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Committee of Congress to John Hancock, President



Albany, November 23, 1775.

SIR: We arrived the 16th, in the evening, at New-Windsor, having been detained part of a day by Baird. The morning following we rowed down the river about eight miles, to the fortress in the Highlands, where we spent the day in making such observations as we thought would be of most use to the Congress, and wish our time would have permitted us to render them more perfect, without interfering with the other commissions with which we have been honoured.

We found the fortress in the care of Messrs˙ Bedlow, Grenell, and Lawrence, whom the Convention of New-York had appointed Commissioners to superintend the work, which was carried on under the direction of Mr˙ Romans, agreeable to his plan presented to the Congress.

The garrison consisted of one hundred men, being the remainder of two Companies from which draughts were made to complete those that were sent up to the northward while they continued recruiting; exclusive of these, there were at the fortress twenty-seven carpenters, sixteen masons, two smiths, and fifty-nine labourers, a clerk, and a steward.

We must own that we found the fort in a less defensible situation than we had, reason to expect, owing chiefly to an injudicious disposition of the labour, which has hitherto been bestowed on the barracks, the block-house, and the southwest curtain. This Mr˙ Romans assured us would be finished in a week, and would mount fourteen cannon; but, when completed, we consider as very insufficient in itself to answer the purpose of defence, though it is doubtless necessary to render the whole fortification perfect; but as it is the least useful, we think it should have been last finished; it does not command the reach to the southward, nor can it injure a vessel turning the West Point; and after she has got round, a small breeze or even the tide, will enable a ship to pass the curtain in a few minutes. The principal strength of the fortress will consist in the south bastion, on which no labour has as yet been bestowed; a vessel turning the point is immediately exposed to its fire. The platform of this will be raised fifty-seven feet above high water mark, when completed, which gives it an elevation of about eleven degrees above the guns of a vessel at the West Point, supposing she carries them twelve feet above the surface of the water, according to Mr˙ Romans' s account. On this bastion it is proposed to mount eleven heavy cannon. The block-house is finished, and has six four-pounders mounted in it, and is at present the only strength of the fortress. The barracks consist of fourteen rooms, each of which may contain thirty men; but they are not yet completed, for want of bricks with which to run up the chimneys.

The fortress is unfortunately commanded by all the grounds about it, and is much exposed to an attack by land; but the most obvious defect is, that the grounds on the West Point are higher than the fortress, behind which point an enemy may land without the least danger. In order to render the pass impassable, it seems necessary that this place should be occupied, and batteries thrown up on the opposite shore, where they may be erected with little expense, as the earth is said to be pretty free from stone, This will indeed render our work very expensive; but we fear nothing short of it will be sufficient to avail us of the winding of the river. Mr˙ Romans informs us of a place, about four miles lower


down the river, which is free from the inconveniency we have mentioned, and where the elevation is much greater. Had we had more time, we should have gone and examined it.

We would submit to the Congress whether it may not be proper to send some persons, better versed in those matters than we are, to take an accurate survey of the Highlands, and to pitch on those spots on which batteries may be most cheaply, expeditiously, and advantageously raised.

We found at the fortress, eight nine-pounders and six carriages; forty-two six-pounders, and eighteen carriages; sixteen four-pounders and four carriages; five three-pounders, one hundred and one nine-pound shot, one hundred and eighty six-pound shot, one hundred and forty four-pound shot, forty-three double headed six-pound shot, nineteen double headed four-pound shot; cannon cartridges: four hundred of nine-pound, four hundred of six-pound, eighty-eight of four-pound; one hundred and eighty-five pounds of match; one hundred pounds of rnusket balls; one hundred pounds of grape shot; one hundred and seventy pounds of powder.

These are all the particulars which our short stay at the fort enabled us to collect. We offer our own sentiments, in matters with which we are so little acquainted, with the greatest diffidence, and submit them implicitly to the Congress; but cannot help wishing, when we consider the importance of the object, that they would take the opinion of those who are capable of giving them more useful information.

We congratulate you and the Congress in the happy success of our arms; and remain, with the greatest respect, your and their most obedient humble servants,


P˙S˙ We propose to set out to-morrow for Ticonderoga.