To Joseph Reed
Head Quarters Middle Brook 5th April 1779.
Your favr of the 29th March reached me a day or two ago—I cannot conceive from whence can arise the antipathy of Colo. Proctor and His Officers to the Uniform adopted by all the other Regiments of Artillery. In every service, it is customary to distinguish Corps by particular Uniforms, and as Black and Red has been pitched upon for that of the American Continental Artille[r]y, it is unreasonable in him to make any objections. As Blue and Red has hitherto been the Uniform of his Regt I imagine the Officers are in general provided with Cloathing of that kind for this year; and it would there fore be inconvenient to make a change at present: But I would wish you to inform Colo. proctor, that it is expected he will conform next year—It is good policy to diversify our Uniform as much as possible, as thereby the demand for any particular colour and of course the price is decreased—Blue Cloth is now higher priced than any other (except scarlet and Buff) because such numbers prefer it1—By one of the regulations for the establishment of the Corps of Engineers, they are strictly enjoined not to communicate their plans or surveys to any other than such public Bodies as are proper to be intrusted with them—the commander in Cheif—or commanding General under whom they may be acting. This I imagine will be a sufficient obligation upon Genl Du portail without my giving him the hint you mention.2 Mr Tilghman will give you such information respecting Mr Shewell as he recollects.3 I am Dear Sir &.
Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. In a letter of 4 April from Millstone, N.J., Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair wrote to Reed that he had spoken to GW “about the uniform of Colonel Proctors Regiment. He has understood that the Officers of that Regiment have already, in a great measure, supplyed themselves with blue, and for that Reason consents to it for this year, as he is unwilling to put them to the Expense of other Clothing, but they must in future conform to the Colour of the Corps, let that be what it may” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:291–92).
2. For Brigadier General Duportail’s dispute with the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council over his secrecy regarding his surveys of Philadelphia and the Delaware River, see Joseph Reed to GW, 29 March, and n.3 to that document, and Duportail to GW, 6 April.
3. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote to Reed from Middlebrook on this date: “In yours of the 29th March to His Excellency you desire to be informed of a circumstance, respecting Mr Robt Shewell, that happened at the Valley Forge last Spring—To the best of my remembrance it was as follows—Some little time before the enemy left Philada Mr Shewell came out to the Valley Forge, upon his arrival at Camp, he came to Head Quarters and gave a good deal of intelligence, the principal part of which respected the preparations of the Enemy to leave the City—Mr Shewell continued in and about the Camp several days, on one of which he was present either at the parade of the daily guards—or at the exercise of some of the Brigades I cannot recollect which—Some of the Officers, who were acquainted with him and with his Character, mentioned the impropriety of his being there, and I was informed that he was ordered immediately off the Ground, and I beleive out of the Camp—But as I was not myself present I cannot be positive as to the latter” (DLC:GW).