George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 15 October 1776

From Richard Peters

War Office [Philadelphia] October 15th 1776


The Board of War have endeavoured to form an exact Acct of Ordinance Stores, in the several Departments, as well as of those in the Magazine under their immediate Notice here, But from the Want of accurate Returns they have not yet been enabled to accomplish their Design. If these Returns were made monthly the Board would be enabled in some degree to anticipate the Wants of Amunition in the Army and keep up the supply as far as may be in their power. I have it in Direction to request your Excellency will order a Return to be forthwith made of all Ordinance Stores in your Department and that you would be pleased to direct as exact Returns to be made monthly as the situation of the Army will admit. As well as Accounts of the Men, as to their Numbers and Capacity to do Duty, Returns should, if possible, be made of their Arms & Accoutriments & also of the Rations drawn from the Commissary of Provisions as it has been said that Regiments not half full draw their Rations as if they were complete; with how much Justice this has been said cannot be clearly known but if monthly Returns were made from the Commissaries Office of the Rations drawn by each Regiment, the Returns from the Adjutant General would shew whether they had exceeded in their Number of Rations what they were justly entitled to.1 A List of the Army is making out wherein at one View every thing relating to each Regiment2 will be seen. But the fluctuating State of the Army has prevented that Accuracy which it is hoped will be shewn in the Millitary Affairs of the Continent when they shall, by the new Establishment, be put upon a more permanent, & of Course a more respectable Footing. I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect Your very obedt humble Servant

Richard Peters Secy

LS, in Timothy Matlack’s writing, DLC:GW.

1Robert Hanson Harrison replied to this letter on behalf of GW in a letter to the Board of War on 22 October. “In respect to your requisition for an immediate Return of Ordnance Stores,” Harrison writes, “his Excellency [GW] says It cannot possibly be complied with, in the present, unsettled state of the Army. in order to effect the good purposes you have in view, he would take the liberty to recommend the establishing of Magazines of Ammunition & Other Ordnance Stores in proper places of Security, from whence supplies could be occasionally drawn. As large Quantities are constantly in demand in time of War, he does not conceive your provision in these instances can be too great. he will direct the Regimental Returns in future to include Arms and Accoutrements, and the Commissary Genl to transmit Monthly Lists of Rations. he thinks the regulation extremely proper, tho he apprehends the information to be premature respecting the over quantity suggested to have been drawn, having heard no suspicion of the Sort in this Army of late” (DNA:PCC, item 152).

2In the manuscript of the LS, the words “to each Regiment” are inserted above the line in Peters’s writing.

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