From John Hancock
Baltimore Jany 18th 1777.
The enclosed Copy of a Letter from the Convention of New York, I am directed by Congress to transmit to you, and to request your Attention to i⟨t.⟩1 The very great Distress of the Troops in that State for Want of Cloathing and Blankets, calls for the most speedy Relief; and the Congress in Order to afford them every Assistance in their Power, have ordered the Co⟨nti⟩nental Agents to furnish the Commissary of Cloath⟨ing⟩ with an Account of such Cloathes, or Materials for making them, as may be in their Possession. These, it is the Desire of Congress, you will distribute among the Troops, in the different Departments, in the Proportion you may think proper; paying, however, a particular Regard to the State of New York, which, from its present unfortunate Situation, is precluded from all Possibility of procuring those Necessaries for the Troops raised there.2
The miserable Condition of our Prisoners at New-York and elsewhere in the Hands of the Enemy, will naturally suggest the Propriety of making the Proposal to Genl Howe, as soon as convenient, of a Commissary residing among them on Behalf of the United States, agreeably to the enclosed Resolve.3 I have the Honour to be, with every Sentiment of Respect & Esteem, Sir, your most obed. & very hble Servt
John Hancock Presidt
The enclosed Copy of a Letter from Genl Gates, relative to Monsieur Da Lieue, I am directed by Congress to transmit to you, with a Request that you will employ him if you think proper, I have paid him 40 Dolls. to defray his Expences to you.
(The Copy since inclos’d in a Letter sent by Monsr De Luce.)4
LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The last two sentences in the postscript of the LS are in Hancock’s writing. The material in angle brackets is mutilated. In addition to the enclosures discussed in notes 2 and 3, Hancock enclosed copies of several other resolutions passed by Congress on 17 and 18 Jan. 1777 that pertain to the war effort, including supplying money for New Jersey recruiting officers, the raising of an independent Continental company for service in Lancaster, Pa., the impressing of horses and oxen in the public stables of Philadelphia for service, the removing of Maj. Elisha Painter from regimental command, and the sending of authenticated copies of the Declaration of Independence to each state for recording (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 , 7:44–49).
1. The New York convention’s letter to Hancock of 28 Dec. 1776 describing the wretched condition of American troops in New York and making an urgent application to Congress on their behalf for clothing and blankets is in DNA:PCC, item 67.
2. Hancock enclosed a copy of Congress’s resolution of 16 Jan. ordering Continental agents in the middle and eastern departments to procure and distribute this clothing among American forces “agreeable to the directions” of GW (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 , 7:41). Hancock also enclosed a copy of Congress’s resolutions of 16 Jan. empowering GW to act in the matter “as he shall think best” and approving the convention’s “spirited exertions for the defence of their own, & the state of New-Jersey against the desolation and ravages of our cruel & remorseless enemies” (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 42).
3. Congress’s resolution of 16 Jan. directs GW to propose the appointment of a resident commissary for the American prisoners at New York and to “appoint a suitable person for the purpose, until an exchange can be effected” (DLC:GW; see also GW to Howe, 20 Jan., Howe to GW, 29 Jan., and 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 , 7:41). Hancock also enclosed a copy of another resolution passed by Congress on 16 Jan. appointing a seven-man committee to inquire into the British and Hessian officers’ treatment of American prisoners of war in New York and New Jersey (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 42–43, 49).
4. Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates’s letter to Benjamin Harrison of 15 Jan. 1777 contained a report on his examination, ordered by Congress on 10 Jan., of a French officer who arrived in Baltimore on the Continental brig Lexington (see ibid., 9–10). Guillaume de Luce, a lieutenant in the French dragoons recommended to Congress by Lilancour, the commandant of Cap-Français, was on board the Lexington when it was captured on 20 Dec. 1776 and apparently took part in the overpowering of the British prize-crew a few days later (see the Continental Congress Executive Committee to GW, 5 Jan. 1777). “He wants nothing more than a Lieutenancy in the Light Horse,” writes Gates, “which he says Will enable him to deserve more, and the Advance of Two Months Pay” (DNA:PCC, item 154). On 17 Jan. Congress resolved to pay de Luce $40 to “defray his expences” in traveling to GW’s army (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 , 7:44). Although there is no evidence that de Luce ever received a Continental commission, he apparently did serve with the army in an unknown capacity (see ibid., 189, 14:973). De Luce’s letter has not been identified.