George Washington Papers

From George Washington to a Continental Congress Camp Committee, 1 March 1778

To a Continental Congress Camp Committee

Head Quarters [Valley Forge, 1 March] 1778

The Armoury department is in as bad a situation as it can well be, and requires measures to be immediately taken to put it upon a proper footing; otherwise the army must be greatly distressed on the score of arms, and the public will be at a great expence to little purpose. Mr Dupree, who has come from Lebanon, to represent the disordered defective state of the department, will give you full information on the subject and enable you to judge what is requisite to be done.1 I am with the greatest respect Gentlemen Your most Obedient servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 33. The letter was dated “Feby 29 1778,” but there was no 29 Feb. in 1778.

1The camp committee referred the matter to Congress, writing to Henry Laurens on 1 Mar., “We just now received a Note from the General by the Bearer of this Letter informing us that the Armoury Department is in the most deplorable Situation. Mr. Dupree came this Day from Lebanon to give him Information upon the Subject and in the Course of our Inquiries gives us but too much Reason to beleive that a fatal Neglect prevails at every of the public works in the State. There are at present 6,000 Stand of Arms wanting Repair perhaps more. Let us intreat Sir that Congress will cause instant Inquiry to be made into the Representations Mr. Dupree will make and provide Means to have all the Arms put into Repair without Delay” (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 9:184–85). Congress read the committee’s letter on 6 Mar. and referred it to the Board of War (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 , 10:227). Dupre evidently was inspecting muskets at the armory, where he decided that 459 muskets received in February should be taken to pieces (Jonathan Gostelowe, “General Return of Arms Accoutrements &c.” received at Lebanon from 1 Feb. to 1 Mar. 1778, DNA: RG 93, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Miscellaneous Numbered Records, no. 21278). He may have been James Dupre, a North Carolina armorer who had offered his services to GW in the summer of 1777 and who was omitted from the North Carolina service in November 1777 (see Richard Peters to GW, 16 July 1777, and N.C. State Records description begins Walter Clark, ed. The State Records of North Carolina. 16 vols., numbered 11-26. Winston and Goldsboro, N.C., 1895–1907. description ends , 16:1039).

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