From Colonel David Forman
Camp [Valley Forge] 1 t Janry 1778
Agreeable to your Exclys request I herewith inclose a Memorial respecting The Salt Works—in The Memorial I have not Specified the Quantity of Salt that I suppose the Works will Dayly produce as Those matters Cannot be with Certainty assertained—yet I think we shall when intirely Compleat produce at Least Two Hund. Buss. Day—a Quantity That will Abundantly Supply all the Wants of your Excelys Grand Army boath for Salting Provisions and Camp Consumption—As Early as the Month of Aprill we Shall at least be able to furnish a Large Supply for the Consumption of The Camp and by Faul have a Suffientcy for Salting Provisions for The Army.1
The Bareer Will wait for yr Excelys Letter to Govr Livingston.2 I have the Honr of Wishing your Excely the Compts of the Season & Subscribing my Self yr Excelys Most obdt Humble Servt
ALS, DLC:GW; copy (extract), enclosed in GW to Laurens, 31 Jan. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169.
1. The enclosed memorial from Forman of this date, which GW sent to Henry Laurens on 31 Jan., reads: “The memorial of David Forman in behalf of himself and Partners begs leave to Represent to your Excely That your Memorialist and his Partners have begun to erect a set of Salt Works on Barnegat in the County of Monmouth and State of New Jersey that has allready cost your Memorialist and Company Ten Thousand Pounds, and that your Memorialist and his Company are Determined to Extend the said Works to the Amount of Twenty five Thousand Pounds should We so far meet encouragement as to be allowed a Guard by Your Excely for there Defence, Without which the said Works woold be in great danger of being destroyed by some of the Enemies small Vessils or Tenders runing into the Bay.
“That your Memorialist may in a more particular manner make it a matter worthy your Excelys Patronage your Memorialist is very Willing to Enter into a Contract with the Comy General that all the Salt made at said Works shall be Applyed to the use of the Army and upon As reasonable Terms as The Times will affoard.
“Your Memorialist therefore prays your Excely will Take the Matter under Consideration and allow us such guard as your Excely shall think the Importance of the undertakeing merits” (DLC:GW).
Congress read the memorial on 2 Feb. but postponed consideration and apparently never reached a decision on the matter (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 , 10:111). In lieu of a congressional decision, GW permitted Forman to retain a small guard of Continental troops at his saltworks on Barnegat Bay in what is now Ocean County, N.J. (see GW to Forman, 20 January). Forman almost immediately became embroiled in a series of disputes over landownership and the employment of the troops intended to guard the works, however, and on 11 Mar. the New Jersey legislative council ruled that the stationing of Continental troops there was improper (N.J. Proceedings of the Legislative-Council description begins Journal of the Proceedings of the Legislative-Council of the State of New-Jersey, in General Assembly convened at Trenton on Tuesday the 28th Day of October, in the Year of our Lord 1777. Being their second Session. Trenton, 1779. description ends , Oct. 1777–Oct. 1778 sess., 37–38; see also Forman to GW, 13 Mar., William Livingston to GW, 14 Mar., GW to Forman, 25 Mar., and to Livingston, 25 Mar. 1778). Forman’s saltworks were among many private works being constructed along the New Jersey coast at this time. By 28 Mar. their production had become great enough to convince the New Jersey legislature to repeal its act of 10 Oct. 1777 providing for the erection of public saltworks (N.J. Acts of the General Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey. At a Session begun at Trenton on the 28th Day of October 1777, and continued by Adjournments. Being the first Sitting of their second Session. Burlington, N.J., 1778. description ends [21 Feb.—18 April 1778], 35).