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Statement of a conversation between General Schuyler and General Gates, June 30


Albany, June 30, 1776.

In a conversation with General Gates, in the presence of Walter Livingston, Esq˙, General Gates observed that Mr˙ Lewis had intimated to him, as what he had from Colonel Trumbull, that he might as well return to New-York, as General Gates could not provide for him agreeable to expectation, because the Army having quitted Canada, it was now under the command of General Schuyler. General Gates declared that Colonel Campbell being ordered to Congress to settle his accounts, he should appoint Mr˙ Lewis as Deputy Quartermaster-General. General Schuyler answered, that if Colonel Campbell quitted the department, he should willingly appoint any person General Gates thought proper; but that the Army being now out of Canada, he conceived that it was under his command, and he could suffer no appointment to be made by General Gates. General Gates conceived the contrary; upon which General Schuyler observed, that he meant to be clear and explicit on a point of such importance, and declared that he conceived the Army to be altogether under his command when on this side of Canada, subject, however, to the control of General Washington; that in his absence, General Gates commanded the Army in the same manner as General Sullivan did now, and only as eldest officer, who acknowledged that General Schuyler' s commands were binding on him, which he instanced in General Sullivan' s last letter; and pointedly observed, that if he was with the Army, (which he always would be when his health or other indispensable publick business did not call him from it,) and ordered it to remove from one place to another, that he expected to br obeyed; that upon any sudden emergency, the officer with, and commanding the Army, had a right to exercise his judgment and take measures accordingly, for which, however, he was obnoxious to the censure or praise of the commander of the department; that if Congress meant that General Gates should command the Army in this department, and would resolve so, that he should most readily acquiesce, but that they could not after that imagine he would remain in it; that they had certainly a right to make what arrangements they thought proper; that he was a creature of theirs, and they had a right to move him wherever they pleased; but they could not put him under the command of a younger officer, nor oblige him to be a suicide and stab his own honour; that he frankly confessed General Gates' s superior military qualifications; that he would always advise with him and his other brother Generals; and that if he was superseded, it would give him great pleasure to be superseded by a gentleman of General Gates' s character and reputation.

Both General Gates and General Schuyler declared they would lay the matter before Congress, to prevent any evil consequence from a disputed command in a critical moment; that for the present they would co-operate, that no evil might result to the service; and that each should write to Congress to determine the matter.


General Gates having read this and General Schuyler' s letter to his Excellency General Washington, agreed that the matter was fairly and fully stated, and therefore declined writing.