George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Peter Van Brugh Livingston, 30 August 1775

To Peter Van Brugh Livingston

⟨Camp at Cambridge—August 30th 1775.⟩


Your Favour ⟨of the 21st Instt is duly⟩ received, inclosing Mr Carter’s In⟨formation of the⟩ Capture of the Charming Sally: whic⟨h from the circum⟩stances attending it, was undoubt⟨edly collusive.⟩ I have received Advice that another Ves⟨sel belonging⟩ to one White at Marblehead, whose os⟨tensible Voyage⟩ was to Casco Bay was carried in soon a⟨fter. Such⟩ Instances of Avarice, at such a Time, & in s⟨uch a cause,⟩ call for a severe Scrutiny, & exemplary Pun⟨ishment.⟩1

Mr Livingston & some other Gentlem⟨en from⟩ your City brought us the acceptable News of the ⟨safe⟩ Arrival of a large Quantity of Powder, & 500 Stand ⟨of⟩ Arms.2 Our Situation is such as requires your immediate Assistance & Supply, in that Article. We have lately taken Possession of a Hill conside⟨rably⟩ advanced towards the Enemy, but our Poverty ⟨prevents⟩ our availing ourselves of any Advantage of Si⟨tuation.⟩3 I must therefore most earnestly intreat that ⟨Measures⟩ may be taken to forward to this Camp in ⟨the most⟩ safe and Expeditious Manner whatev⟨er Ammu⟩nition can be spared from the immed⟨iate & necessary defence of the province. The value of whatever may be sent in Consequence of⟩ this Request, ⟨will be paid by Order⟩ from hence when delivered—or n⟨egociated with⟩ the Honbl. Continental Congress at Philad⟨a as ma⟩y be agreed with the Proprietors: I only req⟨uest th⟩at no Time may be lost thro. any such Difficu⟨lties⟩ as our Situation is so critical & the Exigence so great. The Mode of Conveyance I must leave with the Provincial Congress, or the Committee of the City: I doubt not they will take every Precaution to make it safe & expeditious.4 I have the Honour to be Sir Your most Obedt & very Hbble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Joseph Reed’s writing, N: New York Provincial Congress Revolutionary Papers; copy, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The LS was extensively damaged in the New York State Library fire of 1911. The missing portions of the text are supplied within angle brackets from the copy in PCC, which the New York committee of safety enclosed in its letter of 9 Sept. 1775 to the Continental Congress.

1For John Carter’s intelligence regarding the capture of the Charming Sally, see Peter Van Brugh Livingston to GW, 21 Aug. 1775, n.3. The other vessel was the schooner Woodbridge, John Williamson, master. It was carrying a cargo of flour, bread, bran, and corn from Philadelphia to Newburyport when it was captured off Cape Ann on 31 July by the British sloop of war Merlin. The Woodbridge was subsequently condemned and sold at Boston.

2This cargo of gunpowder and firearms belonged jointly to the Providence firm of Clark & Nightingale and the colony of Massachusetts, not to New York (GW to Nicholas Cooke, 31 Aug. 1775; New York Committee of Safety to GW, 9 Sept. 1775). “Mr Livingston” may be Peter Van Brugh Livingston’s brother Philip Livingston (1716–1778) or his cousin Robert R. Livingston (1746–1813), both of whom were members of the Continental Congress.

3For the occupation of Plowed Hill, see GW to Richard Henry Lee, 29 Aug. 1775, n.6.

4Because the New York provincial congress was in recess from 2 Sept. to 2 Oct., this letter was referred to the colony’s committee of safety, which on 9 Sept. wrote to the Continental Congress requesting that a supply of gunpowder from Philadelphia be sent to GW (New York Committee of Safety to GW, 9 Sept. 1775).

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