The following paragraphs were copied from pages 91 - 135 of Genealogy of the Woosters in America, Descended from Edward Wooster of Connecticut by David Wooster, printed 1885 by M. Weiss, San Francisco. Since creating this file I have found many, if not all, of these letters in Peter Force's American Archives. I have no doubt that Peter Force was David Wooster's source. Additional letters can also be found in General David Wooster, A Biography by George O. Ellis, 780 Ward Lane, Cheshire, Connecticu 06410-3361 (copyright applied for 1994).

The correct date for this letter is August 9, 1775. Had David Wooster not made this error in his 1885 publication he most likely would have entitled his selection, ". . . FROM JUNE 1775 TO 1777 . . ."


Oyster Pond, April 9, 1775.

Sir:—I have just time to acquaint your Honour that, by the request of the Provincial Congress of New York, I yesterday embarked from New York with four hundred and fifty men, and this afternoon arrived here. We find that the inhabitants are in great need of powder. There is none in New York. I spared two hundred and fifty weight from my own stock, which was forwarded from New York to this place, for the use of the York Provincials who are stationed here; in consequence our stock is reduced to about twenty rounds a man.

The Regulars [English] have taken the cattle, sheep, etc., from Fisher's Island and this day have employed themselves in the same business on Gardiner's Island. When they have got through with that we may expect them upon this.

I beg that your Honour would, with the greatest expedition possible, forward to me three hundred-weight of powder, which I hope will be sufficient for the present exigency, both for our own Troops and the Militia here.

I am, Sir, in great haste, your Honour's most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

Hon. Jonathan Trumbull, Esq.


Greenwich, June 16, 1775.

Sir:—Your Honour will receive enclosed a requisition from the Provincial Congress at New York. Captain Sears, who arrived here last night about twelve o'clock, informed me that the people of New York intend to quarter the troops in the city. I should be glad to be informed of how far I shall subject myself and the troops under my command to the direction of the Continental or Provincial Congress; whether (if I proceed to New York ), when the Irish troops arrive, I shall wait for directions from the Continental Congress whether to oppose them or not. It is my private opinion that they ought not be suffered to land. I wrote you yesterday for your directions about the expediency of my marching in New York.

I am, Sir, with due respects, your Honour's most obedient servant,

David Wooster.

To the Honourable Jonathan Trumbull, Esq.


In Council, June 16, 1775.

Resolved, That the Provincial Convention of New York be desired immediately to apply to Governor Trumbull to order the Connecticut Troops now stationed in Greenwich, Stamford, and places adjacent, to march toward New York, and that part of them occupy posts upon the island. as the said Provincial Convention shall judge best adapted, to prevent the communication between the town and country from being cut off; the remainder of the troops to be employed in securing the navigation of Hudson's River by erecting Batteries at such places as the said Convention shall judge most proper to answer their purpose.

A true copy of the minutes.

Charles Thomson, Secretary.

The above is a true copy, signed by Charles Thomson, Esq., now filed among the proceedings of the Provincial Congress at New York. Examined by

John McKesson, Secretary.


Camp at Harlem, July 22, 1775.

Sir:—I received your order of the seventeenth instant, and immediately contracted for vessels to carry the Troops to Albany. The First Division, under the command of Colonel Waterbury, will march on Monday next, and the remainder will march as soon as I can possibly get the vessels ready to take them, which must exceed Wednesday. And indeed, Sir, you may depend upon my utmost exertion and assiduity for carrying into execution every order within my department, for the good of the common cause, notwithstanding some discouragements that I have met with, after a service of thirty-four years in the service of my king and country.

Since General Schuyler went to Ticonderoga, a letter came from General Washington, addressed to him, or the officer commanding at or near New York, in which was the following paragraph, viz.:

"The commissions which have been forwarded to me are not sufficient to answer the demand I have for them, there being at least one thousand officers in this department and not more than five hundred commissions in my possession. As you are so much nearer to Philadelphia than I am, I request you to apply to Congress for as many as you are likely to want."

The force under my command are in general good health and high spirits, and rejoice to have it in their power to go where they may have an opportunity to do their country some service.

I am, Sir, with the greatest esteem, your obliged humble servant,

David Wooster.

To the Honourable John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress.


Cambridge, July 26, 1775.

Sir:—I am directed by his excellency, General Washington, to inform you that yesterday afternoon three men-of-war, with a number of transports, sailed from Boston. They started E.S.E.after they got out, but we cannot yet learn their destination, or whether they have taken off any of the troops of the enemy. As their designs are so much unknown to us, and it is possible that they may move to New York, the General thought proper to apprize you of it, that you may be prepared for such an event. This he would have done with his own hand, but he has been much indisposed for some days past.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your most humble servant,

Joseph Reed, Secretary.


Die Lunae, 9 hs. A.M., August 7, 1775.

The Congress met pursuant to adjournment. Present: Peter V. H. Livingston, Esq., President.

A draft of a letter to General Wooster was read and approved, before a sufficient number of members appeared to constitute a Congress. Soon after a sufficient number of members appeared in the Congress chamber, and the said draft being read again, and a postscript added thereto, the said letter and postscript are in the words following, to wit:

Sir:—The Congress are now sitting. We are under a necessity of applying to you for the loan of two hundred pounds of gunpowder.

Please, Sir, to deliver to the order of Ezra L. Hornesnedine and John Foster Esqrs., two hundred-weight of powder, on account of the Colony for which the Congress will send you an order, and see it replaced as soon as possible.

I am, Sir, your humble servant,

P. V. H. Livingston, President.

August 7, 1775

N.B.—The Congress are since met, and request you immediately to send off four companies of your troops, to march to the east end of Long Island to assist the inhabitants there in preventing the stock from being taken off by the King's troops, for the use of the army in Boston. They are then to be under the command of Colonel Phineas Fleming.

Ordered, That a copy thereof be engrossed, and signed by the President and sent to General Wooster.

This is the correct chronological placement for the letter of August 9, 1775, which David Wooster had in error attributed to April 9, 1775.


Oyster Pond, August 14, 1775.

Sir:—Your favour of the 10th instant, with three hundred pound of powder, per Captain Griffin, I received; and now acquaint your Honour that last Friday morning a large sloop-of-war and twelve transports sailed round Plumb Island. After they had got through the gut, I sent one hundred and twenty men in three boats, which were all the boats we then had, to said island, if possible to get off the stock, with orders to return immediately upon the first appearance of the enemy's attempting to bring away any of their shipping between the island and Oyster Pond Point, lest their retreat might be cut off, it being impossible to support them without boats. Before the last boat had got over, the sloop-of-war was observed to be returning, and wind and tide favouring her, our boats were obliged to put back again, the hindmost of which had several cannon fired at her, but at so great a distance they did no damage. A cutter came within fifteen or twenty rods of our last, but discovering there were armed men in the boat, dropped their pursuit. Our soldiers in the boat, and some others on the beach, then fired at them, but I fancy to little effect, as our boat was obliged to make all sail possible to keep out of reach of the cannon from the man-of-war, which was close behind them. The sloop-of-war then came to anchor between the point and the island, and that night took from the island nine cattle, and then joined the fleet, which came to very early on Saturday morning, and I suppose have gone to Boston.

I have since taken from Plumb Island their cattle and sheep, and the inhabitants have engaged to thrash out their grain and to convey it from the island as soon as possible. I shall to-morrow go to Gardiner's Island and make such disposition as shall appear most conducive to the common good. I expect by Thursday to be able to embark for New York.

I am informed Colonel Willard told the people on Gardiner's Island that he intended to pay Long Island a visit before fall; and also that the King's Troops had been invited to purchase provisions at Brookhaven and Flushing. In consequence of this intelligence the Committees of rookhaven, Smithtown, and the other adjacent towns, have taken and sent to me the Reverend James Lyon, a Church-of-England Clergyman—a man of infamous character, but a pretty sensible fellow—who, they say, has corresponded with Henry Lloyd, of Boston.

This Parson Lyon by what I can learn, is the mainspring of all the Tories on that part of Long Island. He has considerable money at interest in different hands among his neighbours, which gives him an ascendency over them, and he has been indefatigable, both by writing and preaching, and in every other way, to gain proselytes; and by his connexions with those in other parts of the country, who are inimical to the cause we are embarked in, he will be able to do great mischief. The committees of the several adjacent towns, thinking him a very dangerous person to remain among them, have desired me to take care of him. I shall, therefore, by the first opportunity, send him to the care of the Committee of Hartford till they can receive your Honour's orders concerning him.

I am, with the greatest sincerity, your Honour's most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

P.S.—I enclose Colonel Willard's account of the stock he took from Gardiner's Island.

For a late twentieth century account of this battle see


In Provincial Congress, New York, August 16, 1775.

Sir:—It being absolutely necessary that the Troops levied on Long Island march immediately to join General Schuyler, and as it is probable future attempts will be made, by order of General Gage, to take the live stock from the east end of Long Island and the islands near it, it is conceived by the Congress that to prevent such depredations it is proper that you should continue there with your Troops till further order, which you are hereby desired to do accordingly.

We are, Sir, your most obedient humble servants.

By order.

General Wooster.

Ordered, That a copy thereof be engrossed, and signed by the President, and transmitted.


In Provincial Congress, New York, August 18, 1775.

Sir:—We enclose you a copy of a paragraph in General Washington's letter of the 10th instant, in consequence of which we desire you to return to your camp at Harlem with the utmost speed, to assist in the defense of this city and province.

We are, Sir, yours, etc.

To Brigadier-General Wooster.


Oyster Pond, August 24, 1775.

Sir:—I have sent Mr. Shaw two hundred pounds of powder according to order. The Committee of Suffolk county have desired me to remain here for a few days, till they can hear from Provincial Congress, to whom they have sent an express, with their desire that the three companies raised upon this part of the island, who have received orders to march to Ticonderoga, may remain upon their station. As we know not what use we may have for powder, and as I before informed your honour, I lent two hundred pounds of my own stock to Provincial Congress, I think it unsafe under our present situation to return the whole. I expect by next Monday to sail for New York. Your Honour well knows the suspicious light in which the New York Congress are viewed by the rest of the Continent. I must therefore beg of your Honours to alter that part of your orders to me, in which you subject me to the direction of that body of men. I have no faith in their honesty of the cause. I must, therefore, think it not only a disgrace to me, but a dishonour to my employers, that I am subjected to them. You know not, Sir, half their tricks. Your Honour will be good enough to direct to me at New House, where I expect to stop a day or two, and if I am not there to be forwarded to Harlem.

I am, with great truth, your honour's most obedient humble servant.

David Wooster.

To the Hon. Jonathan Trumbull.


Oyster Pond, August 27, 1775.

Sir:—Your favour of 18th instant came duly to hand, and I should have sailed for Harlem without loss of time, had not I received the following important intelligence from General Washington, viz: "August 23, 1775. Yesterday I received advice from Boston, that a number of transports have sailed on a second expedition for fresh provisions. As they may pursue the same course, only advancing further, we think Montauk Point, on Long Island, a very probable place of their building. I have therefore thought it best to give you the earliest intelligence, but I do not mean to confine your attention or vigilance to that place. You will please to extend your views as far as the mischief may be probably extended." Thus far the intelligence.

I would rather inform you that the Kingfisher last Wednesday, went up the Sound, with several small cutters, reconnoitering the north side of the island, and Thursday there followed past this place two topsail vessels which I apprehend to be transports, as they fired the signal guns, when they went through the Race. I would, therefore, recommend it to the Provincial Congress to keep a good guard on Queen's county, as I imagine their design is to get stock from Huntington, Lloyd's Neck, or Flushing, and as we hope to secure all stock upon this part of the island, you may expect the Boston fleet will proceed further up the sound. I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

To P. V. B. Livingston, Esq.


Oyster Pond, August 29, 1775.

