George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Board of War, 18 January 1779

To the Board of War

Philada 18 January 1779


In consequence of your letters of the 9 and 16th Inst. upon the subject of paying the arrearages of Cloathing due to the Army for the year 17771—I have drawn up the inclosed rough plan, which2 contains the heads of what, in my opinion, will be necessary to establish some general Regulations for a settlement with the line of the Army at large. That justice may be equally distributed to the public and the individual, and that there may be no charge of partiality in settling and paying off the troops of one state in preference to another, I would recommend that no payments for Arrearages be made before some person or persons are regularly appointed for that purpose, their powers fully defined—and their general rule of conduct explicitly designated.3 I have the Honor to be &.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See Timothy Pickering to GW, 9 and 16 January.

2At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman wrote and then struck out the word “only.”

3An undated draft of the enclosure, which is in Alexander Hamilton’s writing except for the final paragraph in Tilghman’s writing, reads: “Plan for paying arrearages of Clothing to the troops.

“That some proper person (in the Clothiers department if to be had) be appointed to settle and pay all accounts of this nature—He should be a man of business, method and punctuality.

“He must have all the Clothier General’s books to know what issues have been made by him and his deputies and check the regimental accounts—He must also be authorised to call upon all State Clothiers to know what issues have been made by them on Continental account.

“The regimental pay Masters should collect and digest all the accounts of their respective regiments and settle them with the Clothier aforesaid—It should also be their business to pay the arrearages to the soldiers themselves to whom they are due, or to their representatives in case of death—and they should be responsible to the Clothier for the money they receive producing the receipts of the soldiers, or their representatives for the due payment.

“The Captains or officers commanding companies shall make out the accounts of their respective companies, specyfying the names of the claimants and where they are—what they have received and what is still due—These accounts to be drawn into a general one by the Regimental pay Masters.

“Perhaps the best way in the first instance may be to comprehend no others in these accounts than those who are still in service—leaving it nevertheless to be understood, that if the representatives of the dead &c. apply with demands properly authenticated the Clothier shall have power to pay them.

“The Clothier should be authorised to call upon all officers who have received public cloathing to account for their due application.

“The Resolves of Congress ordaining the bounties will designate the desc[r]iption of persons entitled to them and must govern the Clothier.

“This plan if approved will have most effect in the form of a resolve of Congress.

“Besides the Modes of furnishing Cloathing above referred to, Officers have in a variety of instances been sent to purchase Cloathing for their respective Corps and large Sums of Money have been paid. Cloathing hath also been impressed and delivered to the Troops without going regularly thro’ the hands of the Cloathier or any of his Deputies. These Matters should be inquired into strictly, as they cannot appear upon the Books of the Cloathier” (DLC:GW). For Congress’s subsequent reform of the clothing department, adopted on 23 March, which incorporated some of GW’s suggestions, see 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 , 13:353–60.

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