Philip Schuyler to John Hancock, referred to Wythe & Committee, 2 April 1776

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Philip Schuyler informs Congress that nine out of the fourteen cannons have arrived at Fort George and the rest are expected to arrive shortly. Schuyler talks about plans to go into Canada and what he believes to be the best form of attack. Also, he talks about how relations with the Iroquois could turn out to be beneficial to Congress.

"Philip Schuyler to John Hancock, 2 April 1776, pg 1." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Letter text

Page 1

Letter from Schuyler 2 April 1776. Read 15 April. Referred to Mr. Wythe, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Adams.

Albany April 2d 1776


After an Absence of five Days, I Yesterday returned from the Northward – Nine of the Cannon are arrived at Fort George, the remaining five will reach it on this Day, or to Narrow.

The Weather is now become much more moderate, so that I hope the Troops, who are daily filing off from hence, will meet with little, if any Detention at Lake George.

General Thomas arrived here on Thursday, and will move in a very few Days. As the Season is so far advanced that it might be possible for the Enemy to reinforce Quebec before he could reach it, unless he goes by Water, we have both concluded that it will be most prudent to take as many Batteans as may be necessary to convey the Troops Baggage, artillery and stores down the Sorrel and St. Lawrence: besides the Dispatch which this will give, it will relieve the Men from the almost insuperable Fatigue of a March of two hundred Miles, in Roads that will be extremely deep, and also save the heavy Expence of the Land Transportation; nor can he do without a Number of Batteans in the St. Lawrence to bring

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"Philip Schuyler to John Hancock, 2 April 1776, pg 2." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

Provisions from Chamble . . . For all this Service about seventy Batteaus may suffice, and we shall then have about an equal number left in the Lakes: a Number much too small, under the Situation that our affairs will in all probability soon be in, in Canada – For I can hardly doubt but that the Enemy will send a very formidable Body of Troops into Canada, and the greater in proportion as they can have little or no Hopes of Aid from the Canadians, nor indeed do I expect, that we shall have much from them. At all Events it would be imprudent to depend upon it, and therefore I most heartily wish to see a respectable Body of Troops immediately sent into Canada, in Addition to those, which Congress has destined to that Service, which are so very incompleat that General Thomas will not have above 5000 Men inclusive of Canadians, and one thousand at least of these will be occupied in garrisoning Most of St. John’s and in bringing on the provisions to the Army from Chable 0 Five Regiments would not be too many for in that Country our entire Dependence must be on the Soldiery, whereas in these Colonies our Armies can be almost instantaneously augmented out of the Militia who will readily run to Arms here; but I am confident that should General Thomas call on me in an Hour of Distress for Assistance, I should not be able to procure 300 Militia to go into Canada. Permit me to suggest that should Congress be convinced of the Necessity of complying with my Wish, some of the Troops lately arrived at New York from Boston might be sent by Water. Therefore, Regiments raising in the Colony, if the Terms of their Inlistment were out of the question, would never the less be improper, as I do not suppose they will be completed in less than three weeks, if so soon, and after all will be most miserably armed. In this view of things I have ordered thirty more Batteans to be constructed.

Inclose you Sir Copy of a Letter from Mr. Deone. I agree that a Meeting with the Caghnawagas may be attended with happy Effects; but as we shall in all probability have a Conference with the six Nations, as soon as they have concluded their Meeting at Onondaga, I shall for the present defer saying any thing on the Subject to him.

I also inclose Copies of sundry Affidavits that have been sent me from Tryon County, Tho I am well aware that the Mohawks are in general unfriendly to us, yet I cannot imagine that there is any just Cause of Fear from the Indians in general: I am the more induced to this Conclusion from the Silence of Mr. Dean and Mr. Kirkland. I shall however keep a watchful Eye, that we may not experience the Disgrace & Calamity of a Surprize

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"Philip Schuyler to John Hancock, 2 April 1776, pg 3." Image from The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.

As soon as I received General Washington’s Letters advising me of the precipitate Retreat of the Ministerial Army from Boston, I sent a Message to the six Nations of which you have a Copy inclosed. – The indefatigable Industry of the Tories, who pervert every Account made it necessary that I should invite a few of them, that they might have ocular Demonstration of what I asserted respecting our Armies. I have great Hopes that this account, which they will receive whilst in Conference at Onondaga will have a good Effect on their Deliberations.

As I have heard Nothing more of the pork General Lee ordered to be sent here, I have requested General Thompson to send me five hundred Barrels, as what will suffice until I can have the Determination of Congress respecting the pork I wrote for some Time since. I am Sir

With the most unfeigned
Esteem & Respect
Your most obedient humble Servant
Ph. Schuyler

Honble. John Hancock Esq. &c. &c.

See also