George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Mead, 12 October 1779

To Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Mead

Hd Qrs [West Point] Octor 12th 1779


Our operations may be such in the course of a few Weeks as to render a quantity of facines & gabions necessary1—I am therefore to request that you will have a number of them made, in such places as will not expose them to the destruction of the Enemy, and at the same time be convenient to Water carriage. I could wish you to prosecute this business with spirit as it may prove very important to our measures—I cannot determine on any fixed number that may be necessary you will be pleased however when you have a large quantity, to give me notice still prosecuting the work—The facines should be about 9 feet long, of a convenient bulk & exceedingly well bound—as there are other Militia Corps in service, on the Sound you will oblige me by communicating this request to the Commanding officers. I am &c.


Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

The following day GW modified these instructions to Mead. His letter to Mead of that date, written from headquarters at West Point, reads: “In mine of the 12th, I requested you to employ the Men of your Regiment in making Fascines &ca, and desired you to communicate the same request to the commanding Officers of the other Corps on duty upon the Sound. I have since thought, that the work might be facilitated, under the direction of an Officer acquainted with that kind of Business, and have therefore sent Monsr Murnan in the Corps of Engineers, to give the necessary instructions for the formation and lengths of the Fascines—Gabions &ca—Your giving this Gentleman all possible aid and countenance in the execution of the command upon which he is sent, and recommending the same to the other commanding Officers of Corps in the neighbourhood of your post will promote the public Service” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing with a correction in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, Ct: Trumbull Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). Mead, who was commanding a regiment of Connecticut militia stationed near Greenwich, Conn., replied to both letters on 5 Nov., enclosing an estimate, dated 16 Oct., of the types and quantities of siege materials Maj. Jean Murnan had ordered the militia to construct and a return, dated 5 Nov., of the siege materials the militiamen had constructed to that date in which he reported that “the work goes on Brisk” (both DLC:GW). Murnan’s estimate included 1,800 planks and 460 “pieces of Timber” cut to specific dimensions; 2000 Gabions; 112,000 sticks of hard wood of specified dimensions; 2,200 fascines; and 200 mallets to drive the sticks.

1GW is referring to operations with the French fleet (see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct.).

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