George Washington Papers

Orders to Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Flower, 16 January 1777

Orders to Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Flower

[Headquarters, Morristown, 16 January 1777]


The Honble Continental Congress having Resolved to establish a Magazine, Laboratories, & Foundery for casting Cannon &c. at York Town in the State of Pennsylvania.1 You are hereby directed to repair thither & erect or provide such Buildings as shall be necessary for carrying on the preparation of fixed Ammunition of every Species. an Air Furnace to be constructed there to hold Three Thousand Weight of Flux’d Metal—a Mill for the purpose of Boring the Cannon &c. after they are Cast. Shops Sufficient for Forty Carpenters, Forty Blacksmiths, & Twenty Wheelwrights, Turners & Tinmen in proportion to the Demand the Laboratory shall have for them. Also Twelve Harness makers to make Spare Harness Double & Single.

The Artificers above mentioned are to consult the Founder about the Size of the Cannon, & they are to make spare Carriages for them. the Wheels, Cheeks Limbers &c. to be Ready to be put together for immediate use.2 The Founder to be instructed to Cast Six pounders first. Three pounders & Howitzers next—and after there are about Sixty of these Cast he is to Cast Ten Twelve pounders.

Besides the Artificers before mentioned who are to be inlisted for One year there are to be Sixty persons employed in the Laboratory inlisted for the War consisting of One Captain who is to be Capt. Coren, One Capt. Lieut. Four Lieutts Six Sargts Six Corporals, Six Bombardiers One Drum & Fife with Twenty Eight Matrosses. these persons are to be inlisted as Artillery Men altho they are at present to be employed in the Laboratories.3

The Company is to fix all kinds of Ammunition according to the Orders they shall Receive. Case Shott with Flannel Cartridges for 3, 6 & 12 pounders to be the first Object. Musket Cartgs. are likewise to be made in great Numbers.

You are to contract for & procure likewise the Articles a List of which you have on a Seperate paper.4

Exclusive of the above Artificers we shall want a Company of Artificers inlisted during the War to be attached to the Artillery in the Feild Consisting of One Master Carpenter One Mastr Wheelwright & One Mastr Blacksmith Two Tinmen, Two Turners, Two Coopers, Four Harness makers Two Nailers & Two Farriers Six Wheelwrights Twenty five Carpenters & Fifteen Smiths the whole being Sixty under the direction of the Master Carpenter.

The people now Employed in the different Branches in Philadelphia of making Carriages for Cannon Casting of Cannon & preparing Ammunition of all kinds are Still to continue to carry on their different Business there—& if there Should be any thing necessary to further or Quicken these matters you are hereby directed to use your utmost exertions for these important purposes.

After the Buildings Furnace &c. are prepared at York Town part of the Different Branches to be Removed thither—In the Course of providing these matters you will have Occasion for Sums of Money which you will procure by applying to the Commissioners of Congress at Philadelphia.

Mr Byars the Founder at Philada must have every Encouragement & Assistance in Order to Carry on the Business with the utmost Spirit.

The Commissioners of the Honble Congress Residing at Philada will upon your applying to them which you are to do give you every Assistance in their power—for any thing necessary to be Transacted in Camp you are to apply to Majr Genl Green in the absence of Genl Knox.5

You must keep a very particular Account of all matters & Expences transacted by you in Order to Render in when Call’d for.

The Speedy accomplishment of the matters with which you are intrusted are of such high import to the Wellfare of the Continent that I hope no inducement will be wanting to urge you to complete them assoon as possible.

The Continental Congress have Resolved that it is their Opinion that Carlisle in Pennsylvania is a proper place for a Magazine &c. You are therefore not to make any preparations in York Town which cannot be Removed from thence to Carlisle. I shall write to the Congress concerning this matter & let you know the result as soon as possible. in the mean time every preparation is to be push’d in Philadelphia with the utmost Vigor. Given at head Quarters at Morris Town this 16th day of Jany 1777.

Go: Washington

DfS, in John Clark, Jr.’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The dated closing of the draft is in GW’s writing, and a heading preceding the salutation reads: “Instructions for Lieut. Colo. Flower Commissy General of Millitary Stores for the Continental Army.”

1Congress on 21 Dec. 1776 resolved to place the magazine at York, Pa., but in a new resolution of 27 Dec. it changed the site to Carlisle, Pa. (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 6:1033, 1044).

2In an artillery carriage the wooden cheeks support the trunnions, the two cylinders upon which the piece is attached.

3Clark inadvertently wrote “Larboratories” in the manuscript. Flower’s “Recruiting Instructions for Capt Isaac Coren Director of the Laboratory for the United States” of 1 Feb. 1777 is in PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90. Isaac Coren of Pennsylvania served as a first lieutenant in Col. Henry Knox’s Continental Artillery Regiment from 10 Dec. 1775 to December 1776 and as captain of this independent Pennsylvania artillery company from 1 Feb. 1777 to June 1780 when he was cashiered for commissioning junior officers without authorization and signing false orders for rations (see GW to the Board of War, 5 and 14 June 1780, and General Orders, 24 June 1780, all in DLC:GW).

4This list has not been identified.

5On 17 Jan. GW’s secretary Tench Tilghman wrote to Robert Morris to inform him of Flower’s appointment as commissary general of military stores, saying that GW wanted Flower “to shew you his Instructions and a List of the Articles he is directed to provide. It will be probably in your power to give him advice or Assistance in procuring many of the Articles which you will please to do. You will likewise be pleased to advance him any Sum of Money he may stand in need of and you will be reimbursed by a draft on the Treasury” (DLC: Robert Morris Papers). Benjamin Flower (1748–1781), who had served as commissary general of military stores of the flying camp with the rank of lieutenant colonel from 16 July to December 1776, was serving in the same capacity for the Continental army by 12 Jan. 1777 when he wrote to the commanding officer at Bristol to inform him of GW’s “Express Orders” that all ammunition in or coming to Philadelphia be sent to the Continental army by the “Safest & Shortest rout with a sufficient Guard directed to Me or to Brigad[i]er Genl. Knox at or near Head Quarters” (PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90; see also GW to Richard Peters, 17 April 1777, in DLC:GW). Flower died in Philadelphia of illness in April 1781.

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