Sir:—I have with me at this place four hundred and fifty of my regiment. I should before this time have returned to my station at Harlem, but General Schuyler, commanding, ordered the three companies raised upon this end of Long Island for the Continental service to join their regiment at Ticonderoga, the County Committees requested me to remain here till the return of an express, which they sent to New York, to beg of their Congress, if possible, to prevent the three companies from being removed. The express has now returned, with liberty for the companies to remain here ten days from last Friday. It is thought best that I keep my station near New York, though I shall not return there till I know the destination of the fleet, which, I understand, from your Excellency's information to Governor Trumbull, have sailed out of Boston. I hope and expect such measures will be pursued as will prevent their taking the stock from this or the adjacent islands.

The inhabitants think that had General Schuyler known their very exposed situation, he would not have ordered the companies away. The New York Congress suppose they have no right to counteract his orders. They might, indeed, have sent to him, and received no answer in season; but they are so refined in their policy, have so many private views to answer, and take such infinite pains to keep out of the plain path (conscious, perhaps, of their own inferior wisdom), that they do nothing like other people. It is now too late to send to General Schuyler; the Committee of Safety have therefore desired me to request your Excellency to continue their Troops upon their stations. I shall only say that I know of no place so much exposed to the ravages of the enemy; and if the companies raised here, who have a great part of the good arms of the county, should be removed, and their places not supplied, I know of none so defenceless as this. It is my opinion, after all the soldiers are gone, that two hundred men might ravage the county, not withstanding all the inhabitants might do to prevent it.

From this representation, I doubt not your Excellency will think proper to continue the Troops raised here upon this station, or order others in their room.

I am, with great truth and regard, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

To his Excellency, George Washington.


Camp at Cambridge, September 2, 1775.

Sir:—I have just received your favour of the 29th ult. by express. I am very sensible that the situation of the inhabitants of Long Island, as well as of all those on the Coast, expose them greatly to the ravages of the enemy; and it is to be wished general protection could be extended to them, consistent with the prosecution of these great plans which have been adopted for the common safety. This was earl foreseen, and the danger provided for by a resolution of Congress, that each Province should depend upon its own internal strength against these invasions. The prejudice arising from them, even if successful, and not being equal to that of separating the Army into a number of small detachments who would be harrassed, in fruitless marches and countermarches, after an enemy whose conveyance by shipping is so advantageous that they might keep the whole coast in constant alarm, without our being able perhaps, at any time, to give them vigorous opposition. Upon this principle, I have invariably rejected every application made me here, to keep any detachments on the coast for this purpose. I should, therefore, most probably, have thought it my duty to have ordered the three companies, mentioned in your letter, to have joined your Army, to act in the general service, had they not been under command from General Schuyler, to join him; but as it is, I can by no means interfere. He is engaged in a service of the greatest importance to the whole Continent, his strength and appointments far short of his expectations; and, to give my counter orders may not only defeat his whole plan, but must make me responsible to the public for the failure. Instead, therefore, of their further stay, I would have them march immediately. I fear the delay of the ten days may have very bad effects, as by my last advice from Ticonderoga, General Schuyler was to march in a few days for Canada; and it is highly probable he may depend upon these companies to occupy the posts of communication, which otherwise he must weaken the Army to do. No Provincial Congress can, with any propriety, interfere in the disposition of Troops on the Continental establishment, much less control the order of any General officer, so that, in this instance the Congress at New York have judged properly in declining to counteract General Schuyler's orders. I wish I could extend my approbation equally to the whole line of this conduct. Before you receive this letter, you will probably be able to judge how far your continuance on Long Island will be further necessary. The importance of preserving the communications in the North River, and many other reasons, induce me to wish you were returned to your former post. The late transactions at New York furnish additional reasons for your being as near that city as is consistent with the discipline, and convenience of your troops. Your next therefore, I flatter myself, will inform me of your having resumed your former station.

I am, Sir, with much regard and esteem,

George Washington.

To Brigadier-General Wooster, New York.


In Committee of Safety, During the Recess of the Provincial Congress:

New York, September 13, 1775.

Ordered, That General Wooster be directed to order a full company of the troops under his command to proceed to the fortifications erecting on the bank of Hudson's River, in the Highlands, to be there employed in erecting and guarding the same, in obedience to the order of the Continental Congress, and to be under the direction of the agents appointed for that purpose by the Provincial Congress at New York.

A true copy from the minutes.

John McKesson, Secretary.

James B. Beeckman and Gilbert Livingston, Esquires, two Members of the Committee of Safety, waited personally on General Wooster with a certified copy of the above.


Camp at Harlem, September 15, 1775.

Sir:—I have before me the order of the Provincial Congress of the 13th instant, directing me to order a full Company of the Troops under my command to proceed to the fortifications erecting on the banks of Hudson's River, in the Highlands, to be employed there in erecting and guarding the same, in obedience to the order of the Continental Congress, &c. I have lately received instructions from General Washington, consistent with which I cannot disperse my Troops, unless ordered by him or the Continental Congress; therefore think it necessary that the order of the Continental Congress, upon which yours is predicated, should be sent to me before I can determine whether to order a Company to the Highlands or not.

I have no objection to employing my Troops in any service that shall be judged of publick utility, consistent with my orders.

I am, Sir, with truth and regard, your most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

Peter V. B. Livingston, Esq.

A true copy from the original.

John McKesson, Secretary.


New York, September 16, 1775

In Committee of Safety, During the Recess of the Provincial Congress:

To Brigadier-General Wooster; Sir:—In answer to your favour of yesterday, we enclose you the order of the continental Congress respecting the marching of the Troops under your command into the Colony, and the disposition of them after their arrival, by which you will see that it was expected that those troops should occupy such posts in the Colony as the Provincial Congress should judge necessary to be taken.

We are, with great respect, Sir, your most humble servants,

By order of the Committee of Safety:

John Haring, Chairman.

A true copy. Examined by John McKesson, Secretary.


Camp at Harlem, September 17, 1775.

Gentlemen:—I received your favour of yesterday, enclosing the order of the Continental Congress, and say, in answer, the order was given the 16th of June, which was before the Continental Forces were properly organized. Since that time the Congress have ordered about two-thirds of my Troops to the northward; and should I divide the remaining few into detached parties, scattered about the country, and any disagreeable consequences should follow from it, as my orders from General Washington are to be here, it might be difficult for me to vindicate my conduct. I have authority to say that no Provincial Congress can, with any propriety, interfere in the disposition of Continental Troops, much less control the order of any General Officer. If the Continental Congress or the Commander-in-Chief think proper to employ the whole or a part of the troops under my command in erecting and defending batteries at the Highlands, or elsewhere, I shall expect their orders direct, and no man will with greater alacrity obey their lawful summons.

I am, with great respect, your most obedient and humble servant,

David Wooster.

A true copy from the original minutes.

Examined by John McKesson, Secretary.


Philadelphia, September 20, 1775

Sir:—The necessity of supporting General Schuyler in the important enterprise he is now engaged in has induced the Congress to direct you immediately, on receipt of this, to march with the troops under your command to Albany, there to await the orders of General Schuyler, in case he should want your assistance, and you will please, without loss of time, proceed.

By order of Congress. John Hancock, President.

To David Wooster Esq., Brigadier-General in the Army of the United Colonies, and Commander of the Connecticut Forces at Harlem.


Camp at Harlem, September 23, 1775.

Sir:—Your favour of the 25th instant I have just received, and shall with the greatest expedition proceed with the troops under my command to Albany, and there wait General Schuyler's orders, according to direction of Congress.

I am, Sir, in haste, your most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

To the Hon. John Hancock, President of Congress.


Harlem, September 28, 1775.

Sir:—This just serves to inform your Excellency that I returned to this place from Long Island, immediately upon receipt of your favour of the second inst.; and that in pursuance of an order from the Continental Congress, I shall this afternoon embark, with all the troops under my command, for Albany, there to wait the order of General Schuyler. I am, Sir, in haste, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.


Ticonderoga, October 14, 1775.

General Wooster, having ordered a Court Martial at Fort George, of which I was informed only this morning, which he by no means had a right to do and apprehensive, from that extraordinary conduct, that he might create difficulties if he should join the Army under General Montgomery (from which I cannot dissuade him, nor dare I order him to stay, lest the Regiment should refuse to go, which he says they would do), I thought it my indisputable duty to write him a letter, of which the enclosed is a copy, and to which I received an answer, copy of which you have also enclosed. I have since received letters advising me that he has presumed to discharge men of Hinman's and Waterbury's Regiments. I assure you, Sir, that I feel these insults from a General officer with all that keen sensibility that a man of honour ought; and I should be ashamed to mention them to Congress; but that the critical situation of our public affairs are at this period require that I should sacrifice a just resentment to them, and I would wish to have it remembered that to that cause only must be imputed that I have suffered a personal indignity. I am, Sir, most respectfully, your very obedient humble servant, Philip Schuyler.

To the Honorable John Hancock.


Philadelphia, October 19, 1775.

Sir:—General Schuyler, having by letter informed the Congress, that he believed he should have no occasion to employ the troops under your command, I am desired by the Congress, to direct that you immediately proceed, with the troops under your command, to the batteries, erecting on the Highlands, on the North River, and there leave as many of your troops as, in the opinion of the conductor, will be necessary for expediting the completion of the works there; and that you repair with the remainder of the troops to New York, and there continue until further orders from the Congress. But in case you should have any orders from General Schuyler, previous to the receipt of this, to join the Army under his command, or in any way to be aiding to his expedition, you are wholly to conform yourself to his direction, the above orders of Congress, notwithstanding. I am, etc.,

John Hancock, President.

To Brigadier-General Wooster at Albany.


Ticonderoga, October 19, 1775.

Sir:—The Continental Congress, having taken the first six Regiments, raised this year in the Colony of Connecticut(of which yours is one,) into the pay and service of the associated Colonies, at the earnest request of the honourable delegates representing the Colony of Connecticut, and you, in a variety of instances, obeyed the orders of Congress, who have conferred on you the rank of Brigadier-General, in the Army of the associated Colonies, I was taught to believe you considered yourself as such, both from what I have above observed and from your declaration to me yesterday; but I am just now informed, that you have called a general court martial, at Fort George, in your way up here—a conduct I cannot account for, unless you consider yourself my superior; and that cannot be in virtue of your appointment by Congress, by which you are a younger Brigadier-General than Mr. Montgomery. And unless you consider yourself as such, I cannot, consistent with the duty I owe to the public, permit you to join that part of the army now under Brigadier-General Montgomery's command, lest a confusion and disagreement should arise that might prove fatal to the operations in Canada, you will, therefore, Sir, please to give me your explicit answer to this question, whether you consider yourself and your regiment in the service of the associated colonies; and yourself a younger Brigadier-General in that service than Mr. Montgomery, or not? That no misapprehensions or misinterpretations may hereafter arise.

I am, Sir, with much respect, your most obedient humble servant,

Philip Schuyler.

To General Wooster.


Ticonderoga, October 19, 1775.

Sir:—In answer to your favour of this day, give me leave to acquaint you that immediately on receiving the Continental articles of war, I gave them out to the different captains and commanders of companies in my Regiment, but they universally declined signing them. Of consequence, in the discipline of the troops under my command, I was obliged to continue in the use of the law martial of Connecticut, under which they were raised, which I certainly had a right to do, by virtue of my commission from that Colony. Upon the same principle I ordered a general Court-martial at Fort George, which whether right or not, was never designed in the least to contradict, or counteract, your authority as Commander-in-Chief of the troops upon this department.

With regard to the other question, my appointment in the Continental army, you are sensible could not be very agreeable to me, notwithstanding which, I never could have continued in the service, had I not determined to observe the rules of the army. No, Sir; I have the cause of my country too much at heart to attempt to make any difficulty or uneasiness in the army, upon whom the success of an enterprise of almost infinite importance to the country is now depending. I shall consider my rank in the army what my commission from the Continental Congress makes it, and shall not attempt to dispute the command with General Montgomery at St. John's. As to my regiment, I consider them as what they really are, according to the tenor of their enlistments, and compact with the Colony of Connecticut, by whom they were raised, and now acting in conjunction with the troops of the other colonies in the service, and for the defence of the associated colonies in general. You may depend, Sir, that I shall exert myself as much as possible, to promote the strictest union and harmony among both officers and soldiers in the army, and use every means in my power to give success to the expedition.

