George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Royal Flint, 10 May 1779

From Royal Flint

Camp Rariton [N.J.] May 10: 1779.


It is with reluctance, I lay the inclosed papers before your Excellency; both on account of the trouble that will attend your perusing them, and because the information they contain is not, in itself, favorable.1 But there seems a propriety in my taking this measure; that if any deficiency of provisions should happen, it may be known, what was the occasion of it. No prejudicial consequences will arise to this army, from lessening the quantity of fresh beef, as the troops in this state, may be fully supplied with salt meat. Indeed it should be considered, in no other light, than as a temporary suspension of the supplies of live cattle, occasioned solely by a want of money; and when that particular cause is removed the difficulty will no longer operate.

I wish General Gates had been more explicit, in his representation2 of wanting provisions. It is hardly possible, he should ever have been destitute of meat, as there is a plenty of salt beef & pork within three days land-carriage of Providence; and I believe, at no time, have his troops been, without a tolerable supply of fresh beef. His complaints therefore, may be supposed, to extend only to a want of bread; and even, in this respect, it is presumed, he has before now got sufficient relief. There were, at the time, his letter was dated, several thousand bbls of flour, in the east parts of N. York state, in readiness, for the special purpose of his army & other eastern troops. Their want of bread, at that juncture, must be attributed to a failure on the score of transportation. The Quarter Master General assures me, that his Deputies have lately received a sum of money which will enable them to remedy this evil.

The resources of the country are not so exhausted, but that proper supplies of provisions are capable of being collected. And should there be complaints of a scantiness, from one quarter & another, it should be imputed to some peculiar incident, which probably will in no instance, be of long continuance. I am respectfully your Excellencys most obt hbl. srvt

Royal Flint A.C.G.P.

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, CtHi: Jeremiah Wadsworth Papers.

1There were four enclosures. The first was an extract copy of a letter of 29 April from George Morgan, at Philadelphia, to Flint: “I doubt not but you have been fully informed from Messrs Chaloner & White of my repeated & earnest applications to them for the necessary supplies of cash for the western district of your department; which could they have furnished me with, I should long since have been in the frontier Settlements of Pensylvania & Virginia.

“As I have made it a point to employ men of character & influence in their respective counties, I hope very shortly to be able to inform you that all the necessary provisions are laid in at Pittsburgh in spite of the delays of the treasury” (DLC:GW; a note indicates that Flint received this letter on 9 May).

The second enclosure was a letter from Horatio Gates to Jeremiah Wadsworth, dated 1 May at Providence: “Whatever be the Cause Which prevents our Magazines from being regularly Supplied the Consequence is the Same Two Mutinies have already happened within these few Days. It is true that they have been quelled though With Difficulty; but the success I have had depending on the Accomplishment of my Promise, ‘that the army would be imediately supplied’ and the Stores being now empty, I am perplexed how to quiet starved soldiers, who being excited to sedition by British Emisaries, will not bear Want with becoming Patience I trust, Sir, that you will distinguish yourself—at this juncture, and prove that you are worthy of the important trust reposed in you.

“At this and the other Posts in our Neighbourhood, the Stores are this day, quite empty! You must feel for me, as a Patriot, and an officer” (DLC:GW). Gates had expounded on his difficulties to GW and many others; see Gates to GW, 7 May, and William Heath to GW, 8 May, n.2.

The third enclosure was an extract copy of a letter from Wadsworth to Flint, dated 2 May at Hartford, Conn.: “I here inclose you a letter from Colo. Champion which I wish you to shew to Genl Washington & General Green. The want of fresh beef can only be supplied by sending the salt beef to camp. This I hope you will be able to do for the army in Jersey, but here it is impossible as the Q. Mr is so poor and has been so long that he cannot transport the flour to Providence to subsist the troops.

“Since the above a letter from General Gates, the copy is inclosed. I cannot suppose he wants other provisions than flour—of which that post has had but a small allowance—The Q. Mr has no money to pay for transportation, but we are sending on as fast as possible” (DLC:GW).

The fourth enclosure was a letter from Henry Champion to Wadsworth, dated 2 May at Colchester, Conn.: “I think it my duty to inform you that my Order of 800,000 Dollars on Chaloner & White of the first of Febuary last, was answered, after my Men had been detained in the City of Philadelphia Eighteen Days which is all I have Received since, Except 500,000 Dollars on my Order of 900,000 which was paid in part, after my men had been detain’d in Philadelphia, Thirty two Days, which together with the time going & comeing made near two months. I have now two men that have been gone a month & three Days, as the riding is now good, I presume they would have been back in 15 or 16 days at fartherest, if they had not been detain’d. I sent two other men about a week ago for money for Mister Colt & my self. I have ever sent Vigorous, driving Capable men, but having little or no Cash for two or three months past, has prevented I believe at least four of five thousand Cattle, being fatted in my Department, as people could not replace them unless, they had their money for those they sold out of their Stalls, & this is not the worst of it, it has enhanced the Price at least Twenty five per Cent on that Acct, my Purchasers have bought all they can on Credit, as their is but few made, & even in case they were ever so plenty they can do but little more without money and I can send not more, than one third or thereabouts the Quantity & a great deal poorer Quality than are called for. tho’ I ever could & can still send on any number of Beef Cattle called for in one month after I am amply supplied with money” (DLC:GW).

2An asterisk here refers to a note written in the margin of this letter by Alexander Hamilton: “he means the representations contained in a letter of the 1st instant from you to Col. Wadsworth.” The note evidently was addressed to Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, to whom GW sent an extract of this letter on 21 May. Another note in the margin by Hamilton indicates that the last two paragraphs of this letter were sent as an extract to Jeremiah Wadsworth.

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