George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Udny Hay, 13 October 1780

Fishkill 13 Octr 1780


I was honoured by the Governour with the perusal of your Excellency’s letter to him on the subject of flour and Casks; though I flatter myself it can be made appear that the greatest attention has been paid for the purpose of providing these as well as the other articles it is now become my province to collect, yett I am sorry at being oblidged to confess my having fallen extremely short of what your Excellency had great reason to expect from me, not owing to a real scarcity of the articles, but to a want of Cash for such as I was to purchase, and to the innumerable difficulties attending the mode of Collection of such as were assessed, for having only Certificates to tender for the latter, there are but very few indeed, who do not make a thousand difficulties of granting any part of what we have a legal right to demand, and as to what I ought to obtain by purchase I have never yett recd a shilling since my appointment from either the State or Commissary General, by which meens the purchasers in the other States, who by some mode or other, are furnished with money, are enabled to purchase the very articles I ought to procure, and for not procuring of which I am undoubtedly responsible.

The Legislature of this State, Sir, has lately been convened, and have given many proofs of their inclination to serve the general cause, and support the Army under Your Excellency’s Command, but alas! they are destetute of the means; a Treasury totally empty, and the taxes to be collected already anticipated by the permission, which, with the best of views, they formerly granted the public officers of issuing notes which should in payment of [taxes] be accepted in lieu of Cash.

In short, Sir, when I view our present situation, and the near approach of the season, when the roads will become all most, perhaps altogether, unpassable, I am struck with such apprehensions of the consequences, as impells me to give a short sketch thereof to your Excellency—Within this Department, Sir, there is scarce any rum, no salt more than what will be necessary to use with the beef that will be essued to the Troops fresh, not near the number of Casks we ought to have, and I am affraid very slender prospect for obtaining the number of Cattle that ought to be salted, [could] even the other materials be procured, and what is as bad as all the rest no Cash, nor a probability of obtaining any sum nearly adequate to the purpose for which it is wanted.

I have long agoe wrote the Commissary General on all these subjects, and urged the necessity of making the necessary preperations this fall for the maintenance of the Troops in this vicinity during the winter, but imagine he is surrounded with embarrassments and difficulties which prevent his making the exertions he would otherwise undoubtedly attempt.

Though I [foresee] many difficulties, I beg leave to assure your Excellency I do not despond, and that no mode for promoting the public service you are pleased to point out for me to tread in shall be left unattempted. I have the Honour to be with the greatest respect and esteem, Your Excellencys, most obedient & very humble Srt,

Udny Hay

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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