George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Board of War, 23 September 1779

From the Board of War

War Office [Philadelphia] Septr 23d 1779


We have before the Reciept of your Excellency’s Letter on the Subject press’d the Commercial Committee to procure a farther Supply of Powder.1 We have confidentially informed Monsr Gerard of our real Situation & requested his interesting himself on his Arrival in France to expedite one hundred Tons of Powder, one hundred Tons of Lead & ten thousand Arms so as to arrive before the Spring & he has given us the most favourable Assurances that we shall have these Articles by the Time we mention.2

There are at this Place about ten thousand Suits of Clothing which we have ordered to be packed up ready for Transportation & we beg to be informed what Part thereof you will have sent to what Place & at what Time you would wish it to be forwarded.3 We have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect & Esteem your very obed. Servants

Richard peters
By order

As the States are pressingly called on for the Supplies of their respective Troops should not the Continental Provision be primarily appropriated to those Corps more peculiarly Continental?


1GW’s letter to the board of 27 Aug. was exclusively devoted to the issue of powder supplies, and his letters to the board of 14 and 18 Sept. partially addressed the same issue.

2In July, Congress had sent the king of France an extensive order of supplies based in part on the board’s requirements (see Smith, Letters of Delegates, description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends 13:187-88). In their official list of requirements, dated 11 June and signed by Timothy Pickering, the Board of War had requested 400 tons of powder, 100,000 arms, and 1000 tons of lead, among many other supplies (DNA:PCC, item 147). However, on 10 Sept., Conrad-Alexandre Gérard wrote from Philadelphia to Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes a letter that reads, in part: “Je crois, Mgr, devoir vous prévenir relativement aux demandes de munitions que le Congrès a faites au Roi qu’on n’a pas osé m’en communiquer officielement; l’etat ainsi que le Congrès me l’avoit annoncé, mais quelques délégués honteux de l’indiscrete étendüe de ces demandes, m’ont confié que leur besoin actuel et pressant seroit soulagé en recevant 60. a 80. mille tonneaux de poudre et 12. à 15. mille fusils et accoutrement[s et 100 tonneaux plomb]” (Gérard, Despatches, description begins John J. Meng, ed. Despatches and Instructions of Conrad Alexandre Gérard, 1778-1780: Correspondence of the First French Minister to the United States with the Comte de Vergennes. Baltimore, 1939. description ends 889). Gérard probably meant sixty to eighty tons, not sixty to eighty thousand tons, of powder.

3This letter is docketed “Ansd 30th,” but GW replied on 29 September.

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