George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Carlyle, 22 January 1757

From John Carlyle

Alexandria Jany 22 1757

Dr Sir

After I had wrote to Capt. Mercer I find the Wagons will not Leave The Town before I finish This In Answer to Yours of the 20th Inst. When I Wrote you & Capt. Mercer I Cou’d give no Guess at the Packages. Nor cou’d I tell What Quantity of Wagons Will doe for the things Under Contract. I beleive Twelve or fourteen Wagons will doe the Other Goods Order’d by Yr Letter of June The 20th Such as Blanketts, Camp Kettles Canteens Spare Shirts &c. will Take at Least Six or Seven Wagon’s I Will Observe Yr Directions In Sending up Sumthing of Every Kind & to the Amount of the Number of Men In Yr return.1

Yr Brother Mr John Washington See the Negro’s When I purchased & Liked them & the Owner woud not Take Virginia Paper money at More than Maryland & I dare Say you may Gett Bills at 35 Ct.2

I am Next to Observe what you Say abt the Goods for the Officers. You desired Me to Send for a Quantity of Cloaths & Lace 1/2 3/4 & Inch Wide of one Patteron, I Immediatly Sent for A Quantity that I Alloted for 30 Officers & Several other things, & orderd no Cloath Cheaper than 12/6 yd Which is A Good Cloath When Well bought as I Expect this is[.] When Capt. Mercer Came here I Consulted him & he Made Sum small alterations Which In my Letter to London by the Next Oppy I orderd, it Was Not Gott to hand When these Goods Came Away & Mr Bowden tells Me the Gorgetts Sashes &c. Which I Suppose to be the remainder of the Shoulder Knotts Woud Come Next Ship Capt. Jno. Johnston is dayly Expected, the Subsequent order & our own Goods Amounts to A Large Sum 1500£ Ster: & Another reason I had to think I had sent for Sufficient[.] Capt. Jos: Lewis, & I think Capt. Mercer told Me they was supply’d & I doubted not Many others also was[.] their is 36 Sword Knots & I Expect the Like number of Shoulder Knotts, Sashes & Gorgetts, the Lace is by Yr Direction all of one kind only different Widths,3 I Never Was made Acquainted with the Officers Wanting more than One Suit & If I have Lost by Not having Sufficient Quantitys I am Sorry for it, the Dificulty of Getting bills are such that I was afraid of Exceeding farther; The times Are Dangerous & A Disapointment might be of bad Consequence—As I know Nothing of the Officers Leaving money In Your hand & Expected to Stay for my pay Sum time & to Cut Goods or keep A store is Expensive. If the Goods Was All Taken of at once I woud be farr from Asking one Penny more then the Country pay Me, I can have 125 Ct for Any Single Artickle, & 100 Ct for half the Goods (the Shoulder knotts Excepted). but the price I Will lessen to Yourself If the Officers Chouse any Or All Of them, & this You may depend they are Well bought, & Cheaper by 75 Ct than they Will gett at Philadelphia or any where Else, I am sorry for the disappointment to the Officers, more so than my own Loss, as I rely Cannot blame my self having sent for What I Expected You Wanted as farr as I thought woud Sell, the only Error Mr Bowden has Comitted is the Coursest Blue Cloath 7/6 & shoud been 12/6 & as many of the Goods as are Come to hand I think Extreem Neat & well bought, Inclosed I Send you A List of the Packages that You May judge of the Quantity of Wagons Wanted & With Mrs Carlyle’s Compts I am Dr Sir Yr Very Hble Sert

John Carlyle

P.S. I shall Write you In Answer to Yrs from ft Cumberland4 In My Next I have not Now time. J.C.


1Neither GW’s letter of 20 Jan. 1757 to Carlyle nor Carlyle’s letter to George Mercer has been found. As for his letter to GW, Carlyle may be referring to the letter that he wrote to GW on 2 Dec. 1756. If so, the goods alluded to in that letter may be “the things Under Contract” mentioned here. GW’s letter of 20 June 1756 has not been found.

2GW’s younger brother John Augustine Washington (1736–1787) was acting as manager of GW’s plantations during GW’s absence in the army. In GW’s accounts with John Carlyle, there is the following entry dated 13 Feb. 1757: “To Ditto [cash] lodgd with you to pay for Brookes’s Negros—[£] 150” (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 11). An entry for 30 April of the same year noted £79 10s. “lodgd with Colo. Carlyle in gold to pay for some Negros which he bot for me in Maryld” (ibid., 34).

3For a description of the uniforms of the officers of the Virginia Regiment, see GW’s Orders, 17 Sept., 6 Oct. 1755. William Fairfax found those at Carlyle’s “well chosen and made” (Fairfax to GW, 22 Jan. 1757). Mr. Bowden could be George Bowdon of Liverpool, England. Capt. John Johnstoun sailed regularly from England to the James River. During the 1760s, GW frequently received goods from England in the Lord Camden, John Johnstoun, master.

4GW had been at Fort Cumberland since late December, and therefore his missing letter of 20 January (see note 1), to which this letter of Carlyle’s is a response, was presumably written from Fort Cumberland. If GW did write a second letter to Carlyle from Fort Cumberland before 22 Jan. 1757, it too is missing. Mrs. Carlyle was Sarah Fairfax Carlyle, daughter of William Fairfax.

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