From John Parke Custis
Williamsburg [Va.] May 29th ’78
It is with much Pleasure I inform you of the safe Arrival of a French fifty Gun Ship, in Hampton Road yesterday. I have just parted with the Capt. at the Governor’s. He has brought the most valuable Cargo that has arrived since the War. Cloth & Linen sufficient for fifteen thousand Men, four thousand Suits ready made, a great number of soldiers Blankets, some military Stores, the final Cost of the Cargo is five Millions of Livres. Our Bay has been clear for some Time, many Vessels have arrived, but the one I have just mentioned is the most important.1
Our Assembly has been setting for some Time and have not been idle. We should have been able to have finished our Business by this Time, but I am ashamed to inform you that the Senate never made a House, untill the Day before Yesterday. We expect to break up in a Day or two; Three Bills have passd the House of Delegates for reinforceing the Army. One for raising 2000 Volunteers to serve one Year, to induce the Men to inlist, We have given 30 Dollars Bounty, an Exemption from Militia Duty for as long a Time as they shall serve, and their Persons from Taxation for the same time,2 a Second for raising 350 Horsemen to serve untill the End of the Campain. They have no Bounty but the same Priveledges with the foot, the State is to equip them. I fear We shall not be able to get Horses and accoutrements, the Men are very fond of the Scheme, many have equip’d themselves, and I hope will shortly join you.3 the third is to recruit the regiments. We have offered, 150 Dollars to Him who inlists for the War & 100 to Him who inlists for three years, they are exempt from Taxation, and enjoy all the Priviledges with the others. They are to be furnished With the following articles. Oznabrig @ 1/6 pr yd. Hats 7/6. shoes 10/ Stockings 2/ rum 8/ pr Gallon. Whiskey 5/. what eve[r] else they want is to be furnished at 120 pr Cent on the final cost, and a Suit of Cloths every year gratis. I think We have now offered the most generous Terms and if they do not inlist, they must be drafted.4 I cannot be more particular at this time, as the House is sitting and the Post will be gone before we break up. You will be kind enough to excuse the inaccuracies, and beleive Me your most Affecte
P.S. I presume before this reachs you Mamma will have left Camp. if She has not be pleased to give my Love, & thanks for her Affectionate Letter of the 26th inst. Nelly will write to her on a Supposition She is a[t] Mt Vernon.5 Nelly tenders her Affecte regards to you.
ALS, MnHi: Allyn K. Ford Collection.
1. Purdie’s Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) of this date announced that “A French 50 gun ship, and two merchant vessels, laden with arms and dry goods, are safe arrived in James river, from Rochfort.” The fifty-gun ship was Le Fier Roderique, owned by the Beaumarchais firm of Roderique Hortalez & Cie of Rochefort, France. Pierre François Chevallié, a partner of Beaumarchais, came as supercargo. For Chevallié’s later attempts to secure payment for his cargo, see Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends , 2:365, 4:503; Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 8:34–35; Syrett, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 20:357; and Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 13:323; see also Custis to GW, 17 June 1778.
2. See “An act for raising Volunteers to join the Grand Army” (Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 9: 445–49).
3. See “An act for raising a regiment of Horse” (ibid., 9:449–51).
4. See “An act for recruiting the continental army, and other purposes therein mentioned” (ibid., 9:454–56).
5. These letters have not been identified. Private Elijah Fisher wrote in his journal on 9 June that “Lady Washington Left Head Quarter to Return to Virginey” (Godfrey, Commander-in-Chief’s Guard description begins Carlos E. Godfrey. The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard: Revolutionary War. Washington, D.C., 1904. description ends , 9).