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PHILIP  SCHUYLER
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A DRAFT OF A LETTER BY GENERAL PHILIP SCHUYLER TO GEORGE WASHINGTON IN 1780, SUGGESTING PLACES THE CONTINENTAL ARMY CAN PRESSURE THE BRITISH: “WHERE CAN THE ENEMY BE ATTACKED TO THE GREATEST ADVANTAGE IN THEIR PRESENT DIVIDED STATE…WOULD OBLIGE SIR HARRY CLINTON TO RAISE THE SIEGE OF CHARLES TOWN, AND THEREBY TO PRESERVE THE GARRISON, AND EXPOSE THE BRITISH TO RISK THE LOSS OF THEIR ARMY, ARE OBJECTS OF SUCH GREAT MAGNITUDE THAT I SHOULD NOT HESITATE…PROVISION MUST BE MADE FOR DISLODGING THE ENEMY FROM STATEN ISLAND”

 

PHILIP SCHUYLER (1733-1804).  Schuyler was an New York landowner and delegate to the Continental Congress.  He was appointed a major general and Washington put him in command of the Northern Department.  He was blamed for the British capture of Fort Ticonderoga and was replaced by Horatio Gates.  He was one of New York’s first Senators and negotiated treaties with the Iroquois Confederacy.

 

GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799).  Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, President of the Constitutional Convention and the first President. 

 

AL. 15pg. 7 ¼” x 12”. May 28, 1780. Morris Town, New Jersey.  A lengthy autograph letter in the handwriting of General Philip Schuyler to General George Washington.  Schuyler, being asked his opinion by Washington, discusses a “Southern strategy” to put military pressure on General Clinton, but believes that the Continental Army should concentrate its pressure on New York City.  Schuyler writes in part: “The subject of the queries which you have done me the honor to request my opinion...In itself is become ... more so from the debilitated state of the country as this important area, to attention must of necessity be paid In forming the action or the determination, I shall however state my answer in the business in best manner I am able and consider the subject in any form of view I am capable of placing...It seems requisite previous to...consideration of part of the first question ‘Where can the Enemy be attacked to the greatest advantage in their present divided state? First, to take a view of the probable consequences of an attack in the Southern Quarter and of one in New York…To save Charles Town [South Carolina] to prevent the garrison falling into the hands of the Enemy and by guessing the...communication with Charles Town, & by taking such a position with a competent body of troops as would oblige Sir Harry Clinton to raise the siege of Charles Town, and thereby to preserve the Garrison, and expose the British to risk the loss of their Army, are objects of such great magnitude that I should not hesitate...to advise commencing our operations in the Southern Quarter. If the objections which present themselves to me do not appear to be over balanced…than which may be adduced for the favor…If the foreign forces should arrive at an Eastern port so much time will elapse in debarking the sick and the stores which if…forwarded should be left in some place of security In preparing the Transports for the reception of the horses, which must of necessity be sent for the use of the artillery In providing forage, in embarking both; in constructing berths for such of our troops with which it may be necessary to reinforce the French; in procuring the necessary provisions for these troops (supposing it procurable) and in completing the voyage to Charles Town that it appears...certain either the town would be reduced before our force could arrive...or the siege be raised If the former and Sir Henry Clinton with his army still there I doubt whether the force we could send would be sufficient to act with any probable prospect of success either for the recovery of the Town or in an attack…probably risk losing by operating in the first instance to the southward …In preference have a march on N. York…equal time will be lost…whether we operate here or go South. Yet much time will be otherwise saved as no provisions need be made for Transports of horses…But admitting the French troops are to come up the Sound, provision must be made for dislodging the Enemy from Staten Island…The remainder of the Army now in this quarter…can be put in position [on] the North river and occupy the heights between…& Kings Ferry from whence the troops move being provided with crafts down the river and or cover of a Frigate or two to be sent from the fleet…It is to be observed that if our forces together with the French …scarcely number that of the Enemy, a division of it may expose us to a patent disaster, as they may easily combine…either on Long or York Island and make a push at us…”.  The majority of Revolutionary War battles towards the end of the conflict were in the South, whether Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse or Yorktown.  The final copy of this letter is held in the George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress.  The letter comes with a complete typed transcript.  The letter has cross outs and additions, docketing in unknown hand on the final page, minor wear, and some minor paper loss to the final page.  An outstanding military letter from two of the Continental Army’s finest leaders.