James Madison Papers

John Mathews, for Committee of Congress, to Nathanael Greene, 4 January 1781

John Mathews, for Committee of Congress,
to Nathanael Greene

RC (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan).

Philadelphia Jany 4th: 1781


The inclosed extracts from Genl. Washingtons letter of the 13th & 27th. Ulto. and from Mr. Houston’s of the 30 Ulto. & newspapers will give you all the information from this quarter, worth communicating,1 except that the fleet from New York, is sailed; what it’s destination is, we are at present uninformed. ’tis said Portsmouth in Virginia.2

There are now 1500 coats, some vests, & overalls, making up for the southern army, & blankets are also procured for them: all of which will be forwarded without loss of time. And we hope with more care than has hitherto been done so as they may arrive safe.3

The resolve of Congress of the 1st. inst. is only the foundation of what is to be done for your department. the result, we will as early as possible inform you of.4

We are sir with much Esteem & Regard Yr. most Obedt. servts. By Order of the Committee

Jno. Mathews Chairman

P.S. We will thank you for a copy of our last letter, having forgot to keep one5

1The inclosures are missing, and the newspapers and letter of William C. Houston have not been identified. The dispatches of 13 and 27 December were laid before Congress on 18 December 1780 and 1 January 1781, respectively (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVIII, 1156; XIX, 1). The extracts sent to Greene were probably copies of Washington’s remarks about the embarkation in, and departure of British troops from, New York harbor, presumably with a southern destination (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1931–44). description ends , XX, 468–69; XXI, 22). If the excerpts dealt with these matters, however, they were forwarded by Mathews and his committee merely to make doubly sure that Greene received the news, for Washington had dispatched the information directly to Greene at the same time that he reported it to Congress (ibid., XX, 465–66; XXI, 21–22).

2Benedict Arnold’s expeditionary force sailed from Sandy Hook on 20 December, arrived for the most part at Hampton Roads ten days later, proceeded up the James River without delay, and occupied Richmond on 5 January 1781 (William B. Willcox, ed., The American Rebellion, pp. 236–37; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , IV, 259).

3Greene wrote on 28 December 1780 to the president of Congress that “the small force that I have remaining with me are so naked & destitute of every thing, that the greater part is rendered unfit for any kind of duty” (NA: PCC, No. 155, I, 499).

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