George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Comfort Sands, 23 April 1782

Head Quarters Newburgh April 23th 1782


Having just received a Copy of the Contract for supplying the moving Army, and conceiving (from what was observed when I saw you & Mr Livingston together) it will be necessary for the Company engaged in that Contract, as well as for the Contractors for furnishing the Garrison of West Point &c. to be apprised of the particular Troops to be supplied under each Contract on the first of May; I have taken the earliest occasion of giving you my Opinion fully on that Matter. Previous to which, I think it expedient you should be informed, that it may be difficult & even impossible to ascertain any length of time beforehand with any degree of precision, what the Garrison of West Point, and its dependencies will consist of—The strength of that Garrison must & will vary according to circumstances, or as the general Plan of operations for the Campaign may require; which depends upon so many contingencies, that I cannot possibly, take upon me to inform you now, what number of Rations you will have to supply after the Main Army takes the Field; as it is obvious the number of Men requisite for the security of those Posts will depend entirely, upon the position of the remainder of our Army for covering them & the state of the Enemy at that time—All I can say further on this subject is, that the last Campaign the Garrison was composed of two Garrison Regts, which were made up, by detachments of the Weakest Men from the whole line of the Army together with some artillery & Militia; and that in future, the good of service, not the interest of any Individuals whatever, will point out the line of Conduct, I shall pursue respecting the disposition of the Troops.

It is because, I fear, some difficulty or foundation for dispute, or obstructions to the Public interest, in consequence of this fluctuation of the number of Rations to be issued, may arise between the Contractors for supplying the Moving Army & those for furnishing the Garrison, that I mention these things—and I would take the liberty to suggest, whether it might not be the best way, for removing all grounds of disputes & altercations, to have some mutual agreement between the different Companies of Contractors, (if it could be found practicable & convenient to them), so that the whole business might be executed upon one great Scale.

In the mean time untill the Army takes the field, I shall consider the Garrison of West Point as being composed of the 1st & 2nd Massachusetts Brigades, the 3d Regt of Artillery, and such small Corps or parts of Corps as are now, or may be occasionally employed there—The immediate Dependencies of West Point at present are, the Posts in its vicinity on the eastern side of the River, the Posts of Kings Ferry, Dobb’s Ferry, and Fish kill, & there must be one at Newburgh or New Windsor; The Commandt of West Point, upon application to him, can from time to time inform you nearly of the number of Rations to be issued at the aforesd Posts.

The remainder of the Troops I shall comprehend under the general idea of the moving Army; and they are to be supplied accordingly; but as I before suggested, I think it would be much more advantageous to the Contractors as well as the Public, that a Union of interests, or mutual agreement, should supersede the necessity of discrimination. I am Sir &c.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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