George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Timothy Pickering, 9 June 1778

From Timothy Pickering

War Office [York, Pa.] June 9. 1778.


Capt. Armstrong1 arrived here yesterday with some necessaries for the North Carolina troops, among them 2768 blankets: but the whole being stowed in four waggons, I was led to inquire of the size of the blankets, & find they are so narrow that two must be sewed together to make one. Genl McIntosh informed me that the North Carolina brigade was already nearly supplied with blankets. This induced me to mention the quantity arrived here, that when that brigade has been supplied, the residue might be ordered to be delivered to the clothier to issue to the other troops. The waggons will proceed as soon as some small repairs have been made.

We are disappointed in our expectations of getting a number of iron cartridge boxes. We hoped they would have yielded immediate relief. But the principal workmen in that branch are busily engaged in making camp kettles; and cannot touch the cartridge boxes under two months from this time. Only 1000 have been contracted for at Morristown. However, the disappointment is of less consequence than was feared; for our stock of tin suitable for cannisters is much larger than was imagined; and with eight workmen Capt. Coren2 can make about 500 in a week: but some of his hands are hired, & less steady than could be wished. Colo. Flower judges there is tin enough at Carlisle for 10,000 canisters; and observes, that if a few good hands could be sent from camp, the present deficiencies in the army would in a short time be supplied, & a stock provided for future use.

On the recommendation of Colo. Wadsworth, the board, on the 17th of April, impowered a Capt. Starr of Middleton in Connecticut to receive a quantity of public leather of Colo. Trumbull, and get it made up into shoes and accoutrements, half of each, the cartridge boxes upon the new model; and to send on both to the main army. He was also directed to purchase all the leather he could get at a reasonable price, to be applied to the same uses. We have recd no answer; but suppose the business is going on, as Colo. Wadsworth himself took charge of our instructions. An express will go off to-morrow with letters to Capt. Starr & the Commissary of military stores at Springfield, directing them to send forward immediately all the cartridge boxes & bayonet belts they have made—to hasten their workmen—to employ as many as they can find—& to continue sending on these accoutrements till further orders.3 I am, very respectfully, your Excellency’s most obedt servant

Tim. Pickering junr
By order of the Board


This letter apparently was forwarded by a paroled prisoner, Lt. Henry Heldring of the 3d Waldeck Regiment, who covered it with the following petition dated 11 June from the White Horse Tavern, Pa.: “Your Excellency please to recollect one of the two Waldeck officers prisoners of war, who selfes had the honour of being introduced to you last year in the Jerseys: and who always conserves the most grateful acknowledgement for the honourable treatement and politeness received from your Excellency, has been labouring these 7 months under a very severe and painful sickness—feeling my constitution growing every day worster & no remedy for it, i went to the honourable board of war, representing there my case. the board seeing my poor situation gave me leave to go down till here to send the letter from Colonel Pickering, which I join, to your Excellency, and to wait upon your Excellencys orders.

“i flatter my selfes with the best hopes that after having suffered the greatest pains & fatigues in coming here your Excellency will have compassion with my situation, and approuve of the proposed exchange.

“All the while we where prisoners we never did receive any money from our Regiment so that i left many depts behind, the gentleman who fournished us all the while with money brought me here—and should i be so happy as to obtain your Excellencys leave to the exchange, i most humbly intread your Excellency to give equally leave to this gentleman to go with me to philadelphia that i can discharge my and my fellow prisoner debts” (ALS, PHi: Society Collection). No reply from GW to Heldring has been found.

1This may have been Andrew, Thomas, or William Armstrong, captains respectively in the 6th, 5th, and 1st North Carolina Regiments.

2Isaac Coren of Philadelphia was appointed a captain in Col. Henry Knox’s Continental Artillery Regiment in December 1775 and served until the end of the following year. In February 1777 he was appointed captain of an independent Pennsylvania artillery company attached to Col. Benjamin Flower’s Regiment of Artillery Artificers. He was cashiered in June 1780 (see General Orders, 24 June 1780).

3Pickering apparently is referring to George Starr (1740–1820), a deputy commissary general of hides at Middletown, Conn.; see GW to George Measam, 18 May 1779, and the Board of War’s report on clothing, 5 Oct. 1778 (DNA:PCC, item 147).

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