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Letter from the President of Congress to Lord Stirling



Philadelphia, March 15, 1776.

MY LORD: I had the honour of receiving your letters of the 12th and 13th, which were immediately laid before Congress.

Whatever may be the designs of General Howe, it appears, from all the intelligence received, more than probable that the Ministry will make an effort to gain possession of New-York. It is therefore the desire of Congress by all possible means to provide for the defence of that place. They have the satisfaction to find, by the report of a Committee appointed to confer with General Lee on that subject, that though the City of New- York cannot easily be made defensible against an attack by sea, yet it may be made an advantageous field of battle, and that, by works thrown up in proper places, the enemy may be prevented from gaining possession of it, and making it a place of arms. It Is therefore the desire of Congress that you would exert the utmost diligence in erecting the works and perfecting the defences agreeable to the plan he left you.

By the enclosed resolves, you will perceive the Congress have voted eight thousand men for the defence of the Colony of New- York. Three battalions and a company of Riflemen from Pennsylvania, and one battalion from New-Jersey, are ordered to join you with, all expedition. Colonel Irvinc' s Battalion and the Rifle Company are said to be completely armed. The rest are not so well provided as could be wished; but by the resolve for taking the arms out of the hands of the disaffected and non-Associators, it is hoped they may be soon supplied. As the tempest approaches, and threatens to burst upon them, I flatter myself the Convention of New-York will strain every nerve in speedily raising and arming the four battalions ordered to be raised there for the defence of their Colony.

Until these battalions can be got ready, the Congress approve your calling some Militia to your aid; and I am directed to request the Governour of Connecticut, and the Conventions of New- York and New-Jersey, to hold their Militia in readiness to march in such numbers, and at such times, as may be desired by the commander of the forces at New-York. This large power, I have no doubt, will be exercised with the greatest discretion as the exigence of affairs may require. The Congress have a just sense of the importance


of defending New-York; but as they conceive this may be done by the means pointed out, they would not have the measures interrupted which are taken for accomplishing their views in Canada. I have it, therefore, in command, to direct you to order the troops destined for Canada to proceed on their march agreeably to their former orders.

I have the honour to be, my Lord, your Lordship' s most obedient humble servant,

JOHN HANCOCK, President.

To the Right Honourable Lord Stirling, at New-York.

The enclosed letter for Governour Trumbull, I beg the favour you will immediately forward to him by a fresh express, and return to me the man I send to you as soon as your despatches are ready.