To Major General Horatio Gates
Head Quarters Middle Brook 14th Feby 1779
I have been favd with yours of the 27th Decemr and of the 15th and 26th January. That of the 15th did not reach me untill the 12th instant. I was at Philada when yours of the 27th December came to hand, and I reported to Congress the answer of the Council of Massachusetts respecting the Guns of the Somerset.
I was sometime ago informed by Genl Bayley that he thought the Magazine at Coos was rather exposed, and therefore as soon as I found that there was no probability of an expeditions being carried into Canada by that Route, I desired the Commy General to send orders to have the Stores removed down the Country.1 Since the Rect of your last I called upon him to know whether the orders for removal had been given. He informs me that he sent up an Express for that particular purpose.
The inclosed Copy of an order from the Board of War to the Commy General of Issues designates exactly the line to be observed towards delivering Rations to Soldiers on Furlough.2 Nothing is said respecting Officers, but I imagine it is not customary for them when indulged with Furloughs, which are supposed to be for their private emolument or amusement, to draw Rations at the posts at which they may happen to reside. If they are sent upon command they are allowed three dollars per day, by Resolve of Congress, in addition to their pay and subsistance to bear their expences.3 While they remain in town executing the object of the command on which they are sent, it will perhaps be reasonable to allow them Forage, because the three dollars will not more than support themselves. But before the allowance is made, it should appear clearly, agreeably to the Resolve of Congress,4 that they are sent by the commanding Officer of the district or department to which they belong, and not upon frivolous pretences of Business by inferior Officers.
I will immediately desire the Commy General of prisoners to inquire into the circumstances of those who remain in the neighbourhood of Rutland &ca and endeavour [to have them removed]5 to a place where they may be subsisted with more ease.6
If I am not mistaken, the Commy General of purchases has orders to endeavour to establish a Magazine of Flour to the Eastward.7 The propriety is evident, but you are well acquainted with the almost unsurmountable difficulty of doing it by land Carriage, and of the risque and danger of attempting it by Sea. I have the honor to be with Respect & Esteem Sir Your most obt Servt
LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in Gates to John Jay, 15 March 1779, DNA:PCC, item 154; copy, DNA:PCC, item 171; copy (extracts), incorporated in Gates to the Massachusetts General Assembly, 1 March 1779, M-Ar: Revolution Letters; copy (extracts), incorporated in Gates to the Massachusetts General Assembly, 1 March 1779, NHi: Gates Papers; copy, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, enclosed in GW to John Jay, 14 April 1779, owned (2006) by Mr. Joseph Rubinfine, Cocoa, Fla.; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The extracts from this letter that Gates quotes in his letter to the Massachusetts General Assembly on 1 March consist of the second and last paragraphs. GW docketed the copy in Meade’s writing: “To General Gates 14th Feby 1779. No. 2. with his answer 4th Mar. followg.”
It is unclear when Gates received GW’s letter. In his letter to the Massachusetts General Assembly on 1 March that included extracts, Gates says they are “Extracts of a Letter I have just received from His Excellency General Washington, dated Middle Brook 14th Feby 1779.” However, three days later in his letter to GW of 4 March, Gates says: “Yesterday I had the Honour to receive your Excellency’s Letter of the 14th Ulto from Middle-Brook.”
2. The enclosed copy of this order from the Board of War to the commissary general of issues, Charles Stewart, has not been identified.
3. GW is referring to Congress’s resolution of 4 Sept. 1778 on this subject (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 , 12:878).
4. GW inserted the previous six words in his own writing above the line on the draft manuscript.
5. The text within square brackets, which was inadvertently omitted on the LS manuscript, is supplied from the draft manuscript. These words also are omitted on the copies of this letter in DNA:PCC, items 154 and 171, the text of both having been based on the text of the LS. These words are included on the copy that GW enclosed in his letter to John Jay of 14 April and the Varick transcript, the text of both having been copied from the draft text.
6. GW may have written in this regard to Joshua Mersereau, the deputy commissary general for prisoners in Massachusetts. In the letter that Mersereau wrote GW on 30 March from Rutland, Mass., he says that he had been informed by Gates that GW had written him about the Convention Army prisoners remaining near Rutland, but that he had not received such a letter. GW’s letter to Mersereau, presuming that it was written, has not been found.
7. For GW’s directions to the commissary general of purchases, Jeremiah Wadsworth, to establish flour magazines in Connecticut and Massachusetts, see GW to Henry Laurens, 23 Sept. 1778, and GW to Horatio Gates, 26 Sept. 1778; see also Congress’s resolution of 11 Sept. 1778 on this subject in 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 , 12:902–3.