George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Major William Perkins, 12 March 1780

From Major William Perkins

Providence 12th March 1780

Sir

Agreeable to your Excellency’s orders, I have collected as far as laid in my Power all the Stores in this Department together, ready for moving, excepting about a Thousand weight of Powder1 which Govr Bowen advised me to leave at Greenwich.2

The inclosed Return is the true State & quantity of the Stores &c. in this Department, as nearly as was possible for me to find out, tho I cannot be positive, as to the number of round Shott; for the large quantity of Snow that fell obliged me to dig in several Places for them, which makes me uncertain whether I have taken an Acct of the whole.3 And since the making out the Returns, I have heard of a number of Arms about Twenty miles from this Place that belongs to the States, which I am now going after.

The Council of this State seems to claim all the Iron Pieces that is here, of which I am unknowing, therefore would desire to have your Excellency’s advice concerning them; as also supposing I should be order’d to remove the Stores, what quantity and sort must be left behind?

I have a number of Men as yet employ’d, & if I should be obliged to stay a much longer time, must beg to be inform’d which way I am to be supply’d with money; for Genl Gates left me but little,4 and in case a movement of the Stores should be thought necessary, it would take considerable to enable me to do it.

I must further desire if the Campain should open soon that a proper Person might be appointed to take charge of the Stores, and your premission to Join my Regiment.5 Yr Excellency’s most Obedient Hume Servt

William Perkins

ALS, DLC:GW.

1GW had instructed Perkins to collect “the Continental park of Artillery and Stores” and to be prepared “to move at the shortest warning” in a letter dated 15 Dec. 1779 (see GW to Jabez Bowen, same date, n.3). The absence of any reference to a weight of powder in the surviving draft suggests that the missing recipient’s copy included a postscript. The records of the Rhode Island General Assembly from its May 1780 session support this conclusion: “Whereas, His Excellency General Washington, by his order to Major William Perkins, for removing the artillery and military stores from this state, to Springfield, in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, hath directed him to leave one thousand pounds’ weight of powder, for the use of state; and that quantity being considered short of what appears necessary for the use of the state,—

“It is therefore voted and resolved, that it be recommended to the said William Perkins, to leave fifteen hundred weight more than the said quantity, in good musket-cartridges, and in cartridges best suited to the cannon belonging to this state, each in a due proportion” (Bartlett, R.I. Records description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends , 9:59–60).

2Perkins probably is referring to East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

3The enclosed return has not been identified.

4Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates had commanded in Rhode Island until shortly after the British evacuated Newport in October 1779 (see Gates to GW, 13 and 15 Oct., and GW to Gates, 22 Oct. and 1 Nov.; see also GW to Duportail and Alexander Hamilton, 30 Oct., and notes 1 and 2 to that document). GW then granted Gates a leave of absence to address “his private affairs” in Virginia (GW to Samuel Huntington, 27 Nov.).

5GW replied to Perkins on 10 April 1780 (see also Bowen to GW, 25 April).

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