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To George Washington from Colonel Clement Biddle, 25 January 1778

From Colonel Clement Biddle

Moorhall1 [Pa.] 25 Jan. 1778.

On a Review of the Waggon horses belonging to the united States and those impressed or on hire in service with the Army, such numbers have been found unfit for Service that the Army will not only suffer for want of an immediate Supply of Provision, & forage but those horses belonging to the States now will be unfit for Service on the Opening of the Campaign—A number of private Teams have been discharged, from their unfitness for service, to replace which and to secure an immediate supply of Forage, I beg leave to propose to his Excellency the Commander in Chief that a request be made to the Legislative Council of this State to order at least one hundred & fifty waggons with four horses each to be furnished by the different Counties agreable to the law passed for that purpose2 & that I may be informed of the places they can most conveniently rendezvous at, that I may give the necessary directions for them to be loaded with Forage & proceed to Camp to continue in Foraging for such Term as the Council shall direct & until relieved by an equal number actualy arrived in Camp, that no failure may happen in the necessary supplies of Forage—without this Aid the Army must suffer greatly as the different applications for waggons have faild & no Time should be lost in procuring the number requested—For the relief of the horses (the property of the States) now employ’d with the Army a large number will also be wanted which the Qur Mr Genl will point out.

The necessity of an immediate application to the Legislative Council3 is humbly submitted to his Excellency by His mo: obed. sert

C.B. C.G.F.

ADfS, owned (1976) by Mr. John F. Reed, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

1The 600–acre estate of Moore Hall, on the Schuylkill River three miles west of Valley Forge in Charlestown Township, Chester County, Pa., was the seat of William Moore (1699–1783). From 28 Jan. until at least 12 Mar., Moore Hall was the meeting place of the Continental Congress camp committee; and it later became the headquarters of Nathanael Greene as quartermaster general. On 28 July 1779 Moore petitioned Congress to compensate him for damage done to his property by the Continental army during the Valley Forge encampment (DNA: RG 93).

2On 2 Jan. the Pennsylvania general assembly enacted “An Act for the regulation of waggons, carriages, and pack-horses for the public service” (Pa. Minutes of the General Assembly description begins Minutes of the Second General Assembly of the Common-wealth of Pennsylvania, Which Met at Lancaster, on Monday, October Twenty-seventh, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven. Lancaster, Pa., 1778. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , Oct. 1777–Sept. 1778 sess., 40). Among the many provisions of the act were those stipulating “That upon application to the Waggon-Master General of the State, by the Quarter Master General, he shall issue his orders to the County Waggon-Master to furnish the number of Waggons and Teams that may be wanted. . . . And that in sudden emergencies the Waggon-Master of the State, and the Waggon-Masters of the respective Counties do pay immediate attention to the demands of the Honorable Congress, of the Supreme Executive Council, of the officers who may have the charge of public records or papers, of the Quarter-Master General, and of the Lieutenant or Sub-Lieutenant of the County” (Pennsylvania Packet [Lancaster], 14 Jan. 1778).

3On 28 Jan., Deputy Quartermaster General Henry Emanuel Lutterloh wrote Pennsylvania supreme executive council president Thomas Wharton, Jr., informing him that “His Excellency General Washington, [has] ordered me to apply to your Excellency for the following immediate Supply of 150 Waggons, with 4 horses, for the Forrage Master General Department, and 130 for the Quarter Master Generals” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 6:210–11). In response, the supreme executive council sent a circular letter to the wagon masters of the various Pennsylvania counties on 29 Jan., ordering them to send to headquarters a number of wagons “with four horses, and a driver to each Waggon, directed to the care of Colonel Lutterloh, Deputy Quarter Master General. It is ordered that these Waggons go to Camp loaded with forage” (ibid., 212; see also Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:409).

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