George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Major General Alexander McDougall, 28 June 1779

To Major General Alexander McDougall

Head Quarters New Windsor June 28th 1779

Dear Sir

In answer to your favour of this day I inclose you a Copy of a General order of the 23d of March regulating the component parts of a ration agreable to which our present issues are made at the main Army. The necessity of the strictest œconomy in the article of flour—makes me unwilling to increase the quantity especially as I should apprehend it might raise the expectation of the troops in general, I hope it will be the less requisite as I have written to the Commissary urging him if possible to have a pretty good stock of rum at the forts to supply more constantly the fatigue parties with this article.1 I am Dear Sir Your most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, CSmH; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS.

1GW is referring to a letter of this date from his secretary Robert Hanson Harrison to John Fitch, deputy commissary general of issues. Harrison wrote: “I have it in charge from his Excellency the Commander-in Chief to request, that you will exert yourself to send a tolerable good Supply of Rum as soon as possible to the Stores at West point. The great fatigue the Troops there undergo ⟨ev⟩ery day, requires that they should ⟨be⟩ amply supplied. If they are not, the Works which are so very important will be retarded” (DLC:GW).

From his headquarters at Danforth’s house on the east side of the Hudson River, Maj. Gen. William Heath wrote McDougall on 30 June: “The Troops on this Side the River are entirely destitute of Rum. If you have any in Store I would request that One Hogshe[a]d may be delivered to Mr Hall the Bearer hereof the Issuing Commissary to the first Connecticut Brigade” (MHi: Heath Papers). McDougall’s reply from West Point, dated 1 July, reads: “I received your favor of yesterday, and ordered a Barrel of Rum to be delivered, to Mr Hall; which was all we could spare, as that Article is reduced to a small quantity. The Commissary of Nixons Brigade informed me, you were pleased to order fatigue Rum, besides what was drawn with the Ration. None is issued here, to the Line, but half a Gill with the Ration, nor is any statedly issued at Head Quarters. If it is done on your Side, the Consequence is obvious, especially as the Rum comes from hence, and the Stock very small. I therefore beg your Issues of Rum, may not exceed ours; otherwise I fear the Works here will be greatly retarded” (MHi: Heath Papers). Heath’s response on 2 July in part reads: “Your favor of yesterday Came to hand this morning I am sensible that it is expedient that the Troops on both Sides the river Should receive Similar rations of rum or uneasiness will be the consequent” (MHi: Heath Papers). For the army’s rum shortage, see GW to James and Horace Hooker, 26 June; to John Jay, 27 June; to McDougall, 4 July; to Anthony Wayne, 5 July; and to John Glover, 29 July.

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