I am, sir, with much respect, your most obedient servant,

David Wooster.

To Major-General Schuyler.


October 23, 1775.

He tells Wooster that he hears the latter has declared if he were at St. John's he would march in to the Fort at the head of his regiment. He tells him that he has leave to try his prowess thus, but to be not too lavish of his men's lives. (In a letter written to Schuyler on the 11th of February, 1776, in reply to a letter of the 26th of January, 1776, Wooster refers to this.)


Dated at St. John's, November 3, 1775

On Saturday, the 28th ultimo, the main body of the army decamped from the south, and marched to the north side of the Fort, under the command of General Wooster. We were joined in the evening by General Montgomery, and the same night we began to throw up a breastworks (on an eminence which entirely commanded the enemy's works) in order to erect a battery of cannon and mortars; this battery they kept continually pelting at with grapeshot and shells, but without doing us the least injury, until Thursday morning, when we opened our battery, consisting of three twelve and one nine-pounders, three mortars and as many cohones, with which we kept an almost incessant blaze on them a great part of the day; and likewise our battery from the east side of the river, which the enemy returned with the greatest of spirit. Late in the afternoon, I received a message from General Montgomery, ordering us to cease firing until further orders; these orders were extremely disagreeable to us, when I saw some of my men bleeding before my eyes, and dying with the wounds they had received. On our ceasing to fire, the General ordered a parley to be beat, and sent in an officer to demand a surrender of the fort. Two officers soon after returned with him, and were led blindfold through the camp to the General's tent, where a pretty long conference was held, and they promised the General an answer from the commanding officer next morning; which promise was complied with.

The answer imported, that if they received no relief within four days, he would send them in some proposals. The General replied, that he must have an explicit answer next morning, and the garrison must remain prisoners of war, at all events; and if they had any intention to renew hostilities, they need only signify it by firing a gun, as a signal. This, though very unpalatable, they were at length obliged to digest, as you see by the capitulation.

You will readily excuse the incorrectness of this scroll, when I will inform you it is now past one o'clock in the morning, having had no time to write before, as I have been all day at the fort, examining the stores and we are to begin our march for Montreal this morning, and my fingers and senses are so benumbed with cold, that I can scarcely write at all, owing to a northerly wind and plenty of snow, which is now falling in abundance; yet, notwithstanding, I am not so senseless or ungrateful as to forget my friend. I am yours, etc., . . . . . . . . . .


Philadelphia, November 30, 1775.

Sir:—That a conscious pleasure arises from patriotism, your experience must have already evinced to you. Your brethren in America, on whose behalf that patriotism has been exerted, will not withhold that accession of pleasure which you ought to receive from their just and grateful applause. I am directed by the Congress to transmit to you the thanks of the united colonies for the very important assistance which you have contributed in reducing St. John's and spreading the honors of freedom over the greatest part of Canada.

I am, etc., John Hancock, President.

To Brigadier-General David Wooster.


Headquarters before Quebec, December 16, 1775.

General Montgomery writes General Wooster asking aid, and privately expressing his intention of making two attacks on Quebec "the first strong northwester." He says he has 1,800 men.


Headquarters, Montreal, December 18, 1775.

Dear General:—General Montgomery informs me that you desired me to send you an account of the number of men that I discharged between Albany and Ticonderoga. Therefore, I would inform you that I did not discharge any man, but only gave them a furlough, and that to the Connecticut troops only, to pass to New England, as the term of their enlistments were not expired, and I imagined that they might be very serviceable there; and as the Captains are paymasters to their own companies by act of the Assembly, of the Colony of Connecticut, they all returned home; and without doubt have settled their pay rolls with the Committees of the pay-roll appointed for that purpose.

Sir:—I must beg leave to enforce General Montgomery's request, for the masters to paymaster or money to be sent forward or we shall be overwhelmed with mutiny and disorder. I am, dear General, your most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


At Holland House, Saturday, December 31, 1775
Received January 17, 1776.

Campbell informs Wooster of the failure to take Quebec "this morning," of Montgomery's death, of Colonel Arnold's wound in the leg, and of his most excellent conduct. He also recommends Mr. Aaron Burr, "the remaining aid-de-camp" for his bravery, urges General Wooster to relieve him of the command which has devolved upon him, as soon as possible. Like all the rest, he begs for money, men, and supplies.


General Philip Schuyler to Governor Trumbull:—Sir: Says (v.4, p. 588:) Archives: General Montgomery was still before Quebec, 16 December, and had intentions of storming, but he had so few troops (only eight hundred and a few Canadians), that I tremble for the event. I wish he could have prevailed on more of the troops to remain in Canada. These were mostly Connecticut troops whose time had expired who could not be prevailed on to stay without pay, clothes or food.

To Montgomery. Filed December 31, 1775.


General Hospital, December 31, 1775.

Arnold writes for aid, informing the General incidental to the account of the siege, of Montgomery's death, compliments to Captain Burr and others; he carried his part of the storming of the city, being successful until wounded.


January 2, 1776.

Arnold writes again saying that about sixty were killed and three hundred taken prisoners. After three hours of brave work the small army was obliged to retreat. Not a thousand men left. He says he shall continue the blockade while hopes last. "For God's sake, order as many men down as you can possibly spare." I hope you will stop every rascal who has deserted from us, and bring him back again. The Congress to send "eight or ten thousand men to secure and form a lasting connection within this country. Wooster's presence absolutely necessary. Arnold's leg is very painful."


Quebec, January 2, 1776.

Campbell wants troops and Wooster's presence immediately, as matters are in a precarious condition: By way of P.S. he says "I most sincerely wish you the compliments of the season."


Holland House, January 2, 1776.

Arnold asks for aid; among other things, three or four hundred pairs of snow shoes. "I must beg leave to observe the courtesy shown to our prisoners heretofore in Montreal, and places adjacent; it may be justified by principles of humanity at the time—under our present circumstances would be highly imprudent and dangerous. He asks his letter to be pardoned for its appearance as it is written while lying on his back. General Schuyler to Congress, says: "The hint General Wooster has given of sending sutlers to Canada is a good one." General Washington writes to Schuyler, that Wooster is determined not to give assistance to Arnold. He does not know whether it is with propriety or not—too far away. Wooster had already sent 120 men of his handful before Washington's letter had reached Schuyler. Wooster finally went himself.


Montreal, January 5, 1776.

Sir:—The enclosed letters from Colonel Arnold and Colonel Campbell will inform you of the unhappy fate of our brave and most amiable friend, General Montgomery, who, with his Aid-de-camp, Macpherson, Captain Cheeseman, and several other brave officers and men, gloriously fell in an unfortunate attack on Quebeck—unfortunate, indeed, for in addition to the loss we sustain in the death of the General, one of the bravest men of the age, the flower of the Army at Quebeck were either cut off or taken prisoners. I little expect, with the troops who remain, to be able to continue the siege; in short, our situation in this country is at present, and will be till we have relief from the Colonies, very critical and dangerous. We really have but very few men in the country, and many of those few not to be depended on, as we have too dearly proved.

Mr. Antill, a gentleman from Quebeck, whom General Montgomery appointed as Engineer, I beg leave to recommend to you. He was with the General when he fell, and can give you particulars. He is well acquainted with the country, for which reason I have detailed him to proceed on to you, and so to the Congress, knowing that he will be much better able to inform you and them than I am concerning the state of this country, and what will be necessary to be done; unless we have a number of men thrown into this country as soon as they can possibly get over the lakes on the ice, which I apprehend might be done with sleds, and at the same time forward some powder, as we have but four tons in the country at the several posts. We have but one Artillery company, it will therefore be necessary to supply us with another very soon, or we may possibly not only lose the footing we have here, but perhaps all be sacrificed in the country. There is but little confidence to be placed in the Canadians; they are but a small remove from the savages, and are fond of being of the strongest party.

Give me leave, also, to remind you of what, I dare say, General Montgomery has done, that we are in the greatest need of cash; hard money we shall soon be in the greatest distress for want of, and doubtless the more so, since the check to our arms. Mr. Price has hitherto supplied us; indeed, I know not how we could have subsisted as an army without him; he has already advanced for us about twenty thousand pounds, and assisted us in every way possible. General Montgomery, in his last letter to me, begged that Price might be mentioned in the strongest terms to the Congress.

The necessity of immediate relief, I am sure, will strike your mind very forcibly, when I tell you that our enemies in the country are numerous; the clergy almost universally refuse absolution to those who are our friends, and preach to the people that it is not now too late to take arms against us; that the Bostonians are but a handful of men, which, you know, is too true.

Suppose, Sir, that General Washington should detach a thousand men from his Army, if there are no other troops already raised that can be better spared. Something must be done, and that speedily, or I greatly fear that we are ruined. We have but five or six hundred men for the garrisons of this place, Chambly and St. John's. Many of the troops insist on going home, their times of enlistment being out; some, indeed, have run away, without a pass or dismission, expressly against orders. I have been just informed that a Captain Pratt, of the Second Battalion of Yonkers, has led off his company from St. John's. I have given orders to suffer no men to go out of the country, whether they will enlist or not; the necessity of the case, I believe will justify my conduct. [I shall not be able to spare any men to reinforce Colonel Arnold. This place must be secured for a retreat, if necessary.] I called a council of my officers in this place, who were, to a man, agreed that I ought to remain here. I have, therefore, sent Colonel Clinton with Mr. Price, who, I think, will be of great service to him. God only knows what the event will be. This affair puts a very different face upon our interests in this country; however, we must make the best of it.

I have ordered General Montgomery's papers to be sent to me; when I receive them I shall conform myself to his instructions. I expected you were at Congress, and had prepared to send this melancholy news to General Washington, as well as to you; but the post arriving last night, I find that you were at Albany; therefore, shall take it to you. I most heartily condole with you, with General Montgomery's friends, and with the country, for so great a public loss.

I have the honour to be, your most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


Montreal, January 6th, 1776.

Sir:—With the greatest distress of mind, I now sit down to write to you of the event of an unfortunate attack made on Quebec, between the hours of four and six in the morning of the 31st of December, unfortunate, indeed, for us; in it fell our brave General Montgomery; his aid-de-camp, Macpherson, Captains Cheesman and Hendricks, of the riflemen, and two or three subalterns; and between sixty and one hundred privates (the number uncertain) and about three hundred officers and soldiers taken prisoners, among which are Lieutenant-Colonel Geen, Major Biglow, Major Meigs, and a number of Captains and inferior officers. Colonel Arnold was wounded in the leg in the beginning of the action, as was Major Ogden in the shoulder, and brought to the General Hospital. I have not time to give you the particulars, but this much will suffice to show that, in consequence of this defeat, our prospects in this country are rendered very dubious, and unless we can quickly be reinforced, perhaps it will be fatal. Not only to us who are stationed here, but to the Colonies in general, especially the frontiers. Greatly, very greatly depends upon our keeping possession of this country. You know as well as any other man, the temper and dispositions of these Canadians; that they are not persevering in adversity; that they are not to be depended upon; but like the savages are extremely fond of choosing the strongest party, and add to this, our enemies in the country, of which there are many, who use every method to excite the Canadians against us; among other things they tell them that the United Colonies intend to abandon the country, the clergy refused absolution to all who had shown themselves our friends; and preach damnation to those who will not take up arms against us, and tell them that now it is not too late that we are but a handful of men.

