George Washington's Letter to John Sullivan

Head Quarters, Middlebrook, March 6th, 1779.

Major General Sullivan:

Dear Sir:

       Congress having determined upon an Expedition against the hostile tribes of the Indians of the Six Nations, the command is offered to Maj. Gen. Gates as Senior officer, but should he decline, it is my wish it should devolve upon you. That no time be lost by General Gates’ nonacceptance, I have put this letter under cover to him, and have desired him to forward it to you, should that be his determination. Should it therefore be sent to you I must request you to set out, as speedily as possible after the rec’t of it, to Head Quarters, as the season is already far advanced. Upon your arrival, the whole pan of the Expedition shall be communicated to you, and measures concerted for carrying it into execution. Nothing will contribute more to our success in the quarter where we really intend to strike, than alarming the enemy in a contrary one, and drawing their attention that way. To do this, you may drop hints of an Expedition to Canada by the way of coos. This will be more readily believed, as a thing of that kind was really once in agitation, and some Magazines formed in consequence, which the enemy are acquainted with. You may also speak of the probability of a French fleet making its appearance, in the Spring in the river St. Lawrence to co-operate with us. It will be a great point gained if we can, by false alarms, keep the force already in Canada from affording any timely assistance to the Savages, refugees and those people against the blow is leveled. I would wish you to keep the motive of your journey to Head Quarters a secret, because if it is known than an officer of your rank is to take a command to the westward, it will be immediately concluded that the object must be considerable.

I am, with great regard, Dear Sir,

Your most Obedient Servant,

George Washington

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