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Letter from Ezekiel Cornell to Horatio Gates
Cornell, Ezekiel, 1733-1800
August 20, 1780
Volume 14, Pages 562-564


Philadelphia, August 20th, 1780.

Dear General:

I have long wished to do myself the Honour of writing to you, but have waited for a subject that would give you pleasure, rather then trouble you with a gloomy letter which would only serve as an addition to the many difficulties that presented themselves to my vew, as obstructions to the measures necessary for you to pursue in carrying into execution the grand object of your

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appointment to the Command of the Southern Army. And when I considered your Experienced ability, perseverance and Indefatigable Industery, I flattered myself the difficulties in the Southern department would soon vanish, and the career of the Enemy be so far checked as in a great measure to secure the Country from their ravages, and our Ilusterous Commander in Chief, with the combined force of the Main Army, and the sea and land force sent to our assistance by our good and faithfull Ally, would before this have furnished me with occurencies not only pleasing, but of real utility in rendering our Independancy parmanent. Altho, I do not at this time realize all those flattering Ideas, I cannot but hope you will, on your part, before this will reach you, and that I shall be able in my next to inform you that the Commander in chief hath made some progress toward the compeletion of his grand object.

General Washington is encamped in the neighbourhood of Dobbs Ferry, on the West side the North River, with about Fourteen Thousand men exceedingly well deciplined. President Reed is in the Neighbourhood of Trenton with 3 or 400 Pensylvania Militia. The Count De Rosambeau and General Heath are at Rhode Island with a Considerable force; Mons. Torneay is at the same place with the French squadron; and Admiral Greaves with a superiour force is at Anchor between Black Island and Point Judith. Sr. Harry Clinton some time since took it into his head to make a formidable attack on Rhode Island, but after taking about 10,000 of his best troops on Board Transports and proceeding as far as Huntington Bay, he judged more wisely of the matter, (as general Washington had put his Army in full motion to attack N. York) and returned, to the no small disappointment of the general and the great mortification of the French Commanders, who had made such preparations for his reception that it would have been the hight of their ambition to have had the honour of giving him an entertainment. The Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Militia turned out with more than usual alacrity on this occasion and the greatest harmony subsisted between all parties and among all Ranks; and when the stay of the Militia was no longer necessary, they returned home, highly pleased with their new friends and allies, who were no less pleased with the conduct of those they came to fight for.

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Great preparations, both in raising men and furnishing supplies have been made for the Reduction of N. York. All further operations against that object at present depend, on the Arival of the Reinforcement that is hourly expected from France. Should a superiour Navel force arive in season, every circumstance will be as much in our favour as we can expect, if we take into Idea the strength of a garrison strongly fortified and defended by a garrison 15,000 of Regular Troops, exclusive of 3 or 4,000 Irregulars. General Washington will not, in my opinion, want for men or Supplies, in case the operations are once began in earnest. Notwithstanding the great want of money, which hath much embarased our publick measures and that difficulty is by no means removed; but by the smiles of Providence we enjoy the Blessing, of a plentifull Harvest & and all kinds of Provision Necessary for the Army.

Notwithstanding the aforegoing preparations, Congress have not been unmindful of you and the Army under your Command; and many Resolutions have passed for Supplying and makeing the department as formidable, as possible, and among the rest, Bills for 100,000 dollars in Specia have been drawn on our Minister at the Court of Varsalis, and ordered to be forwarded to Mr. Clay, D. P. M. G., to be by him sold to furnish the Military Chest under your directions. I will not take up your time, as it is more than probable the Resolution will reach you before this letter.

I cannot close this letter without obseruing that it would be much more agreeable to me to be in the same station I had the Honour to hold in the last Campaign, then the One I am now honored with. Not only that I think I could do my country more real service, and have the honour of participating with you in those difficultys that must inevitabely fall to your share in the execution of your present important and Critical Command, but that I might be instrumental in rendering the completion of those Honors the more speedy that will sooner or later fall to the share of those possessed of abilities, Integrity, and Military knowledge like yours. and that gained by long experience.

I am, Dear General,
With sentiments of Esteem and respect,
Your most obedient, Huml. Servant,
General Gates.