George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Milnor, 29 November 1774

From William Milnor

Philada Novr 29th 1774

Honorable Sir

Your favour of the 17th Inst. came to hand on fryday last,1 I have made the strictest search, after a Sash and have sent the only one, that is to be had in this City, I am sorry to inform you, ’tis not intirely New tho’ not much changed. I have bought it Conditionly if not approved of, to be returnd by the first post & taken again, I had no Alternitive, as no Other Could be had. The Epaulette is inclosed with the pamphlets—the Gorget is Making, & will Come by the Next post—after the strictest inquiry, I could find no Other Treatise on Military Discipline, but the one I have sent you2—I have enclosed you a Vile pamphlet said to be wrote by Dr Cooper of New York, & likewise another small pamphlet called Strictures on the former, said to be wrote by General Lee of this City3—here I must beg youl excuse my presumeing to exceed your Orders, as ’tis with an intintion to amuse. for if you have patience to read the first, I think you will be deverted with the last.

I have Applyed to two Gunsmiths, One palmer tells me he Can make one hundred by May next, And Nicholson says he can make the like Number by March, they both agree in the priece at £3.15. this Currcy.4 Palmer says Mr Cadvalder had agreed With him for 100 at that price, a Jersy Musquet was brought to palmer for a patern, Mr Shreive Hatter of Allexandira has one of that sort, which you may see, & if you Conclude to have any, please to inform me by the first post, as the Gunsmiths I blieve will soon be preengaged, & there is not one Musquet to be bought in this City at present, if you should chose any Alteration, from that Musquet please to let us know5—Mr Fleecen assures me the Drums Coulers &c. shall be ready to come with the first Vessels & you may be assured I shall forward them with the Utmost speed.6 I am Dear sir with the greatest respect, Your Most Obedt humble Sert

William Milnor


1The letter has not been found.

2No letter ordering these personal items has been found. They were probably purchased by GW while he was attending the Continental Congress. The treatise on military discipline that Milnor sent was Thomas Webb’s A Military Treatise on the Appointments of the Army, published in 1759 in Philadelphia. It was in GW’s library at Mount Vernon when he died.

3Myles Cooper, president of King’s College, published anonymously A Friendly Address to All Reasonable Americans in New York in 1774. This pamphlet argued not only the impropriety of opposing Great Britain but especially the uselessness of trying to oppose the British military forces, which would include German mercenaries and American Loyalists. Charles Lee (1731–1782), a veteran English soldier, had retired on half-pay with the rank of major. He gained his title of general from service for the king of Poland. He had already written several newspaper articles in support of the colonists when in November he published in Philadelphia a response to Cooper’s pamphlet entitled Strictures upon a “Friendly Address to All Reasonable Americans.” Lee’s pamphlet was reprinted at least five times during the ensuing winter in various cities and appeared in American newspapers as well (Alden, Charles Lee description begins John Richard Alden. General Charles Lee: Traitor or Patriot? Baton Rouge, La., 1951. description ends , 62–63; Virginia Gazette [Purdie; Williamsburg], 3 Feb. 1775; Connecticut Courant [Hartford], 6 Feb. 1775).

4Thomas Palmer had a shop on Market Street between Fourth and Fifth streets in Philadelphia. He furnished flintlock muskets for the Pennsylvania militia, and he advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia) on 30 Mar. 1774 (supplement): “A Quantity of well made RIFLES, that he will dispose of very low for Cash. He likewise makes all Sorts of SHOT GUNS, such as str⟨a⟩ight Rifles, Cocking-pieces, Fuzees, &c. in the best and neatest Manner.” John Nicholson’s shop was on Front Street in Philadelphia from 1774 to 1792. He too supplied muskets to the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolution.

5John Cadwalader (1742–1786), a Philadelphia businessman, commanded a troop of prominent citizens referred to as the Silk-Stocking Company and later was a colonel and brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia. Benjamin Shreve (Schrieve), an Alexandria hatter, owned a lot in Alexandria on Fairfax Street at Prince Street (Fairfax County Deed Book K–1 [1772–73], 1–4). On 10 Nov. Shreve and a number of Alexandria citizens inserted in the Virginia Gazette (Purdie and Dixon; Williamsburg), an advertisement to the printer of the Norfolk Intelligencer canceling subscriptions to that newspaper because of its Tory writings.

6On 13 Dec. GW entered into his account with Milnor the following items: “By an Officer’s Sash pr Mr Fleecen . . . 5.0.0[,] By a Gorget pr Bill sent . . . 4.10.0[,] By an Epaulette . . . 1.10.0[,] By Mr Webbs Treatise . . . 4[s].0[,] By Postage of a Letter[,] By Sundry Pamphlets” (Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , 123). The last two entries had no amount given. “Fleecen” may have been Plunket Fleeson of Philadelphia. The “Drums Coulers &c.” mentioned by Milnor were probably the ones requested on 19 Oct. by William Rumney, Robert Hanson Harrison, and John Fitzgerald for the Fairfax Independent Company.

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