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I do not hesitate a moment to answer my dear General's question in the affirmative, by declaring that now or never is the time for every virtuous American to exert himself in the cause of liberty and his country ; and that it is become a duty cheer fully to sacrifice the sweets of domestic felicity, to attain the honest, and glorious end America has in view; and I can, with a good conscience, declare, that I have devoted myself to the service of my country, in the firmest resolution to sink or swim with it, unanxious how I quit the stage of life, provided that I leave to my posterity the happy reflection that their ancestor was an honest American.
Here, my dear Sir, you will ask, why then do you wish to retire from a public office ? Not because I am deterred by any difficulties I have experienced, or any that might hereafter present themselves ; for I have had repeated experience, in the course of life, that what the greater part of mankind deem impossibilities exist only in idea, and are surmountable by a steady perseverance ; but, because I think I should prejudice my country by continuing any longer in this command. The favorable opinion that you are pleased to entertain of me, obliges me to an explanation, which I shall give you in confidence. I have already informed you of the disagreeable situation I have been in during the campaign, but I would waive that, were it not that it has chiefly arisen from prejudice and jealousy; for I could point out particular persons of rank in the Army, who have frequently declared that the General commanding in this quarter ought to be of the Colony from whence the majority of the troops came. But it is not from opinions or principles of individuals that I have drawn the following conclusion, that troops from the Colony of Connecticut will not bear with a General from an other Colony. It is from the daily and common conversation of all ranks of people from that Colony, both in and out of the army; and I assure you, that I sincerely lament that a people of so much public virtue should be actuated by such an unbecoming jealousy, founded on such a narrow principle, a principle extremely unfriendly to our righteous cause, as it tends to alienate the affections of numbers in this Colony, in spite of the most favorable constructions that prudent men, and real Americans amongst us, attempt to put upon it. And, although I frankly avow that I feel a resentment, yet I shall continue to sacrifice it to a nobler object, the weal of that country in which I have drawn the breath of life, resolved ever to seek, with unwearied assiduity, for opportunities to fulfil my duty to it.
I shall to-morrow write to General Montgomery to collect the evidence in support of the charge against Prescott, and entreat him to be very particular. As the prisoners taken on board the vessels in the St. Lawrence are not yet passed, it is probable that I may, by their means, be able to furnish your Excellency with some accounts of the usage Allen received.
Since the receipt of your Excellency s, of the 18th, Major Rogers is come to this town. I sent to him, and, amongst a variety of passes, he produced a late one from the Committee of New Hampshire, to pass unmolested to New York, for which place he sets out to-day. I believe there is no truth in the intelligence sent by Mr. Wheelock ; for I find, upon inquiry, that Rogers arrived -at this place after St. John's was invested, and that he went from hence to New England. I shall, however, make further inquiries. I shall forward the account against Captain Morgan to Colonel Arnold by next post.
You will perceive, by the inclosed, that the junction of General Montgomery and Colonel Arnold has taken place ; but their force is so small, and the weather has been so severe, that I fear they have not been able to possess themselves of Quebec. Should an attempt have been made to storm it, and have proved fruitless, and accidents have happened to Montgomery and Arnold, I tremble lest Canada should be lost. If I could procure any men, I would send them to Canada immediately; but I know not where to get any. Even Ticonderoga and Fort George are by this time, I fear, left to the care of the Commissary of Provisions and Conductor of Artillery. The officers, to whom I had issued warrants to raise four companies, meet with no success.
The first of the cannon arrived here on Wednesday, and the whole is on its way, but detained by the weakness of the ice in Hudson's River, occasioned by the uncommon mildness of the weather for several days past. One frosty night, if not deferred too long, will, however, put every thing in order, and I hope you will soon have the pleasure of seeing all at Cambridge.
To-morrow thirteen of the Caghnawaga tribe, under the care of Major Wales, will set out for Cambridge on a visit.
Your letter to General Howe gave me great pleasure, and his answer must convince mankind of your superiority. His affectation is trifling, and unbecoming a gentleman. His letter, I believe, will be eventually a censure on General Carleton.
I shall immediately forward to your Excellency what clothing can be spared from here ; great part of it is not yet made up.
Sunday, January 7/7?. Yesterday a frost came on, and this morning I had the satisfaction to see the first division of sleds, with cannon, cross the river. Should there be snow all the way to Cambridge, they will probably arrive there about this day week.
A Mr. Gamble, who was made prisoner with Brigadier Prescott, and who was a Deputy-Quartermaster-General in Canada, has entreated me to intercede with your Excellency to get him exchanged. He urges that he must be ruined unless he can get back to Canada. Although I by no means wish to prejudice an individual, yet I do not think it prudent that he should go to Quebec, unless it is in our possession. When that happens, I can see no inconveniency in exchanging him, or permitting him to go, and shall esteem it as a favor if he can then procure your leave, and if you can get him exchanged, that he may riot lose his office. lie writes to General Lee on the subject. I have expressly informed him that I did not think he could be permitted to go to Quebec until after its reduction.
Be pleased to accept the compliments of the season, and my best wishes. I have the honor to be, with unfeigned esteem, your Excellency's most obedient, and
Most humble servant,
- Philip John Schuyler
- 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 I., Jared Sparks, 1853