George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Udny Hay, 18 November 1778

From Lieutenant Colonel Udny Hay

Fish Kill [N.Y.] 18th Novr 1778


In consequence of your Excellencies order I sent Mr Stewart an Asst Qr Master to enquire into the State of Salisbury Furnace, having requested the Manager to give me particular answers to sundry Queries I made on that subject, but he being absent, Mr Stewart who served as a Clerk three years at a Furnace in the Jerseys and knows something of the business makes the following report, and is of opinion that Furnace will not be in blast this winter1—At Salisbury Furnace there was only six hundred Cords of Wood cutt—no Coal burnt, nor were they in expectation of having any more wood cutt this winter, as they had no wood cutters engaged; the Hearth Stones were not yett hauld from the waterside nor would they probably before sleighing time, nor was there above twenty or at most thirty Tons of Ore at the Furnace—I must beg leave to give my opinion to your Excellency that the Manager has used us excessively ill by not having the Furnace in more readiness, as we have left many things undone which would have been of great public service, and employd our masons a great part of this Summer to procure the Stones for the Hearth, which he assured me would be the only impediment to prevent the furnace being in blast early this winter. I have the Honour to be with great respect, Your Excellencies, most obedt & very humble Sert,

Udny Hay

This moment arrived a very fine saddle of Venison for your Excellency from Albany which shall be immediately forwarded.2


1The blast furnace at Lakeville near Salisbury, Conn., operated from 1762 to 1832. The Tory Robert Smith owned the furnace at the start of the war, but he fled to Britain in July 1775. The Connecticut Council of Safety thereupon seized the furnace, appointing Col. Joshua Porter as overseer and William Whiting as first clerk in March 1776. In January 1777 Whiting became manager of the works, and Benjamin Pine became first clerk. On 1 April 1779 Congress resolved not to run the furnace on Continental expense (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 , 13:406–7); and the Connecticut Council of Safety, deeming it too expensive to run on its own, leased it to Whiting, who ran it until the end of the war. Richard Stewart, an assistant deputy quartermaster who served as Hay’s assistant 1778–80, became quartermaster at King’s Ferry, N.Y., in October 1779. For the letters exchanged between Hay and Whiting, see Hay to GW, 22 Nov., n.1.

2Hay apparently was in the habit of sending GW gifts of food. GW’s account book for 11 Nov. records a payment of £1.4 “To Cash paid a man for bringing fish from Colo. Hay”; and the same payment was recorded on 19 Nov. “To Cash paid a man for bringing Venison from Colo. Hay” (Revolutionary War Household Expenses, 1776–1780, DLC:GW, ser. 5, vol. 28).

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