George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 14 March 1778

From William Livingston

Trenton 14th March 1778.


In mine of 2nd Instant I acquainted your Excellency that I had applied to Capt. Arnold of our light horse for a Troop to enter into the continental Service till the opening of the Campaign, inclosing your Excellency a Copy of my Letter to Capt. Arnold on that Subject: I now transmit your Excellency a Copy of his Answer, by which you will perceive that his chief difficulty is the Pay; the continental Dragoons having their Horses found while those of the Militia find their own.1 If the Season is not too far advanced for the purpose for which your Excellency wanted the light Horse, I shall be glad of your Answer as soon as possible, enabling me to resolve Capt. Arnold in his Enquiries.

I have the honour to inclose your Excellency the resolutions of the Council of this State on a Memorial preferred to them by Trevor Newland respecting the stationing of some continental Troops at the Salt-Works of Coll David Forman & Company in the County of Monmouth2—Coll Forman desired me to send you my Sentiments on the Subject, with the Resolutions. I told him I saw no Propriety in that Measure, but intended barely to transmit the Resolutions. As I had however my own thoughts on the Subject, those, if your Excellency should request it, I had no Objection to give, & at the same Time promised to forward his Letter, which he intended to write, with my Dispatches—A few hours after he called me out of Company & read to me & then delivered the inclosed Letter & immediately left the Town.3 He certainly misunderstood me, if he thinks as he seems to do, that I meant to fault the Resolutions of the Council, I only intended to have given you my Sentiments had I been requested to do it, on the rise & Origin of the Prosecution, & not on any thing that appeared before the Board on the hearing, or the Resolutions of the Council in consequence thereof—And least your Excellency should postpone the withdrawing the Troops (in case you should think proper to remove them) in expectation of any thing I have to say in the Matter, I am under a Necessity of saying it now, & that is, that by having my own Sentiments on the Subject I meant no more, than that as many of the Inhabitants of the County of Monmouth are unhappily actuated by a Party Spirit, this Spirit has probably had its share in exciting the Clamour against Coll Forman & that I have reason to think from Depositions in my Possession, that Mr Newland is not friendly to our Cause. I have the Honour to be your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servt

Wil: Livingston


1The enclosed copy of Jacob Arnold’s letter to Livingston of 9 Mar. reads: “At this time it is greatly to my disadvantage to turn out, & am sorry his Excellency should be deceiv’d in my Performances, who is sensible that the higher a Tree is raised the farther it has to fall—But Sir, there will a little difficulty arise; (perhaps his Excellency is not apprised of) in getting the Men; & that is the poor pay they have had & the low price for their Horses Service & should be glad to know what Encouragement I might ensure them for this Tour of Duty from his Excellency—if none—shall go upon my own bottom to raise the Men & I think the only way is to still continue the Promisses of the Legislature & advance them money if it should come out of my own Pocket; & the Method proposed by taking Officers out of different companies I am content with—As it is uncertain how many will turn out of my Troop, think it will be best to get as many as we can out of the different Troops—should they exceed the Number of one Company—all the better—I shall be as speedy as possible in getting the Men & shall be glad to know if I shall be indulged with a Baggage Waggon as I think we shall want one very much—his Excellency will be pleased to let me know who he appoints to go with me” (DLC:GW).

2The resolves of 11 Mar., which the legislative council had ordered Livingston to send to GW, read: “Resolved, That it does not appear to the Council but that the Troops were stationed at the House and in the Neighbourhood of Trevor Newland in the County of Monmouth, by proper Authority.

“That it does not appear to the Council that the Troops so stationed have been of any Use to the Publick; but that they have been employed in collecting Materials, and erecting Buildings to promote the private Interest of Individuals.

“That the keeping a Body of Troops in any Part of the Country for aiding the Purposes of private Interest, is an unnecessary Expence to the Publick, and oppressive to the Inhabitants in the Neighbourhood of the Place where they are stationed.

“That it does not appear to the Council that any Salt has yet been made at the Works now erecting by David Forman and Company near the House of the said Trevor Newland; nor is it probable, from present Appearances, that they will, at least for some Months to come, furnish a Quantity equal to the Production of divers other Works in this State, which are therefore better entitled to the Protection of the Publick.

“That as there is a Dispute subsisting between David Forman & Company, Proprietors of the Salt Works now erecting, and the aforesd Trevor Newland, respecting the Land occupied for the Use of the said Works, there seems to be the greater Impropriety in putting a Body of Troops under the Direction of the said David Forman at the said Works” (DLC:GW; see also N.J. Proceedings of the Legislative-Council description begins Journal of the Proceedings of the Legislative-Council of the State of New-Jersey, in General Assembly convened at Trenton on Tuesday the 28th Day of October, in the Year of our Lord 1777. Being their second Session. Trenton, 1779. description ends , Oct. 1777–Oct. 1778 sess., 37–38).

Newland’s memorial, read by the council on 28 Feb., complained about the quartering of Continental troops in his neighborhood on the orders of Forman, who was “not an Officer either Civil or Military.” The troops, Newland claimed, were “committing many . . . Trespasses and Enormities” that caused him “great Damage” (ibid., 34–35).

For discussion of the saltworks, see Forman to GW, 1 Jan. 1778, and note 1 to that document. GW had authorized a guard there in his letter to Forman of 20 January.

3Forman’s letter to GW, dated 9 P.M. on 13 Mar., reads: “By this Conveyance the Goverr of New Jersey will forward to your Excely a Resolve of the Council of this State respecting the Saltworks at which I have mounted a Guard, from my Regt—Your Excely is informed that the people in that part of the Country are exceedingly disaffected, of consequence most heartily averse to having a Guard stationed amongst them, as it will in part prevent their Correspondence with the Enemy at New York. These matters have been laid before the Council in a very partial manner & as I presume [are] partially determined.

“I am warranted to say from the Govr that in his Official Character, he is not at Liberty to say anything different, to your Excely, from the resolve of the Council, but if that your Excely will by a Line to him, request a State of Facts, he will go into the matter at large, which I beg may be the Case. From the Governors representation I presume things will wear a very different Face. The Buildings erected by the Soldiers will appear to be Hutts for them to live in without any reference to private Emolument as represented in the Resolve of Council—The Saltworks will appear a matter of the highest Importance & greatly exposed to the ravages of the Enemy, for that particular I beg leave also to refer your Excelly to Mr Boudinot’s Information.

“Previous to your Excelys taking any Order in the matter, I hope the Governor may be consulted out of his Official Character & that I may be permitted, to suggest to your Excely the real Motives of Mr Newlands Memorial in which I have no doubt of establishing the Fact, to wit, that said Memorialist is an avowed Enemy to the American Cause, and would do every thing in his power to prevent the manufacturing of that necessary & much wanted Article—Salt.

“the Necessity of my riding twenty Miles this Night will not permit my going into the matter at large” (DLC:GW).

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