George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 29 May 1778

From William Livingston

Princeton [N.J.] 29 May 1778

Dear Sir

I am quite ashamed of my present application as it necessarily infers a neglect of duty in those whom I do not chuse to blame. It were tedious to give you a narrative of the fruitless pains I have taken to have this State supplied with proper Magazines of arms & ammunition. But so it is that we must now either fight without ammunition or not fight at all. If your Excellency can possibly spare any Cartridges, I beg they may be ordered with all possible dispatch to Jonathan Baldwin Esqr. of this place who has directions to distribute them.1 If none are to be had from the continental stores, but we can be supplied with lead, I have powder sufficient for the purpose. Thinking it too tedious to procure the lead in this State (of which there is a considerable Quantity in the hands of the disaffected) by an act to seize it for the public use, which I recommended to the house this morning, I since procured the Resolution of which the inclosed is a Copy, as the only mean I could devise to give us seasonable relief.2 Our Militia appear in high Spirits, & I trust they will fight if they can be equipped for the battle. If your Excellency has a moments leisure, please to favour me with your Conjectures concerning the movements of our old Friends the Brittons! I believe they are as much puzzled about the rout they intend to take as we are to discover their intentions—With the greatest esteem & warmest wishes I am Dear Sir your most humble Ser.

Wil: Livingston


1Jonathan Baldwin (1731–1816) of Middlesex County, N.J., served in the New Jersey provincial congress in 1775–76.

2For Livingston’s recommendations to the New Jersey assembly on lead, see Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 2:345; for subsequent resolutions on the subject, see ibid., 2:360. The enclosed resolutions, dated “In the House of Assembly 29 May 1778,” read: “The Militia of this State being in Want of Ammunition and an Invasion being daily expected. Resolved That His Excellency the Governour be requested to apply to His Excellency General Washington to order such Number of ready-made Cartridges for the Use of the State as may be requisite in the present Exigency, until a full Supply can be procured by other Means. Ordered, That Mr Fleming and Mr Cook do wait on the Council and request their Concurrence with this resolution.” Another document, dated “Council Chamber 29 May 1778,” reads: “The House having taken the message brought up by Mr Fleming and Mr Cook (relative to His Excellency the Governour applying to His Excellency General Washington for a Number of Cartridges) into Consideration. Resolved, That this House concur in the resolution therein contained. Ordered, That Mr Deare wait on the House of Assembly and acquaint them therewith” (DLC:GW).

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