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Yours of the 31st October and 1st November, I have been favored with, and have taken the necessary precautions that your army should be supplied with provisions.
In my last, I informed you that General Warner's brigade were ordered to join you ; but, as they are raised only till the 1st of December, the officers and men think it exceeding hard that they should be obliged to make that long march, and their times out soon after they could reach you. I have, in consequence of their request, detained them here, to make obstructions in the river. Governor Clinton and my self have been down to view the forts, and are both of opinion that a boom, thrown across at Fort Constitution, and a battery on each side the river, would answer a much better purpose than at Fort Montgomery; as the garrison would be reenforced by militia with more expedition, and the ground much more definable. All these circumstances considered, we have concluded to obstruct the navigation at the former place, and shall go about it immediately.
The cannon that were left at the forts are rendered entirely useless, except six twelve-pounders at Fort Constitution- and these are spiked, and the trunnions broke off, but may be stocked, so as to answer the purpose tolerably well.
I yesterday received a letter from Colonel Hamil ton, dated at Albany, ordering me to send forward one thousand more Continental troops than was pro posed when he was here ; this will leave me with about three hundred Continental troops, and no militia except those whose times are out the first of December, to cover all this distressed country. I do not think I can justify myself in this, without first acquainting you; and, if I then have your Excellency's orders, I will, with pleasure, immediately and promptly comply with them.
I am sorry to inform you that, for want of pay, General Poor's brigade of Continental troops have refused to cross the North River. The troops mutinied, the officers endeavouring to suppress them, and they so determined to go home, that a Captain, in the execution of his duty, ran a soldier through the body, who soon expired, but not before he shot the Captain through, who is since dead. I have got several of them in provost guard, and a general Court martial sitting for their trial. About twenty of them have made their escape, and gone home. I have sent off some light-horse, and officers of the brigade, to bring them back. In order to make peace, and reenforce you as soon as possible, I am endeavouring to borrow about one thousand or fifteen hundred pounds, to give them a month's pay. In the mean time they are curing themselves of the itch. As soon as this operation is over, they will march immediately. This, I acknowledge, is a bad precedent, but it is a worse one to keep troops ten months without pay. This department is absolutely in distress for money, and the necessary business cannot be carried on with out a supply is immediately sent. I am, dear General, very respectfully,
Your most obedient servant,
P. S. I have just received information from Generals Dickinson arid Parsons, that Sir Henry Clinton has embarked about six thousand troops as a reenforcement for General Howe ; they have not yet sailed. I shall go down to White Plains this afternoon, to make a show there. Possibly this will prevent their going so soon as they would otherwise, if at all.
- Israel Putnam
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume II., Jared Sparks, 1853