DescriptionGeneral Washington tells General Clinton he has ordered General Lincoln into Massachusetts to raise troops; those he had repeatedly requested from Governor Hancock have not as yet arrived.
Important George Washington Manuscript Letter Signed "G: Washington", two pages, 7.5" x 11", front and verso. Matted with a portrait of Washington and framed under glass. Overall size, 18.5" x 17.25". Glass on verso as well showing first page of letter. Head Quarters near Dobbs Ferry, August 5, 1781. To Brigadier General (James) Clinton. In full: "I am favored with your Letter of the 30th Ulto. also with one from His Excellency Governor Clinton of the 1st. Inst representing the exposed situation of the frontier of this State. I have in consequence, thought it adviseable, that the remaining part of Cortlands Regt. (except the Light Company) should continue at Albany untill further Orders. I have also prevailed on Major General Lincoln to set out to morrow Morning for Berkshire & Hampshire Counties to urge on the Levies with all possible expedition: from General Lincoln's high reputation among those People, and indefatigable industry & zeal in the public Service, I cannot but flatter myself this measure will be attended with Success." This letter was originally in the noted collection of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach who furnished a photostat of this letter to John C. Fitzpatrick for publication in his monumental work, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, published in 39 volumes, including index, from 1931-1944. This letter can be found on page 464 of Volume 22. It identifies the handwriting of the text of the letter as that of Colonel David Humphreys, aide-de-camp to General Washington who later appointed him U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal (1791-1797) and to Spain (1797-1801).
On the day General Washington wrote this letter to Brigadier General James Clinton, he also wrote to his younger brother, New York Governor George Clinton, in part: "I dispatched an Express to Governor Hancock, with a reiterated Request that he would Order on the Militia of Berkshire and the other Western Counties, immediately to Albany, and have also addressed the Commanding Officer of the Militia in those Counties Requesting him to march forward to the Orders of General Clinton; what Effect these Requisitions may have, it is impossible for me to say. In the Mean Time I will leave the Remains of Courtlandts Regt. at Albany, trusting that the State will by its own Exertions, enable me to call them down when necessary, by substituting 9 Months Men, if those for three Years cannot be obtained." The next day, August 6, 1781, General Washington instructed Major General Benjamin Lincoln "to repair to the Counties of Hampshire and Berkshire and those most contiguous to them and if you should find upon your arrival that the 600 Militia before mentioned have not marched to Albany to take measures for putting them in motion as expeditiously as possible." The Governor Clinton and Major General Lincoln letters are also published in Fitzpatrick, Volume 22.
Major General Benjamin Lincoln was born in Massachusetts and General Washington felt that he would be able to go into Berkshire county, the Massachusetts county that borders New York State, and Hampshire county, next to Berkshire, to "urge on the Levies", that is, get men to enlist, because Massachusetts Governor John Hancock, to whom he wrote more than once, has not ordered the state militia in these counties to Albany as requested by General Washington.
Truly, an historically important letter written by General George Washington to Brigadier General James Clinton, telling him that, realizing the "exposed situation" of the eastern border of New York State and awaiting Massachusetts militia he repeatedly asked Governor John Hancock to send, he has sent Major General Benjamin Lincoln into Massachusetts to recruit new troops to help protect New York's frontier.
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