Thomas Jefferson Papers

Edward Carrington and Richard Claiborne: Plan for the Quartermaster’s Department in Virginia, 1 January 1781

Edward Carrington and Richard Claiborne: Plan for the Quartermaster’s Department in Virginia

1st. January 1781

Whereas the irregular manner in which the Quarter Masters Department for the State of Virginia has hitherto been conducted, has been attended with many delays and inconveniencies both to the people and to the public service; and it being expedient that a new disposition should be made to remove those difficulties agreable to the late System for the Quarter Masters department, established by Congress; and the duties of the Officers to be employed and their districts and posts be more clearly understood, it is therefore proposed.

That, there be nine Assistant deputy Quarter Master’s, who shall have charge of the principle posts to be established in the State, as the governing places to which the Stores and supplies are to be drawn, and that a certain District be given to each.

That as the great line of communication from Philadelphia to the Southern Army through this State will be from Alexandria to some part of Staunton, or Dan rivers, there be one principle post at Alexandria, one at Fredericksburg, one at Carters ferry on James river, and one at some convenient place on Dan, or Staunton which will be governed by the navigation up the river Dan.

That, as Richmond is the seat of Government and a place where the principle Factories for the Southern department are established, it be a principle post.

Williamsburg being a place where the supplies from the lower Counties should be collected it is necessary to establish it as a principle post for that purpose.

That Charlottesville be continued as a principle post for the accommodation of the Convention Troops.

Winchester being a place where good Wagons and Horses may be procured with great ease, that it be a principle post for that purpose, and to comprehend as much of that Country as supplies can be drawn from with convenience.

That as Petersburg is allways a post of convenience in case of invasions in the lower parts of the State, and a place to which the supplies from the Counties below the falls of Ronoke, and others convenient for the navigation of the Appomattox River, should be collected that it be held a principle post.

That the District of Alexandria comprehend the Counties of Fairfax, Prince William, Loudon.

The District of Fredericksburg the Counties of Northumberland, Lancaster, Richmond, Westmoreland, King George, Stafford, Fauquier, Spotsylvania, Caroline, King & Queen, Essex, Middlesex.

The District of Carters ferry the Counties of Louisa, Goochland, Powhatan, Cumberland, Buckingham, Prince Edward.

The District of the Rivers, Dan and Stanton the Counties of Mecklinburg, Lunenburg, Charlotte, Bedford, Hallifax, Pittsylvania, Henry.

The District of Richmond the Counties of Hanover, Henrico, King William, New Kent, Charles City, Chesterfield.

The District of Williamsburg the Counties of James City, Warwick, Elizabeth City, York, Gloucester, Princes ann, Norfolk, Nansemond, Isle of White, Northampton, Accomack.

The District of Charlottesville, the Counties of Culpeper, Orange, Albemarle, Fluvannah, Amherst, Augusta.

The District of Petersburg, the Counties of Surry, Prince George, Dinwiddie, Southampton, Sussex, Brunswick, Greenesville, Amelia.

That there be so many depending posts within the different Districts, as shall be found necessary for the purpose of collecting supplies and that the direction be given to a Storekeeper.

That it is expected the supplies beyond the blue Ridge, to the Southward of the Winchester District are used for the support of the Troops in that Quarter, and are under the direction of proper persons, they are omitted in this arrangement. But should it be found necessary hereafter to comprehend them, they will be added to one, or more of districts already pointed out or formed into other districts as may be convenient.

That as the supplies within the districts are to come from the Counties, forming them in proper proportions, it is proposed that the assistant Deputy Quarter Masters for the district shall be authorised by the Executive to call on the Civil authority to furnish them from time to time with the necessary means of transportation for the supplies coming from each respective County so that each County will regularly do its own separate duty.

That the transportation from one post to another shall be made by public Wagons, or Boats, as far as we shall have them to answer the purpose, and that where we shall want the aid of private property the Quarter Master from whose district the stores are to go, in the first instance shall have power to call on the civil authority within the district for such aid; and that the private Wagons, or Boats so furnished shall be discharged at the next post from whence the stores are to be forwarded by the same means from that district, timely information being given from post to post by the Quarter Masters of the coming of such a number of Boats, or Wagons.

This is a system proposed in consequence of our having experienced the good effects of similar ones to the northward both in public and private points of view.

Edward Carrington D.Q.M. Genl. for the S. Army

Richard Claiborne D.Q.Mr. S.V.

Tr (Vi); endorsed twice—at the end of the communication of 1 Jan., and on the final page of the additional memoranda; see below. Another Tr (DNA: RG 93); endorsed: “No. 1. Plan for conducting the business of the Quarter Masters department in Virginia.” Both transcripts addressed at foot of text: “His Excellency Governor Jefferson & Council.”

There is no indication in the extant Council Journals that this plan was considered at this time, but see Richard Claiborne to TJ, 29 Jan. 1781, with which a copy of the plan was enclosed.

Below the text in Tr (Vi) there are the following entries, in the same hand, under the dates indicated:

“February 15th 1781.

“An order from Colo: Carrington advising the approach of the Army under the Command of Lord Cornwallace to Boyds ferry and the necessity of sending all the heavy Baggage of General Greenes Army to Prince Edward Court house rendered an alteration in the arrangement indispensable. Capt. Charles Russell is therefore to retire to Prince Edward Court house and take charge of the Stores. To the post of Prince Edward Court house are given the Counties of Prince Edward, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Bedford, which are to be taken from the Districts of Carters ferry and Boyds ferry.

“March 11th 1781.

“The Enemy having retired from Dan river, Mr. William McCraw is appointed to that Station and to keep his principal post at Winbishes Stores in Peytonsburg.

“April 2d. 1781

“The prisoners having marched to Winchester from Charlottesville, that place is to be discontinued as a principal post; the Counties of Orange, Albemarle, Fluvannah, Amherst, and Augusta to be given to Carters ferry; and the County of Culpeper, to Fredericksburg district. Capt. Rice to settle his accounts as soon as possible.

“May 10th 1781.

“The honorable Major General Baron Stuben having directed that Charlottesville be the place of General rendezvous for the equipment of the Troops now raising in this State for the Continental service, and as a large number of Wagons, horses and drivers are to be procured for the Army under the Command of the Marquis de la Fayette makes it necessary that it be again established a principal post; Capt. Rice is restored to the full possession of his former District and to be Stationed at that place as Assistant Deputy Quarter Master.

“Captain Charles Russell being appointed to superintend the receiving and delivery of the Stores which are to be collected at Albemarle old Court house as a place of security from the incursions of the Enemy, the post of Prince Edward Court-house which was under his direction is discontinued and the Counties comprehended with it are annexed to their orriginal districts of the Rivers Dan and Stanton, and Carters ferry on James River.

“The Enemy having taken possession of the post of Petersburg, and made prisoner Capt. Holmes, who was Assistant Deputy Quarter Master at that place, the district is discontinued, and the Counties are to be annexed to the adjoining districts as may hereafter be found convenient. Mr. Daniel Teasdale, Clerk to Capt. Holme’s is to settle the accounts as soon as possible.

“14th June 1781

“The Enemy having got possession of the lower parts of the State and the public Stores being directed to be sent beyond the Mountains that Staunton in Augusta be a principal post for that purpose, and to influence the Counties of Augusta, Rockingham, Rockbridge and Greenbrier, and the direction of it be given to Capt. Thomas Hamilton. This alteration is agreable to an order from Colo. Edward Carrington Deputy Quarter Master General for the Southern Army, dated 23d May 1781.”

Index Entries