George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 14 January 1778

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Hartford [Conn.] Janry 14th A.D. 1778


I am Honored with your Letters of the 15th & 29th Ultimo The Genl Assembly of this State convened at this place the 8th Instant the Latter of yours came to hand on the 10th and was Laid before them The Deficiencies in our Regimts will meet the attention it’s Importance demands1 Expediency and Necessity require Early and vigorous meas[ur]es Should be adopted to compleat them to their full compliment not only from this but also from the other States. Our unremitting Foes will Strain every nerve in the manner you mention It is Ardently to be wished that every necessary preparation be made to Strike a home blow before they can be reinforced Such a Stroke would give the Best relief to the Sufferings of the army For them I have very tender feelings Att the Same time Sir I feel most cordially for the Weight & burdens Lying on your Excellency—The matter of Innoculating will be attended to—It Affords me pleasure to find our Exertions to relieve the Distresses of our Soldiers for cloathing hath met wth So much Success—Perticular attention will be given on that head in future—The Time is come when they will claim a new Suit By my last you was informed of our Sending Collo. Jos: Trumbull to purchase cloathing at the Eastward2 He found that Messrs Otis and Androus within a few Days before his coming to Boston recd a commission from Mr Mease and Instructions from Congress and from him to purchase all the cloathing in that part of the world for the Immediate use of the Continental army wth all possible dispatch with them he agreed not to interfere or attempt purchasing and that Govr Trumbull Should write them requesting a quantity Such as their Proportion of men in the army and Engage to Get them made and transported to the army and Deliver them to Mr Mease or dispose of them to our troops by order of your Excellency taking proper rects therfor on which they would Deliver him the goods—I Did accordingly to Expedite the business—and the Cloathing is come to hand Such as is fit for Immediate use Viz. Blankets Stockings Shoes Shirts hats caps &ca will be Sent on to your head Quarters with all convenient dispatch3—Those that are to be made up will be put into hands of Taylors—I have thot it best that officers from each Regimt might have orders to take care of the Matter and that the head workman Should be put under oath to see the Same faithfully Executed Brigr Genl Parsons is now at this place with whome I Shall consult for the better Effecting it—I fancy there are a number of Taylors who are Soldiers in the army might be Employed in this business—In Consequence I have to request your Direction and orders that this cloathing may be Delivered to the Soldiers of this State with advice of the best mode of Doing it—A Genl Excha. of Prisoners is Expected to take place this winter—a thing very desirable and Doubt not your Endeavors for it On this head a Letter is Addresed to the Honble Congress Shewing the opinion of this State that it is better to comply with Genll Hows unreasonable demands than Suffer our Distressed Soldiers to remain in their miserable and perishing Scituation without hope of Relief4—That this Delay of Exchange hath an unhappy Influence to prevent Inlistments into the Continentall army none can Doubt—Enclosed is Copy of a Letter from Govr Cook Dated the 10th Instt which is tho’t best to Communicate.5

Wishing you the compliments of the Season—Your health & Support under the burdens of your Important Command and Success in Every future Enterprize with wisdom and Protection from above I am Sr with Great Esteem and Regard Your Excellency’s Most Obedient and very Humble Servt

Jonth; Trumbull

LS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

1For the measures taken by the Connecticut general assembly in response to GW’s exhortations, see Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 299.

2Trumbull is referring to his letter to GW of 2 Dec. 1777, in which he enclosed a letter to Laurens of 1 Dec. that reported Joseph Trumbull’s mission to purchase clothing.

3Samuel A. Otis, partner in the firm of Otis & Andrews, had been appointed a purchasing agent in Massachusetts by James Mease in November 1777. Within ten days of his appointment Otis “dispatched 12 waggons with Sundry articles” of clothing (see Otis to GW, 24 Dec. 1777). Trumbull’s letter to Otis & Andrews, dated 10 Dec. 1777, is in DNA:PCC, item 78; for Otis’s instructions from Congress and his purchasing activities, see 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 , 9:893, 1071–73, and Henry Laurens’s letters to Otis of 14 Nov. 1777 and 3 Jan. 1778, both in DNA:PCC, item 13.

4See Trumbull to Laurens, 13 Jan. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 66.

5The enclosed letter from Nicholas Cooke to Trumbull, dated 10 Jan. 1778 from Providence, R.I., reads: “Since I had the Honour of addressing your Excellency last Three Persons belonging to Salem made their escape from the Enemy’s Fleet at Rhode Island who inform that Lord Howe arrived at Newport Harbour on Saturday last with a Fleet of 20 Sail of Transports includeing a Frigate—That there is at present in the Harbour of Newport Nine Ships of the Line a number of Frigates Ships and Sloops of Warr to the amount of Twenty Sail and 180 Transports Five of our people who were taken some time past on board a Privateer and carried into Newport Harbour were taken with the Smal Pox and put upon Coasters Harbour which is a smal Island a little North of Newport—They made their escape from that Place on Wednesday Night last they confirm the above account and add that for several Days before they made their escape the Enemy were collecting a large Number of Flatt Bottomed and other Boats between said Coasters Harbour and a Place called Coddingtons Cove—By other Inteligence we learn that the Enemy had selected out a Body of their best Troops in order to go on some private Expedition—that we are daily in expectation of their attempting some part of this State.

“Thursday arrived of Kinnicutt Point about Six Miles below this Town a large Brig a Flagg of Truce with Cloathing for General Burgoins Army On Friday a Flagg returnd here which had been sent by General Spencer with the Paymaster of General Burgoin’s Army for the Cloathing & she was stop’d at the uper Ship and not sufferd to go within Twelve Miles of the Town of Newport which has not heretofore practised which induces us to believe the Accounts to be true—that preperations are makeing for some Expedition upon the main Land—I need not mention to your Excellencey the necessity of hasting your Troops forward—and haveing your Militia in readiness to assist us in case of need” (DLC:GW).

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