George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 19–23 June 1777

From Richard Peters

War Office [Philadelphia] June 19th[–23] 1777.


I have endeavoured by Direction of the Board of War repeatedly to procure exact Accounts of the Reciept & Distribution of Military Stores Arms &c. recieved by the several Agents into their Custody on Continental Acct. but have not yet been able to do it with any Degree of Precision. I intend however to persevere & when I have recieved Satisfaction on this Head shall transmitt to your Excellency exact Returns that you may be enabled to form your Measures as to ordering supplies for the Army accordingly. The greatest Quantity of Ammunition & Stores will I apprehend be at Springfield whither I was directed to write for a Return but knew not to whom I should address my Letter, & must beg of your Excellency Information of the Commissary’s Name or that you would write to Springfield & direct a Return of all Arms Ammunition & Stores sent thither from the several Continental Agents who were directed by the Board of War to send thither all such Articles as they might have in their Possession to that Place. By our Account Mr Langdon Agent at Portsmouth must have sent in 9000 Stands of Arms so that if your Excellency should want Supplies of Arms it would be better to order them from Springfield as we have here scarcely sufficient to arm the Troops daily expected from the Southward.

I have the Honour of your Letter of the 20th instant & Directions are accordingly given on the Subject. I do myself the Honour to transmitt a Draft of the Pike or Spear as Intended to be made that if any Alterations or Additions are thought necessary I may desire Col. Flower to attend to them. I fancy the Spears will weigh four Pounds each when completed. I am told they cannot be lighter & strong.1

Permitt me to congratulate your Excellency on the Enemy’s Retreat which from the Manner & Precipitation with which it was effected (if it should be effected) was at least equal to half a Victory. The Spirits of our Troops will be raised to an high Pitch & those of the Enemy proportionably depress’d. I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect your very obedt Servt

Richard Peters Secy

P.S. I am directed to inform your Excellency of General De Haas’s Resignation.2

ALS, DLC:GW. Peters enclosed Benjamin Flower’s letter to him of 23 June 1777 (see note 1), indicating that this letter was not sent to GW before that date.

1Peters enclosed a letter he received from the commissary general of military stores, Benjamin Flower, written at Philadelphia on 23 June 1777: “Below is a drawing or design of a Rifleman’s Pike intended to be seven feet long and the manner of slinging it agreeable to your request, which if you approve of, I will give directions and have the five hundred made as soon as possible, as Ordered by his Excellency Genl Washington’s Letter (a Copy of which you have favor’d me with) the Tin Canisters for Musket Cartridges I will likewise attend to, I have already ordered great numbers to be made and will send them off as soon as done. The Letters and explanation shew the different parts of the Pike Vizt. [see figure 1] Your answer to the above with such alterations as you think proper will oblige your most hume servt” (DLC:GW).

2For John Philip DeHaas’s reluctance to accept a brigadier general’s commission, see Horatio Gates to GW, 23 Feb. and 7 Mar. 1777. DeHaas resigned his commission after Congress ordered him to return to active service in a resolution of 16 June (see GW to Hancock, 13–15 June 1777, and note 10; 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 , 8:468).

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