George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 24 February 1780

From Major General Nathanael Greene

Morris Town Feby 24. 1780

Sir

Your Excellency will see, by the inclosed representation, that our stock of forage is nearly consumed, and that there is no probability of replenishing the magazines.1 A failure in this respect strikes as fatally at the subsistance of the army, as a more direct deficiency on the score of provisions. I am with great respect your Excellencys most obt hbe Sevt

Nath. Greene Q.M.⟨G.⟩

ALS, DLC:GW.

1The enclosed copy of commissary general of forage Clement Biddle’s letter to Greene, dated this date at Morristown, reads: “The alarming prospect of obtaining supplies of forage makes it necessary to represent the same to you that it may be made known to the Commander in chief.

“Altho’ a very considerable stock of hay was provided by my Agents within the State it was out of my power to increase the quantity after our removal to this Camp, when the demand increased, for want of a supply of money; and I am daily recieving reports from those purchasers who have supplied the Army that they have no more hay on hand and I have the same alarming intelligence from the posts on the communication between here and Philadelphia.

“During the course of last month a considerable quantity of Grain was purchased by my Agents and some sent in by the Counties on the General’s requisition, which has enabled me to issue a full allowance of grain and I have now in Magazine as much as may serve to issue eight quarts to each horse daily in Camp for twenty four days to come.

“By a resolve of Congress passed in December last, We are directed, that when any State shall have undertaken to furnish it’s quota of any articles the purchase of such articles by the Commissaries or Quarter Masters in that state shall cease.

“The Assembly of this State on the 25th of same Month passed an Act to provide provisions and forage for the use of the Army and appointed persons in the different Counties to purchase and Azariah Dunham Esqr. to superintend the whole.

“I recieved the resolve of Congress about the 1st February ’till when my Purchasers had continued to act by desire of Mr Dunham where I thought it necessary, but I then ordered them to discontinue their purchasers and have made my requisitions to Mr Dunham for the quantities of forage necessary to supply the Army and the communication from here to Phila.

“He informs me he has wrote to the purchasers to exert themselves but has recieved no returns nor does he give me the least encouragement to depend on supplies anyways adequate to our wants.

“The issues of hay have in a great measure ceased & must very soon be at an end. The grain in store will be very soon exhausted, I fear much sooner than I can get supplies from the other States and I cannot be responsible for any supplies from this as I have neither authority to purchase, nor money to do it, if I had. We shall not only be distressed for forage to issue but not being able to pay for the keeping of both Officers and public horses put to Farmers, they in many instances refuse to keep them longer, and if turned in they must starve.

“Mr Furman in his letter of the 15th Inst. informed me of the forage at Trenton being nearly out. I directed him in case the State purchasers cannot supply him to endeavour to procure some forage if in his power to forward the provisions to Camp.

“I have contributed my utmost exertions to carry us through a winter which I feared would be attended with great difficulties and distress but I now find it so much out of my power to answer the demands on me that I must request your and the Commander in Chiefs directions to me how to act on the alarming occasion” (DLC:GW).

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