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McDougall, Alexander (1732-1786) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01101 Author/Creator: McDougall, Alexander (1732-1786) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 30 July 1781 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 23.3 x 18.5 cm.

Summary of Content: McDougall signs as "Brutus," a pseudonym often attributed to him related to his involvement in the Newburgh Conspiracy. Writes a cryptic and critical letter, questioning plans made for the Continental army and the authority of Congress. Expresses eagerness to "reduce New York," but admits that the Continental force is too weak to undertake such a venture. Complains that his garrison is "every sixth day without meat." Refers to the "Duke of Roxbury" (McDougall's nickname for William Heath) and "Ignatius Loyola," (evidently, from context, a reference to Benjamin Lincoln). Mentions the new mission of General Benjamin Lincoln. Demands to know if Congress has ruled to give officers of the army half pay, questioning the "authority of Congress to... promise us any pay at all." In a post script, praises the recent operations of General Nathanael Greene.

Full Transcript: [draft]
30th July 1781.
My dear Sir
I am in your debt for your favor of the 11th instant and shall now endeavor to repay it. - The Quality of the ...French Troops as soldiers and the Temper they manifest as men, which you are kind enough to inform me, are pleasing considerations; and gives us reason to expect salutary effects, whenever we shall be in a Condition to [inserted: act] offensively against the Enemy. - But I fear this event is not so near as we wish. Where is your magazine of provision for the necessary force to reduce new york? And where is your Force? This garrison is every sixth day without meat; and less than 200 of the Connecticut Militia is all that we have yet received of the five regiments you mentioned. Oh the Munny Oh the Times. [2] It is said here, that a Fleet of Transports left NYork the 21st and that the Enemies Fleet of war is sailed. - If this be true, the Enemy mean to remove the greatest part of his Force from the Dominion. - If so, are you prepared to fight him, or will you [pece] it. Our chief has long had too much reason [inserted: to] be grave, but I know of no cause he has had, since you left this, to make him [struck: more] cheerful [struck: y]. If I judge of his Feelings by my own, he has great reason to be mortified. What report has the Duke of Roxbury made to you? Is it all vague promises? If not what is the object of General Lincolns new mission. - What is Ignacius Loyola about? I am told he has rais'd no small dust among his children. The Deacons want to double upon him, but as he is well acquainted with all their artifices, I trust they [3] they will be mistaken. - Give my compliments to him, and tell him to be cautious and vigilant in his approaches, before he mounts the Breach. - old Lucifer who is no stranger to Human Conduct, said skin for skin, and all that a man hath will he give for his life. Unless he puts the Deacons in fear of Losing their herds & Flocks, he will not succeed; - they are a cautious generation. It is high time the officers of the different lines, east of Pennsylvania should know categorically of their respective states, whether they consider the resolution of Congress giving half pay to the officers of the Army obligatory on them? If not, we ought to know what equivalant, if any, they mean to give us. - Perhaps they may deny the Quantam of Pay, as Congress have stated it. For it has leaked out that the knowing ones [inserted: in Connecticut] begin to [4] Query whether congress had authority to make that promise - If this is questionable, cannot these Catifs as well question the [struck: right] authority of Congress to fix or promise us any pay at all.
I have some leisure here, which is too frequently empolyed in unpleasing speculation. But altho it is not of the profitable kind it necessarily forces itself upon me.
Beleive me to be with great truth your affectionate Brutus.
If our Friend Greenes opperations are not splendid; they are soldierly, & discover great activity; and are very usefull to those states and the General Union.

From General McDougal
30 July 1781 -
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People: McDougall, Alexander, 1732-1786
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810
Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Newburgh ConspiracyRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryContinental ArmyContinental CongressCongressDiet and nutritionMilitary ProvisionsFinanceSoldier's Pay

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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