I have sent an express to General Schuyler, General Washington, and to Congress. But you know how far they have to go, and it is very uncertain how long it will be before we have relief from them. You, Sir, and the Green Mountain corps are in our neighbourhood; you all have arms, and I am confident, ever stand ready to lend a helping hand to your brethren in distress. I am sensible that there was some disagreement between you and General Montgomery. Poor man! He has lost his life fighting valiantly for his country; but why do I mention anything about disagreement between you; I know that no private resentment can hinder your exercising every faculty to vindicate the rights and privileges for which we are nobly contending; therefore, let me beg of you, to collect as many men as you can—five, six, or seven, hundred, and if you can, and somehow or other, convey them into this country, and stay with me till we can find relief from the Colonies. You are sensible we have provisions of all kinds in abundance, and the weather in this county is not so frightful as many have imagined. You will see that proper officers are appointed under you, and both officers and soldiers shall be paid as the Continental troops. It will be well for your men to set out as fast as collected; not so much matter whether they are together or not; but let them set out ten, twenty, thirty, forty or fifty, as they can be first collected, for it must have a good effect on the minds of the Canadians, to see succor coming in. You will be good enough to send copies of this letter, or such parts of it as you think proper, to the people below you. I cannot but think our friends will make a push into the country; and am confident you will not disappoint my most fervent wish and expectation in seeing you here, with your men, in a very short time. Now is the time for you to distinguish yourselves; of obtaining the united applause of your grateful countrymen, of your distressed friends in Canada, and your very great friend and servant,

David Wooster.

To Colonel Warner.


Montreal, January 13, 1776.

Sir:—Enclosed with this you will receive the names of a number of prisoners who will accompany Colonel Easton across the Lakes, the most of them prisoners of war, but some of them, such persons as have, by their base, ungenerous conduct shown themselves to be our bitterest enemies. I, therefore, think it very improper to suffer them to remain in the country. As a specimen of their practices, I enclose you a copy of the affidavits of three very honest, well disposed soldiers, concerning Mr. De Bonville's conduct. I shall also send Sears with them, who, as I wrote you in my last, began to spread stories of a bad tendency, immediately upon arriving in the country.

And here suffer me to remark, that at this time I must think that Albany is not so proper a place as some others for the prisoners. I have heard that a number of them remain there, who have an opportunity of seeing whatever is done by our army, and of giving their friends in these provinces the earliest intelligence. Major Campbell has behaved himself in a very extraordinary manner and has thrown out most ungenerous and illiberal invectives against my character. He told Captain Benedict at Chambly that I was a damned old scoundrel, and had broke my faith with him for that he was promised, both by General Montgomery and me, that he might remain in this town through the winter. Truth is, that General Montgomery, just before he left this town made out an order on Major Campbell to leave the town immediately, which order he gave to Major Lockwood to see executed, but as Campbell represented to me that he had some business which would suffer if he was not permitted to remain in town a few days, I permitted it. Soon after, it was difficult to pass the river; of consequence he staid till about a fortnight ago, when I sent him and some other gentlemen to Chambly, for which he was pleased to bestow upon me those illiberal invectives.

I have just received intelligence from our Army before Quebec, they still keep up the blockade with spirit; yet are greatly distressed for want of men, being alarmed almost every night, and having so few men, if not assisted in a little time, good as they are (and men never behaved better), they must be worn out. I have sent them a reinforcement of a hundred and twenty, who I suppose will arrive there to-morrow, and another party of seventy will set off from this place to-morrow. What they will do at Quebec or what any of us can do for want of money, God only knows. Money we must have, or give up everything. Our friends are drained already. I hope the Paymaster is on the way. All that can be done will be done to preserve it, but it is impossible to exist as an army much longer without it.

I mentioned in my last that cannon and mortars might be wanted. should be glad of your thoughts upon the subject, and to know what quantity of powder can be forwarded and what cannon and mortars. I think it of the greatest importance that whatever is sent should be here by the first of March when we expect, if properly assisted, to erect batteries, and cannonade the town, which will doubtless be desperately maintained.

Mr. Pellisier, of Three Rivers, has sent to me to know the size of our mortars and cannon, as he is about casting shells and shot. You will, therefore, be kind enough to inform me what size the mortars and cannon are of which will be sent across the Lake.

I forgot to mention to you, in my last, that we have several prisoners among the soldiery confined, whose crimes required a general court martial, and as I have never received your orders for calling one, they cannot be tried.

I am, Sir you most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


Montreal, January 14, 1776

Sir:—Your letter of the 31st ultimo I received per post, also a number of letters from General Montgomery, all of which I opened, not knowing but they might contain something of a public nature; the private letters I shall inclose with this. You will, doubtless, send them to his friends.

I am glad to hear that we many soon expect a paymaster. We have drained our friends here of most of their cash, and it is next to impossible to do anything without it.

Some of the persons you have sent back have really behaved very illy; one Sears, especially, whom I have now in confinement, immediately upon coming into the country, circulated a report, that the Colonies had given over the thoughts of keeping this province; that there were no soldiers at Ticonderoga or Fort George, nor any exported, and so few at St. John's that it would be an easy matter to take it, and indeed all the rest; a story very illy calculated for us in our present delicate situation. Some others of the prisoners which were sent back, I hear have been very busy in reporting stories to our prejudice. I shall, therefore, be obliged to return to you some of them, and perhaps some others, ringleaders of the Tories in this country, with the prisoners who were left here, in a few days.

The four fusils taken by Major Lockwood are put in a box, according to capitulation, and are now at St. John's ready to be sent over the Lakes. It was a mistake of Col. Flemming's, or the fusils would have been taken from all the officers.

They capitulated upon the same conditions as the garrison of fusils, St. John's, and if you look into that, you will see that the officers were all allowed their side arms. But their fire arms were to be put up in a box and delivered to them, when these unhappy disputes were ended, unless they chose to dispose of them, before. I have great hopes, however arduous and difficult it may be, that our little army at Quebec will keep up the blockade till they can be relieved, provided a reinforcement is sent out in short time. I have sent them an hundred and twenty men from this garrison, which was all that could prudence be spared. Colonel Clinton has gone down with Mr. Price. I dare say, they will take every possible measure for the safety of the army and preserving the blockade. I enclose you copies of two letters from Colonel Arnold, with the translation of one sent by desire out of Quebec received since my last.

Just after Mr. Antil left this place I despatched express to Onion River, in order to get a reinforcement from the Green Mountain Boys. I wrote to Col. Warner in the most pressing manner to bring a regiment into this Province, and remain here under Continental pay till they can be relieved, a measure which the present exigency, I think, will justify. Whether they will come or not you know is uncertain.

Quebec is strongly fortified, and so well stored with provisions, that many think they will be able to hold out until they can be relieved in the spring. It is a great chance if they do not make out to get in some provisions, should the river there back up, before our Army can be augmented. How, then, are we to take the place? We have at St. John's two twenty-four pounders, brass, I understand they have a number of thirty-two pounders at New York. Will it not be well to send for them (if the heavy cannon are taken from Ticonderoga, and Fort George,) and with such mortars as you have, with proper ball, shells, etc. Send them forward as quickly as possible. I am of the opinion, that heavy cannon will be necessary in taking that place. I wrote you in my last that we had but a trifle of powder. We have at Quebeck a howitzer, which throws an eight-inch shell. I am informed that one Pelissier, at Three Rivers can cast shells, shot, etc. of any size; but whether he will be able to do it soon enough I cannot yet find out. All kinds of liquors and West India goods are so extravagantly dear here, that I am confident they may be brought over the lakes to great advantage.

In order, therefore, to remedy in some measure, the great difficulty in procuring hard cash, suppose rum and sugar should be forwarded for the soldiers, and a number of sutlers should be encouraged to come over with every kind of article wanted in the army, for which we were obliged to pay hard money here at the most extravagant rates. The sutlers would be able to sell them to us full as low, and many things much lower, and take in pay Continental money. The people in the country—seeing the money pass freely among us, perhaps will be induced to give it a currency.

By the enclosed letters, especially the one which was written in French to General Montgomery, while he was at Quebeck and before the unhappy defeat, (since when our enemies are more bold in the measures against us), you will see the great necessity of sending many of their leaders out of the Province, and of forwarding a reinforcement immediately, not only for continuing the blockade of Quebeck, but for preserving the country.

I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant, David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


Montreal, January 23, 1776

Dear General:—I wrote you the —— instant, since which I have received the papers and letters of our dear deceased General Montgomery, all which, except some few, which contain instructions for our operations in this country I now forward you by Major Ogden. I am informed, that he burnt all confidential letters from friends as he received them, so that there are none left, unless there may be some in the packet to Mr. Livingston. I shall take particular care of his effects and Captain McPherson's when I receive them. The army accounts, receipts, etc., I shall be obliged to keep for a few days, till I can get them copied to prevent impositions. I have also received letters from Colonel Arnold, with an estimate of such artillery, stores, etc., as he thinks necessary for the reduction of Quebec, together with an inventory of such artillery, ammunition, stores, etc, as are at St. Foy's and Point aux Trewbles. As I find the return of stores, which has been made from St. John's is an imperfect one, I shall, to-morrow, send Major Lockwood to St. John's, in company with Major Ogden (who will be on his way to the colonies) where he will make out and enclose to you, an exact inventory of all the artilery, ammunition, stores, etc., which are in the province in our possession. We have but one piece of cannon larger than a twelve-pounder, and that is a brass twenty-four. If it is possible to send us a few heavy cannon across the Lake, I think they will be highly necessary, as our small one will make little impression upon such a strongly fortified place as Quebec; besides, it will hardly answer to strip this garrison and St. John's entirely.

I enclose you a letter from Colonel Arnold to congress; with his estimate, etc.; you will see its contents, and if you think proper, send with it the inventory which Major Lockwood will make out. There is no need of suggesting to you the almost infinite importance of taking possession of that town, before they can obtain a reinforcement in the spring, and therefore the most vigorous measures ought to be used, and the greatest expedition in forwarding everything necessary; more especially, the Canadians and our friends have assured me that, by the middle of March the roads from this to Quebec are impassable.

Of the few men who have arrived here I find several of them have bad arms and are obliged to wait in this place to have them repaired, and even then they are but bad. I could wish they could be better furnished, if possible, before they come into this country. I hope, before this reaches you, that the rebels of Trion county will be quelled and their good arms put to a better use. Accept of my best wishes for your health success and happiness; and believe me respectfully your most obedient and very humble servant.

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


Albany, January 26, 1776.

He writes to Congress telling of General Wooster's "unbecoming subacity" to him on the subject of some prisoners which he sent back, and who proved ill property. He says he must be treated with respect as a gentleman and as a commander of Troops for the United Colonies. Wooster must let the prisoners answer for their offences, and then if guilty to return them to Albany. He commands Wooster to send a return of the Army in Canada, and makes various other abrupt commands.


Montreal, January 27, 1776.

Dear Sir:—Your favor of the 18th instant, with the money, was delivered to me by Captain Benson and the other gentleman. I was very happy to receive the cash, which was greatly needed, and also to hear that a large reinforcement are coming on. A few have already arrived as volunteers, which adds fresh spirit to our men. With what assistance I have already supplied Colonel Arnold, and the recruits which I shall soon send him, I have great hopes he will be able to continue the blockade till we are prepared to prosecute, vigorously, different measures. By what information I have been able to procure, I fear that their provisions will last them till they can be relieved in the Spring. You will, therefore, see the necessity of forwarding heavy cannon, mortars, shells and shot, with a large supply of powder. Colonel Ritjens, who will hand you this, will inform you how necessary a large supply of those things will be to us in carrying on our operations.

We have in this Province many of the officers of the New York battalions, who are desirous of continuing in the service, but their regiments are broken to pieces; many are returned home, and some, when their terms of enlistment were out, enlisted in other corps. I could wish that those battalions could be speedily filled up, for which purpose I have consented that Colonel Ritjens proceed to Albany, and there he will receive your directions.

I have called in most of the commissions which Carleton had given to officers of militia in this part of the Province (that is, down as far as Three Rivers), and given out new ones under the Congress. Those who refuse to give up their commissions (and I expect some will), I shall consider as enemies to us, and as such shall make prisoners of them. I allow each parish to choose their own officers, which I find pleases them much. I hope it will be attended with happy consequences, as those who take commissions under the Congress will be afraid to desert our cause; and no principle operates so strongly upon the minds of Canadians as fear.

