George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 12 February 1776

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] February 12th 1776


I received your two Favors of the 8th Inst., have also received per Bacon, the remittance for the Expences of the French Gentlemen to Philadelphia. I had no Design to have ever called upon You for the money paid our Troops under your immediate Command, but to have accounted with the Congress, had we not been unexpectedly drained of Cash, & had pressing Calls upon Us two or three ways at once. that to the Northward cod not possibly have been answered but for the seasonable Arrival of the Continental Supply just sufficient for that Purpose1 our other Demands for the common Service are many; the Men for the short Service with You, cod not have marched without some money, which they have I trust wholly expended for necessary Cloathing &c. I therefore cod have wished it had been in your Power to have remitted the sum advanced by our Pay Table, but shall do every thing in my Power that the common Interest do not suffer.

I am greatly concerned for the scarcity of Powder & Arms, We have not half a sufficiency for our Selves as the Circumstances may be, yet anxious to furnish You, for the comon good, with every supply in our Power, have ordered a quantity of gun Powder lately arrived at Bedford in Dartmouth, carted to & now lying at Providence, on Account of this Colony, to be sent You with all possible Expedition, 3000 weight of this we conclude to order to Majr Thompson Agent for the Massachusetts Colony on Account of Money he supplied to Mr Shaw the importer for that End. & You will consult Him or Them concerning the use of it: I suppose the whole to be upwards of 6000 weight, the residue on Acco. of this Colony, for which shall expect payment, or to be replaced as shall be hereafter chosen by Us.2 I shall send You this week twenty or thirty stands of good Arms. I have not certain advice from every quarter, but I believe our three Regiments are all on the march to your Camp, except those already arrived there.

I have much more agreable Intelligence from Genl Lee & the New York Congress than I expected. I cant but hope propitious Heaven will smile Success on that most timely & judicious Exertion of your Excellency to prevent our Enemies, possessing Themselves of that important Station.

I have the Pleasure to inclose You a Copy of Genl Lees Letter.

In compliance with his Request We have already sent orders to Colo. Ward, to repair again forthwith to New York.3 I am Sir with the greatest Esteem & Regard your most obedient H. Servant

Jonth. Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

1For the money that Congress sent for the regiment that was going to Canada, see Trumbull to GW, 5 Feb. 1776.

2For the arrival of this gunpowder in the sloop Macaroni, see GW to Trumbull, 8 Feb. 1776 (first letter), n.1. The importer was Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., of New London. In a letter of 15 Feb. 1776 to Walter Spooner, president of the Massachusetts council, Stephen Moylan quoted the part of this letter concerning the gunpowder belonging to Massachusetts and then wrote: “You well Know Sir the want there is of that article in Camp. His Excellency therefore requests that you will endeavor to get that powder Sent hither[.] if it belongs to Major Thompson as private property he requests you will use your influence with him to sell it, if to the Colony, that it be Lent or Sold, for the use of the United Colonies” (DNA: RG 93, Photocopies of State Records). The Massachusetts General Court resolved on 15–16 Feb. “that the Hon. Council of this Colony be, and hereby are impower’d, in Case the said Powder shall arrive in this Colony during the next Recess of this Court, on Consideration of the Engagements of this Colony to particular Towns for Powder lent to the Colony, as also the pressing Exigencies of this Colony for that Article, to determine in Behalf of this Court, whether Gen. Washington shall be supplied with the said Powder, or any Part thereof, or not, and to act thereon as they shall judge most expedient and conducive to the general Safety” (Mass. House of Rep. Journal, Nov. 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins A Journal of the Honourable House of Representatives. At a Great and General Court or Assembly for the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Boston, 1776. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 296–97; “Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 582; see also the copy of the resolution signed by William Cooper and Perez Morton, DNA: RG 93, Photocopies of State Records). For GW’s views concerning this gunpowder, see his letter to Trumbull of 19 Feb. 1776.

3Lee wrote Trumbull from New York on 7 Feb. 1776: “The late resolve of the Continental Congress putting every detachment of the Continental Army immediately under the direction of the Provincial Congress or Committe of Safety where such detachment were to Act, and of course the uncertainty of my being admitted into this City with the Troops under my Command inducd me to send Colo. Wards Regiment to their Respective homes, and thereby to save a very considerable immediate expence to your Colony, and ultimately to the whole United Colonys—Contrary to my expectations, we are not only admitted, but it is determind to take strong Possession of the City as Well as of its most important environs—In short to put the Province in such a Situation as to render any attempts of the Enemy to establish themselves in it ineffectual. For this purpose Some additional Battalions are ordered to be levied in this Province. But from the grate Scarcity of men, and greater of Arms, I apprehend it will be a considerable time before they can be compleated and equippd in Such a manner as to form a Corps in whom any great reliance can be placed; the Enemy may perhaps very soon appear, and We ought immediately to be ready to receive them, I could therefore Sir wish, that if Colo. Wards Regiment is not already disbanded and your Colony can Spare them that they may be immediately detached for this Place. but if it is disbanded that you would if possible Send to this Place a body of Volunteers equal in number to that Regiment Compleatly arm’d & accoutred—I am sensible Sir that it must be extremely teazing both to the men and officers to be thus eternally Counterordered, Marching and counter Marching but I hope thay will do me the Justice to Attribute it, not to any indecision or uncertainty of Mind in me, but to several whimsical Circumstances in our Situation which cannot at present be explaind to them.” Lee added a postscript informing Trumbull of Gen. Henry Clinton’s arrival in New York and urging Connecticut to build powder mills (DLC:GW).

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