George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Colonel Matthew Mead, 5 November 1779

From Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Mead

Greenwich [Conn.]
Nov. the 5th 1779

May it please your Excellency

I have recd your Letters of the 12th & 13th ult.1 & have been on to the eastward as far as Stratford & employed all the troops in the towns between this town & that2 in getting Fascines &c. agreeable to Major Murnands directions an estimate of which I enclose your Excellency.3

The number of troops in each town that can be employed is about eighty & those on guard at night many of them I have in my Regiment4 but about 200 rank & file fit for duty out of which number about ⟨10⟩0 mount guard.

The Country being much cleared is a great obstruction to our getting fascines the construction being very large which takes an amazing quantity of brush.

I enclose your Excellency a Return of the fascines &c. already gotten.5 I am with esteem your Excellency’s very humble & most obedient servt

Matt: Mead


1In his letter to Mead written at West Point on 12 Oct., GW ordered the militia “to render a quantity of facines & gabions,” stipulating the fascines to be “about 9 feet long, of a convenient bulk & exceedingly well bound.” GW’s letter to Mead of 13 Oct. introduced an engineer, Maj. Jean Murnan, “to give the necessary instructions for the formation and lengths of the Fascines—Gabions &ca.” GW desired these portable military works for potential siege operations against New York City and its outposts in cooperation with the French fleet (see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct., editorial note).

GW received official notice that Vice Admiral d’Estaing’s French fleet would not come north in a letter from Samuel Huntington dated 10 Nov. (see also GW to Huntington, 20 Nov.). GW then wrote Mead from West Point on 16 Nov.: “As we shall not immediately want the fascines &c. you will therefore give orders to have such as are cut secured in as safe a situation as possible, and desist from the cutting of more. You will also be pleased to inform Majr Murnan to rejoin the army” (Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

2Approximately twenty-eight miles separated Stratford, Conn., from Greenwich.

3The enclosed “estimate of the Preparations to be Made as Soon as Possible by his Excelencys Orders,” which Murnan supplied at Horseneck, Conn., on 16 Oct., reads: “1800 plank two or three inches thick twelve Feet long.

“360 pieces of Timber Eighteen feet Long Eight inches thick hewd on two Sides only.

“100 pieces of Timber Twelve foot Long ten inches thick hewd of two Sides only.

“2000 Gabiens of three feet and nine inches high three feet & half wide.

“112000 Sticks of hard wood Split four feet Long two or three inches thick.

“2200 fascines from twelve to Eighteen foot Long and twelve inches wide.

“200 Malets to Drive the Sticks.

“The Quarter Master will Collect as Many intrenching Tooles as he Can” (DLC:GW).

4Mead commanded a Connecticut state regiment.

5The enclosed return, written at Horseneck on this date, reads: “Timber Plank Fascines &ca Provided By the Troops under the Command of Lt Colo. Mathew Mead and the Troops on the Sound as far as Stratford—By Returns from the officrs.

“500 Plank—300—Sticks of Timber—3000 Fascines—500 Gabiens—47000 Picquets.

“The hool [whole] of the Timber and Malets will be Provided at this Town wich will be ready Soon.

“we Expect to have the Gabiens Maid Soon as the work goes on Brisk” (DLC:GW).

To assist “Mead in preparing a quantity of timber for various uses by order of his Excellency General Washington,” the Connecticut legislature had instructed Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., “to give orders that one hundred axes and eighteen large hatchets be procured” (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894–. description ends 2:415–16).

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