George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Board of War, 21 June 1776

From the Board of War

War Office Philada 21st June 1776


The Congress having thought proper to appoint us to the Board of War & Ordinance, we do ourselves the Honour to transmit you the foregoing Extracts from their Proceedings establishing a War Office for the more speedy & effectual Dispatch of military Bussiness.1 You will percieve, on Perusal of the Extracts, that it will be necessary for you forthwith to furnish the Board with an exact State of the Army under your Command & every thing relative thereto. You will therefore be pleased, as speedily as possible, to give the necessary Directions for true & accurate Returns to be made to you, so as to enable you to give the Board the proper Information As much depends on reducing into Method the Bussiness recommended to our Notice, we beg you will forward all Measures conducive to this desirable Purpose by every Means in your Power. It is expected that in future monthly Returns be regularly transmitted to the War Office that Congress may frequently have a full & general Knowledge of the true Situation of their military Affairs without which it will be impossible to conduct them with Propriety & Success. We must farther request that you will keep up a constant & regular Correspondence with us that we may cooperate with you in such Measures as may tend to advance the Interest of America in general & the particular Department committed to your Care. You will be pleased in the Returns of the several Regiments to mention the Colonies in which they were raised, the Times when & the Periods for which the Men were enlisted as it will be necessary for us to have sufficient Notice of these Matters that Congress may keep up the Army to its full Compliment. We are your Excellency’s most obedient & most hble Servants

John Adams Benja. Harrison
Roger Sherman James Wilson
Edward Rutledge

LS, in Richard Peters’s writing, DLC:GW. This document is marked “(Circular)” at the bottom of the first manuscript page. Copies were sent to Charles Lee and William Heath and apparently to the other Continental generals (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 , 4:280, source note).

1The enclosed copy of Congress’s resolutions of 12 and 13 June concerning the Board of War is signed by Charles Thomson. Those resolutions direct the board to keep a register of Continental army officers and “regular Accounts of the State and Disposition of the Troops in the respective Colonies; for which purpose the Generals and Officers commanding in the different Departments & posts are to cause regular Returns to be made into the said War Office.” The other duties assigned to the board include maintaining accurate records of ordnance and supplies, establishing magazines, forwarding letters and monies to the colonies and armies, recruiting and outfitting land forces, caring for prisoners of war, and preserving all documents received from Congress (DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:434–35, 438). As a standing committee of Congress, the board had little power to deal with specific problems and events, and although it was reorganized several times during the war, it remained essentially a deliberative body which submitted proposals to Congress for action (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 , 4:280, n.1).

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