George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Flower, 27 February 1778

From Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Flower

Allen Town [Pa.] 27 Feby 1778.


I have just receivd the inclos’d Letter from the Hone Board of War, with Orders & Instructions relative to procureing Leather—“Which Order’s I am directed to Communicate to your Excellancy and request your Concurance and Assistance therein.”1 I have sent a Coppy of the Orders with Instructions to Mr Gostelowe the Comy M[ilitar]y Stores at Lebanon,2 to the end that he might obtain Leather in that quarter, and should I meet with any in my Journey to the Jerseys & Return shall endeavour to take the propper steps to procure it agreable to these Instructions which I hope will meet with your Aprobation.

I have allso inclos’d a return of all the M[ilitar]y Stores now remaining at this post,3 which only wait for Waggons, and Horses for the Cannon, which come in very slow—the Grape Shott, Musket Cartridges (3 Boxes only) and a small quantity of Powder I propose to leave til further Orders the Powder and Cartridges will be left in the Care of the Lieut. of the County for the use of the Militia at his request as this State have no Amunition but what is in my possession since our removal from Phila.4—I have the Honor to be your Excellancys most Obedt Hume Sevt

Benjn Flower Coln.


1The enclosed letter from Joseph Nourse to Flower, dated 10 Jan. at the War Office in York, Pa., reads: “The Avarice of the People having risen to Such an height as almost to amount to a prohibition to any Officer employ’d in the service to purchase Articles wanted for public Use it is become necessary to take by force What are absolutely necessary for the Defence of Our Liberties. As Leather for military Accoutrements is an Essential Article And the Prices demanded exorbitant to the last Degree. You will either by Yourself or Your Deputies Take & Sieze all leather you may want in Your Department interfereing as little as may be with the Shoe business Either by not takeing or delivering after it is taken to the Commisy Genl of ⟨Clo⟩thing all leather fit for Shoes. You will give Certificates to the Own⟨ers⟩ of the Leather expressing the Quantity Quality & weight of ⟨the⟩ Same. Which Certificates are to be payd by the Treasury of the United States at such rates and prices as shall be Setled by the Convention of Comittees Appointed by Congress to meet on the 15th of Jany Instant for the Purpose of Setling the prices of Goods and Commodities in the Middle States. You will Communicate these Orders to his Excellency General Washington And request his Concurrence & Assistance. You will avoid takeing leather from Persons under Contract with the Commissary of Hides & if Reasonable purchases can be made you will prefer buying to Takeing the leather by Force” (DLC:GW).

2Jonathan Gostelowe (b. 1744) of Philadelphia served as an assistant commissary of military stores from August 1776 to February 1777, when he became a commissary of military stores with the rank of major.

3The enclosed “Indent of Artillery Ammunition & Military Stores at Allen Town,” dated 28 Feb., is in DLC:GW.

4The lieutenant of Northampton County was Col. John Weitzel. GW replied to Flower on 11 March.

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