Appointment of a Commissioner of the Provision Law
VIRGINIA, In Council, Sept. 1, 1780.
You are hereby appointed a Commissioner under the act For procuring a supply of provisions and other necessaries for the use of the army, but restrained specially to the procuring the articles enumerated in the said act, and live cattle, horses, waggons and their geer, for the subsistence and transporting the baggage of the militia marching from your county to Carolina. You are in the first instance, if it can be done with any convenience, to call on the continental commissaries, or on the commissioners of the same provision law appointed in each county in which you may be with the said militia, to furnish provisions for their subsistence during their stay at any place within this state, or on their march through the same. Your receipt to such Commissioners shall be to them a good voucher for the delivery of any articles you shall call on them for, notwithstanding any former orders we may have given to deliver them otherwise. If neither the said commissioners nor commissaries can furnish you with subsistence, you are in that case and in that case only, to exercise the powers hereby given you within the counties before described. When you shall have passed with the militia out of the limits of this state, or your attendance on them for the purposes of this commission shall be dispensed with by any officer having authority so to do, this commission is to determine, and you are to transmit to me by safe conveyances, duplicate lists of all the certificates or receipts you shall have given for articles hereby submitted to your seizure, specifying the name of the owner, the article seized, the price to be paid, and date of the certificate. That you may be informed of the manner in which you are to proceed, in the execution of this commission, you will receive herewith a copy of the provision law, and an extract from another act relative to the particular articles of live stock, horses, waggons and their geer; this last being the only article to which under the term necessaries used in the act, we mean that your power should extend. I am, Your humble servant,
P.S. Waggons employed by the Commissioners of the provision law, or by others to perform publick services, should not be impressed under the power above given.
RC (Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit NNP); consisting of a printed form letter, signed by TJ, with blank in dateline completed in ink at a later date (see note 1 below), but obviously prepared ca. 4 Sep. 1780 with the covering letters listed below; unaddressed; with minor correction in ink in an unidentified hand; endorsed. Enclosures: (1) “An Act for procuring a supply of provisions and other necessaries for the use of the army,” [21 June 1780], empowering the governor and council to appoint commissioners with broad authority to purchase at fixed prices or to impress provisions for Continental, Virginia militia, and French troops (enclosure not found, but printed in Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols. description ends x, 233–7). (2) “Extract of the act giving farther powers to the Governour and Council, and for other purposes,” [13 July 1780], extending the authority of the governor and council granted by No. 1 to certain articles for the use of the Virginia militia “or other troops that are or may be ordered into actual service from this commonwealth,” as well as for provisioning the Saratoga Convention troops and their guard at Albemarle barracks, and specifying procedures for valuing and paying for the articles (printed form in Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit NNP; text printed in Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols. description ends x, 311–12). Enclosed in TJ to the County Lieutenants of Frederick and Certain Other Counties, and to the County Lieutenants of Pittsylvania and Certain Other Counties, both 4 Sep. 1780.
In consequence of the crushing defeat of General Horatio Gates’s army at Camden on 16 Aug. 1780, TJ and the Virginia Council decided on about 4 Sep. 1780 to try to stem the northward advance of the victorious British army by calling into service 2,041 militia troops from certain counties and ordering them to rendezvous by 20 Oct. 1780 at Hillsborough, North Carolina, under the command of General Edward Stevens, and by sending “a power” to all of the county lieutenants from whose counties the militia would be drawn to “impress waggons, provisions and other necessaries for the subsistence and transportation of their men on their march” (Advice of Council respecting Reinforcements of Militia, [ca. 4 Sep. 1780]). The document printed above is the only known text of the letter which the abovementioned county lieutenants were deputed to use for the appointment of commissioners to carry out the duties prescribed in it and its enclosures.
1. Here an unidentified hand completed the blank with “9th.”