I am also about establishing a Committee of Safety in this town, which will be also a Committee of Correspondence. They will, by settling a thousand disputes, ease me of a very great burden. But I have something further in view; when it is once established in this town, perhaps other places in the country will be inclined to follow the example, and by degrees they may possibly be led to choose a Provincial Congress, and, of course, Delegates for the Continental Congress. I confess, to me there appears at least a plausibility in the scheme. What we wish we easily believe.

I have already written you that I think it is of importance to send sutlers into this Province. You are sensible that it will be next to impossible to procure hard money for maintaining an Army here, and I am convinced that many articles may be brought over the lakes into the Province to great advantage. Will it not, therefore, be well to give every possible encouragement for the bringing of every article wanted in the Province from the Colonies, not only for the use of the Army but for the people of the country. Possibly by that means we may gain a currency for our Continental money.

I expect, in a little time, to get matters in such a way here as to be able to leave this place, when I shall immediately proceed to our camp before Quebec, and can then be under better advantages to determine what to do. Mr. Pellissier, of Three Rivers, tells me that he shall not be able to cast any shells for us till the first of May.

Colonel Arnold has not, as yet, sent me General Montgomery's letters and papers. When they arrive I shall forward to you all such as are not necessary for the rule of my conduct, and shall certainly take particular care of the baggage of the dear, deceased General and of your worthy Aid-de-camp.

Major Lockwood and Captain Rensselaer desire me to present their respects to you. I have appointed Captain Rensselaer Deputy Mustermaster-General. I found that it was impossible, consistently with the good of the service, to do any longer without one. Hope it will be approved of.

I am, dear Sir, most respectfully, your very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.

P. S.—I could wish that the Paymaster may be sent over as quickly as possible, as we shall be able to make some little use of Continental money in paying the troops here. As we shall be obliged to make use of a considerable part of the hard cash now received in paying sums that we have borrowed for a few days only, we shall, in a very short time, be in very great need of more.

Colonel Campbell sent in to Governour Carleton, by the flag of truce which came out for the prisoners' baggage, that he would gladly pay the value of General Montgomery's watch, if it could be procured; the consequence of which was, they sent out the watch without requiring payment. I now send it by Colonel Ritjens.


Cambridge, January 27, 1776.

He impresses upon Wooster the importance of getting possession of Canada, and says that when the troops arrive from the Colonies into Canada "I confidently hope that, should the command devolve upon you, you will not only reinstate our affairs in their former pleasing situation, but will be the happy means of adding the only link wanting in the grand chain of Continental Union." He tells Arnold about the same thing, and hints to Schuyler that he is the man to conquer Canada and make the American cause secure.


Montreal, January 27, 1776.

Sir:—Your favour of the 30th November I have just received.

To the man who engages in this glorious struggle from the pure principle of love to his country, if he meets with the applauses of his countrymen for any services, it must certainly give him very sensible pleasure.

My brethren in America were not only entitled to any little services I may have rendered them, but ever will be to my most strennous efforts to serve them, and I shall always think myself exceedingly happy, and most amply rewarded, if they prove successful.

Long before this reaches you you will have received the news of the unhappy attack upon Quebec, I most sincerely condole with you for the loss of the brave and most amiable General Montgomery and the rest of the brave officers and soldiers who fell gloriously with him.

Colonel Arnold still keeps up the blockade. I have sent him all the Troops that could possibly be spared from this garrison. I should immediately have gone there myself, but it was thought unadvisable at that time for me to leave this place, which it was necessary to secure as a retreat.

Troops now begin to come in from the Colonies, and as I have got matters nearly settled here, I intend, in a little time, to proceed to Quebec.

We shall want everything; men, money, heavy cannon, mortars, shot and shells, and a large supple of powder, as we have not more than four tons in the Province. I have written General Schuyler fully upon what may be necessary in carrying on the siege; also, the state of the Province, what measures have been taken in it, which suppose he has communicated.

To remedy the evil of sinking so much hard cash in this country, I have advised that every article wanted in this country from the Colonies, especially all kinds of West India goods, and liquors and New England rum, be brought over the Lakes, which I am convinced may be done, and sold lower than what we are now obliged to give. These articles may be then paid for in Continental money, and that, in my opinion, will go a great way toward giving it currency.

I am, with the greatest esteem and respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

To the Hon. John Hancock, Esq., President of Congress.


Albany, 10 o'clock A.M., February 1, 1776.

General Wooster in a letter of the 20th ult. says:

"I have just received intelligence form our army before Quebec; they still continue the blockade with spirit, yet are greatly distressed for want of men, being alarmed almost every night, and, having so few men, if not assisted in a little time, good as they are (and men never behaved better), they must be worn out. I have sent them a reinforcement of a hundred and twenty, who, I expect will arrive there to-morrow, and another party of seventy will set off from this place this morning.

"What our people at Quebec will do, or what any of us can do, for want of money, God only knows. Money we must have, or give up everything. Every engine is set at work to discredit us with the people of the country. Our friends are already drained. If the Lakes are not so taken as to render it imprudent to venture the military chest across, cannot some trusty person come on with a thousand or two pounds for present use, and in the meantime we shall make every shift to promote the service.

"I mentioned in my last that cannon, mortars and amunition might be wanted. Should be glad of your thoughts on the subject, and to know what quantity of powder can be forwarded, and how many cannon and mortars, and what size. Mr. Pelissier, of Three Rivers, has sent to me to know the size of our mortars and cannons, as he is about casting shells and shot.

I think it of importance that whatever is sent should be here by the 1st of March. By that time, if properly assisted, we shall be able to erect batteries. They must be cannonaded in earnest. The place is strong, and they are determined to hold out desparately. You will, therefore, see the necessity of spirited measures in order to take possession of it before they can be reinforced from Great Britain."


Montreal, February 10, 1776.

Dear Sir:—The public is much obliged to you, and to the Committees of Haverhill and Newburg, for your attention and care to promote the interest of the country. I was happy to find, and shall gratefully remember your patriotic and friendly concern for our little army in this country. We have truly been very critically situated since our repulse at Quebec; but by being particularly vigilant, and doubling duty, which has been very severe, we have kept our ground good; and as we have already received some succour, and daily expect more from our friends in the Colonies, we still hope to gibe an account of our brave countrymen who were unfortunately made prisoners. The Congress seem determined to support us. The securing this Province is truly an object of great importance to our cause, and I hope will be considered in that light by all true friends to the country, and I doubt not proper provision will be made for that purpose. The route from Cambridge to Canada, by Missisque, has already been represented at Headquarters. You will accept of my best wishes for yourself and the Committees of Haverhill, a and Newburg, and believe me, respectfully, your most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

Colonel Jacob Bayly, at Newburg.


Montreal February 11, 1776.

Dear Sir:—Your letter of the 26th ultimo I have received, in answer to which give me leave to observe to you that I also claim a right to be treated with the respect due to me as a gentleman and an officer, intrusted with a command from the Honorable The Representatives of Thirteen Colonies. Why, Sir, use these positive mandates? Have I ever disputed your orders? Since I have been in the army I have exerted every faculty to promote a union among the officers and have carefully avoided everything that might have the least tendency to cause jealousies, in short, Sir, I have steadily and inviolably pursued these measures that appeared to me conducive to the truest interests of our country. How ungenerous therefore, that an advantage should be taken of my conciliatory disposition. Yet, you will pardon me if I misjudge. I cannot account for your imperious conduct toward me on any other principle. You will remember your letter to me while I was at St. John's, founded on falsehood and which you could have no motive for writing, save to insult me. I thought it at that time not worth answering, and shall, at present, take no notice of it. I shall, however, send a copy of it to Congress, and of your last letter, together with copies of my own; except the one which you observe was wrote with unbecoming subacity! that is somehow mislaid, and I shall be obliged to you, if you will forward it. I can remember nothing in it either disrespectful or subacid, and being confident nothing of that nature was intended. I suppose that Congress will find that it was not express. As you have already complained to the honourable, the Congress, I thought it my duty to show them what has passed between us. And they will judge which of us has the greatest reason to complain of ill treatment. For the present, let the matter rest, they will doubtless do justice. This is no time to altercate, the whole of our time is little enough to attend to the operations absolutely necessary for the defense of our country. You will give me leave to inform you that the commanding officer, who is with the army is to give out orders, and is the only competent judge of what is proper, and what not, for the internal regulation of the army and for the immediate safety of this country.

Since the death of the worthy and brave General Montgomery, with whom I had the happiness to serve in the strictest harmony and friendship, and who ever treated me like a gentleman, the command devolves upon me, and I shall give out such orders as appear to me necessary for the public good, and shall send out of the country all prisoners and such persons as may be thought dangerous to our cause, as soon as it can be done with convenience. The returns of the army shall be made out and transmitted to you. I shall also take care that your orders to General Montgomery are executed as far as possible, and shall do everything in my power to carry into execution every resolve of the Congress.

Mr. Jordan has accepted the bill for five hundred dollars. When it is paid I shall credit the public. I mentioned to you in a former letter that I thought it very necessary that an artillery company, as well as artillery stores, etc., should be sent into this country. Should be glad to hear whether they can be spared from the colonies or not, and what assistance, of that nature we may expect. I shall send a copy of this letter to Congress; if there are any misrepresentations you will have opportunity to correct them.

I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.

P. S.—I will just observe, further, that I think it would have been much more generous in you, to have pointed out the exceptional part of my letters, before you complained to Congress.


Montreal, February 13, 1776.

Sir:—Since writing the letter to Congress, enclosed with this, I have been considering of the force intended by Congress to be sent into this country. Perhaps I may be mistaken, but I cannot but be of opinion that the ministry will send a great force into this province in the spring; and our everything depends upon our having a force upon the spot superiour to them. In that case we shall keep the Canadians in our interest; otherwise we may depend upon their being our enemies. They will think it necessary to exert themselves against us, in order to make their peace with their former masters. I need not mention to you the almost infinite importance of keeping this Province. Mr. Walker, and Mr. Price will tell you what dependence is to be placed in the Canadians. I could wish that ten thousand men might be pushed into this country, by the first of May; which will be a respectable Army. I hope, Sir, that vigorous exertions for keeping this province will be presented to Congress; Quebec must be taken before May; yet we have neither proper Artillery nor ammunition. However, a sufficient number of men of resolution, I hope, will effect it; I am, Sir, with the greatest respect, and esteem, your most obedient and very humble servant.

David Wooster.


Montreal, February 13, 1776.

Sir:—The Paymaster has arrived, but has brought no hard cash with him. We can buy no provisions or wood with continental currency. Yet they must be had, and that before the middle of March; after that time, there will be no passing up and down this river, for three or four weeks. Perhaps the expedition may fail for want of supplies. Flour may be purchased for nine livres per hundred weight. We ought to purchase a quantity of beef also. Meat we have will soon be gone. I understand there is a quantity at Ticonderoga.


Montreal, February 18, 1776.

Sir:—I received your letter of the 2nd instant, with the enclosed resolve of Congress; and observe the contents, and shall attend to the instructions. Mr. Hare shall be used with every civility. A return of the names of Commissioners in Canada shall be sent you when I can get a return from General Arnold.

I am informed there is a great plenty of salt in this part of Canada; more than sufficient for a twelvemonth. I will inquire and find out what quantity of cloth fit for tents, can be procured in this country, but do not expect to find much. I enclose you a return of tents and nails, etc., that are in the stores in this place. As a number of Gondolas will be greatly wanted in the river St. Lawrence, and as we have a quantity of seasoned timber and plank, and you will see by the enclosed return a quantity of spikes and nails, and as it will be difficult to get such as are built on the lake, and perhaps dangerous, if they are built anyways large, down the rapids of Chambly, will it not be well to build them here? Yet the articles of pitch, tar, turpentine and oakum, must in that case, be sent from the colonies, as there is none of either in the Province. Some master carpenter would, also be much wanted—good workman; poor ones are to be had here.

