George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 6 September 1777

From Richard Peters

War Office [Philadelphia] Septr 6th 1777


Congress having referred the foregoing Letter to the Board they did not choose to make Report thereon until they had consulted your Excellency upon the Subject.1 It is therefore sent you with a Request that you would give your Opinion thereon & if the Ration now given is according to any Establishment made by you, the Board will be obliged to you for Information of the Reasons inducing you to enlarge it. If not be pleased to let them know whether it ought to be reduced to the original Ration or whether any & what Alterations should be made. I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect your very obed. Servt

Richard Peters Secy


1The enclosed letter from Robert White to John Hancock, dated 28 Aug. at Wilmington, reads: “Having the honour of being appointed by the Hone Continental Congress to the Office of Deputy Commissary General of Issues for the middle department, I have made some Progress in executing the same; in the course of which I have observed that the soldiery claim as their allowance & have been accustomed to receive the following Ration, One pound of bread or flour per man per day, One & a half pound of Beef or eighteen ounces of pork, Six ounces of butter per man per week, One pint of Indian Meal per man per week, Three pints of pease per man per week, One Quart of Beer per man per day, Eight Pounds hard soap for 100 Men per week, Six Pounds Candles per 100 Men per week.

“This Ration materially differing from the one resolved on by Congress on the 4th November 1775 as per their Journals Vol. 1. page 80. 81. [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 , 3:322] puts me under the necessity of troubling your honour upon this Subject.

“I have therefore to request the favour of being informed by your Honour whether or not there be any authority from Congress for issuing to the soldiery the Ration as above, or whether I am to conform to that establish’d November 4th 1775 which is as follows. Resolved, That a Ration consist of the following kind and Quantity of Provisions. One pound of Beef, or three quarters of a pound of pork⟨, or⟩ one pound of salt Fish per day. One pound of bread or flour per man per day. Three pints of pease or beans per week or Vegetables equivalent at one dollar per bushel for pease or beans[.] One pint of Milk per man per day or at the rate of 1/72 of a dollar. One half pint of Rice or one pint of Indian meal per man per week. One Quart of Spruce Beer or Cyder per man per day or nine Gallons of Molasses per Company of one hundred men per week. Three pounds of Candles to 100 Men per week for Guards. Twenty four pounds of soft or eight pounds of hard soap for 100 Men per week.

“The difference being so exceedingly great will I trust sufficiently excuse my troubling your honor upon this subject as also authorize me to expect the favour of an Answer to this as expeditiously as possible” (DLC:GW). White, who had been appointed deputy commissary general of issues for the middle department on 14 Aug., resigned on 15 Sept. “as upon trial he finds it impossible for him to do the duties of the office” (ibid., 8:640, 744).

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