George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 11 July 1780

War Office July 11 1780


The Board have been honoured with your Excellency’s several Favors accompanied wih Estimates from General Knox respecting the Quantity & Species of Ordnance Stores to be provided for the intended offensive Operation—It was with the utmost Difficulty that we could procure, when called upon the last Campaign on the same Subject any considerable Quantities of the Articles principally required. Our Embarrassments are now greater than they then were as the public Credit was not at that Time so very low. The Iron Masters with whom Contracts were made for Shot & Shells were so hardly dealt with & have suffered so much by not recieving their Money in Time that we fear it will be nearly impracticable to get them again engaged unless we are furnished with Cash. Perhaps however some of them in Pennsilvania may be prevailed on to cast Part of the deficient Quantities of Shot & Shells upon Credit & those mentioned by General Knox in Jersey we presume he can influence to enter on the Bussiness. The Time is however too short for the Estimate of sixty Days if there were no other Objection to entering into large contracts on the Subject—We have viewed the Matter in every Light we are capable of & tho’ properly impressed with the Magnitude of the Object we are convinced of the utter Impracticability of procuring more than half the Amount of the Estimate last sent us. Had we Money & were Time Enough allowed us for procuring the Shot & Shells we are convinced a sufficient Quantity of Powder could not be obtained. Previous therefore to our taking any Steps in the Bussiness we think it necessary to inform your Excellency that we cannot undertake to provide more than the Amount of the Estimate [as] at first furnished us for a Siege of thirty Days. It will be with some Difficulty that we shall be able to accomplish even this as it depends upon the Money we recieve & the Abi[lity] & Disposition of the States to lend us the Quantity of Powder required beyond that we have & expect from France, abou[t] which we have no certain Information, but suppose General Knox to have been properly informed when he estimated the expected arrival at 50 Ton’s. We enclose yo[ur] Excellency an Account of what we have on Hand & the Deficiencies wanted to complete the Estimate for thirty Days as at first furnished without the Addition for [t]he encreased length of 7 Days at this Season. We will [d]o our utmost to procure the Articles mentioned in his Estimate; but we thought it unnecessary to begin [th]e Provision without being informed whether or not [t]he Bussiness can be undertaken if the Articles [a]greeable to the thirty Day Estimate as at first furnished can be had & we beg your Excellency’s speedy Answer on this Subject. We have the Honour to be with the highest respect & Esteem your very obed. Servants

Richard Peters

By Order & in Behalf of the Board

The Board have recd your Excellency’s Letter respecting Capt. B. Joel & have ordered him to be safely kept until your farther Directions. A few Days since Col. Nichol[a] furnished us with the enclosed Intelligence [re]specting that Gentleman which we do ourselves the Honor to enclose.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


June 22d 1780


a Gentleman of the name Anderson, came with some Company, to my House yesterday evening & appeared to be acquainted with Capt. Joel, I enquired of one of the Company who the Gentleman was & was informed he was brother to a major Anderson in the Continental Service, I thought this a favourable of making some enquiries concerning the Captain, which I desired my friend to do & recd the following Account. Mr Anderson, when a prisoner in Bermuda, was a little acquainted with Capt. Joel, having lain one night in the room with him, but heard him often talkd of on account of his attachment to a Lady & quarrel with the Governor to whom he sent a joint of one of his fingers.

As this corresponds with what the Captain mentioned I think it necessary to inform you thereof & beg leave to assure you that I am with respect Gentlemen Your most obed. Sert

Lewis Nicola Colo. Inv:

The Capt. has favored me with a Copy of the verses I mentioned to you which is inclosed.


War & Ordnance Office July 11 1780

A Return of military stores on hand and to be procured for 30 days service, agreeably to Genl Knox’s estimate inclosed in his letter of June 27 1780.

Ten inch [shell]s demanded 15.000
On hand at divers places as stated
by Genl Knox 8818
remaining at the furnaces in Pensylvania 1907
Wanting 4275 15.000
Eight inch shells demanded 9000
On hand at divers places as
stated by Genl Knox 1439
remaining at the furnaces in Pensylvania 1030
Wanting 6531 9000
18 lb. shot demanded 36.000
On hand at divers places as stated by G. K. 17849
At Bull’s John Jacobs’s &c. say 5000
Wanting 13151 36.000
12 lb. shot demanded 36000
On hand at divers places as stated by G. K. 12321
At Bull’s, John Jacobs’s &c. say 2500
Wanting (21171) [13]17[9] 36000
24 lb. shot at Philadelphia, 2084
which may be advantageously
substituted in the room of
part of the deficient 12 lb. shot
Powder demanded 4860 barrels
ditto for contingent services 1000
5860 barrels
On hand as stated by Genl Knox 3071
At a powder mill in Pensylvania 30
Materials on hand at Springfield
& Philaa [for] 600
Expected from France 2000 barrels—
but Genl Knox is informed there
are shipped 1000 only
Arrived this day (July 11 from St
Eustatia) at Philaa 30
The whole demand may be completed,
if we can borrow from
Maryland & the Eastern states 1121 5860 barrels
Materials for making powder—
at Springfield 69 casks supposed to weigh 600 lb. ea[ch]
2 boxes 300 ea[ch]
at Baltimore 8 [   ]s 800 ea[ch]
In the whole about 4[8].000 lb. which with the Sulphur (of which there
is an abundance) & other material to be [compounded] with it will
probably yield about 600 barrels; as before state[d].

By a return of the 29th April 1779, made by Mr Pearson (a deputy of Colo. Flower’s) there appeared to be at Colo. Bull’s, John Jacobs’s & some other places within thirty miles of Philadelphia, 18731 eighteen pound shot, & 4923 twelve pound shot. Part of these have since been removed to this city and to West Point; and of course are included in Genl Knox’s estimate: But we were not satisfied with Mr Pearson’s return, because not grounded on an actual survey: yet the quantities were originally so large, we can entertain very little doubt of the numbers remaining which we have stated in the foregoing return. An active man is now gone to ascertain the quantities & collect them.

There are also considerable quantities of cannon shot at Fredricksburg in Virginia, a large proportion of which are heavy shot; but the return of them is mislaid.

If all the powder mentioned in this estimate is to be appropriated to the service of cannon & mortars, the present stock of musket cartridges cannot be increased.

At the particular request of the board, his Excellency the sieur Gerard, just before his departure last fall, was pleased to engage to give his personal attention to the shipping, by the first vessels destined for such service,

fifty tons of cannon powder

fifty tons of musket powder

one hundred tons of lead—and

ten thousand stands of arms.

We are therefore induced to hope there will arrive with the French fleet another thousand barrels of powder, as well as the other articles now mentioned.

In behalf & by order of the board Tim: Pickering

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