to send four hundred barrels of pork, without waiting the determination of Congress, although it will cost us not less than three pounds a barrel to transport it to Montreal, and, even at that rate, it will be very difficult to procure sleds, as there is hardly any forage left in the country. No time is, also, to be lost in forwarding the cannon, and what military stores are at Ticonderoga and Crown-Point; they will, however, be of little service, unless a considerable quantity of powder is immediately sent. What is gone is very trifling.

I fear I shall not be able to get shoes made in this part of the country sufficient, even, for the troops that are now on their march. I am informed there are none in Canada, and our troops will be greatly distressed for them unless a large number are sent into Canada, as soon as the Lakes are passable by water.

Colonel Wynkoop, to whom I have paid the expenses accrued by the prisoners in Ulster County, has shown me a resolution of Congress for their future subsistence. Would it not be well if Congress was to determine how much money should be allowed, instead of a ration, as the prisoners are quartered upon the people, who cannot find them with the articles allowed by Congress.

As the Commissary-General cannot possibly furnish our troops with all the articles allowed them, I shall make an estimate of what such as he cannot procure will amount to, and order an equivalent in the other species: this is become necessary, as I have already had applications for milk money, &c.

Yesterday, Captain Solomon, one of the chiefs of the Stockbridge Indians, brought me a letter from Mr˙ Edwards, of which the following is a copy:

"Stockbridge, February 20, 1776.

"DEAR SIR: The bearer, Captain Solomon, with this, waits upon you to give information of the disposition of the Indians in this Town, and to take your directions concerning their going against our enemies in Canada; the refusing their proffered service, is an affair of delicacy, to which you will readily attend.

"I am, dear sir, your friend, and most obedient, humble servant,

Solomon urged me to let the Stockbridge Indians go to Canada. I considered it as a matter too delicate for me to decide upon, and told him that t would lay his request before Congress. He hinted that they would expect pay.

General Washington, in a letter of the 27th ultimo, says, "I am a little embarrassed to know in what manner


to conduct myself with respect to the Caughnawaget Indians now here. They have, notwithstanding the treaty of neutrality, which I find they entered into with you the other day, (agreeable to what appears to be the sense of Congress,) signified to me a desire of taking up arms in behalf of the United Colonies. The Chief of them, and whom, I understand, is now the first man of the nation, intends, as it is intimated to me, to apply to me for a commission, with assurance of raising four or five hundred men when he returns." To which, I answered: "It is extremely difficult to determine what should be done in what you mention respecting the offer made by the Caughnawaga Indians; but, if you can get decently rid of their offer, I would prefer it to employing them. The expense we are at in the Indian Department, is now amazing; it will be more so when they consider themselves as in our service, nor would their intervention be of much consequence, unless we could procure that of the other nations." I am very confident that we should be justified in employing the Savages, since the Ministry have made attempts to engage them against us, and if no other consideration prevented, I should be for it; but, besides the reasons I have given to General Washington, I may add, that they will consider our employing them is of necessity, and they will look upon themselves of more consequence than they really are, and rise in their demands upon us.

I have not yet received any nails, and my carpenters will soon be out of work, unless I employ them in procuring timber for an additional number of batteaus. I find many more of last year' s are gone than I imagined. Please to let me have the direction of Congress if I should go beyond one hundred, and how many.

On board of the vessels which were taken near Montreal on the 19th of November, seven hundred and sixty barrels of pork, and six hundred and seventy-five of flour, were found; a quantity sufficient, of the first article, to have served two thousand men to the 3d instant, of the other, to the 22d ultimo. A considerable quantity had been taken a month before at Chambly; a large quantity was at St˙ John' s; Bedel' s and Warner' s detachments had provisions bought for them; much has been bought since the surrender of Montreal; hence, a waste or embezzlement must have taken place. I can easily account for the loss by only imputing it to the inability of the Commissaries, and the culpable inattention of the officers. I gave orders last year, which, if they had been complied with, would have prevented this evil and extra expense in sending supplies. I have made additions to these orders and sent them into Canada. I have since drawn others; copies of which I shall transmit as soon I can find a little time; but all this will have no effect: Commissaries of reputation must be procured — men that may be depended upon, and genteel pay allowed; unless we have such, the next campaign will be still more expensive in this article than the last; and I believe ten thousand pounds will not more than pay the waste and embezzlement.

Enclose you a letter from General Arnold. That gentleman has acquainted me with the contents. Congress will see that he agrees with me in the necessity of sending a Committee into that country.

I have employed persons to collect all the hard money in this quarter on my own personal security. I am in hopes of procuring two or three thousand pounds in that way; whatever the same may be, I shall immediately transmit it to General Wooster, who must stand in great need of it, as our paper money will not, by any means, pass. I am informed that our soldiers offer to pay three dollars for necessaries to the value of two only. This is an alarming circumstance, and I fear will be attended with no less consequence than that all the men whose time will expire in April, will leave Canada.

St˙ Luke la Corne arrived with Major Melchior, and some other prisoners are since come. I shall send them all to Ulster County, there to remain until the further orders of Congress.

I am this moment informed that some nails are arrived from Canada, and a considerable quantity are on their way.

The shipwrights, to construct the scows in Hudson' s River, are not yet arrived. These vessels will be greatly wanted.

Colonel Wynkoop inclines to continue in the service. I


do not know an officer more attentive to his duty, and more careful of the publick stores.

None of Colonel Burrell' s Regiment yet arrived.

A Mr˙ Henry, of this town, has, as he informs me, brought cloth sufficient for five hundred tents. If Congress should not have otherwise provided, this might be procured; but here are not a sufficient number of persons to be got to make them up.

I am, sir, most respectfully, and most sincerely, your obedient, humble servant,

To the Honourable John Hancock, &c˙, &c.