Philip Schuyler to John Hancock, referred to Wythe & Committee, 22 January 1776
General Philip Schuyler talks to John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, about several resolutions of Congress that have to do with military officers and actions that should be taken by American troops. He apologizes for not having answered earlier stating his asthma and poor health made it hard for him to write. He mentions that the only reasons he had wanted to retire were that he had disorderly troops and his health was starting to fail. He hopes the troops become more orderly in the future so they are able to put a stop to the suffering of free people caused by the British tyranny. George Wythe, Edward Rutledge, and Thomas McKean were the Committee of Three referred to in the letter.
Letter from gen Schuyler
Albany Jany 22. 1776
Read Feby 2.
Albany January 22: 1776.
When I did myself the Honor to write to you on the 13t Instant, the Distress of Mind occasioned by the melancholly Accounts I then transmitted, the Hurry in preparing for the Excursion into Tryon County, and greatly oppressed by the Asthma, were so many Obstacles which prevented my answering your polite Letters of the 30t November and 2d Instant which were delivered me on the 12t by Mr. Tilghman; I now sit down to answer these and to acknowledge the Receipt of your’s of the 10t Instant, covering sundry Resolutions of Congress which was delivered me on the 18t.
That my little Services should have attracted the Notice of Congress, so far as to merit their Thanks. I can only attribute to the Convention which I Matter myself that respectable Body intentions of my Wishes and Endeavours to serve my Country in this Hour of Danger; I cannot Sir find Words to convey my Feelings on the Occasion. Let it suffice that I consider it as a Reward the most glorious since it is conferred by the Representatives of a people still free and who are virtuously struggling to transmit the Blessings of Freedom to Millions of their posterity. May indulgent Heaven so smile on their honest Endeavours, that America may be a lasting Monument to remind Tyrants of their Impotency when they attempt to tyrannize over a free people. To you Sir my best Thanks are due for the polite Manner in which you have conveyed to me the Sense of Congress, and believe me Sir that I feel a grateful Sense of the Attention which I have experienced from you.
I frankly confess Sir, that I have been greatly chagrined to see the little Order that prevailed in the Troops under my Command, and that added to my very bad State of Health
were the only Inducements which made me wish to retire: The first I hope will not so much prevail in Future; But I am sorry that I have no prospect that the latter will ever mend. Much indisposed when I set out for Tryon County, the Severity of the Weather, and the Fatigues incident to the Command of an undisciplined and enraged Multitude, ready to run into Imprudencies of the most dangerous Nature and only to be prevented by the greatest Attention and Vigilance has greatly increased my Disorders; a Complication of which now confine me to my Room: But Sir, the Affairs of my Country are in a worse Situation than when I requested to retire, this is Motive sufficient for me to continue in any Station however inconvenient in which my Countrymen and my Superiors are pleased to think I can be of Service; I will continue then to do what I can — My Country may justly claim any lost services — It shall have them.
The Resolutions of Congress of the 10t: 11t & 17t of November, so far as they respect me, shall be strictly complyed with: that of the 20t respecting the Lead at Crown Point I have already given Order about; what was left at Ticonderoga - was on its way to Cambridge, when I received General Washington’s Account of the Capture of the Store Ship, I therefore stopped in here, and it will be much wanted for our Troops that are going into Canada.
General Prescott was already considerably advanced on his way to New Jersey when I received the Order of Congress of the 2d Inst. for putting him in close Custody.
The Resolution of Congress, permitting the Officers who are prisoners to sell their Bills for their Subsistence, I have already communicated to those still here, which are the French Officers, Major Hughs, Capt. Gamble & Lieutenant Barrington, all of which would have been moved last Week if
if my Time had not been engaged otherwise.
I shall take the next Opportunity that offers to transmit to the Treasury an Account of my Disbursements to the Officers The Receipts I cannot as they are written in a Receipt Book containing many others.
The Conductor of Artillery whom I had thro’ Necessity appointed is Mr. Hubbard Brown; he appears to me active honest and capable and new acts in the double Capacity of Conductor and Barrack Master at Ticonderoga for the former he was to have five shillings, and for the other an additional Shilling New York Currency — I found Gysbert Marselis Esq. a Barrack Master here and employed by the Committee of Albany; he still remains in the Office — Mr. Peter Schuyler I appointed to take Charge of the Arms in this Place, he has a considerable Number already repaired — For a Store Keeper at this Place, I beg leave to recommend Mr. Philip Van Rensselaer.
I have given Mr. Trumbull the Paymaster General Copies of the two Resolutions relative to his Department — I hope they were not founded on a Supposition that there had been any Negligence in that Department as the Confusion which had arisen in the Army Accounts is much to be imputed to the Officers commanding Companies.
The Resolve of the 8t Instant "That shipwrights be immediately sent from New York and Philadelphia to build Batteaus," I could wish not to be put into Execution; as one Albany Shipwright will do nearly as much of that Kind of Work as two that are not accustomed to it. I can also make them work early and late, which the others will not, besides there will be great Saving in the travelling Charges.
I shall immediately desire General Wooster to cause the River St. Lawrence to be explored, agreeable to the Resolution of
of Congress, but I fear he is much in Want of an Engineer for the purpose as well as for a proper person to ascertain what Kind of Armed Boats it would be most expedient to build.
Does Congress intend that I should issue Warrants for compleating the Regiment to be raised in this Colony, or is it to be done by the Convention — In my former Letters I advised Congress that I had if sued Warrants for raising four Companies.
I shall immediately proceed to get every Thing in readiness for building Batteaus at Fort George, as Wood-Creek cannot be cleared this Winter and I shall send up all the provisions and other Stores.
I fear I shall not be able to get a sufficient Quantity of Nails made in Time at this Place what I can get, I shall be obliged to pay 15 per pound for.
Part of the Troops, which I sent Colo. Warner to raise, are already on their March, the first party I have Reason to think is at farthest within a Days March of St. Johns — I have ordered them off by Fifties as they could get ready — A Regiment on the last Continental Arrangement is compleating in the County of Berkshire; part of it is already marched: I was however obliged to give the like Bounty as I did to Colo: Warner — It is commanded by Colo: Fellows, and all the Officers were nominated by the General-Committee of that County — They will not engage beyond the 15t of April — It was however lucky that I took these Measures for General Washington writes me that he cannot spare a Man — Inclose you a Copy of his Letter, a few Hours before I received it I wrote him by Express that the Necessity of sending Troops from Cambridge to Canada appeared to me to be superseded because of those going which I have mentioned above, and that there were two Regiments on their
their March from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which in all probability would reach Canada as soon as any he could send.
Governor Trumbull in a Letter of the 20t Instant advises me, that a Regiment is raising in Connecticut to March immediately to Canada to be engaged to the first Day of November next.
As I have had no accounts from Canada since those which Mr. Antill brought I conclude that Nothing material has happened since the unfortunate affair of the 30t Ultimp.
I have in a former Letter observed that all the heavy Cannon and Mortars were ordered to Cambridge, I suppose they are there now — Should Quebec not fall into our Hands this Winter we shall want a considerable Number of these. Where are we to be supplyed? And from whence are we to get Ammunition?