George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 17 March 1780

To Samuel Huntington

Head Qrs Morris Town March 17th 1780


I am sorry to inform Congress that I am again under great apprehensions on the score of our provision supplies.1 There is not now in camp and within it’s vicinity, more meal & Grain than will furnish the Troops with Five days bread, notwithstanding the exertions that have been made to lay in a supply; and I fear from the badness of the Roads and the difficulty of procuring Teams, that it will be hardly practicable to draw relief in time from the more distant Mills in the State, at which Congress will observe by the Inclosure No. 1 (the Return of Colo. Dunham, Superintendent of State purchases) that there is a small quantity both of Meal & Grain in Store.2 I have written to this Officer and urged him in the most pressing terms to exert himself to bring on a supply.3

With respect to meat—the Issuing Commissary’s Return No. 2, will shew the quantity in the Magazine at this place.4 This by an economical & scanty issue, may serve for about Forty days. When this is expended, I do not know how the Army will be subsisted with this Article. I find from the account of one of Colo. Dunham’s Assistant’s, that there is very little if any meat to be expected from this State,5 which exerted itself so very considerably on a late occasion;6 and from a Letter of the 25th Ulto, just received from Colo. Blaine, of which I have the honor to transmit a Copy, the prospect of obtaining a supply from Connecticut, which was chiefly relied on, seems to be little better; at least for some time.7 Besides this Letter, which is rather of an old date, I have received One from another Gentleman, dated at Hartford the 10th Instant, informing me “that the Assembly had dissolved without having come into any measures to promote the supplies of the Army—and that Colo. Blaine had not prevailed on any person to act in his department on the terms he was authorised to allow; that there was no public purchaser of provisions in the State and Colo. Champion had sent off the last of his Cattle.”8 I thought it my duty to communicate these interesting points.9

On the 9th Commissioners from the Two Armies met at Amboy on the subject of the proposed exchange of prisoners, who are still together. I shall do myself the Honor to transmit the Result of their proceedings, by the earliest opportunity, after they are known.10 I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Yr Excellency’s Most Obedt st

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read GW’s letter on 21 March 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 , 16:274–75).

1Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene corroborated GW’s concern when he wrote Jeremiah Wadsworth from Morristown on this date: “We are here living principally on Indian meal. This you will say is no hardship to the New England people. That is true, but the stock is small, and the ways and means are failing fast in every quarter. The General begins to be alarmed, but still keeps his prejudices” (Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 5:459–61). Wadsworth responded in a letter to Greene from Hartford on 2 April: “The prejudices of a certain great Man are much to his injury and will expose him to the designs of Bad men but he must bear it: he will not be advised or see for himself. I wonder the repeated difficulties he has met with have not taught him better” (Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 5:495–96).

2GW enclosed a copy of a return prepared for Azariah Dunham by Aaron Forman with the heading “Estimate of Grain on hand purchased by Azariah Dunham A. C. p. March 17th 1780” (DNA:PCC, item 152). The return showed grain, both ground and unground, stored with fifteen individuals scattered over nine locations in New Jersey. At Blawenburg, a village in Montgomery Township, Somerset County, two individuals held a total of 600 bushels of ground grain and 403 bushels of unground. At South Branch in Hillsborough Township, Somerset County, two individuals held a total of 1,500 bushels of ground grain and 1,900 bushels of unground. At “Shannac” (presumably Neshanic), also in Hillsborough Township, one person held 300 bushels of ground grain and 500 bushels of unground. At Millstone, Somerset County, four individuals held a total of 100 bushels of ground grain and 2,559 of unground. At Spotswood, Middlesex County, two individuals held a total of 900 bushels of ground grain and 900 bushels of unground. At Cranbury, Middlesex County, one person held 600 bushels of ground grain and 600 bushels of unground. At Princeton, one person held 400 bushels of ground grain and 360 bushels of unground. At New Brunswick, one person held 350 bushels of ground grain and 270 bushels of unground. At “Monmouth,” presumably Monmouth Court House, one person held 5,000 bushels of ground grain and 6,000 bushels of unground. In sum, ground grain totaled 9,750 bushels, and unground totaled 13,492. All bushels available numbered 23,242.

3GW apparently is referring to a letter he wrote Dunham from Morristown dated 18 March: “By a Return made to me this morning by Mr Forman in your behalf, I find that there are considerable quantities of Meal and Grain in the Mills from thirty to sixty Miles distance from Camp—The necessities of the Army, at this time, call for the most vigorous exertions in having what is ground brought immediately forward, as it appears from a Return made to me this day, by Mr Gamble Asst Commy of Issues, that he has not a pound of Flour upon hand, and but 1200 Bushs. of Corn and five hundred Bushels of Wheat—the former of which, I fear, we shall be obliged to issue unground—I am convinced, if a representation of this matter is made by you to the several Gentlemen who have the direction of forwarding the above mentioned Articles, and by them, to the Magistrates of the respective districts, that they will take measures for putting the provision in motion in as expeditious a manner as possible. I therefore request you to write immediately to the persons concerned in the Business, and urge, to them, the necessity of their immediate exertions—In short, our dependance, untill the state of the Roads will permit Flour from the southward to come on, is intirely upon what is included in your Return of this day” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). For the returns mentioned in GW’s letter to Dunham, see notes 2 and 4; see also GW to Dunham, 5 April, and Dunham to GW, 6 April.

Aaron Forman (1754–1784) eventually became a New Jersey state quartermaster at Morristown.

4GW enclosed a copy of a return from James Gamble, assistant commissary, prepared on this date and headed “Account of Stores at the Magazines Morristown” (DNA:PCC, item 152). Gamble’s return reported “48 H[ogs]h[ea]ds salted Beef,” 70 tierces and 496 barrels of the same; 2 “Hhds smoaked Beef,” 25 tierces of the same; 54 tierces and 357 barrels of pork; 45 barrels of fish; and 66 barrels of salt. Next to the notation “At Mills and Store[s] near town,” Gamble reported 1,200 bushels of corn, 500 bushels of wheat, 24 bushels of buckwheat, and 9 bushels of rye (see also GW to the Board of War, 7 April).

5Dunham’s assistant and his account have not been identified.

6GW is referring to the response of all New Jersey counties to an appeal for provisions he issued in early January (see Circulars to New Jersey Magistrates, 7 Jan. and 2 Feb., and GW to William De Hart, 8 Jan.; see also Justices of Morris County, N.J., to GW, 29 Feb.).

7The enclosure was an extract copied from Ephraim Blaine’s letter to GW of 25 Feb. (DNA:PCC, item 152).

9GW’s letter prompted Virginia delegate James Madison to write his state’s governor, Thomas Jefferson, from Philadelphia on 27–28 March: “Genl Washington writes that a failure of bread has already commenced in the army; and that for any thing he sees it must unavoidably increase. Meat they have only for a short season and as the whole dependance is on provisions now to be procured; without a shilling for the purpose, and without credit for a shilling, I look forward with the most pungent apprehensions. It will be attempted I believe to purchase a few supplies with loan office Certificates, but whether they will be received is perhaps far from being certain, and if received will certainly be a most expensive & ruinous expedient. It is not without some reluctance I trust this information to a conveyance by post, but I know of no better at present, and I conceive it to be absolutely necessary to be known to those who are most able and zealous to contribute to the public relief” (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 14:547–48).

10See both letters from the Commissioners for the Exchange of Prisoners to GW, 26 March [letter 1, letter 2], and GW to Huntington, 31 March; see also Alexander Hamilton to GW, this date.

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