James Madison Papers

Richard Peters to Virginia Delegates, 16 November 1781

Richard Peters to Virginia Delegates

RC (Virginia State Library). The cover, addressed to “The honl The Delegates of Virginia,” is also marked “No. 6,” probably signifying that the delegates enclosed the letter with their missing dispatch of 17 November 1781 to Governor Nelson.

War Office Novr. 16. 1781


We have been honoured with your Note on the Subject of the Provision making for cloathing the Troops.1 This Business being now executing by collecting the imported Cloathing & that procured by domestic Purchases to the Magazines for Distribution it is impossible for us to give any exact Account of the Business. We laid before the Financier2 the State of the Army, the Quantity of Cloathing on Hand & the Quantity necessary to supply Deficiencies & he agreed to order Purchases to the Amount of our Estimate if the public Funds would enable him to carry these Orders into Execution. The Plan agreed upon was to leave as much Clothing on the North River3 as would cloathe that Army & bring forward the Excess for the Southern Troops which with the Purchases making & the Stock on Hand to the Southward we have no Doubt will put them on a Footing with the other Army. The Reason of our leaving the Clothing at the North River was to save Transportation & because we conceived the Difference of Climate compelled the Cloathing of the Northern Army immediately. The whole of the Cloathing to the Eastward is now moving but when it will arrive we are uncertain. When enabled to give you a more exact Account we shall be happy to do it. All the Officers Cloathing imported is ordered for the Southern Army & Purchases are already made for those Troops to the Amount of 360,000 Livres agreeable to original Invoices beside other Purchases of smaller Amount which we cannot exactly ascertain.

We have the Honour to be very respectfully your very obed Servts

Richard Peters4

By order

1Note not found. In their letter of 16 October 1781 to Nelson (q.v.), the delegates promised to “endeavour to secure to Virginia her proportion of clothing.” See also Virginia Delegates to Nelson, 28 August, and n. 5; Nelson to Virginia Delegates, 5 October 1781.

2Robert Morris.

3That is, at the quartermaster’s depot at Fishkill, N.Y.

4Richard Peters, Jr. (1743–1828), of Philadelphia, secretary of the Board of War since 13 June 1776, was in charge of the Department of War from 19 November 1781 until Benjamin Lincoln assumed his duties as secretary at war one week later (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , V, 438; XXI, 1123; above, Report on Retaliation, 1 October 1781, n. 5). Peters was a member of Congress in 1782–1783, a Pennsylvania assemblyman from 1787 to 1790, a state senator in 1791, and a judge of the federal district court of Pennsylvania from 1792 until his death. In later years he and JM corresponded frequently and in 1826 briefly exchanged reminiscences about their service together in the Continental Congress (Peters to JM, 1 September 1826, LC: Rives Collection of Madison Papers; JM to Peters, 8 September 1826, Historical Society of Pennsylvania).

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