George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Defever, 18 September 1755

From John Defever

Fort Cumberland [Md.] Sept. 18th 1755


Return of the stores Belonging to the Royal Trane of Artillery Left at Fort Cumberland: viz:

Tumbril1 1
Cover’d Waggons 15
Sling Cart Compleat 1
Round Shot with Wooden Bottoms 6 pts 100
Tin Cases fill’d with iron shot & 12 pts 112
Fix’d with Wooden Bottoms 6 pts 392
Grape shot with Wooden Tampeons2 and
 pins Compleat for Howitzers
spare Round shot 6 pounders 1100
Corn’d powder Copper hoop’d3 Whole Barrells 291
Tann’d Hides 5
Wadmill Tilts4 3
Hair Cloth5 4
Leather Buckets 2
spare laddle staves6 12
splinter padlocks 3
{ Spades 21
Pick axes helv’d 24
Hand Bills7 28
shovels 140
Intrenching Tools Felling axes 39
Do without helves8 44
Hand Hatchets 28
Cross cut saws 2
sand Bags ½ Bushel 6000
Wheel Barrows Compleat 8
Bottoms for Do 23
Wheels for Do 87
Hand Barrows 15
Park Pickets9 40
Wood Mauls 2
Mantlets10 20
Wall Pieces11 10
For small arms
spare ramrods Musquet   Wood 350
Flints for
{ Musquet 40,000
Wall Pieces 200
T cwt 2 lb
Lead shot { Musquet 29. 16. 0. 0
Wall Pieces 0. 0. 1. 2
Laboratory Stores
Hand Grenadoes fix’d 1000
Laboratory Tent 1
Copper hoops
For Whole Barrells Bundles 26 4 in Each 104

Your Humble Servant
John Defever


John Defever was in charge of the king’s stores left at Fort Cumberland after Braddock’s defeat. He was still in charge as late as July 1756 and was always referred to as the conductor of the train. On 28 May 1757 GW reported to Gen. John Stanwix that “there never has been any person appointed (since Mr De Fever left us) to take charge of” the king’s stores. At GW’s orders of 17 Sept. 1755, Defever compiled this return of what remained at Fort Cumberland of Braddock’s train of artillery. One day out of Fort Cumberland, during the march to Fort Duquesne, a shortage of wagons forced Braddock to send two 6–pounders and four Coehorns, with ammunition and other stores, back to the fort. When Col. Thomas Dunbar retreated to Fort Cumberland with the remnants of the army after the Battle of the Monongahela and then shortly afterward marched to Philadelphia, he left at Fort Cumberland only the arms and stores that he considered essential to the fort’s defense.

1A tumbril was a two-wheeled cart used to carry tools and money; the covered wagons, also called caissons, carried ammunition; and the sling cart, with its oversized wheels, conveyed mortars or other heavy guns short distances, its cargo slung beneath the axle on ropes or chains.

2The “Wooden Bottoms” and “Wooden Tampeons” were attached to the shot to prevent the exploding powder from losing force by escaping between the gun’s barrel and the projectile.

3Corned powder was granulated gunpowder which was easier to use than dust or meal powder. Copper hoops were less likely to produce dangerous sparks than were iron ones.

4Both hides and wadmill (woolen cloth) tilts were used as covers to protect powder and ammunition from the rain.

5Haircloth was put on the floors of powder magazines to reduce friction which might produce sparks.

6The ladle was a copper scoop which, when attached to a long handle (called a stave here), was used to charge artillery with loose powder.

7Hand bills were small hatchets.

8The wooden handles for hammers, hatchets, or axes were called helves.

9Pickets were 5– or 6–foot-long spikes tipped with iron which were driven in the ground around the “Park,” the section of the camp where the artillery train was kept. Wooden mauls were used to drive the pickets into the ground.

10Mantlets were musket-proof shields to protect soldiers digging trenches.

11A wall piece was shoulder arm equipped with a swivel fork to support the weight of the gun.

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