George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Allyne Otis, 24 December 1777

From Samuel Allyne Otis

Boston Decr 24th 1777

May it please Your Excellency

With the utmost anxiety I have beheld your army of Patriots opposeing not only the formidable powers of Europe, and you bearing your Gallant breast not only against misfortune, but combating also the attacks of inclement Skies in our unequal Combat.

Why application to the Eastern States whose ports are open and whose acquisition of Cloathing is vast, was not sooner made I cant determine, But sure I am that to say nothing of the distress brave men are exposed to in the Cold season uncovered, the delay has cost the Continent £100,000.

In ten days after notice of my appointment I dispatched 12 waggons with Sundry articles agreeable to the return inclosed, am now loadg the 3d brigade with plains coatings &c.1

There is plenty of Cloathing thank God for 20,000 men except perhaps a deficiency in Shoes hatts & blanketts, but woolens are daily arriveing, & if I can be supplied with money & Waggons, and the Convoys are not cut off, I pawn my life upon covering the Army with good decent Cloathing, as they deserve that of Laurells.

Forgive my obtrusion upon one of your important moments & beleive me with the profoundest respect & veneration for your exalted virtues Your Excellencys Most humble & Obet Sevt

Sam. A. Otis


Samuel Allyne Otis (1740–1814), a Boston merchant who was at this time a partner in the firm of Otis & [Benjamin] Andrews and, after Andrew’s death in January 1779, of Otis & [David] Henley, became involved in the procurement of clothing for the Continental army during the summer of 1776. He served as Clothier Gen. James Mease’s deputy for Massachusetts in 1777 and as a purchasing agent during Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene’s tenure as quartermaster general between 1778 and 1780. It has been estimated that Otis and his partners supplied the Continental army with approximately 18,000 uniforms during the Revolutionary War. Otis owned several privateers during the war, and he served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives at various times between 1776 and 1787 and in the Continental Congress in 1787 and 1788. He was secretary of the U.S. Senate from 1789 to 1814.

1The enclosed “Return of 95 packages being 12 Waggon Loads of Cloathing sent to the C. Gl By Saml A. Otis,” made at Boston on 15 Dec. 1777, lists 1,133 hats, 64 blankets, 1,727 shoes, 3,368 shirts, 181 coats, 176 watch coats, 320 jackets, 154 breeches, 1 suit of clothes, 167 pairs of mittens, 4,136 Kilmarnock caps, 433 pairs of hose, and 1,020 “Bond Soles” (DLC:GW).

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