A proper person shall be appointed to frank the Army letters.

A return of Ordnance in this country is already sent you. The addresses are and shall be published.

I shall send you by this conveyance General Montgomery's papers, except the accounts of disbursements, which must be first copied. Captain Van Renssellaer is at present gone to Quebec, to number the Troops there; when he returns I shall direct him to proceed to Albany.

With regard to the two regiments to be formed out of the broken corps now in this Province, I hardly know what to say. I rather imagine it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to persuade but very few of them to engage for a longer time than their present inlistments. Yet I should be sorry that those officers who are willing to continue in the service should not have an opportunity. The plan you propose, though calculated to prevent jealousies between provinces, I fear will be impracticable; besides the difficulty of placing younger officers before older ones, they will never consent to serve together, in companies, as that arrangement will place them. Suppose, Sir, that the Troops from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut should form one regiment and the different New York battalions another, and the officers be ranked according to seniority; from some conversation I have had with several of the officers, I am persuaded that the other plan cannot be effected, shall, therefore, be obliged to you for your thoughts upon this, and am, in haste, your most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


Montreal, February 21, 1776.

Sir:—The paymaster has arrived but has brought nothing but paper money. Our flour is nearly expended; we have not mere than enough for the army one week. We can purchase no provisions or wood, or pay for transporting anything without hard cash; we are now not able to pay half the debts we owe the country people; our credit sinks daily; all the provisions and wood that we want for the army for two or three months to come must be purchased and transported to camp by the middle of March; after that time there will probably be no passing for a month or six weeks; these things, therefore, must be provided immediately; or the consequence shall be dreadful. I have, therefore sent Mr. Cole, a young gentleman, from Quebec, whom I have employed as Secretary, on purpose to hasten the forwarding of specie, as a few days may be of infinite importance. I am, Sir, your most obedient, and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


[Rec'd March 5, 1776]

Montreal, February 21, 1776.

Gentlemen:—Our distressing circumstances, together with the fatal consequences we have reason to apprehend, for want of hard money, have induced me to send my secretary, Mr. Cole, to you, to bring forward what can be procured. Provisions and wood can not be obtained, nor can we pay for the transporting of anything but with hard cash, which, if we are not immediately supplied with, we must either starve, quit the country, or disgrace our Army and the American cause by laying the country under contribution; there is no other alternative. We have not by us half money enough to answer the demands of the country people to whom we are indebted. By the middle of March, or a little later, we shall not be able to pass with anything up and down this country; our flour is already in a manner gone, and every other kind of provision soon will be, yet a large supply must be sent to the camp before the roads are impassible. Our friends here can supply us with specie no longer; our credit sinks with the inhabitants. Mr. Walker and Mr. Price will inform you more fully of the absolute necessity of supplying the Army before it is too late; a few days delay, at this critical time, may be attended with fatal consequences. I understand there is a quantity of pork at Fort George, which I have desired General Schuyler to forward across the Lakes; whether he will do it or not I cannot say; I hope he will. Being certain that the Congress want nothing but the information of the necessities of the Army, in order, as far as possible to supply them, I now take the liberty to give the necessary information, and am, with the greatest respect, gentlemen, your most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To the Continental Congress.


Montreal, February 25, 1776.

Sir:—Your favour of the 27th ultimo I have received, and nothing but want of time, when proper opportunities presented, has prevented my answering it sooner.

I am fully sensible of the importance of reducing Quebec and keeping possession of this Province, for the accomplishment of which you may depend upon my utmost exertions. I am, also, with you, fully of opinion that the Ministry will send a powerful armament here in the Spring, for which reason I think it of almost infinite importance that we have a large Army here, properly provided, early, to oppose them upon their first arrival; indeed, it seems to me that our everything in this Province depends upon it. If we have the greatest force, we have the Canadians our friends; on the other hand, should our enemies arrive with a force superior to ours, I fear the consequence may be fatal.

I can not learn from General Schuyler that we are likely to have any cannon, mortars, shot, or shells from across the Lake, and as we have not here proper cannon, &c., for cannonading Quebec, I rather imagine we shall be obliged to try once more by assault, which, notwithstanding the late unhappy repulse, I think must be successful when attempted by three or four thousand good men. However, every other method will be first tried.

Troops are now daily coming in, and I hope, in a few days, to be able to leave this place and join General Arnold, who has, to his great honour, kept up the blockade with such a handful of men, that the story, when told hereafter, will be scarcely credited. He is now so reinforced as to be out of danger from a sortie.

Be pleased to accept my best wishes for your success and happiness, and believe me, with the greatest respect, your most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Washington.

Note: The original of this letter, in the handwriting of his aide, is in the Charles Allen Munn Collection in the Fordham University Archives. Fordham has JPEG images of the three pages of the letter online. See entry #53 at
I have downloaded the images.
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3


[Rec'd March 4.—Referred to Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Wythe and Mr. Sherman.]

Gentlemen:—this letter will be delivered you by Mr. Walker and Mr. Price, two gentlemen whose friendship and attachment to our cause is well known, and to whom the United Colonies are under many obligations. As they are the best acquainted with this Province of, perhaps, any two gentlemen in it, and as there are many transactions of great importance concerning it, I have requested them to wait upon Congress, that you may know from them fully everything necessary for your information.

I have permitted the merchants of this place, trading to the upper country, to choose a committee to prepare a petition to the Honourable Congress, concerning their Indian trade. You will hear from them, and from Messrs. Walker and Price, what can be said for and against it; and your determinations in that, and in every other matter, I shall strictly attend to.

Besides the operations of war, there are so many civil and political affairs that require the greatest care, and most delicate management, that I could wish a committee of Congress might be sent into this Province.

General Arnold has, in a most surprising manner, kept up the blockade of Quebec, and that with half the number of the enemy. He is now so well reinforced that I apprehend but little danger from a sortie, should they make one. I intend to join him as soon as this place can be left with safety, and necessaries properly provided for forwarding the troops as they arrive from the Colonies. I fear we shall meet with difficulty in taking the place for want of artillery, ammunition, etc., but everything possible will be done. Unless we keep up a greater force in this Province, from the Colonies, than should be brought against us in the Spring, I fear we can place no great dependence upon the Canadians; and in that case it might be attended with very unhappy if not fatal consequences. How great a force the Ministry will send here is uncertain, yet many imagine they will make this Province the seat of war. I hope we shall be able to keep the field against them.

I enclose you copies of several letters to General Schuyler, with copies of his to me. He writes to me that he had observed to Congress that I had written him with unbecoming subacity. I think he might have pointed out to me the exceptionable parts of my letters before he made his observations to Congress. It gives me pain that I am obliged, in my own defense, to trouble you with examining and determining which of us has the greatest reason to complain of ill treatment. I am conscious that my conduct will bear the strictest scrutiny. I have ever studiously avoided entering into any altercation with him, fearing that the public interest might suffer by it. He began to insult me immediately on my joining the army, as you will see by his letter of the 23d of October last, though I know of no reason under Heaven why he should treat me thus cavalierly, but merely to indulge his capricious humour, which, in the course of the last year, he has dealt out very liberally upon many of the officers who have served in this Department, complaints of which have been frequently made to me. Happy would it be for him, and for our cause, if he would learn to bridle his passions. The letters between him and me will speak for themselves. I shall send him a copy of this letter, and also enclose with this a copy of my letter to him of this date. No personal ill treatment will prevent my steadily and invariably continuing to pursue those measures which shall appear most conducive to the public good, and shall think myself happy, it by doing everything in my power, I can be in the least instrumental in maintaining and preserving the rights and liberties of my country.

David Wooster.

To the Honourable Continental Congress.


Montreal, March 5, 1776.

Sir:—Your favours, with the cash by Mr. Benson, came safe to hand this day at a time when greatly wanted; what we had being almost entirely expended. Whether I shall be able to borrow money of the merchants upon the plan you propose or not, I cannot yet tell. I have consulted Mr. Henry upon the subject. I think him as likely to succeed in the business as any person I can employ; yet I imagine it doubtful whether he succeeds or not, as very few, if any, of the merchants have remittance to make in the Colonies, and, in general, they are not disposed to assist us, when it can be avoided.

I am happy at the arrival of the Commissaries, and shall, with pleasure, publish your orders concerning that branch of business. I have no doubt but there have been many abuses, and, I fear, not a few embezzlements. I have attempted several times to make an inquiry thoroughly into the conduct of different Commissaries; but our critical situation, and the various different kinds of business which were absolutely necessary to attend to, have prevented my taking such measures as I could have wished. There was a considerable quantity of provisions left at St. John's, and taken in the fleet; a part of which was taken in the fleet was carried in the vessels, and has since been sent to Quebeck. There has been a number of poor families who suffered greatly about St. John's, and a number of prisoners in the town, who have been supplied with provisions through the winter; yet I cannot but think the consumption has been greater than I imagined. I hope the four hundred barrels, with what we have on hand, and what we can be procured here, will be sufficient for us until the lakes open. I have sent Lieutenant Johnson, of the train, to St. John's, to forward some of the cannon and artillery stores from that place to Quebeck; a part of which have already been sent. I hope that whatever you send from Ticonderoga will arrive in a few days, or I fear the passing from this to Quebeck will be difficult. I have been very careful to take returns of all the troops, as they arrive from the Colonies. Of Colonel Warner's Regiment, which he tells me, he supposed to consist of between seven and eight hundred, there have four hundred and seventeen arrived, and there are but a few more expected. I could wish that some method might be found out to prevent any imposition of this kind. I am of opinion that we shall need a real army in this Province—a nominal one will not answer the purpose. I hope the other regiments that are ordered for this country will not turn out so lightly. I imagine you have been deceived with regard to Warner's Regiment, as he tells me he made you return of between seven and eight hundred.

I am very glad to hear that General Lee is coming into the Province. Perhaps it might not be amiss, if the Congress should think proper to send one or tow other Generals with him. It will be of great consequence to our cause that we have a respectable army here this summer. We have great reasons to believe that there is a correspondence kept up between some of our enemies in and about this town and the King's Troops at Swagotcha and Niagara; and from a number of circumstances collected from the Caughnawaga Indians, we have reason to apprehend that there is a plan concerted for those troops, in conjunction with what Canadians can be collected about those places, a number of Indian traders and their workmen, and a number of Savages, to make a descent upon this town when our troops are gone to Quebeck. Should our apprehensions prove true, it will be necessary to keep a strong garrison here. I have sent an Indian, who lately arrived here from Dr. Wheelock, (and understands English, French, and Indian,) among several of their tribes, to see whether he can find out the truth. When he returns, I shall likely be better informed.

I am, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


Montreal, March 13, 1776.

Sir:—I have sent down Mr. Woolsey and Monsieur Beaubasin. Woolsey was taken prisoner by Major Brown, and set at liberty upon his parole of honour to do nothing against our Army. He afterwards went into Quebeck, and headed a party in an attempt to take some of General Arnold's men prisoners, but failed in the attempt, and was afterwards taken himself. Monsieur Beaubasin is represented to be a very dangerous man, and a most inveterate enemy, who is reported to have intrigues with the Indians, and was overheard to advise the massacre of our troops. A few days since, I wrote to you that we had reasons to apprehend some mischief contriving against us in the upper countries; since when a Richard Walker, one Goddard, and Lorimier, (a Frenchman and Indian interpreter,) have, in a secret manner, left this place, and gone to the upper countries. We have heard of them upon their way; and it is said that Peter Johnson (a natural son of Sir William's, who sailed from Quebeck for England, stopped at Halifax, and has come across from that place to this, and was disguised here for some days in the dress of a Squaw) has gone with them. What designs may be forming, we cannot certainly tell; but most likely to make a decent upon this place while the most of our troops are gone to Quebeck. And really we have very few men to spare for this garrison; and there has not yet arrived from the Colonies fifteen hundred men. How many more we may expect before the lakes are impassable, we do not know; but I could wish to see them come in much faster. Will it not be well to send a body of troops to Oswego, by the way of Mohawk River? I am informed that the back Nations of Indians were invited down here this spring by Carleton; but am unacquainted whether any belts have ever reached them from Congress—you doubtless, know. If they have received none, will it not be advisable to send to them as soon as possible?

