From Colonel Samuel Blachley Webb
Stratford in Connecticut Jany 22d 1777
I am sorry to inform your Excellcy that this State in their late Sessions have pass’d an Act giveing £10 (equal to 33⅓d Dollars) to each Soldier over & above what Congress have given, that shall enlist dureing the War or for three Years, this they say—they have done in order that their Eight Battallions might be full and ready to take the field very early,1 I wish no bad consequences might follow from this step, but I conceive it tends to depreciate the paper Currcy and debauch the Soldiery, at any rate it prevents the raiseing any Men on the footing which I am sent out on—I propose waiting on the Governor as soon as possible perhaps they may advance Me the Additional Sum they are to give to those of the Eight Battallions, if so I can go on with my Recruiting business, otherways I must lie Idle ’till I can receive your further Instructions. I beg your directions on this head by Mr Oswald who waits on you by ordr of General Knox on the same Subject.2 I have the Honor to be your Excellencies Most Obedt Servt
Saml B. Webb
1. The Connecticut general assembly made this resolution during the session beginning on 18 Dec. 1776 (see Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 253–54). On 24 Jan. 1777 Col. Ezekiel Cornell of Rhode Island wrote to GW from Windham to complain about the bounty offered in the New England states: “To my surprize when I came into N. England I found they had called a Congress of the united states of N. England as the Vulgar called it, and they had unanimously agreed to give an additional Bounty of Ten pound L. M. to Each Non Commission officer and Soldier that should Inlist in their Quota of the Eighty Eight Battallions. Which hath rendered it Impossible for me to recruit upon the Incouragement I am impowered at present to give. If I wass upon a footing of the other Regiments in the N. England States I have the Vanity to think I should be able to recruit as fast as they but at present I can do nothing. Beg to know your Excellencys pleasure in the affair. Lieut. [Oliver] Jenkes the Barer will Bring me any further directions you will plese to send” (PHi: Gratz Collection). GW replied to Cornell on 2 Feb., writing: “I am no less Surprized than you are at the Policy of New Engld; how it will end I can not positively determine, but I dread its Consequences. I dare not (as they have) hazard the Establishmt of a practice directly repugnant to a Resolve of Congress, and therefore can say nothing more to you than desire that you would quickly determine from appearances whether you can raise the Regimt by the Time expected; if you think you can not, please to inform me immediately, for it would be only loosing Time & injuring the Public to appoint Officers who can not answer the End proposed—I am satisfied, you are too great a friend to the Cause we are Ingaged in to wish to see a number of appointments from whence the public can derive no benefit, but on the contrary, taxed with an expence of Officers without Men, When in other States who have not adopted the New England Policy they may be Inlisted & our strength Increased by it” (DLC:GW). Although Major Isaac Sherman wrote GW on 25 Jan. complaining about his being overlooked by Connecticut in the new establishment and expressing Cornell’s “desire of my joining him,” Cornell’s regiment was never raised (DLC:GW).
2. GW instructed his aide-de-camp John Fitzgerald to write Webb on the subject of recruitment bounties on 27 Jan.: “Your favor of 22’ Inst. came to hand this day. His Excellency is much surpriz’d that the People of Connecticut should adopt a plan, which in his opinion cannot possibly be of the least assistance to that State in the recruiting Service, and must of course be injurious to every other. He cannot at present advise you what to do, as it is neither in his power or Inclination to give the additional Bounty—I’m sorry to inform you under your present circumstances that unless you are pretty soon fit to take the Field, your Battalion will be young in the Line, as the Troops here and to the Southward are raising very fast” (Ford, Webb Correspondence and Journals description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed. Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blachley Webb. 3 vols. New York, 1893–94. description ends , 1:187).