George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Nathanael Greene, 14 September 1778

To Major General Nathanael Greene

Head Quarters White Plains Sepr 14th 1778

Dear Sir,

The Board of War have advised me of a large quantity of ready made cloathing for the use of the army, in possession of Mr Samuel Fletcher of Boston; which they have ordered to be immediately sent on to Springfield and Hartford in the first instance and afterwards to the army. You are aware of the mismanagement there has been in the manner of transporting cloathing, which has commonly been brought forward in small parcels, without guards or conductors; a mode always productive of delay frequently of loss—An apprehension of similar mismanagement in the present case and an anxiety to have the necessities of the troops at this advanced season, supplied as speedily as possible—have induced me to call the attention of General Heath to the matter. I have directed him, in conjunction with your assistants, to employ every resource for hastening the transportation1—Agreeable to this idea, I would wish you to make every arrangement you can in your department, for that purpose. Good use should be made of the return waggons on the occasion,2 but in an affair of such consequence every additional resource, that may promote dispatch should be improved.

The wants of the army and the season of the year are sufficient motives for every exertion to bring on so valuable a supply of cloathing; but there is at this juncture a further reason for it, of the greatest weight. Congress have come to a resolution to inlist all the drafts in service, for the Continental bounty to serve during the war3—It is the opinion of the officers, that if the cloathing was on the spot, so that every reinlisted man could be furnished in hand with a good suit of cloaths, it would have a most powerful influence in promoting the success of that resolution. So many promises have been made to the men, which have never been fulfilled, that they will now trust to nothing but actual performance. If you think your going to Boston will be serviceable, it will be perfectly agreeable to me. With the greatest regard and esteem, I am Dear Sir Yr Most Obedt Serv.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. In Greene’s reply of 19 Sept., he acknowledged a letter of 15 September. Whether Greene miswrote or the letter sent was dated 15 Sept. has not been determined.

2Before revising the text, Hamilton wrote at this point on the draft, “but a business of such importance ought not to depend wholly upon them; every expedient that may promote dispatch should be added.”

3GW was referring to a resolution of 31 Aug. (see 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 , 11:854).

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