George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Marinus Willett, 28 January 1783

Fort Rensselear 28th January 1783


Last evening I received Two letters from Your Excellency Dated the 20th & 22d of this Instant—I am told the Clothing is arrived at Albany, So that my apprehentions on the clothing score are removed. I have near 300 pair of moceasons prepaired and expect to have a sufficient Quantity for the whole party ready in time as well—as 50 or 60 pairs of Snowshoes, Which is the total of Snow shoes I mean to provide—The expence of the snow-shoes is not worth mentioning. The whole cost will be about one dozen small Beefhides—By the Calculations I have made as far as we have got in the business of Moceason making They will cost little more then a half dollar per pair—For these I must request Your Excellency when the accounts are properly made out that directions may be given for the payment—They can be charged to the troops who receive them in lieu of as many pair of Common Shoes as the sum they may cost would purchase, Unless in the finish of the business it may be thought eligible to make a present of ’em to the troops—I shall attend carefully to your Excellencies directions respecting the woolen Socks, Hatts, & Caps.

Things are so far advanced & in such a way in this Quarter that I purpose to sett out for Albany tomorrow. Some little previous preparations will detain me at that place perhaps, One day—On the first of February I mean to be at Saratoga to make what preparations may be necessary at that place. And shall ride somthing farther up Hudsons river then that place in order that if from any measures proper to be taken any early surmises should be formed they may be decoyed that way—On the fourth I intend to be again at Albany. On that day I shall expect the return of the bearer of this letter at that place. As I think if he meets with no accident he will arrive at Head Quarters on the first.

On my rout I shall prepair rolls of the names of such persons from whom I purpose to procure Sleighs, And shall endeavour to fix matters so as that the troops may be suddenly embarked in Sleighs Those of Colo. Olneys regt in diferent places contiguous to such parts of the Mohawk river as lay within the County of Albany, on the fifth—or Sixth of the month, and the York State troops in different places along the river in this County the Sixth or Seventh, So as to have the whole detachment at Fort Herkemer the Seventh or Eighth, ready to Commence their march from that place the day following—This is the disposition which I have formed in my own mind, And which I have thought proper to communicate to your Excellency—Should any Instructions be necessary previous to the troops being embarked in Sleighs, or any alteration of my designs subsequent to that events taking place be conceived proper by Your Excellency an opportunity to direct Measures for that purpose will offer by the bearer of this.

I flatter myself after the measures which Your Excellency has taken with the Contractors no Impediment will arise respecting provisions—It may not be amiss for me to acquaint Your Excellency, that I have not yet been furnished with the New System for Issuing provisions—Hitherto we have received every thing in the old way except the Article of Whisky which as I understood is no part of the present ration. the troops have not been suffered to receive it. The Consequence is that the troops draw no kind of Liquor and If I am rightly Informed have no prospect of ever receiving any in this Quarter, As it is said to be at the option of the Contractors either to Issue rum or pay the troops 2 1/2 per Gill for it a price much lower than Rum can possibly be afforded at after it becomes transported into this Country. Hence it cannot be supposed that the Contractors will at any time furnish rum as part of the ration in these Interior parts—I could wish however that on particular occasions such as the present there might be some rum provided. I have thought proper to Just mention this matter to Your Excellency, If any thing could be done in it perhaps it might be of use.

As we have no Surgeon to our State troops at present And an Indifferent Mate—who is intirly Unprovoided with Instruments Medicin or bandages, I shall if these wants can be supplyed from Colonel Olneys Regt have ’em supplyed from there. If not I shall endeavour to get furnished from the Hospital at Albany, Yet I confess I have doubts of a proper supply from that Quarter.

On account of the badness of the Axes drawn for the use of our State troops, Who by that means are difficultied in furnishing themselves with fyre wood, I have made several pressing applications to the Quarter Master at Albany for a supply of axes (in vain) He, always sends me word he has none; Hence I am inclined to think I shall have difficulty in procuring a sufficient number for the Intended enterprise, I mention these things not as obstacles that may prevent the execution of the design, But as Inconveniencies that I could wish might be removed—And perhaps a Light Sleigh load of good Axes, with some Bandages Instruments &ca might be forwarded from below—Should we succeed in the Attack it will not be amiss to have a few Artillery-men with us—Unless therefore I receive directions to the Contrary I shall take five or Six Artillery men with me.

I think of nothing more necessary to mention to Your Excellency—If the design is not carried compleatly into execution, It will be on account of difficulties truly Insurmountable. None of which appear at present—Should your excellency according to your Intimation be able to pay this place a visit at the time Intended for the troops to begin their march it will afford pecular Satisfaction, And Without, doubt, become the means of Increasing the Arder of every person Concerned in the business—But whether this will or will not take place, I shall be glad to receive in time particular Orders respecting the design of the Expedition, And the Measures to be taken in case of Success—Yet unless some Countermanding or Altering directions arrive I shall proceed as exact as possible agreeable to the System unfolded in this letter. Nor shall any thing thats in the power of an Arm of flesh to accomplish in Order fully and finally to terminate the business as far as my health Strength and the powers of my mind can perform, be wanting to finish the Enterprise with Advantage and Glory—I have the honor to be Dear Sir with Sentiments of the most profound respect and Veneration Your Excellencies very Obedient humble Servant

Marinus Willett

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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