George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Udny Hay, 22 November 1778

From Lieutenant Colonel Udny Hay

Fish Kill [N.Y.] 22nd Novr 1778


Enclosed I have the honour of transmitting to your Excellency a letter recd from Mr Whiting the Manager of Salisbury Furnace, in answer to one of mine which I have taken the liberty to enclose likewise as it will serve to explain his—S<hou>ld your excellency judge it necessary to have this Furnace putt in Blast as soon as possible, any orders I may have the Honour of receiving on that head shall be punctually complied with as far as in my power.1

Miss Tyneck who lives with me is anxious to go to N: York, and requests I would ask your Excellency for a pass, as a vessel is expected to sail from this in a day or two with some disaffected Persons, which opportunity she would be glad to embrace.2

I have searchd about the Country for a few Bushels of Nutts but have not been able to observe any, my endeavers on that head shall however be still continued—I have the Honour to be with the utmost respect Your Excellencies Most obedt & very humble Sevt

Udny Hay


1The enclosed copy of a letter from Hay to William Whiting, dated 11 Nov. at Fish Kill, N.Y., reads: “I hope by this time you have recd all the Stone Necessary for repairing your hearth. Please let me Know whether there is any further Assistance the publick Can render you & What; What is the heaviest metal you Can Cast, What Number of Cannon Can you have ready by the middle of Feby Supposing an equal Number of each Size from twelves to the heaviest you Can Cast; How many Can you Have ready by the first of May; are you allready under any Contract with any private persons and what price Do you propose for Such Cannon as may be wanted by the public.

“Shall be much Obliged to you for Answers for all them Questions by the bearer Mr Stewart Having promised to Transmitt them to His Excellency Genl Washington” (DLC:GW).

Also enclosed is a copy of a letter from Whiting to Hay, dated 16 Nov. at Salisbury, Conn.: “I am just returned from Hartford and have your Favours of the 7th & 11th Inst. before me.

“My best thanks are due for your Attention to forwarding the Hearth Stone to Hoffmans Landing, part of them Colo. Hoffman informs me are landed, and the remainder expected Soon to be at his Landing—can get no teams here to bring them in immediately, as I am intirely destitute of Cash to pay out for any expences, on Account of the next Blast, by reason of which delay, the Business has not been pushed forward the Summer past, nor Can it go on till Money can be procured, which at present is not to be had from the Treasury of this State. His Excellency Governor Trumbull acquainted me at Hartford, that it was Intended the Furnace Should be carried on the next Summer, on Account of this State, but they have made no provision yet for that Purpose.

“I have Obtained Orders on the Treasury for a Sum to pay the Old debts, but untill the Genl Assembly Meets again in January, I have no Encouragement of Assistance from them, to enable me to provide for another Blast. As you mention having promised to transmitt Answers to your Questions, to His Excellency Genl Washington if on the information they Afford him—His Excellency Should judge it Expedient, that the Furnace be improved on Account of the Continent on Application to the Governor and Council of Safety for this State they might consent to it with a prospect of the Business being better Supplied, which must be the Case, if it goes on the next Spring—There is very little probability, of the Furnace being put in blast, by any means, before May, it is nearly impossible to blow in the Winter, unless a large Quantity of Coal is burnt Carted and Stocked before, for two Winters Successively while She was in blast, every means in our power was tried, but in vain to Continue the Blast. We have no Coal now Burnt, but Some Wood Cut Seven Miles from the Furnace, the road to Which is bad, at this time of the year especially.

“I Shall now endeavour to Answer your first Question. If the Foundary Should be Carried on by the Continent and it falls in your Department to Order Supplies &c. I Shall flatter myself with the prospect of receiving, by The Exercize of your Official Author[i]ty such Assistance as Cannot be procured at this time, by other Means. to be Acquainted with the particulars you must be Informed that to prosecute the Business We Should employ Thirty Wood Choppers, and furnish them with Axes, Blanketts, Provisions, Cooking Kettles &c.—Sixteen Colliers and furnish them with Coaling tools, Blanketts provisions and Cooking Kettles. Twelve teams of Six Oxen each, With Strong Carts, four feet wide at the Bottom, to Admitt of Coal Bodies of Carts being fixed on when necessary to take the Other Cart Bodies off for that purpose. Hay or pasturage (if not to be purchased) might be procured in the Same way as it is for Continental Teams—This Number would be Sufficient to Cart the Coal, with the Ore and Limestone, for the Digging of the Ore and Limestone. We Should employ about Seven or eight men and furnish them with proper Tools to dig, and powder to Blast the Ore—the Ore diggers who live here, if the[y] dig for the Furnace, will Expect to be Supplied at the Store with every Necessary for themselves and Families—We Should employ twentyfive men Daily at the Furnace when Casting Cannon and Shott this Number Includes Artificers, Founder, Firemen, Molders and Labourers, who burn the Ore—wheel and pound it receive the Coal, fill the Furnace &c.—These men must be Supplied with Blanketts, provisions & a Quantity of Rum, (which is likewise expected by all the Other Workmen mentioned) while they are employed in the Business, also to be furnish’d at the Store with Shoes, or Leather, & Oznabrigs or Tow Cloth to make Frocks and Trowsers in Summer and Course Woolen Cloth for weare in the Winter.

“As it might be in my power to engage many of the Workmen, I Should wish the public to render me Assistance by Supplying the Necessaries enumerated, and Cast at all Times to pay Workmen when their money became due, I Should be enabled from proper Authority, to exempt from being draffted into the Army all persons Necessarily employd in the Business of the Foundary.

“To your Second Question, I answer that the heaviest Metal that has been Cast at this Furnace is an Eighteen pounder proper for a Ship Cannon, weighing about thirty five Hundred Gross, the hearth may possible be laid so as to Contain a few hundreds more of metal, but Since the eighteen pounders has been Cast an Accident has happened to the large tub Sunk in the Ground in the Casting house The molds were fixed in this Tub, which by the Course of Spring, of Water running near it, has been Started up, and Some Immagine another Tub Cannot be Set low enough, to take in a Mold for an Eighteen pounder—a Tryal would Determine this point—As it is not probable the Furnace Can be put in blast before May I must beg your Acceptance of this Information—as an Answer to your third & fourth Questions—To the fifth and Sixth, I Answer that I am informed of no Contracts made with private persons for Cannon by the Governor & Council of Safety, who have had the Disposal of Cannon Cast here—The price Set <for> them in the year 1776 was £80 lawfull money per tun for all lighter than nine pounders, & £70 per Ton for a<ny> heavier than Six pounders—the last year when the price of Labour and Supplies were 400 per Cent higher than in the year 1776 the nominal price for the Cannon was the Same as mentioned, but the Conditions of purchase was to pay One half in West India Goods, or Articles of Clothing for the Troops of this State, at the Same price they were at in the year 1776—the Other half to be paid in Cash.

“If you think proper to make any enquiry further relative to the Business of the Furnace the Bearer Doctr Wheeler will endeavour to give you Satisfactory Answers, which I doubt not he may be able to do” (DLC:GW).

2“Miss Tyneck” was Kitty Ten Eyck of Half Moon, N.Y. (see Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 5:575–76).

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