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Letter from Asa Douglass to General Washington


To His Excellency GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esq˙, Generalissimo over all the Forces of the United Colonies:

MAY IT PLEASE TOUR EXCELLENCY: May a grey-headed farmer speak freely? Will your Excellency allow me to unbosom myself to you when I fear to do it, and think it unwise to other persons? I hear your Excellency is free of access, and ready to hear the story, if it is of importance, of inferior persons, and in their own natural dialect. I beg leave, for once, to speak, and ease my distressed mind.

I have been a constant observer of all our northern transactions, from the beginning of our troubles to this day. I early raised a company, and was at the taking of Ticonderoga; some weeks after which I was sent by the commander of said fort to the honourable Continental Congress. On my way to Philadelphia, I was thunderstruck to hear that that venerable wise body had ordered said fort to be deserted and given up into the hands of our enemies, and the cannon to be removed the hither side of Lake George. Knowing that to be the key to all New-England, and an inlet to the savages to ravage our frontiers for many hundred miles in length, (there being many thousands of new settlers, New-Englanders, north of said fort,) I viewed said doings of the Congress as the finishing stroke to New-England. When I arrived at Philadelphia, I carefully searched out the cause of it, and I found the land jobbers were the foundation or efficient cause of said resolution of Congress. I gave myself no rest till that resolution was reversed. On my way to Philadelphia I waited on New-York Congress, and could get no relief from them. I found them deeply interested, and they gave no encouragement of assisting me. And I believe in my conscience to this day that said


Province is not hearty, neither in the reduction of Canada nor in opposing Great Britain.

His Excellency General Schuyler was appointed to the command of the northern Army, to draw in that Province to the support of the cause of the continent; neither the General nor the Province (I mean near about the one-half) appear to me to be real friends.

Your Excellency cannot be a stranger to what events have taken place in Canada; and I think actions speak infinitely louder than words. I speak plainly. I believe, by all that has transpired, that General Schuyler is a traitor, and that an overwhelming destruction upon our Army in Canada, if not upon all the New-England Provinces, is near at hand. What but disgrace and infamy are constantly pursuing our Army there, and all for the want of their being provided for. Why is Sir John Johnson now at the head of a powerful army, swallowing up our forces by large mouthfuls in Canada? Is this the man that was taken in arms against his country last fall, and not so much as confined? Be astonished, O earth! Why was our Army last year universally disaffected towards General Schuyler? Was there no reason for their universal complaints? — I speak of officers and soldiers — when all was love and affection for the glorious Montgomery, not a murmur, not a whisper heard to his disadvantage. Why has our Army been starving, when Albany has been overflowing with provisions, and this country all round about us suffering through plenty? How many bushels of wheat were sold in Albany last winter for half a dollar, paid in goods at the highest price? And how many tens of thousands of bushels might now, in a day' s time, be carried in for two-thirds of a dollar? Why has there been such cheating in that Army as to the pork? great part of which has been fit only for dogs to eat, owing to the wagoners letting out the brine to lighten his load.

The Army in Canada, O how unlike the one before Boston last year! I expect to hear nothing but disgrace and infamy from our Canadian Army, without some great change and mighty exertions. If Canada is gone, America is undone. I speak here from knowledge. A more important post as to the support of our cause is not upon this whole continent. Can' t General Schuyler be removed, with honour, to some other post, or have an assistant General, or some other measure be taken to satisfy the minds of people in general? What a dark plot has been carrying on of late throughout New-York Government! What dependance has Government upon our internal enemies? What multitudes, from one end of New-York Government to the other, stand tiptoe to join our enemies! I expect it will be but a few weeks before this continent will be struck with amazement and horrour. Great Cromwell, under God, I rest upon you to save this country from ruin! I pray that what I have written may do no hurt to the glorious cause of my country. May God preserve your Excellency, and give you wisdom from above, and lengthen out your life till millions shall proclaim, with a voice that shall shake the pillars of the world, the American cause is finished! This comes from my breast, and will be retained in your Excellency' s.

I am your Excellency' s humble servant,


I think few or none of New-England officers or soldiers will serve two campaigns under General Schuyler.