Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Steuben, 1 January 1781

From Steuben

Jany. 1st 1781


Your Excellencys Observation with respect to the artificers is just. A proportion of the Regiment furnished by Pennsylvania should certainly be destined for the Southward. I shall write the Board of War immediately on the Subject and have no doubt they will be sent on.

The situation of our affairs are such that Necessity obliged Gen. Greene to require many things from the southern States which were not Alloted them in the general requisitions of Congress but which it was necessary they should furnish, tho’ at the Expence of the Continent. Such were the Horses for Lees Corps from Maryland, arms and Equipment of the new recruits from this State, and many other Articles. The call for artificers must be considered in the same light. It must be a considerable time before those from Pennsylvania can be raised and sent on, and therefore without we can procure a temporary supply from hence, the service must suffer—and that at a time when our greatest efforts are necessary to stop the progress of the Enemy.

To employ the Quarter Master to engage the Artificers, with the few means in his power of finding them, would be a loss of time, which in the present moment might prove dangerous, whilst Government, from the variety of agents they could employ in the business, would be able to procure them in a short time. These considerations urge me to repeat my request that the State would furnish the Artificers called for. I am &c.

FC (NHi).

The present moment: Steuben was aware of the report of an enemy fleet. On this same day he wrote a letter (Vi) to Muter, dated “Cockermouth, 1st Jany. 81,” informing him that “The present alarm has occasioned my ordering four hundred of the [Continental] troops at Chesterfield to hold themselves in readiness for marching.” Steuben further stated that the distressed situation of the troops and the depleted magazines made it necessary for him to call upon the state for such supplies as Col. Davies might need—particularly “some chords to make loops for the tents … which without them are entirely useless.”

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