George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Mumford, 13 February 1776

To Thomas Mumford

Cambridge 13th Feby 1776


Colonel Fisher Gay of Farmington in Hartford County,1 has informed me, that Some powder was, by you imported, for the use of particular inland towns in the Colony of Connecticut, the great want we are in, of that necessary article, Obliges me to Send Colonel Gay, to borrow, or purchass as much, as he Can possibly procure, I beg Sir that you will give him every Assistance in Your power, in negotiating this Important business—it will be of the utmost Service to the Cause of Liberty & America, & it will very Much oblige Sir Your Most H: St

Go: Washington

LS, in Stephen Moylan’s writing, owned (1978) by William Robert Coleman, San Bernardino, California.

Thomas Mumford (1728–1799), a merchant in Groton, Conn., contracted with the Secret Committee of Congress on 28 Nov. 1775 to import a large quantity of gunpowder for use of the Continental army and navy, but none of his ships had returned. See Secret Committee Account, 27 Sept. 1775–26 Aug. 1776, and Secret Committee Minutes of Proceedings, 28 Nov. 1775, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 2:72–73, 402. To meet GW’s immediate needs Governor Trumbull agreed to loan him 8,640 pounds of gunpowder from the Connecticut stocks in Norwich and Providence with the understanding that it would be replaced when the Continental supplies arrived (see Trumbull to GW, 16 Feb. 1776). About 17 April two of Mumford’s vessels landed cargoes of gunpowder, sulfur, and salt at Norwich, and in July the Secret Committee directed Mumford to reimburse Connecticut for its gunpowder from those cargoes (Secret Committee to Mumford, 1 May, 26 July 1776, ibid., 3:617–18, 4:549). Mumford apparently did not comply with those orders, for in October 1777 the Connecticut council asked him to pay for the 8,640 pounds gunpowder at 5s. 4d. per pound (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 497). Throughout the war Mumford was much involved in privateering. In 1780 he sent GW a pipe of Madeira wine that one of his privateers had captured from the enemy (see Mumford to GW, 8 Sept. 1780).

1Fisher Gay (1732–1776), a merchant from Farmington, Conn., was lieutenant colonel of one of the three regiments of Connecticut militia that had recently reinforced GW’s army. In June 1776 he was made colonel of a militia regiment sent to aid the Continental army at New York. Gay died on 27 Sept. 1776.

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