George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to John Hancock, 14 August 1776

To John Hancock

New York Augt 14th 1776

Sir

This will be delivered you by Captn Moeballe, a Dutch Gentleman from Surinam, who has come to the Continent with a view of Entering into the Service of the States, as you will perceive by the Inclosed Letters from Mr Brown of Providence and General Greene.1 What other Letters & Credentials he has, I know not, but at his request have given this Line to Congress to whom he wishes to be Introduced, and where he will make his pretensions known.

I have ordered the Quarter master immediately to write to Mr Brown for the Russia Duck he mentions, with directions to have It Instantly made into Tents there, being in great distress for want of a Sufficient number to cover our Troops.2 I have the Honor to be Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 19 Aug. and referred it to the Board of War (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:667).

1These letters have not been identified. Nicholas George Moeballe resigned as a captain in the Dutch service in Surinam on 10 July 1776 and came to America hoping to become a field officer in the Continental army. Congress refused to give him such an appointment apparently because he did not understand English very well. At Moeballe’s request the delegates on 6 June 1777 approved a certificate stating “that it was not owing to any fault or bad conduct in him, that Congress did not think it expedient to employ him” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 8:423; see also Moeballe to Congress, 5 June 1777, DNA:PCC, item 42). Moeballe received pay as a captain from the state of Virginia in May 1778 and as a colonel in December 1778 (Gwathmey, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783. 1893. Rev. ed. Washington, D.C., 1914. description ends , 556). By 1780 he was living in Holland (see Moeballe to the president of Congress, 19 April 1780, DNA:PCC, item 78).

2Q.M. Gen. Stephen Moylan wrote Hancock from New York on 6 Sept.: “I am informed that there remains in the hands of Thomas Greene Esqr. of Providence a quantity of Russia Duck, which is ordered by the secret Committee to Lay till farther orders from them, we are here in great want of tents, if Sir you woud procure an order from Said Committee to have the Duck made up into Tents & forwarded to me, it will be of the greatest service to the army” (DNA:PCC, item 78). Unknown to Moylan, Congress had approved such an order on 30 Aug. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:718).

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