Newburgh April the 1st 1782
I am sorry to trouble your Excellency immediately upon your Arrival; but some matters of considerable Import to the Army and ourselves, that we have not been able to get determined hitherto, induces me to lay them thus early before your Excellency, that they may be decided upon as soon as possible.
The first & most considerable object is the Clothing furnished by the State of Massachusetts—which we have not yet been able to get into our possession. This has added considerably to the Embarrassments we laboured under in Clothing the Army in this Quarter; As it remained uncertain whether the general Court of Massachusetts would comply with the Resolution of Congress; so we were at a loss to determine whether to reckon the whole of that clothing in their Quota or none of it. We preceeded however, to make an equal distribution of the Clothing in store, except the blue Cloth for Coats; of this we had not a sufficiency to compleat the Massachusetts and Connecticut Lines: Therefore we conceived it consistent with the strictest principles of Justice to compleat the Connecticut Line who had no References in their Hands, and let the Deficiency fall upon the Massachusetts Line whose State Clothier had 2000 suits of Uniforms, besides a Considerable quantity of other Clothing in his possession.
The N. Hampshire, N. York & N. Jersey Lines & the 10th Massachussetts & Invalid Regiments are compleatly clothed with the British dyed coats, which we have the pleasure of informing your Excellency are of very good quality & have not received the least injury in colouring. As some of the troops refused taking the British Coats on account of their Colour & others (though without Reason as time will demonstrate) raised a Report that they were rotted in dying, all agreed, previous to the delivery that the British Hats & Breeches should go with the coats, as compensation for the real & imaginary defect in Colour and quality. These Hats will about suffice those Lines, & for what the Breeches fell short we have delivered Cloth & materials to compleat them to a pair per man: so that the Lines & Regts above mentioned are supplied with a Coat, Vest, Overalls, Breeches, two pair of Hose, hat, One Shirt and as many shoes as their Necessities from time to time Required; the Connecticut Line have received equal with the above, except the Hats, Breeches & one pair of hose—and the Massachusetts Line have received equal with the Connecticut except in the article of Coats, of which they have received about 260 per Regiment. What they are lacking must be Supplied out of the 2000 Coats at present in the hands of their State Clothier at Fishkill Landing.
The Materials delivered to the Regiments being almost all made up, we are ready to deliver the Cloth for Breeches to the Massachusetts & Connecticut Lines, but as we shall Not have a sufficiency without including the 2000 pairs in the State Clothier’s hands, & as I understand those Breeches are Buff-coloured It is Necessary to know what Troops or Regiments shall have them, before we can deliver the Cloth we have in store: This we would wish to be done immediately, least the Workmen be out of Business.
Sometime ago the State Clothier for Massachussetts undertook to distribute the Clothing in his hands & three of the Regiments received their Quotos; but the secretary at War arriving the same day at General Heath’s put a Stop to his proceeding, & I believe the Regts have distributed but a few of the Articles.
A second grievance we would wish redressed relates to myself & the other Persons in our Department here.
Congress not having determined the Pay Rations, &ca of the Clothier General’s Department & it being omitted in the Instructions given by the Secretary at War & Financier to the Contractors, We have drawn No Revisions for these two Months past; this is peculiarly hard as we are unfurnished with Many, and have been very busily engaged (under a good many Embarrassments) in Clothing the Army here. I stated the Facts and app[li]ed repeatedly to Major General Heath on this Subject; He acknowledged the propriety of the Request & professed he would willingly grant it; but unless we could produce a Resolve of Congress to found his order upon he could not without running the Risque of Censure; He referred me to your Excellency on the subject, but I was unwilling to trouble you at such a Distance—and I hoped before this time Congress would have found Lieusure to have fixed the Pay & other Emoluments of our Department; but as they have not & as the Inconvenience presses rather too hard upon us, I am compelled against my feelings to trouble your Excellency upon the occasion. All I desire is to obtain an Order on the Contractors [for] such a Number of Rations for Myself and the several persons in our office & store as may enable us to subsist & perform the Business of the public, until our Department shall be finally established by Congress. I have the honour to be, with the greatest Respect & Esteem your Excellency’s Most obedient & very humble Servant
Ast Clo. Gen.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.