George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Joseph Watkins, 9 April 1778

From Major Joseph Watkins

Lebanon [Pa.] April 9th 1778


I have the Honor to inclose to your Excellency a Return of Ordnance and Military Stores at this Place.1 The Ordnance were sent up here from Camp, they are not fit for service, and I have not had it in my power to get them repaired for want of Work Men. The Military Stores are all contained in the only C[h]urch that could be appropriated for a Magazine at this Place.2

Since I first came here I have been as assiduous as I possibly could in procuring Men and Materials, but as yet have got only 53 Men who are employed in making Musket Cartridges and casting Ball & Buck Shot; they are engag’d for 6 Months. Shall continue to use all the means in my power to increase the number to 200. I am apprehensive the number of Musket Cartridges will fall greatly short of the Quantity expected, owing to a dispointment of Men Coll Sweers3 informed me the Honl. Board of War had ordered from Lancaster. I have but small expectations of being able to collect a sufficient number of Men unless they could be procured in some way from the Standing Army. I shall with pleasure and alacrity execute any orders your Excellency may be pleased to Honor me with. I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s Most obedient huml. Servt

Jos. Watkins C. O. & M. Stores


1The enclosed return has not been identified, but see “A Return of Arms, Accoutrements &c. Received and Delivered by Majr. Jonathan Gostelowe Comy Mily Stores (to the Different Battalions, Regiments &c. of the United States) Under the Command of Coll Benjamin Flower Comy Genl Mily Stores from the 1st of March to the 31st Instt 1778 at Lebanon,” in DNA: RG 93, manuscript file, no. 20999.

2On 1 May, George Neisser, a Moravian minister at York, Pa., recorded in his diary, “Adam Orth and Christopher Kucker arrived from Lebanon with a letter from the pastor of the congregation to the Board of War, in which he asks for relief, since Major Watkins has filled his church with gunpowder.” On Neisser’s advice, Orth and Kucker, with the assistance of Robert Morris, drew up a memorial on the subject, and on 4 May the board replied that other stores would replace the powder (“Incidents in the History of York,” description begins “Incidents in the History of York, Pennsylvania, 1778.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 16 (1892): 433–38. description ends 434–35).

3Cornelius Sweers, who had been appointed assistant commissary of military stores at Philadelphia in early 1777 and promoted by the Board of War to deputy commissary of military stores in January 1778, was arrested in June 1778 on charges of fraud and forgery in his accounts. He was subsequently investigated by Congress and tried, resulting in a verdict against his property that was still unsettled in 1782 (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 , 11:627–28, 656, 831–34, 22:277; Morris Papers description begins E. James Ferguson et al., eds. The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781–1784. 9 vols. Pittsburgh, 1973–99. description ends , 5:341).

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