From the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council
In Council Lancaster [Pa.] February 13th 1778
Your Excellency’s letter of the tenth instant is now before us. Council have too much reason to fear that the act for compleating our quota of troops will not be effectual and therefore hope that the General Assembly at their meeting on the eighteenth instant will give immediate attention to this great object, which we are sensible is of the highest importance and deserves the first attention.
Colonel Francis Johnston being in a state of health that induced him to decline accepting the office to which he was appointed by the act of Assembly respecting cloathing, Council have appointed Mr Jacob S. Howell to act in his stead;1 he is now in this borough, and is exerting himself to get the cloathing forwarded to camp: About four hundred suits and a like number of shoes are nearly ready and will be forwarded in a few days—However unwilling this Council may be to incumber your Excellency with business of this kind on common occasions, they are happy in the opportunity which your letter affords of requesting your Excellency’s attention and care in supplying the wants of the five regiments you mention out of the cloathing which shall first come to hand; and, if it is not sufficient, to assure them that more will be forwarded as expeditiously as they can be made up—this business is now in a proper line for dispatch, and will be carefully attended to. The cloathing mentioned by Colonel Lutterloh as being at Reading, we suppose, is such, as hath been collected under the ordinance of the late Council of safety, and directed to be delivered to the Clothier General;2 orders have been repeated to the Gentlemen in whose care they are to send them forward immediately, as they are not made up as we understand. I have the honor to be with much respect Your Excellencys very hum. servant
Tho. Wharton jun. Prest
LS, DLC:GW; Df, PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790.
1. Francis Johnston had been appointed receiver general of clothing pursuant to section 8 of “An Act for the better supply of the Armies of the United States of America,” enacted into law on 2 Jan. 1778 (Pa. Laws description begins Laws Enacted in the Second General Assembly of the Representatives of the Freemen of the Common-wealth of Pennsylvania. At the Sitting which began at Lancaster on the Twenty-seventh day of October, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-seven, and continued by adjournment to the second day of January, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-eight. Lancaster, Pa., 1778. description ends , 94–100; Pa. Minutes of the General Assembly description begins Minutes of the Second General Assembly of the Common-wealth of Pennsylvania, Which Met at Lancaster, on Monday, October Twenty-seventh, A.D. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven. Lancaster, Pa., 1778. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , Oct. 1777–Sept. 1778 sess., 39). Philadelphia merchant Jacob Samuel Howell (1749–1793) had served in 1776–77 as a secretary to the Pennsylvania council of safety, and in 1777 he was secretary to the Pennsylvania Board of War. The supreme executive council appointed him receiver general of clothing on 27 Jan. 1778, a position he resigned in April 1779 (Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:407, 742). By 1782 he was back in service as a deputy clothier general.
2. On 8 Nov. 1777 the Pennsylvania council of safety had ordered the collection of “arms and accoutrements, blankets, Wollen & Linsey Woolsey Cloth, Linnen, shoes and stockings, for the Army” from suspected Loyalists and the delivery of these supplies to the clothier general (ibid., 339–40).