To Henry Knox
May 25 1793
Inclosed is a letter from Mr Stephen Bruce,1 on the subject of certain articles furnished by him upon the order of Lieutenant Greaton2 and disallowed in the settlement of his accounts on the principle of their not having been conformable to instructions—together with a copy of the settlement at the Treasury shewing what those articles were.
I request to be informed whether the requisition of these articles by the officer or officers concerned be justified by any instruction or license from your department; or by any usage in like cases; and if not whether there are any & what reasons to induce their being paid for by the Public. I request your particular attention to the article of room-hire.
The practice appears to the Treasury to be of a nature to involve a danger of double supplies complexity in the public accounts—opportunities of abuse and such as without cogent reasons ought not to be countenanced.
If it can plead no authority license or usage—will not the good of the public service require that any inconveniences to be sustained should fall on the Officer concerned—that his conduct should be animadverted upon and that an injunction should be incorporated with the instructions of the Recruiting Officers against demanding any articles of a similar nature, or any not strictly within the letter of the instructions?3
I have the honor to be very respectfully Sir Your Obedient & humble servant
The Secy at War
ADfS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.
1. Letter not found. Stephen Bruce supplied the United States Army at Boston.
2. Richard H. Greaton of Massachusetts was a lieutenant in the Second United States Regiment.
3. The papers dealing with Bruce’s accounts may be found in RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, Account No. 3865 and 4977, National Archives. Among these papers is a statement by Knox, dated January 24, 1794, which reads as follows: “It is my opinion that as the twenty Blankets and Clothing, which Mr. Stephen Bruce, furnished to the order of Capn. R. H. Greaton at Boston in the year 1792, were actually Supplied to the recruits, that Mr. Bruce is entitled to receive compensation for them.” Below Knox’s statement H wrote the following undated note to Richard Harrison, auditor of the Treasury: “In consequence of a special explanation from the Secretary at War, I am [of] opinion, that the claim should be admitted for such articles as are proved to have been delivered.”