George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Stark, 15 August 1778

From Brigadier General John Stark

Albany, August 15, 1778.

Dear General— The deputy paymaster of this department informs me that he is recalled, and that your excellency is of opinion that we have no occasion for one. Your excellency must be deceived as to the distances of our detachments from head quarters.

One body is stationed at Otter creek, one hundred and thirty miles north-east of this place; one at Fort Edward, fifty miles; one at Fort Schuyler, one hundred and twenty miles; and Alden’s and Butler’s regiments are posted on two other stations.1 Beside these, the militia are employed for short terms, and the wages they earn will not justify the expense of sending to you. Under these circumstances, a deputy paymaster is often of the greatest importance at this place. I leave the matter, however, for your judgment.

As Congress has been pleased to make provision for the battalion officers,2 but not any as I have heard for the generals or staff, I should be glad of your opinion in what manner I shall make up my accounts, as I am in a separate command, which makes my expenses much greater than if I acted with the army. I wish to be able to live up to my station, which can not be done by the bare allowance of a brigadier, as I am obliged to purchase everything at a high price: for instance, for a gallon of rum, $14; a pound of sugar, $2.50; and every thing in proportion.

Capt. McKean is with me, and informs that he can raise a company of good rangers to scour the woods on the western frontier, if he can have proper encouragement. He served with me in the ranging service during most of the last war.3

I have ordered him to raise them, which I hope you will approve, as I think one company of such men can do more than a regiment of militia. I am, sir, your ob’t serv’t,


Stark, Memoir of John Stark description begins Caleb Stark. Memoir and Official Correspondence of Gen. John Stark, with Notices of Several Other Officers of the Revolution . . .. 1860. Reprint. Boston, 1972. description ends , 217. In GW’s letter to John Stark of 29 Aug., this is acknowledged as a letter of 13 August. Whether Tench Tilghman miswrote on that draft or Caleb Stark mistranscribed the date of this letter has not been determined.

1Fort Edward was located on the Hudson River north of Albany at what is now Rogers Island. Col. Ichabod Alden’s regiment was stationed at Cherry Valley, N.Y., and Lt. Col. William Butler was at Schoharie, New York. Otter Creek, which runs through Vergennes, Middlebury, and Rutland, Vt., is nowhere as far as 130 miles from Albany. The main post on the creek at this time was Fort Ranger at Rutland.

2Stark was probably referring to Congress’s resolution of 2 June 1778, which set provision allowances for officers below the rank of general ( 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 , 11:560–61).

3Robert McKeen (McKean; d. 1781) was commissioned a captain in the 1st New York Regiment in November 1776 to date from March 1776, when he was appointed a captain in the New York militia. He resigned his Continental commission in January 1778 but subsequently served as a captain of New York levies. On 10 July 1781 he was mortally wounded in an engagement with Indian and Loyalist troops at present-day Sharon Springs, New York. Stark had served as a lieutenant and later as a captain with Robert Rogers’s Rangers during the French and Indian War.

Index Entries