From Jeremiah Wadsworth
Hartford [Conn.] June 4th 1778
In consequence of the foregoing Letter,1 I have directed Mr Asa Benton,2 a trusty Person and well acquainted with Salted Provision &c. to raise Twenty Coopers, which he has effected, and they will March to morrow for Head Quarters of the Grand Army.
When I left Your Excellency, I expected to have return’d to Camp before this time, and have made ample Provision for supplying the Army with Food, but on my return Home, found the regulating Act was not Suspended and the General Assembly of this State are so much engaged to enforce that Act, that they have sent a Committee to the Legislature of Massachusetts to persuade them to Adopt it—If that State Adopt the Act, I am seriously afraid the Army cannot be fed—I informed Congress it was not in my Power to Supply their Army under the regulating Act, and had I not been convinced that the Suspension wou’d take place imediately on the General Assembly’s meeting here—no Consideration wou’d have persuaded me to have Accepted the Appointment of Commissary General3—I shall leave nothing undone to Supply the Army, and will set out for Head Quarters as soon as the Committee return from Boston—I am very unhappy that the Army is not well Supplied, but beg Your Excellency will believe it is not owing to any want of my Attention to the Business, or those employed by me. I am able to justify my Conduct, and shew that the wants of the Army are owing to causes which I foresaw and pointed out to Congress, and expected thro’ their Influence they wou’d have been removed—I have wrote them on the Subject and soon Expect their Answer.4 I am—Your Excellency’s, Most Obedt Humb. servt
LS, DLC:GW; Df, CtHi: Jeremiah Wadsworth Papers; LB, CtHi: Jeremiah Wadsworth Papers; copy, NHi: Wadsworth Collection.
1. Wadsworth enclosed a copy of a letter to him from Richard Peters and Timothy Pickering, dated 17 April from the War Office in York: “Great Losses having been Sustained by the want of a competent number of Coopers at Camp, You will please to procure at least Twenty on the best Terms you can, and send them under a carefull, trusty Superintendent to Head Quarters of the Grand Army. They must be engaged for a certain Period, which must at least Comprehend the Campaign, if they could be engaged for One Year it will be best—They are to trim the Casks of Provisions &c. at Camp, to save all the Casks they can, and fit them so as to bear back Carriage from Camp, they are to render and provide Casks for the Tallow, much of which now perishes, or is otherwise lost for want of Care, and to do every other Business necessary to be done in their Occupation at the Grand Camp—When you have procur’d them, you will please inform his Excellency General Washington, and this Board, that they may receive such Countenance and Orders as are necessary to enable them to do their Duty.” Pickering signed and appended this note: “It is agreed by the Board, that the pay of the Coopers shall be given them at least as often as the Continental Troops are paid at the Camp where the Coopers Serve” (DLC:GW).
2. Asa Benton (c.1742–1811) of Hartford, Conn., served as master of a number of different vessels before being commissioned commander of the schooner Mentor in December 1780. Later he was captured by the British in the West Indies.
3. For information on Congress’s suggestions to the New England states on regulating prices, subsequent legislation by Connecticut, and attempts by GW and others to have the price regulations suspended, see GW to Henry Laurens, 12 Mar., notes 8 and 9. Massachusetts had already experimented with price fixing in 1777, adopting “An Act to prevent Monopoly and Oppression” in February only to repeal it eight months later (Mass. Laws, May 1777 sess., chap. VI). For Wadsworth’s letter to Congress, see note 4.
4. Wadsworth wrote Henry Laurens on 27 May, enclosing a copy of his memorial of 26 May to the Connecticut general assembly (DNA:PCC, item 78), and Laurens responded on 5 June (DNA:PCC, item 13).