I am, Sir, your most obedient very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To General Schuyler.


Montreal, March 16, 1776.

Sir: This will be handed to you by Mr. Blake, in whose favour I have taken the liberty to draw upon you one order of the 13th instant, for three hundred and ninety-four pounds fifteen shillings and three pence, lawful money, which is for blankets, &c., purchased for the use of the troops; and one order of the 16th instant, for four hundred and seventy-one pounds eighteen shillings and nine pence, lawful money, in cash, borrowed of him for the use of the Army, and which we have had for some time, without interest. He has been very friendly to us, and granted us every assistance in his power. I therefore recommend him to your notice. He will tell you the reasons we have to apprehend that there is mischief contriving by the King's Troops, and the inhabitants, traders, ank savages, in and about Detroit.

Many of our friends in this town, from a number of circumstances, are of opinion that those men, who I informed you of in my last had made their escape from this place, took with them a considerable sum of money. We are informed by some Savages that they left Legolet last Monday for Niagara and Detroit; and it is thought if a party went off immediately by the way of the Mohawk River that they might be taken. After being fully informed by Mr. Blake, perhaps you will think it will be necessary to make a diversion that way as early as possible; for should a large number come down to this town, while the bulk of our Army are at Quebeck; they may give us trouble.

I have made a calculation of what powder we have in this country, and find there is not more than sixty rounds for six thousand men, supposing we had no sue for cannon. I am afraid that it will be so difficult to pass the lakes in a little time, that unless the men are hurried, our numbers will fall greatly short of what were expected.

Your favour of the 6th instant I have received, and am very sorry that the whole of the provisions, cannon, artillery, stores, &c., which were designed for this country, could not be sent forward. I hardly know what we shall do, our money is already gone. Hope there is some upon the road. The Deputy Paymaster is still here. He sent some time ago fifteen thousand dollars, in paper, to Quebec; but I believe that he has not a sufficiency to pay off the Army by him. I expected to have gone to Quebeck myself before this time, but the troops coming in so slowly, and there has been so much to do here, that as yet, it has been impossible. I am glad to hear that General Lee is on his road. Hope to see him in this Province in a few days.

If you can possibly be spared from New-York, I think it of the greatest importance to our operations in this country that you remain at Albany till we can be remitted and supplied with necessaries; am, therefore, exceeding glad to hear that you intend it.

I am, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.


[Read May 4, 1776]

Holland House, Before Quebec, April 10, 1776.

Sir:—I arrived here about a week ago; and General Arnold, by his desire set off this morning to supply my place at Montreal.

By a return of the state of the Army, which General Arnold sent, about ten days since, to Mr. Deane, you will see what we have to rely upon. Our situation is truly very disagreeable. We have between tow and three thousand mouths to fill, and not many more than half the number of men to do duty; and many of them expect to leave us the 15th instant. We are erecting two or three batteries; but our powder and artillary stores are so trifling, that I rather imagine no great results ought to be expected from them. Troops come to our assistance but slowly; and a great part of those who have arrived have been but of very little service, on account of the small-pox.

In making out the arrangement of officers for the two regiments directed to be raised out of the broken corps in Canada, I promised them to write to the honourable congress, to exchange them for two other regiments from the Colonies, which might be sent into this country, and their places in the Colonies be supplied by the two regiments raised here. As the troops who will compose these regiments have undergone great hardships, and have been from home near a twelve-month, (which is much longer than they expected,) I think their request a reasonable one, and could wish to have it complied with.

I am, Sir, with the greatest esteem and respect your most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To the Honorable John Hancock.


Montreal, May 8, 1776.

Benedict Arnold writes to General Washington: "General Thomas arrived here about seven days ago; and has joined the army before Quebec. General Wooster is disgusted, and expected here daily.


Sorki, May 15, 1776.

Arnold writes the Commissioners that General Carleton is about to attack General Thomas; "General Wooster left this place yesterday for Chambly.


Chambly, May 27, 1776.

Sir:—As General Thomas has been informed that a considerable force of the enemy is arrived above Deschambault, and seem to be proceeding farther this way; and as he, from his present circumstances, is incapable of attending to the necessary concerns of the army, his Honour has commanded me to submit to your consideration whether it may not be prudent for a party to be detached to the Isle aux Voiz and secure that post; to remove such batteries, stores and other baggage as can be spared, below this place, above the rapids of Chambly, and to forward such troops as are able to be removed, and are unfit for duty, to some place of greater security.

I am, Sir, very respectfully, your most obedient and very humble servant,

Theodore Sedgwick, Secretary.

To General Wooster.


At a council of war, held at Chambly May 30, 1776:

Hon. Brigadier-General Wooster, President.

Brigadier-Generals: Arnold, Thompson, De Woedtke. Colonels—Greaton, Maxwell, Poor, Stark, Campbell, St. Clair, Livingston, Porter, Brown, Hazen, Allen, McAufie, Gilman.

Among other resolutions, it was thought best to keep Canada if practicable, and that the "post now occupied be kept for the present by the main body of the Army."


Fort George, May 31, 1776.

General Schuyler informs John Hancock, President of Congress, that he does not know where General Wooster is; his "last accounts say on the way to this country." Incidental.


St. John's, June 1, 1776.

General Sullivan informs President of Congress, incidentally, that "General Wooster is here, with his baggage, returning to Connecticut, by means of which the command devolves upon me."


New York, June 3, 1776.

Sir:—The Congress have been pleased to direct your recall, as you will perceive by the enclosed copy of their resolution. I am, therefore, in compliance with their command, to make it my request that you immediately repair to Headquarters at New York.

I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,

George Washington.

To Brigadier-General Wooster, in Canada.


Provincial Congress, New York, June 17, 1776.

Sir:—Being well informed that four Regiments, containing near three thousand effective men, were sailed in transports for this City, we take the liberty to request the assistance of those brave sons of freedom who are under your command. We are this instant further informed that the Mercury, ship-of-war, was cruising upon our coast, and is now at Sandy Hook, to order those transports to Boston immediately, and did, on Tuesday last, thirty leagues to the southeast of the Hook, deliver her orders to the Old Spy, man-of-war, now a transport, with part of the Forty-Fourth Regiment on board, which immediately altered her course. From hence we conclude that a very capital stroke is meditated against our brethren of the Massachusetts Bay. You best can determine, Sir, whether it is proper, on this occasion, for the forces under your command to march westward. But we are led to believe that it is of more important consequence to secure the several passes, with which nature hath bounteously fortified the eastern country, that if some unexpected chance of war should prove fatal to us in the first contest, the enemy may, by such means, receive a double check in his career of vengeance. We beg you to transmit this intelligence to the Provincial Camp with the utmost dispatch.

We are, Sir, your most humble servants,

By order of the Provincial Congress:-

Peter V. B. Livingston, President.

To Major-General Wooster, Greenwich.


New York, June 17, 1776.

Sir:—I beg leave to inform Congress that General Wooster has repaired to Headquarters in obedience to their resolve transmitted him, and shall be extremely glad if they will give me such further directions about him as they may conceive necessary. He is desirous of seeing his family in Connecticut, as I am informed, having been a good while from it. I shall await their instructions as to his future employment.

I am Sir, with sentiments of usual esteem, your most obedient servant,

George Washington.

To President of Congress.


Greenwich, June 18, 1776.

Sir:—I have just received a letter from the Provincial Congress at New York, a copy of which I enclose and send you by express, who will also proceed to the Provisional Camp with another to General Ward. Perhaps your Honour will now think best to order the Troops under my command eastward instead of westward.

I am, in haste, your most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster, Major-General.

To The Honourable Jonathan Trumbull, Esq.


[Read June 26, 1776. Referred to Committee appointed to

inquire into the cause of miscarriages in Canada.]

Philadelphia, June 26, 1776.

Sir:—The unjust severity and unmerited abuse with which my character has been treated in the Colonies by persons who are either secret enemies to the glorious cause in which every virtuous American must heartily join, or whose ambition would by every means (however base) remove all obstacles to their advancement and promotion, added to the harsh treatment I have received from some part of the illustrious body over whom you preside, render it necessary that I should take some steps towards undeceiving them, satisfying the public, and doing justice to myself and the army in Canada.

If these can be done, it must give satisfaction to every feeling heart. The honour of a soldier being the first thing he should defend, and his honesty the last thing he should live up, his character must ever be considered as entitled to the protection of the virtuous and the good. I have, therefore, Sir, to request that you would move to the Honourable Congress that the Committee appointed to examine into the affairs of Canada may be directed to look thoroughly into my conduct while I had the honour of commanding the Continental forces in that country, or that some other may be appointed for that purpose, that I amy be acquitted or condemned upon just grounds and sufficient proof.

I am, with great respect, your most humble servant,

David Wooster.

To the Honourable John Hancock, Esq.


New York, June 29, 1776.

General Washington informs Congress that "General Wooster, having expressed an inclination and wish to wait on Congress, I have given him permission, not having any occasion for him here. He set out this morning."


Philadelphia, July 5, 1776.

As I understand that my character has greatly suffered by an injurious representation that I am guilty of robbing one Bernard, an Indian trader in Montreal, of his goods, last winter, I therefore beg leave to state that matter in its proper light. In January last I called the Indian traders of Montreal together, and inquired of them whether they expected passports in the spring to carry their goods, &c., into the Indian country as usual; they told me they expected that indulgence, but that, at any rate, they should be permitted to carry provisions to their people in the upper country. As I apprehended the granting of passports for the upper country might be attended with unhappy consequences to the interests of the United colonies—as the goods which they make use of for that trade were much wanted for our Army, and there was the greatest reason to expect that by this way our enemies would be supplied with everything they wanted—I did not incline to grant passports without the direction of Congress. I therefore advised them to choose a committee to wait upon Congress for their direction. They sent Mr. Forbisher, who did not return till the month of April. Soon after I was informed the merchants were determined to send off their goods in the spring, with or without passports; upon which I gave out a general order prohibiting the carrying any coarse goods out of the city, except such as were wanted by the country people. About the 20th of March I was informed that the above mentioned Bernard had privately conveyed out of the city into the suburbs a large quantity of coarse goods for the upper country trade; and upon further inquiry found that the goods were loaded in the night and carried off twenty-nine sleigh loads. I immediately sent a party after them, who, about thirty miles from Montreal overtook and brought back seven loads of blankets, powder, and various other goods calculated for the Indian trade. These goods were all brought to Headquarters; and as I was then preparing to go to Quebeck, I gave them into the hands of Mr. George Measam, with orders to take an exact account of them, and to keep them to be delivered out to the troops when wanted; that if it should afterwards be judged that Mr. Bernard had not properly, by the rules of war, forfeited them, they might be paid for. You will please to observe that this Bernard had broken through and violated a publick agreement, disobeyed general orders, and was carrying warlike stores, provisions, &c., to our enemies; and, notwithstanding, I was called a robber for detaining the man's goods. I am far from being certain that many are and will not be of opinion that the goods were as legal a prize as any vessel or goods taken from Great Britain or the West Indies in this war. In addition to my own opinion of the propriety of preventing the Indian trade, I have General Lee's instructions to prevent the carrying off of coarse goods, which you will see by his letter of the 28th of February.

I am, Gentlemen, your most obedient servant,

David Wooster, Brigadier-General

To The Honourable the Committee of Congress.


Philadelphia, July 5, 1776.

As I understand my conduct in confining Major Gray, Colonel Dupee, and St. George Dupee, has been found fault with, I must beg leave to give reasons that induced me to it.

