George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 26 March 1778

From Major General Nathanael Greene

Camp [Valley Forge] March 26th 1778


I received your Excellencys Letter containing a list of the Counties in Virgina where Waggons might be got and the properest persons to employ to make the purchases.1 We shall send one Mr Johnston Smith—I shall be much oblige to your Excellency for a Letter to the Inhabitants of Virgina by Mr Smith requesting their aid in forwarding the business of the departmt.2 I shall also be oblige to your Excellency for Letters to those Gentlemen you recommend; I shall give them appointments, which I shall forward by Mr Smith and wish them to accept and engage in the business.3 Mr Smith will set out this afternoon—There is one Captain Overton of the 14th Virgina regiment that I wish to send upon this business—Please to signify your pleasure in the matter4—The time is so short, that I have to put the business of the department in readiness, that I wish to put every thing in motion that will expedite the business. If your Excellency has any particular Orders respecting the business of the department in Camp, you will please to transmit them by Major Blodget, and excuse me for not waiting upon you, being very busily engag’d in the arrangement of matters abroad. I am with great respect and regard your Excellencys most Obedient Servt

Nath. Greene

LS, DLC:GW; LB, CSmH: Greene Papers.

1GW’s letter has not been found.

2GW’s letter of this date introducing Smith reads: “The Bearer Mr Johnston Smith being sent by Major General Greene Qr Mr General to the Continental Army to provide Horses, Waggons and such other things as are necessary for the Qr Master Generals department, I have the fullest hopes that every person, well affected to their Country, and who wish well to the noble Cause in which we are embarked, will cheerfully supply him with what he may want, for which they will be amply and regularly paid. I address myself particularly to my Countrymen of Virginia, because Mr Smith proposes to confine his purchases principally to the Counties of Hampshire⟨,⟩ Berkeley, Frederick, Dunmore, Augusta, Loudoun and Fauquier. I have ever experienced the greatest kindness and readiness to assist from the good people of every State in which the chance of War has placed me, and I hope that those of that State, to which I have the honor to belong, will not be behind hand with their Neighbours in paying an attention to my requests, in making which I am solely influenced by a desire to advance the general interest” (Df, DLC:GW). A “List of the Deputy Quarter Masters General and other Persons employed to make Purchases,” 9 Jan. 1779, showed Smith with an unsettled account of $274,000 as “Contractor for purchasing Horses Waggons &c in the back Counties” of Virginia in the summer of 1778 (DNA:PCC, item 59; see also Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 3:155–57). He was probably the man who in early 1776 had been purchasing arms in Pennsylvania for use in Virginia (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 , 4:290; Scribner and Tarter, Revolutionary Virginia description begins William J. Van Schreeven et al., eds. Revolutionary Virginia: The Road to Independence. A Documentary Record. 7 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1973–83. description ends , 6:27–28, 33, 7:232).

3GW’s circular letter of this date to Abraham Hite, Sr. (1729–1790), and Thomas Rutherford of Berkeley County, Sampson Mathews of Augusta County, and Francis Peyton of Loudoun County reads: “Major General Greene having been lately appointed to the office of Qr Master General of the Army has desired me to make him acquainted with some Gentlemen of the State of Virginia of influence in their own and the adjacent Counties. I have taken the liberty to mention you to him among others. He proposes to send Mr Johnston Smith into your quarter of the State to purchase and hire Horses and Waggons and to transact such other Business as belongs to the department. I shall esteem it as a favor conferred upon me and a service rendered to the public if you will give Mr Smith or any other person sent by General Greene every assistance in your power towards the speedy execution of the Business. When I assure you that much of the success of the ensuing Campaign depends upon the Strength of the Qr Master General’s department I am convinced that your Zeal for the public good will influence you, not only to exert yourself but to stimulate your Neighbours to contribute chearfully to the supply of what is necessary, and for which they will be amply and regularly paid” (Df, DLC:GW).

4John Overton, Jr. (1755–1822), was appointed a first lieutenant of the 14th Virginia Regiment in early 1777. Promoted to captain in October 1777, he remained with regiment, which was redesignated the 10th Virginia Regiment in September 1778, until he transferred to the 1st Virginia Regiment in February 1781. He retired on 1 Jan. 1783. Overton represented Louisa County in the Virginia house of delegates, 1789–91.

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