Washington, George. Revolutionary War-date letter signed (“Go. Washington”) 1 page handwritten 10 x 8 1/2 in.; 254 x 215 mm)“Head- Quarters, New York,” 8 September , Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army addressed to [Abraham Yates, Jr.]; written on the verso of another manuscript document in a clerical hand, docketed on verso, silked, upper right corner cut away (not affecting text), lightly browned. The text is written in the hand of Tench Tilghman who was Washington's aide-de-camp. Published with some minor variation in "The Papers of George Washington", Revolutionary War Series volume 6, page 262, Philander D. Chase and Frank E. Grizzard, Jr.
"It being determined to remove our Sick to Orange Town, we shall want four large Albany Sloops ..." General Washington requests assistance in moving his wounded. "I wrote you this morning by your Express but omitted mentioning a Matter of Consequence. It being determined to remove our Sick to Orange Town, we shall want four large Albany Sloops for that purpose. The fatigue of travelling that distance by land, would not only be more than the Patients could bear, but we have full Employ for our Waggons in transporting Baggage, Tents &c for the Troops from hence to our posts. I must therefore beg the favor of your Honourable Body to procure the above number of vessels and send them down with as much dispatch as possible to this City. P.S. I shall be glad to know by Return of the Express when I may probably expect the Sloops down. There are several now on the lower parts of the River with Boards, perhaps you might engage them to come this way, which would save time."
The exact number of American soldiers who participated in the 27 August Battle of Long Island is not known. Of the estimated 19,000 soldiers General Washington had at his disposal in New York, at least 10,000 were on Long Island. Of these, it is believed that the Americans lost 1,407; they were wounded, captured, or missing. At the date of this letter, the General must have had several hundred incapacitated men and, before decamping for White Plains, he obviously wanted to organize his remaining troops. The letter also illustrates Washington's intense concern for the safety and comfort of his soldiers.
Abraham Yates Jr. was the chairman of the Albany Committee of Correspondence from 1774 to 1776,. Yates was also a member of the New York Provincial Congress from 1775 to 1777, serving as president pro tempore on November 2, 1775, August 10, 1776, and was its chairman in 1776 and 1777.
Yates was a delegate for New York to the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 and 1788, and won a reputation as a "churlish delegate who often cast the only 'nay'" vote. Yates was the solitary vote against the Northwest Ordinance for its gross violation of Native American rights. He argued against "the seizing on countries already peopled, and driving out or massacring the innocent and defenceless natives, merely because they differed from their invaders in language, religion, in customs, in government or in colour." He was also a member of the Council of Appointment in 1777-78 and again in 1784.
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