Sundry captains of militia applied to me to issue an order, directing them to deliver up the commissions they had received from General Carleton; by which they were obliged to take up arms against the Continental Troops whenever they should be commanded by General Carleton; which they did not chose to do, but would rather take commissions under the Continental Congress.

Being fully sensible of the propriety of their request, I accordingly gave out order for that purpose, and allowed my parish the privilege of choosing their own officers and making a proper return to me; which they cheerfully complied with. I then granted commissions under the honourable Continental Congress to almost all the officers of militia in the District of Montreal, as far as the Three Rivers. As the Field Officers belonging to Montreal had not given up their commissions, several captains applied to me to oblige them to do it, as they should yet be obliged to take up arms against us in case General Carleton should call upon these officers to deliver their commissions pursuant to my order, as it was inconsistent for them to pretend either to friendship or neutrality, while they held commissions for the very purpose of taking arms against the colonies whenever they were commanded by General Carleton or his successor. And here I must observe, these commissions were predicated upon a proclamation issued by General Carleton in May, or June, 1775; denouncing destruction to the traitors and rebels of the New England colonies. The French officers appeared willing to deliver up their commissions, but Major Gray, since he would not deliver his, let the consequences be what it would; and the whole posee of Tories in Montreal used their utmost endeavors to dissuade the French officers from complying with my order, which they effected. It therefore, became necessary for us to support my authority, or both I and my orders would appear contemptible in the eyes of the Tories and Canadians. I told these officers if they persisted in their disobedience they must repair to the Fort of Chambly, as a place of security; and to put it out of their power to do us that injury which might be justly apprehended from them.

Major Gray, as early as December, swore we had not taken Quebec yet; and never should take it; which conversation had a very bad effect upon people who were far from being our friends; indeed the whole tenor of his discourses in the coffee-house last winter was against the honourable Continental Congress; and their measure. Therefore I judged him a dangerous man, and with all his adherents, inimical to the cause of the United Colonies; and as such, pursuant to General Schuyler's orders, and my own sentiments, I sent Colonel Dupee and him and St. George Dupee to Chambly.

Here I must observe, that the Honourable Commissioners from Congress, on their arrival in Canada, did, ex officio supercede my orders, and released the above-mentioned persons to go to Montreal, where Major Gray put his sword and cockade and strutted about like a victorious conquerer. Two prisoners of war also had this enlargement at that time to go from that fort into the adjacent village, and in a few days they went off, recruiting for the King's army among the Canadians. I must beg leave to observe, that by the above transaction, the greatest insult and indignity was cast on my character and conduct, being then commander-in-chief in Canada; and it was certainly inconsistent with good policy, let their private sentiments of me and my measures be what they would, as it naturally rendered general orders contemptible in the eyes of the officers and soldiers of our own army, as well as our enemies. And yet, what is more extraordinary, all this was done before I could possibly have an interview (consistent with the public safety) with these gentlemen on the subject.

David Wooster, Brigadier-General.

To the Honourable Committee of Congress.


Thursday, July 25, 1776.

The Committee of Treasury also reported, that there is due—

To Michael Phillips, employed by Brigadier-General Wooster in making sundry repairs in the citadel and hospital in Montreal, casting, etc., 397 dollars and 75-90th, deducting the sum of 96 dollars and 7-90ths, which he received from Major Nicholson, the balance being 301 dollars and 68-90ths.


Tuesday, July 30, 1776.

Resolved, That General Wooster acted properly in stopping the goods of Bernard & Wadden, who were carrying the same, without permission, to the Indians in the upper country.


Saturday, August 17, 1776.

Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the committee to whom was referred Brigadier-General Wooster's letter, requesting an inquiry into his conduct while he had the honour of commanding the Continental forces in Canada, which was read as follows:

That Brigadier-General Wooster produced copies of a number of letters which passed between him and General Schuyler, and of his letters to Congress, from which appears that he, from time to time, gave seasonable and due notice of the state of the Army under his command, and what supplies were, in his opinion, necessary to render the enterprise successful; that a number of officers and other gentlemen from Canada, who were acquainted with his conduct there, and who happened occasionally to be in the city, were examined before the committee, to which letters, and the minutes of the witnesses herewith exhibited, the committee beg leave to roler Congress for further information, and report, as the opinion of the committee, upon the whole of the evidence that was before them, that nothing censurable or blameworthy appears against Brigadier-General Wooster.

The report, being again read, was agreed to.


Philadelphia, August 19, 1776.

Gentlemen:—Having the pleasure and satisfaction of your approbation of my past conduct in the army, I beg leave to acquaint your Honours that I am still ready and willing to serve in my proper rank in the army, and attend your further orders.

I am, with due respect, your Honours' most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

To the Honorable Continental Congress.


North Castle, the 16th of November, 1776.

Dear General:—By order of General Lee I send forty-five ox-teams to forage at Marroneski, etc., especially at Mr. Jay's, who has requested that it might be taken.

Wherever there is any booty belonging to Tories that have gone to the enemy, they are to take all, but from our friends they are to take but a part. The General desires your Honour would furnish a guard and fatigue party to assist them, as they are to return as soon as possible.

I am, dear General, with great regard, Sir, your most obedient,

Hugh Hughes, Assistant Quartermaster-General.

P. S.—Please excuse the hasty scrall.


Saw Pits, 18th November, 1776.

Sir:—This will be handed your Honour by my son, who is at present one of my aid-de-camps, and as such entitled to the rank of major, but as he is desirous of serving in the standing army, requests that he may be appointed first or second captain in Colonel Chester's regiment, if there is room, or in some other regiment belonging to Connecticut.

I have at present about five hundred men out of the Tenth, Thirteenth and Sixteenth Regiments, whence I ought to have two thousand, for it is very certain that the enemy have it in their power to send men sufficient to take or drive us off the round any day, as they are but three hours march from us; therefore, it is very necessary that some effectual measure be taken to call out the militia when ordered.

I am, Sir, with due regard, your honour's most obedient and very humble servant,

David Wooster.

To the Honourable Jonathan Trumbull, Esq.


Saw Pitts, Rye, Connecticut, December 8th, 1776.

Dear Sir:—I have not had a line from you since I left Philadelphia, therefore conclude I am entirely forgotten by Congress. But, however, I have not forgot the interest of my distressed country. If the honorable Continental Congress have any further service for me, I shall take it as a favour to be informed of it. This, Sir, will be handed you by an express which I have forwarded from General Trumbull to his Excellency George Washington, General Lee, etc., to acquaint them that on the 5th instant a fleet of about eighty transports and eight large ships-of-war anchored off New London, and were there on the 6th, being the last accounts from them. They passed this place on the 4th, in the evening. I learn by deserters from Long Island, who left the fleet, that they have about eight thousand men on board—a bad situation for our eastern people, and not a General Officer in that part of the country; but I hope Providence will work deliverance for us. The express must go on; I can therefore only add, that I am, Sir, with the greatest esteem, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,

David Wooster.

His Excellency John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress.


Resolved by the Assembly, That the Third Regiment of Light Horse and that the Troop of Light Horse in the Tenth Regiment of Militia, be ordered forthwith to march to the western part of the State, to join the force under the command of Major-General Wooster, who is hereby directed and empowered to give order for their march, operations and stations.


Lebanon, 11th December 1776.

Sir:—Enclosed are copies of a letter and resolve of the Committee of Safety for the State of New York, for you observation. Agreeable to their request, four battalions are raising here till the 10th of March, designed for the Continental service to the westward. Major-General Wooster is now at Saw Pitts, with about seven hundred and fifty men from this State, and he will have orders to call in more of the Militia from the western regiments. The utmost exertions appear necessary at this alarming crisis. I need add no further.

I am, with great esteem and regard, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

Jonth. Trumbull.

Honourable President Bowdoin.


[In Committee Of Safety For the County Of Westchester,
White Plains, December the 16th, 1776.]

To His Excellency Major-General Wooster:—We send you under guard these deserters from Colonel Roger's regiment, for your examination, for your Excellency to dispose of as you may think proper. The reason of our troubling your Excellency is, because we are at this moment entirely destitute of guards. One of the prisoners that was the bearer of a late letter from your Excellency to our Committee, desiring us to deliver up to him his guns, behaved in such an insolent and audacious manner before the Committee, that they considered him as a very dangerous person, and thought it most expedient to send him back again to your Excellency for your further disposal, as your Excellency has guards at hand.

By order of the Committee.

Joseph Younge, Deputy Chairman.

To His Excellency Major-General Wooster, at the Saw Pitts.


"Saturday, August 17, 1775.

"Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the Committee to whom was referred Brigadier General Wooster's letter, requesting an inquiry into his conduct, while he had the honor of commanding the continental forces in Canada, which was read as follows:—

"'That Brigadier General Wooster produced copies of a number of letters which passed between him and General Schuyler, and of his letters to Congress, from which it appears that he from time to time, gave seasonable and due notice of the state of the army under his command, and what supplies were in his opinion necessary to render the enterprise successful; that a number of officers and other gentlemen from Canada who were acquainted with his conduct there, and who happened to be occasionally in this city, were examined before the committee, to which letters, and the minute of the examination of the witnesses herewith exhibited, the committee beg leave to refer Congress for further information, and report as the opinion of the committee upon the whole of the evidence that was before them, that nothing censurable or blameworthy appears against Brigadier General Wooster.'"

"The report being again read, was agreed to."

"But not, however, without a great struggle, In this instance, again, as in many others, where the same anti-New-England spirit which pursued Commodore Hopkins, persecuted General Wooster, I had to contend with the whole host of their enemies, and with the utmost anxiety, and most arduous efforts, was scarcely able to preserve them from disgrace and ruin, which Wooster had merited even less than Hopkins. In Wooster's case, there was a manifest endeavor to lay upon him the blame of their own misconduct, in Congress, in embarrassing and starving the war in Canada. Wooster* was calumniated for incapacity, want of application, and even for cowardice without a color of proof of either. The charge of cowardice he soon confuted, by a glorious and voluntary sacrifice of his life†, which compelled his enemies to confess he was a hero."

*Wooster (David), b. at Stradford, Conn., Mar. 2, 1710; graduated at Yale College 1738; married a daughter of Pres. Clap, 1740; commanded a sloop-of-war in the expedition against Louisburg 1745; went to Europe in charge of a cartel-ship; visited England; was presented at court, and made a captain in Pepperill's regiment; was appointed colonel of the 3d Connecticut regiment 1755; served as brigadier-general in the northern campaigns of 1758-60 was one of the originators of Arnold's expedition for the capture of Ticonderoga Apr. 1775; was appointed brigadier-general June 22, 1775; succeeded to the command in Canada on the death of Montgomery; became major-general of State militia 1776; mortally wounded in the defence of Danbury against Tryon, dying there May 2, 1777.

A monument was erected by the State in 1854.

† 'The Bullet That Killed General David Wooster.—Here is a leaden messenger from the past which is certainly worth arresting. General Wooster, to whose memory a monument was not long since erected in Danbury, Conn., was killed at Ridgefield, by an English bullet, in 1777. The surgeon at the Danbury hospital, where the dying General was brought, probed his wound, and sought for the bullet in vain, and the ball still remained in his body when it was consigned to the grave. Seventy-seven years afterward, in 1854, when it was sought to remove the remains of Wooster, the exact spot of his interment was uncertain. Digging near the place where a few aged persons supposed the grave to have been, soon the skull and larger bones of a man were found. Then two bunches of matted wire were thrown out; they were the epaulets of the dead. Next was found a portion of a plume, and finally a lump of clay was tossed up, which, on being broken by the laborer, was found to contain the leaden bullet. This was conclusive proof of the identity of the remains. The bullet was known to be of English manufacture, from its extraordinary size, being much larger than those used by the Americans. How little the soldier who sent that fatal messenger of death imagined that it would be held up to the gaze of a great concourse of people, and honored by them as a precious relic seventy-seven years afterward.—[Connecticut Paper.]

Additional information about General Wooster can be found on my
Wooster and Jennings Genealogy page.
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